Whether one is celebrating Hanukkah or Christmas in the United States, there is one image that is front and center: the family. On Facebook, friends who celebrate Hanukkah downloaded several images of their children with their respective grandparents around a lighted menorah. Meanwhile, the Christmas celebrants download images of their children around Christmas trees large and small, multi-colored or in thematic splendor. In the holiday season, across the faiths, we become a nation that celebrates mom, a dad and a child or children, with or without dogs and cats included in the folderol.
What is unique in this years assault of “traditional American family” tableaus is this breaking news of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) hearing cases regarding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California’s Proposition 8. Both DOMA and Prop 8 attempted to limit marriage as being between one man and one woman, with no chance of any two parents who were of the same-sex, questioning, bisexual or transgender allowed to obtain a marriage license. In this bleak wintry season, hope springs anew for LGBTQ parents. Along with SCOTUS, marriages between LGBTQ people are taking place in Washington state, Maryland and Maine, with rumblings from other states where state leaders are interested in marriage equality.
In this new day and age, lesbian and gays are coming to the realization that they can now partake in what has been off-limits to them prior to this: a fuller embrace of the American dream. The dawning awareness was captured in the LOGO-TV show, “The Baby Wait,” in which one soon-to-be gay dad uttered (with a sense of awe) these words: “When I came out to my parents, I never thought I would be able to marry or be able to raise my own child. Now, I can do both in my lifetime!” In other words, LGBTQ people are now entering the realm of marrying and parenting that was solely the domain of straight people. And, this is being done so no longer as an open act of protest outside the bounds of the law, but being done legitimately and legally. Living in the dawning of this new day and age, there are cautionary notes: what do we, as LGBTQ people, bring to a traditional understanding of marriage and raising children? Likewise, what traditional ways of being “family” in the American narrative do we want to borrow? Do we want to live “for better or for worse, richer or poorer” with one steady other or is there room for an open relationship? Or, for a steady third person in a relationship? These, and other questions, will need to be explored, negotiated, agreed upon, and open for more study in the days, months and years to come.
Nevertheless, as many of us go forward in other states to get our marriage licenses, get married, adopt children, we do so because of those who fought and died to make this day a reality. It is simply amazing to be part of a social movement that is moving forward with great alacrity. Along the way, many of us will receive the blessings of a religious community in the presence of family, friends, wedding planners…soon followed by baby showers, purchase of minivans, dogs, cats, lighting of the menorah and tableaus of the family around Christmas trees. Happy holidays to us all. : :