The Republic of T.

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

Poisonous Parenting: Mississippi, Goddam.

Alabama’s gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Nina Simone ~ “Mississippi Goddam”

I’ve been so wrapped up in another series that I’d totally forgotten about this one. But then I heard about Mississippi. Goddam.

It’s been a busy, exhausting three months at our house. How can it be otherwise with an active, healthy five-year-old boy and an a growing three month old, who is not quite sleeping through the night yet?

It’s been three months now, since Dylan joined our family, and he’s doing very well. I hardly believe how much he’s grown, from this tiny, just-under-six-pounds baby that you could almost hold in one hand to a baby boy whose all folds and dimples, and definitely requires two hands to hold. Last week, I had to dig through all of Parker’s old baby clothes to find everything all the 3 to 6 months clothes, as Dylan no longer fit his newborn to 3 months clothes. He’s discovered his hand, and that he can bring it to his mouth. Now, he’s constantly putting the fingers of his right hand in his mouth. It cute, but makes it difficult to feed him sometimes.

In the five years since Parker was born, I’d almost forgotten how things change between months two and three. At some point during that time, Dylan started smiling at us. Since it was in response to our interactions with him, and for a longer time, I finally decided it wasn’t a “gas smile.” Now, he gives us big, open-mouthed, toothless grins when we talk to him and play with him. He even squeals with delight. He lights up when he sees Parker at in the afternoons.

Parker, for his part, is truly enjoying being a big brother. It sweet to see how much he really cares for Dylan, and insists on giving him a kiss goodnight on his forehead, before going to bed. Last night he forgot to give Dylan a good night kiss, so after I read Parker his bedtime story (and sang the requisite two songs — from last night, “Wonderful World” and “When You Wish Upon a Star”)I brought him back downstairs so he could kiss Dylan goodnight.

Of course, it’s an adjustment for him. After five years, it’s not always easy to share Daddy and Papa, and sometimes it’s frustrating for him if one of us is busy feeding or changing Dylan and the other is busy making dinner or talking on the phone. So, we each try to spend extra time with him. Since he learned hwo to play Go Fish at school, for the past week we’ve each played a few hands with him at night. And we’ve made a point to go to activities that will be of interest to him.

We read to Parker, like we’ve always done, and we take still him to the library every three weeks to check out books that we’ll read at bedtime. (He’s in the level two reading class.) He even has homework now, which consists of cutting out pictures that begin with the letter of the alphabet for that week gluing them down to paper, and labeling them with their names. So, we take turns leafing through old magazine with him, to find pictures, then we help him glue them down, and Parker labels them with the correct letter.

You can imagine that by the end of the weekend, we’re rather tired. But the kids are happy.

It tires me further, but doesn’t surprise me, that some folks in Mississippi think families like ours shouldn’t exist.

A bill in the Mississippi state Senate would bar cohabiting unmarried couples, including gay and lesbian couples, from adopting children.

The proposed law is an effort to close a loophole that allows gay couples to adopt. WLBT-TV in Jackson, Miss., reports that the state’s department of human services has 533 children in its custody who are eligible for adoption. Current guidelines for a prospective adoptive parent are that he or she must be either single — sexual orientation is not mentioned — or married for at least two years, 21 years old and have sufficient income and insurance to care for a child.

“We’re talking about taking a child and putting them into an environment where they are taught habits and exposed to lifestyles that are clearly detrimental to the child,” state Rep. Phillip Gunn told WLBT in reference to adoption by gay couples.

Again, where to begin?

You can imagine my shock upon learning that Parker and Dylan are being “exposed to habits and lifestyles that are clearly detrimental” to them. I’m not sure what “habits” Dylan is learning. Like I said, he smiles a lot. Right now he’s learning that when he needs us we’ll be there for him. He’s learning that his immediate world is a safe place, because someone cares for him. My guess is that’s why he smiles and laughs as much as he does.

He’s learning the same things that Parker learned, and I’m amazed every day now at how much Parker is learning. He’s reading very well for a five year old already, and regularly by pointing at street signs or words in his story books and saying, “Daddy, that spells _______.” And I’m not sure where he learned it, but he’s a very gentle big brother (for a five-year-old boy, I guess), and I can’t help being impressed with how he wants to amuse or take care of Dylan, and how much he love to make Dylan smile or laugh. In the car, he’ll help with Dylan’s pacifier, and let us know (with regular updates) how Dylan’s doing back there.

Somehow, he’s learned to care for, and about, someone else. I’m pretty sure that’s not “clearly detrimental” to him. Normally, I’d assume that he picked at least some of that up from us — the parents who’ve loved and cared for him since birth. But according to Rep. Gunn, that’s impossible.

