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November 13th, 2008
02:35 PM ET

The impact of Prop 8 on my family

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/11/13/art.vert.andrewsolomon.jpg width=292 height=320]

Editor's Note: Andrew Solomon is the author of The Noonday Demon: An Atlas of Depression, which won the 2001 National Book Award, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, and has been published in 24 languages. He is a Lecturer in Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, and writes for The New Yorker and The New York Times. He is also the author of the novel A Stone Boat and of The Irony Tower: Soviet Artists in a Time of Glasnost.

Andrew Solomon
Author, The Noonday Demon

My partner John and I tied the knot on June 30th last year. John had wanted to get married for some time, and we could have done so in Massachusetts, but gay marriage has no federal recognition there, and thus offers none of the myriad legal protections that heterosexual marriage entails, so I felt that it would be something of a sham. Then Great Britain passed a law giving civil partnership legally identical status to marriage.

Because I am a dual national, it made sense for us to get hitched over there: if we ever decided to give up our US citizenship, we would be treated as each other’s next of kin, and would not be taxed on each other’s estates. The name may be less than in Massachusetts, but the rights are more.

Even after our well-attended celebration of union, I was shy of calling our relationship a marriage, and social reserve made me leery of using the word husband in referring to John; it seemed unmasculine and almost kitsch. Over time, though, I found myself increasingly incensed by the opposition to gay marriage and I recognized the use of that term as a tool in the battle for civil rights. My hesitancy owed to a society that had always made me feel that I could assume my real identity only at a cost.

Gradually, however, I’ve become convinced that words and rights are ultimately inseparable, and that it is pusillanimous for me to call John anything other than my husband. Linguistic apartheid gives license to those who would treat us as lesser citizens, and our love as an inferior love. It exacts a price, compromising our feeling of participation in the great history of love that our parents’ marriages reflected. Philip Larkin’s poem about a tomb in which the remains of a husband and wife were placed together, ends, “What will remain of us is love.” Marriage is the institution by which that love is sanctified, for better or worse—the mechanism of that remaining.

Since our wedding, I've gone from mild advocate to passionate supporter of gay marriage, of unions but especially of marriage itself. In the grand scheme of things, I'd rather have an election that brought in Obama and failed on marriage than the other way around, and I am almost embarrassingly excited about our new president. But it has been a bitter pill to hear the throngs shouting for joy about this election, while so many gay men and lesbians are being hit with a sense of how regressive society is about our rights and priorities.

Activists have consoled us that gay marriage will end up winning, but I don’t want to be the equivalent of the 106-year-old woman Obama lionized in his victory speech, winding down old age with the satisfying experience of seeing prejudice finally fall. I may have to wait that long to vote for a gay candidate for the presidency, but I will not wait so long for permission to refer to John as my husband not as an affectation but as a matter of national legal record, affirming the same rights and the same status between us that our heterosexual married friends and family enjoy.

I have become involved in the Gay and Lesbian Studies program at Yale University, where I studied as an undergraduate. In that capacity, I have spent time with Larry Kramer, the well-known playwright and activist who started the program. I hear his stories about being gay at Yale in the 1950s, when every effort was made to “cure” him, and I wonder how he ever managed to stay alive and intact in the face of that era’s view of gay people. I am not sure I could have survived it. I also spend time with the current undergraduates, and looking at them I feel a great envy for the life they have, and think how, if I had been of college age now instead of in the 1980s, I might have avoided years of self-hatred and confusion and self-flagellation, and perhaps had the early, open, happy romantic life that seems now to be available to so many students. I could have imagined for myself the future I am having now, one of marriage and family and relative social sanction—a future that hardly occurred to me at the time. Describing the gap between the Kramer-Solomon-Today generations to some of the undergraduates, I concluded by saying to them that I hoped that when they revisit the campus in twenty years, they will feel a similar sad longing for the lives of a new generation, so much more free and so much more full of hope than anything they can now imagine. Perhaps they will live in a time when gay lives are neither easier nor more difficult than straight ones, when gay hopes need not be different from straight ones, when the language of the gay and straight worlds do not differ.

