The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Poisonous Parenting Explained, Again

It’s inevitable that, since the poisonous parenting series started, someone who drops into the the middle of it without reading the previous posts (or perhaps without reading any of it) completely misunderstands the point of it. That’s what seems to have happened with one commenter on the previous post.

I am a black hetrosexual woman who reads your blog often. It is really bothersome that you choose to highlight the worst of the worst of hetrosexual parenting. How can we have meaningful dialogue about our differing views when all you do is degrade and mock hetrosexual parents?????

Of course, the point is not to “degrade and mock heterosexual parents.”

In truth, the series had its unofficial beginning in a couple of posts written in response to right wing pundits who called the very act of being a gay parent abusive” and “selfish.” I’d read several stories in the news about what abusive parents had done to their children, and what neglectful parents had allowed to happen to their children. The parents in these stories were heterosexual, and it occurred to me that the people who called gay parenting itself “abusive” and “selfish” where essentially placing my family and other gay parents in the same category as clearly abusive parents who happen to be heterosexuals.

It was further inspired by the Maryland Court of Appeals’ ruling that the right to marry—and the benefits and protections afforded marriage—was based entirely on the ability of the two married parties to procreate with each other, or the possibility that they could (thus giving the infertile and elderly the right to marry each other without having to fulfill the procreative imperative). It struck me that the court was setting the bar very low.

In its effort to exclude gays from marriage, it defined the institution down to the most basic biological function, because it was the one thing heterosexual couples can do together that same-sex couples can’t: make babies. But it occurred to me that the court missed an important point. Procreation is only half the equation, and arguably the easy part of the whole thing.

Anyone with a functioning sex of sexual and reproductive organs can make babies. Every single one of the parents featured in this series have managed to do that. What they didn’t manage to do was to raise their children in safe and loving homes, where they were protected, treasured, and had every chance to develop into their best selves. They didn’t manage to do something that the hubby and I, and countless other gay parents are doing every day. Yet, despite what these parents did to the children they conceived and delivered, they have more rights and protections than the hubby and I or any other gay families have. And there’s nothing they can do horrible enough to change that. Some of them are married and any of them could marry tomorrow, despite what they did to their children.

What I hoped to address in these posts is the set of assumptions behind all of the above.

The point is that there are people who put me and other gay parents in the same category as these parents. The point is that there are people who believe that being heterosexual makes someone an inherently better candidate for parenthood and that being gay makes one an inherently inferior parent, because gay parents are abusive and selfish by definition. It doesn’t matter what you do or don’t do to your kids. Being heterosexual doesn’t automatically make you a good parent, but you can’t be a good parent and be gay, according to their logic.

…Am I saying that these parents are the standard bearers of heterosexual parenting? Am I saying that all heterosexual parents are as bad as these? No, I merely point them out because according to some people we are as bad as these parents because we’re gay parents. Even if we never do any of the above.

They are inherently better suited for parenthood than we are, because even though they’ve abused their children at least they’re heterosexual. And if they stop abusing they’ll still be heterosexual, and thus better parents than we are. Because we are gay parents, and gay parenting is by nature abusive parenting.

Just like all the examples above.

Pardon me for pointing it out.

No, the point is something else entirely.

The point isn’t that heterosexuals hurt children. The point isn’t that gay people hurt children. The point isn’t that being heterosexual automatically makes you a good or bad parent. The point isn’t that being gay automatically makes you a good or bad parent. The point isn’t that being heterosexual automatically makes you a good or bad person. It’s not that being gay automatically makes you a good or bad person.

The point is that we are equal, and that means having equal capacity for good and bad. Because we are equally human.

That’s all. Really.

As Lam Luong’s children are being fished out of the water he apparently threw them into, my point isn’t that he’s an example of typical heterosexual parenting. (If he were, I wouldn’t have lived long enough to write this series.)

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comThe body of one of four children allegedly tossed from a coastal Alabama bridge by their father was found Tuesday in a Mississippi bayou, authorities said.

Kate Johnson, a spokeswoman for the Mobile County Sheriff’s Department, said the body was found by a Mississippi marine resources crew in an inlet near Pascagoula.