If simply having two gay parents is “detrimental to the child,” how can anything good come out of it? If all gay parenting is “child abuse” how can anything gay parents do not be “detrimental to the child”? If all gay parenting is “selfish” how can it be anything but “detrimental to the child”?

Somehow just being gay nullifies any good we do as parents. Despite any and all research to the contrary the assumption is that you can’t be gay and be a good person.

It comes down to a basic question: Can you be gay and be a good person? Can you be good person and be gay? Can you be gay and good? Good and gay? From religious conservatives, there seem to be two answers: Maybe. And no.

From there, it follows that you can’t be gay and be a good parent.

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.

If you ask me, I’d say that adoptive parents like Samuel and Donna Merryman are a lot more “detrimental” to children then the hubby and me.

A Harford County couple accused of starving their 8-year-old adopted Russian son pleaded guilty yesterday to first-degree child abuse resulting in death.

Additional charges, including second-degree murder and four child-abuse charges, were dropped against Samuel Merryman, 40, and his wife, Donna Jean Merryman, 45, of Whiteford.

In January 2005, their youngest son, Dennis Gene Merryman, was found dead on his bedroom floor. At the time of his adoption from Russia in 2000, he was 4 years old, weighed 39 pounds and was 38 1/2 inches tall. At the time of his death four years later, he had lost 2 pounds, despite growing 3 inches, according to the Harford County prosecutor.

Medical examiners ruled his cause of death as starvation.

I mean, neither of our kids are starving. We do have to say no to some of Parker’s food requests, otherwise he’d eat nothing but fruit and drink nothing but juice all day, and Dylan gets a bottle whenever he let’s us know he’s hungry. (Which is something he does very effectively.)

Of course, the Merryman’s aren’t anyone’s idea of good parents. But if they stop abusing their kids, and feed them once in a while, they stand a better chance at being good parents than the hubby and I. The Merryman’s are, after all, heterosexual (and married). Their sexual orientation does not automatically make them “detrimental” as parents. On the other hand, our kids get regular healthy meals, but the hubby and I are “detrimental” to their well-being, because we’re gay. Period.

And, the way I see it, Keith E. Wagner probably exposed his kids to “habits” and “a lifestyle” that’s clearly detrimental to them. That is, if dropping your 17-month-old kid off at a drug den qualifies.

Keith E. Wagner, 33, of Algonac could spend about 15 years behind bars if convicted of child abandonment, second-degree child abuse and custodial interference. Wagner is being held in St. Clair County Jail on a separate neglect charge for failure to pay child support.

Around 10 a.m. Thursday, he was watching Anna Marie Wagner at the request of her 30-year-old mother who had parental custody.

He gave the mother the impression that he was making a quick run to the store or to help a neighbor with car problems and left with the girl a few hours later, police said.

But instead, police said, he drove the infant to a known crack house in Detroit and got separated from her, township police Sgt. Bradley Kersten said.

It’s unclear what happened to the girl while she was apart from her father for about 12 hours, but an unidentified person turned her in Friday evening to the city’s 9th Precinct on Gratiot. That person told police the girl was placed in his or her care, Kersten said.

Anna Marie, who appeared to be unharmed, was examined at a nearby hospital. At first, Chesterfield Township police publicly announced she was going to be returned to her mother, whose name was not released. But then Children’s Protective Services placed her in the care of the father’s family, said Kersten, declining to say what led to the decision.

I’m probably not an expert on parenting. After all, I’m gay and I haven’t made any babies. Just raising a couple. Wagner, on the other hand has made at least one, even if he misplaced her for a while. The closest my kids have ever been to a “drug den” was a trip to CVS, probably to buy diapers or formula.

Wagner, it’s safe to say, probably isn’t an example of stellar parenting. And he’s certainly not an example of typical heterosexual parenting. But he is heterosexual, and makes babies. That already makes him more of a “real” father than the hubby or I will ever be. He can be a good parent, if he stops using the local crack house as a drop-in daycare center. Then, he will no longer be “detrimental” to his child’s well-being. We, on the other hand will “always” be detrimental, even if the closest our kids get to a drug den is the “Allergies & Sinus” aisle at the local drug store. Because we’re gay. Period.

That’s probably why our kids have never tested positive for cocaine or methamphetamine, as did Carolina Hernanedz’s seven-month-old daughter.

An arrest warrant has been issued for a woman whose 7-month-old daughter tested positive for cocaine at levels higher than her mother’s, police said. The baby also tested positive for methamphetamine.

