Editor's note: The following was submitted as a letter to the editor by two Maple Grove residents.
Our family moved to Maple Grove in 2010 for the same reasons many families move to our community. We wanted to live in a vibrant city that has great schools, values family, and exudes hospitality. We have found all of these things here. As neighbors we support one another and work collectively for the best interest of our children. As same-sex parents of a precious four-year-old girl, we ask you to consider how the marriage amendment will affect our daughter and the over 2,842 Minnesota families with children led by same-sex couples like us.
We agree with marriage amendment supporters that marriage serves the interests of children. Marriage provides children with stability, legal protections, and economic security. Marriage helps children understand how their parents relate to one another and helps define what it means to be a family. Doesn’t our daughter also deserve these things?
This amendment would make permanent the real harm marriage inequality has meant for our daughter and family. Financially we have to pay thousands of dollars each year for health care coverage that we wouldn’t have to pay if our marriage were recognized. This is money we could be saving for our daughter’s college education. If our relationship were ever to fail, our daughter would not receive the same legal protections as children of married couples. There are thousands of state and federal benefits of civil marriage that are denied to us, and these inequalities hurt our daughter as well. Our daughter should not be forever penalized simply because her parents are in a same-sex relationship that the state does not recognize.
Worst of all, permanently denying us the right to marry sends our daughter the clear message that her family is less important than other families. We worry about how we will explain to her that her state does not value her family as much as the other families in our neighborhood. We worry about the effect this amendment will have on her classmates. No child should grow up thinking that her community does not support her family.
Amendment supporters argue that children of same-sex couples are somehow disadvantaged because they have parents of only one sex. All unbiased experts have unequivocally found that same-sex couples raise children who are as healthy, happy, and emotionally secure as all other children. We have also ensured that our daughter has many positive female role models in her life. While we face the same fears, struggles, and insecurities as all parents, our little girl is remarkable and this unfounded argument is an insult to her and the millions of children raised by same-sex couples.
Regardless of whether you believe same-sex couples make good parents, thousands of Minnesota same-sex couples just like us will continue to form families and raise children even if this amendment passes. We adopted our daughter in our late 20s and are part of a younger generation of gays and lesbians who have the expectation that we will raise children if we choose, an option that unfortunately was not available to prior generations. From 2000 to 2010, the percentage of same-sex couples raising children more than doubled, and this trend will only continue. Why? We want to raise children for the same reasons all parents want to raise children. We want to share our love, we want to give our lives greater meaning, and we want to pass along the values and lessons we were taught. This harmful amendment would do nothing to stop this trend, but it would permanently exclude our children from the protections they deserve.
If our perspective is new to you, why must we act now to permanently end the discussion about what marriage means? Voting no does not grant marriage equality to couples like us, it merely maintains the status quo so our state can continue to have this important conversation. If you are uncertain on how to vote, simply leave the box blank.
This amendment is a direct attack on our daughter and our family. As any parents would, we want to protect and defend her at all costs. As you consider how you will vote on the amendment, imagine if the Minnesota Constitution singled out your children and said that they are never entitled to the benefits and stabilizing force that marriage brings to families. Imagine if the state sent your children the clear message that their family is less worthy, valued, and supported than other families. When you are filling out your ballot, please remember our family and the children in Maple Grove and Minnesota raised by same-sex couples. Please vote no.
Chris and Ryan Dolan
Maple Grove, MN
2010 Census summary file counts available at http://www.census.gov/hhes/samesex/files/supp-table-AFF.xls (add up total numbers for different forms of same-sex couples); http://www.apa.org/about/policy/parenting.aspx; http://abcnews.go.com/Health/children-sex-parents-harmed-anti-gay-laws-study/story?id=14862339 http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/10/us/gay-couples-face-pressure-to-have-children.html