August 4, 2010. My daughter Amanda’s text said it all: “What a great day to be alive, to be gay, to be a woman, to be human. This feeling inside of me is indescribable! To be equal! WOW!”
Just hours later I saw my son Tyler, with a tear rolling down his cheek, pictured with his husband Spencer on the cover of The Huffington Post with the title “EL8TED!”. The picture was taken as they stood outside the federal courthouse, where Judge Walker’s decision had just been handed down ruling that Proposition 8 — California’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage — was unconstitutional.
YES! That is exactly what I was feeling, on that historic and triumphant day: elated, ecstatic, jumping for joy! I was filled with renewed hope for my children, their children, and all those to come. As a mother and a grandmother, I believed that all of my children are equally deserving of the rights and protections provided by our government. It was euphoric to have a federal judge, for the first time, validate that, and reach the same conclusion.
My mind reflects back on the emotional ride of the past two years. From the invigorating high of June 17, 2008, when Tyler married Spencer in the San Francisco city hall rotunda with Harvey Milk’s bust looking over his shoulder, to the utter shock, disbelief, and heartbreak of November 5, 2008, when we watched equality be overruled by voters in California motivated by fear and misinformation. The grief I felt due to the loss of the dream of marriage equality for all my children was horrific. In addition, the realization, which quickly came that, my pain was in large part caused by my own Mormon faith, the leaders of which were men I once trusted for all of my guidance and solace, was unbearable. As documented in the recent documentary 8: The Mormon Proposition and elsewhere, Mormon members accounted for as much as 71% of the monetary contributions used to fund Prop 8 and 90% of its volunteers.
Yet today, nearly two years later, I am grateful to the Mormon Church leaders for forcing me to examine what I truly believe in and stand for. Their hurtful acts stirred within me the passion and courage of a mother bear protecting her cubs. It gave me the courage to “come out” of my hiding place, behind church doors, and declare to the world that my family is most important, our values count, and choosing love over fear, children over dogma, and equality over discrimination is what God would have me do.
As people gathered in my small town of St. George, Utah this past week for a rally celebrating the Prop 8 court decision, I was sadly reminded that not many parents stand as firmly by their children. In fact, my husband Steve and I were the only parents in the group of almost 100 people! Thinking back on this, I cannot help asking: “Why? Where are you, parents?” As long as you stay hidden, you leave your children standing alone. If you believe, as I do, that all our children deserve fairness and equal rights, then I beg you to have the courage of your children and show yourselves, your love, and your support.
Full equality will come when we normalize “gay” — normalize gay families, gay marriages, and gay children. Parents who refuse to embrace this part of their child, or choose to ignore it, miss a beautiful world of amazing people full of goodness and love. I know it is not easy. As I have stepped into the rainbow light these past two years, many have rejected me — including family members, business associates, and friends. However, the many new people that have come into my life and encircled me with their love have filled that gap one hundred fold!
The journey for full equality took an exciting step forward with Judge Walker’s ruling to overturn Proposition 8. I believe he arrived at many of his conclusions by witnessing the personal and real life nature of the damage done to families by society’s refusal to afford equal treatment to our gay and lesbian children.
Therefore, I take this opportunity to put out this plea: parents, join this march for equality. I ask you to put a human face on this movement. Share who your children are with your friends, your co-workers, your siblings, with everyone. When you hear derogatory comments about gay or lesbian people, or the rampant propaganda and misinformation that are out there regarding them, all you need to say is, “I have a gay son or a lesbian daughter. If you knew them, you would love them.” It is that simple.
Linda is a former fifth generation Mormon, who with her husband Steve, started MomsForEquality.com or DadsForEquality.com to encourage parents to “come out” and be vocal on behalf their children’s rights. She refers to herself as an “accidental activist” and is featured with her family in the recent documentary film 8: The Mormon Proposition, which premiered at the 2010 Sundance film festival.