I have a one-year-old daughter, and John and I are expecting another child in spring. I would like them to grow up with the social affirmation that their gay parents' relationship was as valid as anyone else's. The success of Proposition 8 hurts not just me and my husband, but also those children, and all the people who don't have the right to emigrate to England in case society persistently denies us our due. Progress in gay rights over the past twenty years has been astonishing, but those advances have whipped up latent hatreds among the opposition and blunted the sense of urgency among people who consider themselves on our side. Too many people see language as a minor reflection of the reality we aspire to, but language is that reality.

Our fight for equality, at this otherwise euphoric moment, and our belief that separate but equal is not equal, are perceived by even our supporters as being somehow shrill. Gay marriage is not merely a matter of self-interest for gay people in relationships who want to use a fancy word to refer to their intimacies; it is an issue of human justice, of affording affirmation in a world that suffers a severe shortage of love and of joy.

soundoff (106 Responses)
  1. viewer

    Geez-with all that's happening iin the country and the world, is this issue that dire?? People are suffering, financial markets are tumbling, people are losing jobs , houses , health care and their hope and sanity. Give it a break!! Think about someone else but yourselves for a change!!

    November 15, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
  2. Melissa, Los Angeles

    @ Ryan based on your logic if a heterosexual couple chooses not to procreate should they not marry? What about the couples who marry and are unable to have children? Should they divorce since they're not fulfilling the "purpose" of marriage?

    November 15, 2008 at 3:39 pm |
  3. Martin Trevino

    This problem of “marriage” has been completely obscured by connotations to the Bible and religious factors and people. It would appear to me that if people both Gay and Straight would get informed about what the real issue behind “marriage” is then we could move forward and hopefully recognized that marriage is a bill of rights more than it what it has been termed an “institution.” Unfortunately, people are so blinded by the representation that a marriage is symbolic of “love” and commitment to another person and religion, that they cannot or will not recognized that it is about the 1, 463 thousand rights and benefits that are automatically given to a man and woman when they enter into a civil union.

    I propose that if marriage continues to be a reflection of religious and Biblical ideology, then that these rights be automatically taken away from heterosexual unions. As I really don’t recall reading anywhere in the Bible that marriage comes with these rights. Let heterosexuals pay for these rights as the GLBT community has had to pay for legal services when they try to assure that their partners are taken care of in sickness and in health.

    I also propose in regards to adoption. If a person has any kind of criminal history, parking tickets, substance abuse problem (past or present), has made terroristic threats, lived domestic violence (past or current), lives below the federal poverty line, has had a child out of wedlock, has been divorced, considered a divorce or has remarried, has had and a sexual relationship outside of their “marriage” known or still a secret, has looked a member of the opposite sex and had any sexual deviant thoughts, did not attain a college education, or have ever questioned God, that they not be allowed to adopt either. I know this list could go on but, I don’t want to sound judgmental.

    These proposals would make everything equal, gay or straight! And it would not interfere with what the Bible supposedly says. The changes would then emulate what America truly aims to reflect and a role model to the rest of the world; A country of freedom for all!

    Put that up for a vote!

    November 15, 2008 at 2:40 pm |
  4. Nancy Edmondson

    Since I unfortunately can't attend any of the rallies today protesting against the passing of Prop 8, I can at least add my 2cents here! Thank you for this posting - it was lovely to read about your family - and I wish you the best. I, too, was thrilled about Obama's election but when the California results started coming in and it became clear what had happened, I was so sad. The wedding of my niece and her partner in California last month is in jeopardy and I'm not happy about it! Things are changing but it can't be too soon for me! Best to you.

    November 15, 2008 at 1:15 pm |
  5. john

    Why is it if one disagrees with gay marriage, automatically that person will be labeled as hateful? There is no ill will toward that group, proponent of Prop 8 were defending marriage institution. Where is the "hate" there?

    How can gay activists even equate their struggle to Black movement and civil right movement?

    Majority has spoken and their wishes should be respected...

    November 15, 2008 at 1:09 pm |
  6. Jocelyne

    I have nothing against the law protecting gay people living like married people but I think that calling it "marriage" doesn't feel right. Why not put your brains togethr and find your own word for your union.... I think that a lot of people would swallow that a lot better.
    Thanks and good luck.

