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Marriage Equality IS About the Children

Photograph by Getty Images

I was recently struck with a big swell of pride, one of those moments when you feel like you're doing an OK job as a parent. My daughter and I were in the car talking about what our dream house would look like. Mine would be a Spanish-style abode with a large kitchen, a home office and wisteria growing out front. My 1st grader shared her thoughts about her dream house, saying, "Me and my wife or my husband—whoever I marry—we're going to live in ...." She then started to go into the details of her home that I believe included pink and purple walls, a swimming pool and a really big TV. But I kind of tuned out the rest, as my brain paused on the part when she nonchalantly said, "Me and my wife or my husband—whoever I marry."

I didn't ask her any questions about her marriage plans; I didn't want to call attention to the fact that this wasn't considered the norm. I didn't want to tell her that marriage is only legal between a man and woman. I didn't want to instill in her any opinion that would hinder her idea of freedom to fall in love with anyone, no matter the gender. I just didn't.

I began to think about the innocence of her statement. The idea that there is anything wrong with same-sex unions is one that is learned or taught. But there are some aspects that are unique to my daughter's situation and her acceptance of couples of any gender mix.

We live in San Francisco, where gay and lesbian couples are not only accepted but are also a big part of the city's culture. She has a beloved aunt whose partner is a woman. And she's always been rather impressed when a friend has two moms. She has absolutely no idea that some think same-sex couples are not "normal," and she really has no clue that some hate the idea. My young daughter has no judgments; she just sees people who love each other. Moms raising a family together, and dads raising a family together—she just sees people. My daughter has no idea that her aunts can't be legally wed or that her classmate's dads don't have the same rights as her straight mom and dad do.

I am not looking forward to the day that my daughter finds out that some don't recognize same-sex partnerships as being valid.

During the hearings on Tuesday, as Maureen Dowd noted in the New York Times, Justice Anthony Kennedy brought up the idea of "legal injury" to "40,000 children in California who live with same-sex parents," and that, "... they want their parents to have full recognition and full status."

"The voice of those children is important in this case, don't you think?" he asked.

Yes, very important. Even if the children don't totally get what the debate is about, or that there is a debate at all, they should all be able to say that their parents have the same rights as their peers.

Some may see the debates this week as just about weddings and partner rights, but it's also about giving our children the option to grow up and freely love whomever they want, and to have their love recognized legally just like anyone else. I am not looking forward to the day when my daughter finds out that some don't recognize same-sex partnerships as being valid, legal or moral. But until then, I'll just enjoy her innocence and the freedom of her thoughts.

I can't wait to hear more about her dream house, because I know that she's on the road to filling it with love, with whomever she chooses to love. And depending on what the Supreme Court decides, hopefully her love will be recognized just like anyone else's.

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