Articles, books and blogs have all tackled the issue of what marriage means to people in the LGBT community. The ongoing fight for marriage equality is stronger than ever as the Supreme Court prepares to hear cases that could overturn the ban on same-sex marriage laws later this year.
In these stories, some topics same-sex families discuss are restrictions that could cause their families to legally break-up and what the sanctity of marriage means to them. All the tear jerking tales share different triumphant and sad experiences but some of the most important voices are left out and not readily reported.
“Will I Marry if My Parents Can’t?” is a recent study, written by associate Professor Addie Goldberg, that taps into those important voices, the children in LGBT families. The study surveyed 35 people who are part of LGBT families to discern their opinions on marriage and whether or not they would want to marry based on what their parents went, and are going through.
The survey included a mix of gay, lesbian, bisexual and queer men and women from ages 15 through 28. The 30 women and 5 men were from 17 different states including, California, Ohio, Massachusetts, Arizona, Delaware and Florida.
The results were varied. Only four of the participants said they wouldn’t marry until same-sex laws change, the others were pretty split in marrying for love and marrying because their experience in an LGBT home showed them the importance of federal benefits. Seven people rejected the idea of marriage and its institution entirely and six of the heterosexual participants said they would marry but feel guilt because same sex marriage is not yet legal.
None of the participants were negatively affected growing up in a same-sex household and said they felt that their parents’ commitments to each other were the equivalent of marriage to them.
Edward Perotti and his partner Paul Julch are one of the modern families that experience discrimination of federal rights. The couple has been together for over 10 years and has raised Edward’s two biological sons Andrew and Adam in San Mateo, California.
Andrew, 20, is now a freshman in college and says that he wouldn’t want his life any other way. “I am doing pretty well. I have good grades and an athlete and I did it with two dads.”
He recently came out to Edward and Paul and says that he still wants to get married and have kids. The biggest concern for him as a child of an LGBT couple is that if something were to happen to him Paul wouldn’t be able to come into the hospital room.
Edward was married to the boys’ mother for a short period of the kids’ childhood and they both say they can’t really remember life before Paul.
“Their mom didn’t legally change her last name and now that she is not as involved it isn’t fair that without even thinking twice a hospital would let her in to see one of the and not Paul,” Edward told 429Magazine. “For us it isn’t even about the piece of paper because we consider ourselves married, it’s about the benefits that we are denied. Give us that and we will shut up.”
The Perotti/Julch family said they have been very accepted within their suburban town and that the transition into the boys’ school community was easy and happened pretty naturally.
“The school administration has been great and didn’t even question our family structure.” Paul said. “If the office needed to see a parent they called the both of us and sometimes I was the only one available. They treated us equally and we are thankful for that.”
Adam, 16, says living with two dads doesn’t feel any different than how he sees his friends live. His friends hang out at the house and nobody has a problem with it but if they did he said he wouldn’t associate with them and has no problem saying so.
Based on the study done by Goldberg the kids of LGBT families have a pretty strong grasp on family values. Edward and Paul gave 429Magazine a glimpse of what they teach their children and that’s just to bring somebody home that treats you right and makes you happy.
Just like other families their Fridays consist of pizza, movie nights and prepping for family weekend activities. The kids of these families seem to be taught to have an open mind and lean more to towards the love is love stigma.