    November 15, 2008 at 1:07 pm |
  7. Jim,

    Emma- God Said Love one another But Love does not let a person do whatever they want – Jesus REBUKED the Religous leaders & Sinners & told them to REPENT because they were doing what was WRONG in Gods sight- Get a Bible & read what GOD said on the subject-He lists several things as Abomination & means what he says
    & those who think they can do these things & get away with it will have a very rude awakening-God sent Jesus to save the lost But look at Revelation- Gods Judgement falls on the people of earth because they would not REPENT & turn from their Fornications,Witchcrafts,murders,thefts etc How Long will you call what God calls Abomination Acceptable-If there is no God then anything goes- That means it would be ok to steal,murder,rape,have sex with whoever or what ever you want whenever you want.God gave his Laws to Man out of Love HE laid down what is right & wrong & if you think you can change Gods Mind & call what He says is Abomination "Your Right" He will give you your right & give you the right to spend eternity in Hell & seperated from His presence & Love Forever

    November 15, 2008 at 12:41 pm |
  8. Ryan

    As a mormon, I want to let everyone know that we are not bigoted, hating, or heartless people. We do have an extreme difference of opinion on this matter and I am sure on others. I have gay friends and colleagues. They are all tremendous people. Obviously we live in different ways, with different belief systems. Their choices do not make them any less important.
    However, the purpose of marriage is to procreate and bring children into a loving family that is able to provide for the emotional, physical and spiritual needs of their offspring.
    Marriage other than heterosexual marriage does not fit this purpose.

    November 15, 2008 at 10:14 am |
  9. Courtney Knowles - New York, NY

    Andrew, thanks for sharing your perspective and story so beautifully. It's like you pried open my head, pulled out the thoughts and then fixed ‘em up and presented them more eloquently. I think you captured what many of us are thinking, but may have a hard time articulating over the thud of ignorance and discrimination that was heard on November 5th - a day that should have been a celebration all around.

    I have also spent much of my adult life as a half-hearted advocate for gay marriage. As a gay man, my hat was in the equal rights ring, but barely. Looking back, there were a couple of reasons for my resistance to fully embracing the cause. First, I spent a few years leading communication efforts for an organization focused on marriage and divorce (the old-school, straight kind). If you look closely enough at the collective of marriages in America, it can begin to seem like a lackluster prize. Who really wants this thing that breaks nearly 50 percent of the time? The second reason is much simpler – I was tired. As the son of a southern baptist minister raised one notch away from the buckle of the bible belt, I had already fought so many forces, internal and external, on the road to creating my own family. Once I had that family – my partner, our pup (the adorable nightmare that woke me up at 5 a.m. this morning), and the friends and relatives that make up the framework of my life today – I didn’t really want to fight anymore.

    In the last few years, I have come to realize that this issue is about so much more than the rights and the terminology, both of which should be, without question, available to us and our families. For me, it’s about the younger version of myself and all the individuals today who have similar stories – struggling with their identities in places where there are no positive messages about gays and lesbians. Places where any promise of being yourself and building a life of love and family is stifled by “No, you can’t” and “No, you won’t.” Any of us who have traveled that road know that the potential for self-destruction is too present, the likelihood of lives being derailed is too high. When I think of those young men and women – past, present and future – already so fragile, learning the news of Prop 8’s passage, hearing yet another round of “No, you can’t,” I get furious. It kicks the advocate in me into high gear. Something as simple as equality CAN prevent years of self-hatred and pain. It can make the concept of family and love accessible to everyone. It can change that “No, you can’t” to “Yes, you can.”

    I find some comfort in research released before the election that said voters that know someone who is gay were significantly more likely to vote against Prop 8. There is a power in sharing our perspectives and I do believe the collective stories of our lives, our loves and our families are louder than that thud heard on November 5th. If I close my eyes, I can almost hear the last line of Paul Monette's "Becoming a Man" being sung over a funky beat..."And from that evening on the brink of summer's end, no one would ever tell me again that men like me couldn't love."

    So, all together now – and a little bit louder….