The identity of the child was not immediately confirmed but was believed to be one of four young children allegedly thrown from the Dauphin Island bridge by their father, 37-year-old Lam Luong.

The bodies of 3-year-old Ryan Phan and his 4-month-old brother, Danny Luong, were recovered over the weekend in waters a few miles west of the 80-foot-tall coastal bridge, where authorities said the father tossed all four children Jan. 7 after a fight with his wife, Kieu Phan, 23.

The bodies of the last two — Hannah Luong, 2, and Lindsey Luong, 1 — were sought Tuesday as the search covered an area extending from the Alabama coast west to Pascagoula.

My point is simply that Luong’s heterosexuality and his ability to procreate don’t, and shouldn’t, automatically make him a better candidate for marriage and parenthood than the hubby and me.

My point is not that Cesar Rodriguez is the epitome of heterosexual parenting, or that what he did to his step-daughter Nixmary Brown is typical of heterosexual parents.

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comThey were enduring symbols of an emaciated girl’s horrific demise: The rope used to tether her to a chair. The cat-litter box she used as a toilet. The bathtub used to dunk her under cold water.

Two years after the fatal beating of 7-year-old Nixzmary Brown, the details from her personal hell were expected to figure prominently in the upcoming murder trial of her stepfather.

Jury selection in the case. which shocked the city and hastened child welfare reforms, continued Tuesday in Brooklyn, with opening statements later in the week.

Authorities say evidence against Cesar Rodriguez includes crime-scene photos inside the family’s three-bedroom apartment and a videotape of the defendant casting blame on the victim, a malnourished child who weighed 45 pounds at the time of her death.

“Sometimes she used to get me real angry and I used to just throw her,” Rodriguez said during the post-arrest interview made public during a family court hearing.

My point is that Rodriguez’s heterosexuality and the heterosexuality and fecundity of Nixzmary’s mother shouldn’t automatically make them better candidates for marriage and parenthood the the hubby and me or any other gay family who would never even dream of doing the above to anyone, let alone our children.

My point is not that Kimberly Dawn Trenor and Royce Clyde Zeigler are the best examples of heterosexual parenting.

A Texas couple charged with killing the little girl known as “Baby Grace” now face capital murder charges, after a Texas grand jury upgraded the charges on Wednesday.

Prosecutors said they have not decided whether to seek the death penalty against the girl’s mother, Kimberly Dawn Trenor, and Trenor’s husband, Royce Clyde Zeigler II.

Two-year-old Riley Ann Sawyers was beaten to death and her body was disposed of in Galveston Bay.

Riley’s body was found October 29 by a fisherman on an uninhabited island in the bay. It was wrapped in black plastic bags and stuffed in a blue, plastic bin.

My point is not that what they did to Trenor’s daughter Riley Ann is in any way representative of what all heterosexual parents do.

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comThe affidavit released Thursday said the stepfather of Riley Ann Sawyers placed the girl’s body in a bathtub, covered her with a purple towel and shut the shower curtain so her mother couldn’t see her dead child.

…Trenor told police the assault was a discipline session gone awry, because the toddler didn’t remember to say “please,” and “yes, sir” to her stepfather. Zeigler’s attorney has denied this account.

Authorities say Zeigler and Trenor stuffed the body in a plastic container and hid it inside a storage shed at the house for up to two months before dumping it in Galveston Bay.

…According to the affidavit, Zeigler and Trenor used two leather belts to beat Riley, her head was held under water and Zeigler grabbed Riley by her hair and flung her across a room onto a tile floor. It also said the girl’s face was pushed into a pillow and a couch.

My point is that their heterosexuality and Trenor’s proven ability to procreate doesn’t and shouldn’t automatically make them better candidates for marriage and parenthood than the hubby and me, when our children are happy, healthy, and here at home with us, even though we didn’t conceive them ourselves.

My point is not that all heterosexual parents are like Fred Roman.

A local father was in a Jefferson County courtroom Friday morning, where he was sentenced for killing his son.

