The success of a household depends on open negotiation of roles which have nothing to do with gender.
Chris and Robin Jones have been together since 1992 and own a beautiful, two story home in a family-friendly neighborhood across from a grade school. Two Honda Civics, one silver and one green, are parked in the driveway before their detached two car garage. Both spouses are in their early forties and have bachelors degrees from different state colleges. Robin works in finance and has a much higher income than Chris who freelances in the professional Arts. Their household income last year was over $200,000 and the credit score for the couple averages out to 811.
Vacations in China, Africa, London, Hawaii, Las Vegas, New York City kept the couple entertained throughout their relationship. But after fifteen years of fun and frolicking, Chris and Robin felt it was time to start a family.
The couple chose to take the required classes to become licensed by their state to become foster parents. A few months later, they were picked out of a pool of twenty-seven couples to take home a set of mixed-race twins.
Only eight weeks earlier, Babies John and Jane Doe were born addicted to crystal meth, among other drugs. Their dad was in jail for beating up their mother, who left them behind at the hospital right after she gave birth. The biological parents had their rights terminated and never saw the babies again. Once sober, the twins deserved a home with enthusiastic parents like Chris and Robin. The adoption papers were signed and finalized right before their first birthday.
Chris and Robin Jones, and their two children John and Jane Doe-Jones are an American family.
Their neighbors, Rita and Ben Smith, are also an American family. They are good friends with the Joneses, and live a virtually identical lifestyle right down to their house, their income, and their two kids, Sam and Terry. The two families often have barbecues and play dates together at the nearby park. The four preschoolers all get along great.
Rita and Ben have been man and wife for eighteen years.
Can you tell from this story if Robin and Chris are both men?
Or are they both women?
Maybe Robin’s a man and Chris is a woman?
Does it matter?
Gay Marriage Critics, Please Take Note
Families consisting of same-sex parents have been in the shadows for a long time, despite not being legally recognized. Sociologist are now scrambling to gather the data of long term gay relationships to compare with straight couples. A thirty year study by Ellen C. Perrin, MD, MA and Benjamin S. Siegel, MD for the American Academy of Pediatrics shows that homosexual couples make equal or better parents, despite discrimination, compared to heterosexual couples. Now that intolerance towards sexual minorities is lessening, gay parents can thrive. Of course, it will take years to show whether or not making same-sex marriage legal changes the statistics at all, but the gays might have a thing or two to teach everyone about family life.
Take the Joneses…
Having lived together many years before they became parents, Robin and Chris are great at negotiating with each other in their relationship. It is a skill that helps them be great parents, too. Robin is the breadwinner and Chris has a more flexible schedule. Perhaps Chris doesn’t have the luxury of being a stay at home parent all the time, but it was an easy decision for the freelance artist to be the house-spouse and primary caregiver to their adopted twins. Studies show that family balance doesn’t hinge on gender; it’s more about negotiating roles.
There was some negotiation across the street at the Smith house when they became parents, too. For at least the last two decades, it has not out of the question for the husband to be a stay at home dad. That worked out well for Ben, while Rita went back to work after her pregnancy and continues to earns a six figure salary in marketing. They got a lot of support for their decision from other families like them in the neighborhood. Besides, what’s sexier than a nurturing father figure or a confident wife and mother who can command attention in a board room?
The concept of role reversals in a heterosexual marriage was present long before people even talked about gay marriage. If it’s works for Rita and Ben, then why can’t Chris and Robin have defined their roles in the family?
Where’s The Science Against Gay Parents? There Isn’t Any.
The fact that Chris and Robin have been in a healthy, long-term relationship for so long gives credibility to same-sex marriage. They had a lovely wedding in 2012 as soon as it was legal in their state. Yet, there are those that still argue that homosexuals do not make good parents; that it’s best for children to be raised in a household with a mother and a father. If that’s the case, then all divorce should be outlawed. Straight divorced parents should have their children re-homed with a both-gendered household. Single mothers should have their babies taken away and adopted to properly balanced couples at birth.
If parenting roles are gender specific, that Ben Smith needs to go back to work and his wife Rita Smith will have to quit her high paying job and stay home with the kids. Rita loves her career, and she’s not going to be happy about that.
We’re Here, We’re Queer, Get Used To It
None of the resistance to gay marriage and family is really about anything other than prejudice. It’s in our nature to judge people, even to wish to boss others around. But long gone are the days of Ward and June Cleaver. A fresh look on the American family has come out of the closet, thanks in part to gays.
Opponents of equal rights can argue all they want about religion and morals. But critics of gay marriage live in glass houses next to the Joneses, and the Smiths, and the Kardashians and the Real Housewives. Everyone in the neighborhood needs to get along.
Photo by nanpalmero