    November 14, 2008 at 11:32 pm |
  10. Rob

    I think the best solution for the US is to create a legal framework based on civil unions and not "marriage". We can then let different religions define marriage as they wish.

    November 14, 2008 at 11:42 am |
  11. Marianne

    Sandra, let's say you have a child, and you're not allowed to be called mother by that child because say you adopted her. So instead of calling you mother, she called you something different, like say adoptive subparent, do you think that is fair? Don't you think you would be just as much of a "mother" as anyone else that "naturally " bore her? Please remember that your rights will never be infringed upon because of others desire to be treated the same, not seperate from you.

    November 14, 2008 at 10:55 am |
  12. Katherine

    Andrew, it's interesting to read how your thoughts and feelings evolved. While it is very disappointing to see California step backward on this issue, at least Connecticut has joined Massachusetts in giving full marital equality to gay and lesbian couples. As the benefits of treating families equally continue to become clear in those states (and the fact that no harm follows). I hope more hearts and minds will change.

    Perhaps a state's interest is only in civil unions for all couples and the word marriage should become private; but as long as the law covers marriage for one set of couples, there should be no pretense that "separate but equal" status for others confers full acceptance. And we all benefit from loving families like yours!

    November 14, 2008 at 10:13 am |
  13. Jennifer, Minneapolis

    Andrew,
    Congratulations to you and John. I am close to several families like yours. Our children go to school and play together. It has not caused my husband and I to redefine our own marriage and family life. In fact, ours has been strengthened by knowing such loving families. Thank you for your beautiful article.

    November 14, 2008 at 9:25 am |
  14. Emma

    I do not understand those you are against Pro 8 because of their religion. Religions teach you not to judge others.

    November 14, 2008 at 5:49 am |
  15. Francesca

    Dear Andrew:
    thank you for sharing with us your thoghts and your militancy.
    From the Dark Age perspective of a citizen of a country ruled by the Catholic Church, what you write sounds idealistic and yet so far and impossible.
    But like Obama's election did not come out of nothing, but from years of battles, a full civil affirmation of gay rights will need a LOT of eloquence.
    Yet I agree that the media should show what destructive effects such laws are having on the lives of families and children. Maybe people would start rethiking.
    Francesca

    PS. You and your family really look so cute and beautiful. I am so happy about that.

    November 14, 2008 at 3:48 am |
  16. Jackie

    You're absolutely right, Andrew, that you shouldn't memorialize the victory of gay marriage being the norm when you are 106 years old. First of all, I was astonished that PROP 8 was put on the ballot and then I was totally disappointed in the human race for voting YES on it. This shouldn't even be an issue. I have a sister who is a lesbian and she is getting married to her beloved this coming August in a civil union ceremony. If they had a choice, they'd would have chosen a Rabbi to give the blessing. But no, that is not possible. The Rabbi is forbidden to officiate gay marriages. I don't get it. Marriage is really between two people and the honor that they bestow upon each other.
    Whether you are gay or a heterosexual, you have the same expectations. What business is it of anyone what sexual orientation you choose as long as you honor the principles of marriage. I don't get it how people can enforce a law based on their discomfort or relgious beliefs. If they were living by the rules of God they should have tolerance and respect for all people instead of spending time and energy perpetuating hate. What happened to the separation of church and state? Why are religious groups influencing laws? How did this setback happen? Please explain it.

    Andrew, you have a beautiful family and you and John are not only embraced, but very much respected. I do hope that the people of our country can see beyond sexual orientation and understand that who one shares the bed with does not define the person.

    November 14, 2008 at 1:54 am |
  17. Us Citizen = Equal Rights

    "As a Californian, my vote was NOT based on religion. I agree with Cal, I support Civil unions, but do not support changing the definition of marriage. Civil Unions have all the same rights. If it’s just a “word” then Civil unions will solve the issue and I will support it. If it doesn’t then it really isn’t about equal rights!"
    ___________________________________________________

    Sandra, please get your facts – ahem – straight...Civil Unions DO NOT have all the same rights and protections of a state-documented marriage. That is the sly lie that the anti-gay marriage people use to deflect the inequality.