Fred Roman, 23, of Toronto, was charged with murder, felonious assault and endangering children.

Roman changed his plea from not guilty to guilty and admitted to killing the baby. Sheriff Fred Abdalla said Roman admitted he hit the baby’s head against the wall.

The death certificate of the toddler stated he died from blunt force trauma to the head.

Roman was sentenced to 17 years to life in prison.

My point is that it’s ridiculous to assert that his heterosexuality and his ability to procreate makes him a better parent than the hubby and me, or more deserving of the rights and protections of marriage than we are, because even though we didn’t conceive our children together, they’re still alive, thriving, and in no danger of getting their heads bashed into anything by one of us. None of that should put us in the same category as Fred Roman, just for being gay.

My point is not that all heterosexual parents are like the mother who drugged and molested her daughter together with her boyfriend.

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comA former Mesa family counselor groomed his girlfriend into drugging her 11-year-old daughter with sleeping pills so they could take photographs while they molested her over a three-month period in 2006, police said Friday.

William L. Riedel, 43, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of sexual conduct with a minor and child molestation. His former girlfriend, 55, whose name is being withheld by The Arizona Republic to protect the victim’s identity, was also booked Thursday on suspicion of sexual exploitation of a minor, and sexual and child abuse.

…Riedel told police he met the girl’s mother at his Mesa apartment complex and “groomed” the mother to help him molest her daughter. Police believe the molestation occurred from January to March 2006.

Riedel purchased Ambien sleeping pills and had the victim’s mother tell her daughter to take them for her allergies, police records show.

The mother told investigators she was intoxicated when she took photographs while Riedel molested her daughter. She told police she molested her daughter but was “sorry.”

Police began their investigation Wednesday after a 13-year-old classmate of the victim found images of someone who appeared to be the girl being molested by a person who appeared to be Riedel.

My point is that their heterosexuality, and the mother’s obvious fertility shouldn’t and doesn’t meant that they are more worthy of the benefits and protections of marriage than we are, but here we are with children who’ve never been drugged or molested, but while Riedel and the mother in the story above could marry each other tomorrow if they wanted to. And they’d meet the Maryland Court of Appeal’s minimal requirement of being heterosexual and at least potentially capable of procreation.

I’m not trying to say that the mom who left two-year-old Duqan abandoned in the snow is typical of all heterosexual parents.

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comA 2-year-old found wandering alone in the snow on Thursday night has been placed in foster care while police investigate the incident.

The boy was found on a walkway over Interstate 295 at Polk Street in Northeast near the Deanwood Metro Station. The boy told police his name is Duquan, but he could not say where his mother was or where he lived.

Duquan was taken to Children’s Hospital in D.C. in good condition, and his mother was located several hours later a short distance away on Minnesota Avenue.

…The boy has been placed temporarily with a foster family through Child and Family Services Agency, and will remain in foster care until investigators determine whether it is safe for him to go home.

“Our job is to protect the child, make sure they’re healthy and safe while police look into whether there has been a crime committed here,” Good said.

If the boy’s mother is charged by police, Child and Family Services said it will start searching for a permanent arrangement.

I am not trying to say that all heterosexual parents are like Robert Roy Nirschel.

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comAfter pleading guilty via an Alford plea to third degree assault of his infant child, Robert Roy Nirschel will be released from jail Sunday.

…Nirschel, 29, of Fergus Falls, was arrested Oct. 31. According to court records, from July 23 through Oct. 29, he used intentional and unreasonable force or cruel discipline on his child, then 3-months-old, resulting in substantial bodily harm to the infant.

A doctor’s findings from an examination in October revealed a fracture of the radius and ulna of the infant’s right forearm, consistent with shaken baby syndrome. The doctor also found evidence of an old fracture to the middle radius.

A witness reported seeing Nirschel on more than one occasion pick the infant up by the forearm, carry her into the living room and throw her on the couch, according to a criminal complaint.

What I’m asking is why does Nircschel’s ability to make a baby with his female partner earn him the right to marry, which can’t be taken away from him even after what he did to his child after she was born, but the hubby and I don’t have the right to marry even though every day we give the best care we know how to children we didn’t and couldn’t conceive?