Carolina Hernandez, 33, has been charged with one count of negligent child abuse.

Her boyfriend, 42-year-old Michael T. Novak, has been charged with child abandonment and was arrested Feb. 28. He was released from the Doña Ana County Detention Center later the same day after posting $10,000 bond, jail records show.

According to court records, Hernandez and Novak had been living in a garage in the 900 block of North Main Street that is meant for commercial use.

Records show that Novak, Hernandez, her daughter and another child — age 13 — live in the two-room garage.

The 13-year-old told police that Novak and Hernandez would seclude themselves in one of the rooms where where the child could smell something burning.

And Vincent Ladale Kennedy is probably more of a detriment to his three-year-old than we are to Parker and Dylan, if you ask me.

PhotobucketVincent Ladale Kennedy, 25, has been charged with one count of child neglect, according to the Chattanooga Police Child Abuse investigator.

Investigators learned on Feb. 17, Kennedy was to return his three-year-old child to his mother, at 205 Del Place, after visitation with the child. When he called the mother to tell her he was bringing the child back, she told him she would not be home for at least 15-20 minutes. Kennedy told her the child would be sitting on the porch.

When the mother returned she found her three-year-old child alone on the porch. Fortunately the child was not injured or harmed.

Again, Kennedy did manage to make a baby with a member of the opposite sex, so perhaps he knows something about parenting that I don’t. I mean, he’s a “real father,” and we’re just glorified babysitters, right? I tend to keep a close watch on my kids even when we’re at home. (Trust me, if a five year old wanders off to another part of the house, and you don’t hear anything for a few minutes, you’d better get up and check it out. At least I would.) When we’re out, if Parker goes to the bathroom one of us goes with him. Maybe I’m paranoid, since kids are more likely to be harmed by someone they know than by a stranger in a bathroom, but I’m not taking that chance. Leaving a three-year-old alone, sitting on somebody’s front porch wouldn’t even occur to me.

Again, I’m not saying that Kennedy is an example of good parenting, or typical heterosexual parenting. But according to the logic down in Mississippi, if he can get over his aversion to seeing his baby’s mama face to face, he will cease to be “detrimental” to his child’s well being, because his heterosexuality does not automatically make him such.

He’s demonstrably heterosexual and procreative, which automatically makes him a better parent than us, if he cleans up his act. Even if we never leave our kids alone — let alone on a porch — and never leave them alone for a minute — let alone 15 to 20 minutes — we can never be good parents because we are always “detrimental” to our children’s well-being. Because we are gay. Period.

Based on their qualifications, Thomas Snelling and Jeanie Tate can also rate above us as parents, if they stop smashing kids’ skulls and stuff.

PhotobucketAn 11-month-old is fighting for his life Monday after police said his parents abused him.

Authorities said Thomas Snelling, from Portland, admitted to dropping his baby son on the floor and then throwing him across the room.

He and his wife, Jeanie Tate, face child neglect charges.

Last Sunday, police said Snelling called 911 and said his son wasn’t breathing.

Police found out from doctors that baby Daniel had a fractured skull and was bleeding in the brain.

Officers said Snelling confessed he slammed the infant’s head into the crib because the baby wouldn’t stop crying.

“He explains to one of my detectives that he grabbed the child around the face and, we’re quoting here, ‘I’ll give you something to cry about.’ He slams this child repeatedly at the bottom of that bassinet,” said Portland Police Chief Richard Smith. “He comes back in the room drops it picks it up, drops it, picks it up again, and throws it across the bed.”

Geez. When my kids cry, my first instinct to find out if they need something and if they’re OK. “Giving them something to cry about” never occurred to me, and seems kinda redundant since they’re already crying. I figure if I take care of them, or comfort them they’ll stop crying eventually, and they always do.

Four other kids in the house were underfed an poorly clothed. But that only further proves — if Snelling is the biological father of all four — that he is demonstrably heterosexual and procreative. That means that he’s just a couple of square meals and an anger management class away from being way ahead of us as parents.

I’m not saying that Snelling is a model parent, or even an example of how heterosexuals parent. But if he feeds his kids, cleans up his place, and avoids smashing their skulls, he can be a far better parent than the hubby and me, because he is heterosexual, and his heterosexuality does not automatically make him “detrimental” to his children.

Our house is about as clean as any that houses a newborn and a five-year-old, both kids are well fed, and the only this we do to their heads is comb or brush their hair and give them a kiss on the forehead. But we are “detrimental” to their well being, because we are gay. Period.

Michael Van Boening is probably more “detrimental” to his kids than we are, if drunk driving with daddy qualifies. [Via Parents Behaving Badly.]