    Not only that, gay civil unions are not even an option in the majority of the states in this country!

    But, you make a good point: Why don't we call ALL marriages – straight and gay – civil unions? Then everyone will have the exact same protections. Because all marriage is, is a legal contract certified by the state (it has NOTHING to do with the religious "ceremony").

    After all, if "marriage is just a word", then you won't mind if we change yours to a civil union – right? Right?

    And redefining the definition of marriage effects you directly, how?
    Please explain that?

    November 14, 2008 at 1:36 am |
  18. J.V.Hodgson

    This persons comments get to the core issue very effectively
    1) Marriage is effected by religious bodies under thier rules. The state or federal government then has chosen to extend benefits ( civil rights) to married couples.
    2) Distinguish a civil union ( meaning one conducted by state or federally authorised organisation not a church) be it a Hetrosexual marriage or gay or lesbian marriage. the same "civil rights" should then be extended to all. Normally, such couples ( gays etc) cannot have children unless a female has a child from a previous hetrosexual relationship, when the same civil rights child benefits should accrue.
    Adoption, unless the paternal parents both agree where known the adoption agency cannot proceed without thier approval.
    Please America stop mixing religion, politics and law on this subject and pass a fair, reasonable non discriminatory federal law.
    I am not Gay and consider myself "married" even though my church of 37 years standing refused me "marriage" because of a previous divorce, so I got "married" in a state registration office.
    There are millions of Hetrosexuals in this category, are you going to deny them thier civil rights, to marry in that way ( not in a church/religious body )as well. If so you are simply playing with the semantics of the word "marriage" as mutifariously religiously defined.
    I am and remain a christian, but my relationship broke with my/our "church" because they refused to marry us. Another church would have but the idea was anathema to both of us.
    Stop mixing religion and politics and law. it is not necessary and respect the basic and induividual rights and freedoms in the Constitution, with a federal law that respects all individuals, minority or otherwise, and let common sense not prejudice or individual religious beliefs prevail.
    Regards,
    Hodgson.

    November 14, 2008 at 1:18 am |
  19. rhonda

    I know that when I got married and could refer to my 'husband,' the world started treating me differently–with more respect. I had become a grown-up. This was alarming to me but real. Even apart from the legal benefits it confers, marriage carries symbolic weight, as the ultimate rite of passage into adulthood–regardless of how unpredictable it is and how many people divorce. The word remains powerful and, as Andrew Solomon so rightly states, constitutive of a part of our reality. It must be acknowledged , therefore, as a universal right. If my gay friends cannot enter into marriage, then marriage as an institution is certainly not 'protected' as these homophobes claim. It is, rather, reduced to being a vehicle for hatred and bigotry.

    November 14, 2008 at 12:23 am |
  20. amy

    What a beautiful photo. And bravo to you for your flexibility in revising and evolving your outlook on the subject
    I do think often the Word comes first, and the reflex later – that you can change thinking by changing language.

    Anyway, the word 'husband' sounds archaic even to me - a straight, married female. I don't think I use it too often, maybe because it sounds a little bourgeois. In your context, though, it suddenly becomes radical!

    Do you think gay men in France are happy with the PACS option in their country?

    Please don't be embarrassed about your Obama enthusiasm (or anything else about your sexual, ethnic, political, temperamental, or class identity) Enjoy the exhiliration, and let's hope we can all sustain it.

    November 14, 2008 at 12:00 am |
  21. Richard Friedman

    Dear Andrew,

    Beautifully and powerfully put! I don't think, though, that you'll have to wait until you're 106 to see Proposition 8 and its ilk overturned. They represent the expected backlash along the way toward progress and equality. True, this hateful measure passed, but the fraction of voters who believe that gays and lesbians should have equivalent marriage rights has increased significantly. I admit that I'm an optimist, but I think this is achievable in our lifetime.
    Thanks for your eloquent comment.

    November 13, 2008 at 11:47 pm |
  22. Anonymous

    I took my marriage vows very carefully, after a period of discernment and guidance from a pastor. I had previously endured a starter marriage in which I had no concept of the role of God in a marriage at all. I was wise enough, after a long conversion process, to invite God in to the union this time, and was careful to do so. I've continued to ask for help when I need it in the marriage. (Anyone who denies they need help from God or others in their marriage, in my opinion, is delusional, and has not read the marriage vows that the Solomons took, at least.)