I’m not saying that Tammy and Robert Tudor are representative of heterosexual parents.

PhotobucketTwo parents were arrested after police found them living with their five children in a filthy home with no electricity, an arrest report said.

Ronald and Tammy Tudor, both 38 years old, were arrested on warrants for child neglect Wednesday at their house at 750 S.E. Lighthouse Ave in Port St. Lucie. Each is being held at the St. Lucie County Jail in lieu of $25,000 bond.

…In their report, police wrote that flies swarmed all around the house, where the Tudors lived with their five children, ages 18, 14, 12, 11 and 7.

The floor was completely covered with clothes, toys, trash and old food, police said.

Police also noted that mold and maggots grew in the fridge, insects roamed among piles of dirty dishes and the children wore dirty clothes and appeared unbathed.

The parents blamed the children for the dirty conditions, saying the kids refused to obey orders, the report said.

Three of the children, whom the parents said they home-schooled, were having some difficulty reading and writing, police said.

I’m not saying that Rodney Cook and Paula Sutherland are the standard bearers of heterosexual parenting.

Rodney M. Cook, 51, and Paula F. Sutherland, 45, each face felony charges after police were called to 1800 block of North Grand about 12:48 p.m. Nov. 18, according to an affidavit.

After arriving, police spoke with three women who called the department because they saw two girls, ages 2 and 3, in the middle of the road. The women told police they pulled over and grabbed the children.

Police asked the 3-year-old if she knew where she lived, but she could not say. An officer followed the girl to a home on 2nd, where she pushed the front door open.

In the affidavit, police noted they saw Cook and Sutherland, who appeared “passed out drunk” because there were beer cans scattered on the living room floor.

I’m not even remotely attempting to put all heterosexual parents in the same category as Amanda Elbert, whose 11-month-old son was confirmed legally drunk.

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comTest results showing that an 11-month-old infant was intoxicated landed the boy’s mother and her boyfriend in jail Friday on child neglect charges.

Muncie police Lt. Al Williams said detectives were alerted to the incident by local child protection services authorities.

CPS officials told police that Amanda Elbert’s 11-month-old son had been taken to Anderson’s Community Hospital this week by his father, Matthew Dulin.
According to Williams, the father noticed his son was not responsive when he picked him up for a visit this week.

A blood draw taken at the Anderson hospital measured the infant’s blood-alcohol content at 0.118 percent. In Indiana, adult drivers are considered intoxicated if their BACs exceed 0.08 percent.

…Edward Williams admitted drinking beer around the child and claimed the infant might have consumed alcohol without anyone knowing.

Elbert denied anyone was drinking in the presence of her child.

I am not trying to say that what Lisa Marie Massey did to her 4-year-old daughter is an example of what all heterosexual parents do.

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comLisa Marie Massey, 35, of Wrangler Lane in Dunn was issued three superseding indictments in which she was charged with two felony counts of child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury and one count of felony child abuse inflicting serious emotional injury.

Ms. Massey was arrested by Dunn Police on Jan. 23, 2007, after they were notified by the staff of Betsy Johnson Regional Hospital of the child’s condition.

According to the indictments, the incidents occurred sometime between Dec. 24, 2006, and Jan. 23, 2007.

The indictments allege Ms. Massey poisoned the child with salt resulting in hypernatremia, or elevated blood sodium, and a coma.

The grand jury also said Ms. Massey allegedly inflicted burns to the child’s eyelid, forehead, neck, shoulder, both arms and legs, trunk, chest and buttocks.

In the indictment concerning the child’s emotional injury, the grand jury allege Ms. Massey’s intentional actions resulted in “protracted loss and impairment of any mental and emotional function” of the child.

According to the Web site, too much sodium can cause cells to malfunction and extremes can be fatal.

I am not tarring all heterosexual parents with the same brush as Nancy Chanco.

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comIn nearly 200 pages of documentation, it’s clear the state, social workers, police and the mother tried to make a tough situation better for Cyrus.