PhotobucketFirst he was charged with driving drunk with his 8-month-old daughter in the vehicle. Now, less than a week later, he’s been charged with leaving the infant home alone.

Michael L. Van Boening, 23, 335 S. Plum St., has been charged with intentional child abuse for leaving his 8-month-old daughter home alone while his girlfriend was at work, said Capt. Robert Falldorf of the Grand Island Police Department.

Van Boening’s girlfriend returned home around 2 a.m. Saturday to find the infant unattended. She called police, and Van Boening arrived shortly after officers got to the residence, Falldorf said.

Van Boening told officers he had been outside, but the woman said he wasn’t around when she got home, Falldorf said.

Now, Boening wouldn’t win “Father of the Year” right about now. Not even “Heterosexual Father of the Year.” But, if he sticks to nothing stronger than, say, Coca Cola while he’s driving, and keeps his kid within his field of vision at all times, he’ll be a better parent than we could ever hope to be. Like the rest, he’s demonstrably heterosexual, and he’s made at least one baby with at least one member of the opposite sex.

If he cleans up his act, he’ll be head and shoulders above us, because his heterosexuality doesn’t make him “detrimental” to his kid by default. On the other hand, our kids may never go joyriding with an intoxicated parent, and won’t be left at home alone until their much, much older than eight months. But we’re still “detrimental” to them, because we’re gay. Period.

I don’t know what Aaron Michael Bennett did to his seven-month-old daughter

Unlike a couple of anonymous parents in South Carolina, neither of our kids has contracted gonorrhea.

The parents of two children authorities say contracted gonorrhea each had bond hearings Friday after they were arrested Thursday morning on child neglect charges.

Judge Dolphus Carter set a $25,000 bond for each of the suspects. Both remain in custody at the Dillon County Detention Center at press time Friday.

The Morning News has obtained the identity of the parents but isn’t naming them to protect the children’s identity.

Each parent was charged with two counts of child neglect — one count for each child.

But that’s probably because we don’t use sex-offenders as babysitters, like Vannessa Marie Laster did.

PhotobucketPolice have charged Vanessa Marie Laster, 20, with felony child neglect, accusing her of leaving a 1-year-old girl in the care of a convicted sex offender.

The child, now 2, is in hospital care for treatment of genital warts, according to an arrest report. A further exam indicated that she had been sexually molested

…Police say that beginning in October 2006, Laster left the baby with a convicted sex offender.

In Laster’s arrest report, police did not accuse the man of molesting the child.

“Mother of the Year,” Laster ain’t. “Heterosexual Mother of the Year” is probably out of the question too. But if she can secure childcare services from someone whose idea of play time doesn’t include a case of genital warts, she’ll qualify for “Parent of the Year” way before we ever will. Laster has made at least one baby, so she’s very likely heterosexual and clearly fertile. (And perhaps also has a forgiving heart. She must believe in second chances, to leave her kid with a known sexual offender, after she was warned about him.)

I don’t know where Laster was going when she left her one-year-old daughter with a sex offender. Maybe she was off to the casino, like Amanda Sue and Luis Alberto Perez.

A Sequoyah County couple is facing child neglect charges after police discovered their children, ranging in age from two months to 11 years, at home alone while the couple allegedly went to a local casino.

Amanda Sue Perez, 28, of Sallisaw and Luis Alberto Perez, 37, of Muldrow were charged Feb. 26 with child neglect, according to court records.

The couple was charged in connection with an incident on Feb. 19. Sallisaw Police Officer Billy Oliver was dispatched at about 4 p.m. Feb. 19 to the 400 block of North Maple to assist the Department of Human Services (DHS) on a welfare check.

According to the police report, Oliver spoke with a DHS investigator, Lisa Pevehouse. Pevehouse told Oliver that she had knocked on the door to the home and children looked out the window but would not open the door. Oliver then knocked and announced it was the police. The children looked out the window, Oliver reported.

… Oliver reported that the oldest child was sitting on a mattress in the floor crying as she tried to care for the two-month-old. Luis Perez told police that the baby was sick and had to take breathing treatments. The small children who did not attend school appeared like they had not had a bath recently, Oliver reported. One child had marker all over his body and another had sores on his head.

Oliver wrote in his report that the house was in disarray with the children’s beds being nothing more than a mattress on the floor with no sheets or blankets on them. In the kitchen, Oliver reportedly observed one of the children had a chair moved over to the sink and had been using a knife. The rest of the house was littered with food and clothes, according to court records.