    As one who has read "The Noonday Demon" several times and is quite familiar with Mr. Solomon's story and voice, well - his marriage to his husband seems full of sincerity, love, and a product of real discernment. A model marriage - how could anyone question this union? It boggles the mind. To travel from the gate of suicide through the door of love, commitment, and union that is marriage, and to cement that union with the seal of parenthood - I think Jesus would love this story and offer his blessings. Don't you? Both Mr. Solomon and Mr. Habich are so fundamentally human - of such real warmth and kindness - that their marriage might serve as a lesson to many who perhaps, like I did that first time, get married for silly reasons and then get divorced after realizing how silly they had been, only to cause destruction all around.

    My hope is that Mr. Solomon's strong voice as a writer and presence in the academic and literary worlds, combined with his role as a prominent and respected public figure, will be an agent of change that will, perhaps slowly, begin to start to speak to those who resist new ideas out of fear and ignorance. Morality can never be firmly rooted, not to mention grow and flourish, when its soil is a mixture of distrust, smallmindedness, and false piety. My prayer is that Mr. and Mr. Solomon continue in their commitment to one another and grow together in joy, especially through the shared and sacred journey of parenthood.

    What a lovely story to read. Perhaps a picture is worth all these words..I see real joy on the faces of the Solomons. Let's hope we all are privileged to see and hear more from a lovely and now-growing family......

    November 13, 2008 at 11:40 pm |
  23. Jim, Bishop,Ca

    Andrew- Some one I loved very much was gay- She died at the age of 38
    & is now in hell-if she could speak to you she would tell you it is not worth it. You are the one who has to live with the consequences of your decision- God says your life style in his eyes is an abomination- You want to argue with God You go right ahead. As for me I will stand in agreement with God- Obey his command to warn you of your way in love
    If you choose to ignore my words & Gods Then on judgement day you cannot blame me or any other Christian- only yourself. Right is right & wrong is wrong no matter if all 6,000,000,000,000 people on earth say Wrong is right.

    November 13, 2008 at 11:38 pm |
  24. Josh

    Sandra- Civil Unions DO NOT have all the same rights and protections as marriage. Look it up and educate yourself. The Federal Government doesn't even recognize civil unions like it does marriage.

    Many of the states (like FL and KY) have banned gay marriage, civil unions, and domestic partnerships.

    November 13, 2008 at 11:09 pm |
  25. Maureen / Newman, California

    @ Sandra

    Whatever the reason, religion or whatever, it is a shame that there are so many people that think that they are somehow more deserving than someone else because they are different. It all boils down to discrimination. I guess you don't think this is about equal rights because you do not view yourself equal to gay people. You think that you are far above and more deserving of freedoms than they are.

    I think that all of the churches involved should lose their tax exemption status. When church members discussed and promoted prop 8, they all broke the law which should enable us to act to stop giving these people a free ride in terms of paying taxes like all other businesses are required.

    November 13, 2008 at 11:05 pm |
  26. Meg

    For the life of me I'll never understand why (or how) people feel that their neighbors marriage has any impact on their marriage. Unless you're having an affair with my husband, frankly, it has no baring on me at all. To me, a person who is so interested in their neighbors relationship has their attention in the wrong place.

    I fully support marriage between any two people who decide they want to jump over that rope. What I have an issue with is states giving additional rights to same sex couples that are living together that opposite sex couples aren't given – insurance, death benefits, etc.

    It makes no difference whatsoever what any other people do as long as it's not hurting anyone else. God bless, and heaven help, the couple that decides to forever lock themselves into that union.

    November 13, 2008 at 9:35 pm |
  27. manny

    Just as gays expect people to respect thier lifestyles, they should respect others opinions. How dare they bash people for voting how they believe.