But there were several heartbreaking times that Cyrus slipped through the law enforcement, social work and parenting safety net in the days and hours leading up to his death.

Cyrus faced early on the drug problem that plagued his mother, Nancy Asiata Chanco. Child welfare files say he was exposed in-utero to marijuana, ice and benzos.

“I got so scared that I might’ve hurt him that I turned myself into my doctor and told my doctor what I did,” Chanco told KHON2 News.

The day after Cyrus was born in February 2006, Child Welfare Services opened a case citing the threat of neglect and abuse of Cyrus.

“But I stayed clean,” Chanco said. “I stayed clean after I gave birth.”

Indeed there was a period of progress. A social worker notes the mother and Cyrus appeared bonded, and that she seemed to be an intuitive parent. Cyrus went into foster care for several days in June 2006, but social workers felt the mother was capable of taking him back.

…On Jan. 11, 2008, the mother went to the emergency room because of a sore eye. A KHON2 viewer who read the publicly posted child welfare documents said she saw through the redaction that the “mother tested positive for crystal meth and presented as high.”

That reopened the case — again for the “threat of abuse and neglect of almost 2 [year old] Cyrus Belt.” It noted “no immediate safety issues,” but the Jan. 11 case was reported to the Honolulu Police Department’s child abuse and neglect detail.

The next Monday – Jan. 14 — it was assigned to a state child welfare case manager. Three days later, Jan. 17, 2008, police called child welfare to see if the state case manager had contacted the family — and they had not. That call was made at 11 a.m. — about the time another police officer was returning Cyrus to the household in question in the child-welfare file after Cyrus had wandered away.

DHS says child welfare did not receive a call from police about Cyrus wandering.

I’m not saying that all heterosexual parents make the same repeated mistakes.

The documents, totaling more than 180 pages, detailed cases Child Protective Services had investigated and sometimes closed. Portions of the documents have been blacked out, including names of family members, complainants and the caseworkers.

Her eldest son, now 16, has lived with other relatives for most of his life. In May 2002, when he was 11, Chanco left him with a relative while she searched for housing and a job. But after a month of fully supporting Chanco’s son, the relative filed for power of attorney.

Shortly after giving birth to her second son in December 2002, Chanco was accused of becoming detached from her newborn and allegedly made comments to family members that she did not want the baby. Her second son, now 5, lives in Turkey with Chanco’s mother.

I’m not saying that all heterosexual parents raise their children in such unfortunate circumstances.

Cyrus Belt’s brief life had no shortage of trouble.

His father, David Belt, is charged with harassing the mother, Nancy Asiata, while she was pregnant with Cyrus. Belt was later incarcerated on drug charges before the boy was a year old.

Asiata has criminal contempt of court on her record. She has history of drug abuse on record with Child Protective Services.

The mother’s boyfriend, Shane Mizusawa — in whose care Cyrus was left that fateful day – has a rap sheet for theft and trespassing.

I’m not saying that all heterosexual parents are as neglectful.

Documents said Chanco was smoking ice while she was five months pregnant with Cyrus failing to get prenatal care. When Cryus was only four months old, Chanco was living without elecricity and coming home high.

“Ms. Chanco leaves the baby in the care of the paternal grandfather, while she leaves the home to abuse drugs,” said a caseworker.

And just this week, the day Cyrus was killed police said the toddler was wondering the streets alone, after being left in the care of his sleeping grandfather.

“Her boyfriend was supposed to wake me up when they leave the house, so I can watch the baby, but that didn’t’ happen,” said Lilo Asiata, the victim’s grandfather.

I’m not saying that all heterosexual parenting has the same disastrous results.

Free Image Hosting at allyoucanupload.comA 23-year-old man was in police custody yesterday after he allegedly threw a young neighbor boy from a 25-foot pedestrian overpass and into the path of vehicles on the H-1 freeway.

…Matthew M. Higa was arrested shortly after 11:40 a.m., when witnesses reported seeing him throw the child from the Miller Street pedestrian overpass.

The boy, 1, was found dead on the freeway’s far right, westbound lane, officials said. He was hit by at least one vehicle, police said.