I can only imagine what the Perez home must have looked like. (Perhaps the parents ran off to the casino in hopes of winning enough money to hire a housekeeper.) I don’t have to imagine what kind of house John and Mary Ann Hale kept.

HaleA 7-year-old boy was taken from his parents Wednesday after Kosciusko County police received an anonymous tip that the family was living in squalor.

John Hale, 51, and his wife, Mary Ann Hale, 52, were both charged with neglect of a dependent and taken to the Kosciusko County Jail, police said. Mary Ann Hale also was wanted on a check-deception charge, police said. John Hale was later released on a bond.

…After Rager knocked again, Mary Ann Hale answered the door and led him inside, a police report said.

When Rager entered the trailer, he saw a “large amount of dirty items all over.”

John Hale was in the rear bedroom of the home when Rager arrived, he said, and Mary Ann Hale led the officer toward the back of the trailer.

There was “a single path through the living room that led to the rear bedroom,” Rager said.

The seven year old son was at school. And as the police officer made his way down that single path, he saw what the seven year old had to come home to.



Again, the Hales are not the epitome of superior parenting, or even superior heterosexual parenting. But, they are heterosexual (and married), and have produced at least one offspring. They may have a bit of a problem with hoarding. But they are just one heavy duty cleaning away from beating us out as parents.

If they can manage to clean their house, or keep the next one clean after this one is condemned and torn down, they’ll be better parents than us even if our house passes the “white glove” treatment and gets Martha Stewart’s seal of approval, because they are heterosexual. Their heterosexuality does not make them automatically “detrimental” to their child. It doesn’t matter if we clean a house well enough to make Joan Crawford smile. We are “detrimental” to our children’s well-being. Because we are gay. Period.

And finally, there’s Niurka Ramierz, who’s apparently never heard of a “time-out” and thought a high pressure water hose at a car wash was an ideal way to discipline a cranky three-year-old who was having a tantrum. “Detrimental”? Depends on your point of view.

ABC News: Mother Hoses Child: Chargeable Offense?A 22-year-old Florida mother who was videotaped using a pressure hose on her toddler at a car wash said she was shocked when police charged her.

Niurka Ramirez said that she didn’t want to spank her 2-year-old when she began having a temper tantrum at the car wash and that she was only trying to calm her daughter.

“She was having a kicking and screaming attack on the car,” she said on “Good Morning America” today.

So, Ramirez turned the hose to the child.

“[I thought] she would relax. The water would calm her. It would relax her,” she said.

What Ramirez didn’t realize was that a surveillance camera was capturing the event. The videotape made its way to the media and a search began for the mystery woman on the tape. Ramirez turned herself in to Orlando police a day after the video made the rounds on television stations.

But the camera was running. And here’s what it caught.

I’m not a big fan of spanking, but in this case I’d recommend it if the alternative is something like this. It might at least be less traumatizing. I’ve used those hoses to wash cars before. Out of curiosity, I stuck my head in water out of curiosity. It stings, and I’m a grown man. I can imagine how it feels to a three year old who’s being held in front of the hose by her mother.In some ways, I understand Ramirez, because I know what it’s like to attempt to handle a tantruming toddler. All sorts of things pass through your mind, but you don’t do them. I’ve never laid a hand on Parker, and neither has the hubby, but he knows there are limits and he knows there are consequences if he crosses them; it may be a time out, or temporarily losing access to a particular toy, or an early bedtime. But it’s never a pressure hose.Ramirez may be a “great mom,” as she claims to be. And if she can find more conventional ways to discipline her child — or at least some method that won’t put her in the running for a position in the Bush administration as an interrogator — she’ll beat us in the parenting department. After all, she’s heterosexual and she’s made at least one baby. Her heterosexuality doesn’t automatically make her “detrimental as a parent.” But it doesn’t matter if the only “power wash” our kids know anything about is bath time with extra bubbles. We’re “detrimental” as parents, because we’re gay. Period.

Or at least we are in Missisippi; where it doesn’t matter how well you take care of a child, or how much you love your kid. In Mississippi, you can’t be a good parent if you’re gay, and they want to make sure you can’t be a parent at all.

Reminds me of a bit of dialogue from Mississippi Burning.

Mayor Tilman: Fact is, we got two cultures down here: a white culture, and a colored culture. Now, that’s the way it always has been, and that’s the way it always will be.

Anderson: Rest of America don’t see it that way, Mr. Mayor.

Sheriff Ray Stuckey: Rest of America don’t mean jack shit. You in Mississippi now.


One Comment

  1. When Gunn said that queer lifestyles “are clearly detrimental to the child,” I think the child he was referring to was his pouty Inner Whiner.