    November 13, 2008 at 9:32 pm |
  28. Matthew

    For those of you against gay marriage, I think its so easy for you to stand on your side of the issue because you are going home to your husband or wife. If your husband or wife died, you are the next of kin. You have so many other rights that others do not. Proposition 8 is discrimination, I don't care how you spin it. To give the slippery slope argument is foolish. It was the same argument used back in the day to prevent blacks and whites from marrying. Who gives the definition of the word marriage anyway?

    November 13, 2008 at 9:28 pm |
  29. Mike, NC

    Andrew, congratulations on your beautiful family! You two are going to be amazing parents with more love to give your children than most heterosexual couples could bring to the table. Best of luck, and thank you for your work!

    November 13, 2008 at 9:11 pm |
  30. Cheryl Reid-Simons

    Sandra and others make an argument that collapses under its own weight. It isn't "just a word." It's a message that the government holds some relationships in higher esteem than others. If a marriage and a civil union are equal, then why the fuss? Why not allow people to define their relationship in whatever term they choose?

    Better yet, if civil unions are as good as marriage, then make it civil unions for all, heterosexual couples included. The government should stay out of making a value callon whose "union" is more valued. If you really, really want the word "marriage," let that be up to your church. For everyone else, a civil union is just fine.

    As for the fellow who brought up the red herring argument about polygamy - you inadvertently bring up a great point. One of the churches most committed to preserving traditional marriage is the Mormons. And, until they needed to gain statehood in Utah, they practiced polygamy. To this day, they to not say Brigham Young et al were wrong. Rather they say there was a need at the time that does not exist now. But really, what hypocricsy for this group to paint themselves as defenders of the traditional defnition of marruage.

    November 13, 2008 at 9:00 pm |
  31. Christianna

    You and I share the same opinions on the election, as well as on Prop 8–which was only one of the three gay marriage bans that passed in this election.
    Until 'civil unions' can guarantee the exact same rights as a marriage, this will remain an issue, regardless of who is in charge of the country, and I hope that in the next four years, a lot more progress can be made.
    Also, your daughter is absolutely beautiful.

    November 13, 2008 at 8:53 pm |
  32. Erica

    Wonderful piece. Congratulations Andrew and John for your beautiful partnership and child!

    November 13, 2008 at 8:51 pm |
  33. Voted No on 8, but a question...

    I have a question that does not relate exclusively to gay-parent families–it also relates to straight couples who buy sperm or eggs–but is inevitable when discussing them. What about the absent parent of the children that gay parents raise? In Andrew's case, for example–his daughter will grow up without a mother. Yes, she'll have two loving fathers–but no mother. And the children of lesbian mothers grow up never knowing their fathers. Doesn't that matter at all?

    November 13, 2008 at 8:24 pm |
  34. Melissa, Los Angeles

    @ Sandra I'd like to know why you and others like you who didn't do it for religious purposes to explain why you would not allow a gay couple to marry and only give them a Civil Union? What if heterosexual couples were in the reverse situation – how would you feel then?

    November 13, 2008 at 8:13 pm |
  35. Fay, CA

    The religious backers of Prop 8 should be celebrating the fact that a majority of gay couples are in stable, long-term relationships and some are committed to having children and maintaining a strong family unit–instead the Yes on 8 bunch are working hard to keep gays as second class citizens and disrupt the lives of the children that they have–so much for "family values". Marriage and family isn't for everyone, but gays and lesbians who wish to marry should not be denied their absolute right to do so.

    November 13, 2008 at 8:04 pm |
  36. Sandra

    As a Californian, my vote was NOT based on religion. I agree with Cal, I support Civil unions, but do not support changing the definition of marriage. Civil Unions have all the same rights. If it's just a "word" then Civil unions will solve the issue and I will support it. If it doesn't then it really isn't about equal rights!

    November 13, 2008 at 7:37 pm |
  37. Ruby Coria, LA. CA.

    Those who support Pro 8* are not thinking of childern, because we are children too at one point, & we grow up being hated by the same people who made us. If they care about kids then teach them that it is not right to hate someone for being what YOU call differant.

    November 13, 2008 at 7:32 pm |
  38. Max, Dallas, TX

    Andrew Solomon, thank you so much for sharing this. You have a beautiful family, and the sooner more people recognize this, so too will the law.