Higa’s Iolani Avenue neighbors said Higa lived upstairs from the boy in an apartment building.

…Police arrested a 23-year-old man yesterday who allegedly threw a young neighbor boy from a 25-foot freeway overpass into the path of speeding cars, shutting down the H-1 freeway’s westbound lanes for three hours and backing up traffic throughout Honolulu.

Matthew M. Higa was arrested near Prospect Street after witnesses and police chased him up Miller Street soon after he allegedly tossed the child from the pedestrian overpass at about 11:40 a.m.

The mother identified him as 1-year-old Cyrus Belt.

At least one vehicle ran over the boy, said Bryan Cheplic, spokesman for the city Emergency Services Department.

In the time that it’s taken me to write this post, the body of the last of Lam Luong’s four children has been removed from the Gulf of Mexico. Yet I’m still not putting all heterosexual parents in the same category as Luong or any of the parents mentioned above.

What I am trying to do is point out how wrong it is to put parents like me in the same category as the parents in this post—”abusive,” “selfish,” etc.—simply because we are gay parents, and many of us are parenting with same-sex partners.

What I am trying to do is point out the absurdity of the assertion that procreation is the only or the primary purpose of marriage, when in reality it’s even more important to be able to give a child a safe, loving, nurturing environment after he or she is born. Just being able to reproduce doesn’t necessarily make one qualified to actually raise a child to a happy, healthy, self-sufficient adulthod. (After all, how many teenagers are perfectly capable of making a baby, but can’t begin to take care of one?) Even in terms of “propagating the species” or “begetting future generations,” getting them into the world is the relatively easy part compared to guiding them through it, considering that—like many of the children above—without safe, loving, stable homes, the kids might not live long enough to contribute to the gene pool themselves.

What I am trying to say is that if we are truly concerned about the well-being of all children, then we’ll support those parents who are doing their best to raise their children in safe, loving, nurturing environments, whether those parents are heterosexual or gay. If we truly care about the well-being of children, we’ll make sure they their families have all the same benefits and protections as any other family. Right now, we actually punish gay parents and our children, by denying benefits and protections, and thus leaving our families vulnerable in ways that other families are not.

What I am trying to say is that it’s absurd that the parents mentioned above should have more benefits and protections than families like mine, simply because they have functioning reproductive organs, no matter how they actually care for—or fail to care for—their children.

What I am saying is that denying equal protection to families like mine—where children are raised with love, care, and in encouragement, in homes where they are both wanted and protected—because the parents are not heterosexual and cannot conceive together, while affording the same protections to the parents above simply because they can conceive together even though they’re unable or unwilling be good parents, is primitive beyond reason.

What I am trying say is the absurdity of asserting that gay parents, who do provide safe, loving, nurturing environments for children, whether we conceive them or not. Every day we prove that doing so is not exclusively a heterosexual thing or something that gay people are incapable of doing.

What I’m trying to say is just what I said above. Being heterosexual doesn’t automatically make one a good parent, and being gay doesn’t automatically make one a bad parent. Being heterosexual doesn’t automatically make one a good person, and being gay doesn’t automatically make one a bad person.

We have equal potential to be good or bad parents, and we have equal capacity to be good or bad people. Because we are equal in our humanity. And we should be treated equally under the law.

That’s what I’m trying to say. And as long as things stay the way they are, as long people lie about our families, and as long as people use such ridiculous arguments to deny us equality. I shall continue saying it, and saying it just this way.

Until or unless someone can make me understand why the parents I’ve written about in this series are (a) better parents than we are, and (b) more deserving of of the benefits and protections of marriage than we are.


  1. Keep up with the series, Terrance. The RRRW has no qualms about smearing LGBTs and impugning our ability and “fitness” to be parents. They distort, exaggerate and outright lie to achieve their goal of keeping us from having children. Therefore I have no problem with exposing the horrific parenting some heterosexuals perpetrate on innocent children.

    They want to claim we’re unfit parents with their lies? We have truth to prove they are. If they can’t handle the truth perhaps they’ll be forced to examine their own techniques.