    November 13, 2008 at 7:29 pm |
  39. cal

    I think Elton John recently said that we (Americans) are hung up on the word marriage! I think he is right and we should be. I believe that if Civil Unions can give the gays the rights that want... let them have it.

    But do not try to change the defiiniton of marriage ( man and women).

    November 13, 2008 at 7:14 pm |
  40. Kathleen Seidel

    Your daughter is blessed to have parents who share such love, and who are free to openly testify to it.

    Thank you for making such an eloquent statement.

    November 13, 2008 at 7:05 pm |
  41. Bill

    God Bless your famiy. I completely support you and not the hate that comes from the Mormon and Catholic cults.

    November 13, 2008 at 7:01 pm |
  42. Joanne, Syracuse, NY

    I agree, this is an issue of.."human justice"...the people of California should be ashamed.

    November 13, 2008 at 6:51 pm |
  43. Josh

    Thank you for your story. We need to see more of the families and faces of the gay and lesbian families who have been impacted by these discriminatory legislations.

    I want to see the couples on TV who have had their marriages voted away or confined to legal limbo. I want to see gay couples in Arkansas who may have their children taken away or who will no longer be able to adopt or take foster children.

    Where are their stories? Where are their voices? I hope the media will put a spotlight on their stories and give them a platform for their voices.

    November 13, 2008 at 6:27 pm |
  44. Tanya

    Congratulations, anti-gay marriage folk. I hope you can sit comfortably in your home with your spouses and children and feel good about what you've done. I hope you sleep well at night. Because no one deserves the pain that you've caused.

    November 13, 2008 at 5:52 pm |
  45. Mike

    Do polygamist relationships need that same affirmation and equality? There is a lot of love in those relationships as well. Oh wait! It is against the law to be married to more than one person. How silly of me it's gonna have to wait 20 years before it's socially acceptable before mob rule can change the current laws. Perhaps we need more Hollywood types to marry more than one person at a time. Again, how silly of me, they get around that by marrying one a time and change partners every time they change their underwear.

    November 13, 2008 at 5:51 pm |
  46. Maria

    Dear Andrew,
    People are different in their views and attitudes, however, having different opinion does not mean somebody got it right and other got it wrong, I noticed people just point to each other and make it an issue of getting it wrong or right. Whatever, it is really hurt to express differences as getting it right or wrong, we should acknowledge differences and tolerate reality, because it is true we are different, but we are human being at the end. I have different view of life than yours, but I admire your passionate for your rights, I truly believe your words “words and rights are ultimately inseparable”, I wish you happy life with your family.

    November 13, 2008 at 5:40 pm |
  47. Joy, Fort Gordon, Georgia

    Keep fighting because they are many of us in this nation who stand behind you in support of real equality. There are those of us truely believe in our Constitution and in our unique form of government known as a Republic where majority rule does not have the right to usurp the civil or criminal rights of any minority group, that is why we have the higher courts to keep the system in check. My family and I stand in solidarity with you and your beautiful family and with all the other Americans who are being prevented from legally affirming their love for their partner.

    November 13, 2008 at 5:22 pm |
  48. pati mc., camp hill, pa

    Andrew,

    Your family is beautiful. God Bless you guys and congrats on the baby to be. That is awesome!

    Rather than go on a rant (which would be all too easy to do, considering the subject matter), I will just say that I am behind you all 150% and truly believe that only God can judge, the rest of us are here to love and support each other, with NO exclusions.

    Hang in there. There are many people who are on your side!

    November 13, 2008 at 5:06 pm |
  49. Melissa, Los Angeles

    Wonderful blog.

    What has happened in CA was based more on religious beliefs. I will never understand why a person's own religious views means they have a right to dictate how others live. Plus with a 50% divorce rate in this country – how sacred is marriage? How can the Mormon Church say no to gay marriage yet they are know for polygamy? How sacred is marriage for a man to marry multiple wives?

    November 13, 2008 at 5:01 pm |
  50. Kristien,Antwerp, Belgium

    Andrew, congratulations on your beautiful family!
    Great post, thank you. Kristien

    November 13, 2008 at 5:01 pm |
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