Families Connect

Kim Simes and the Family Equality Council work to lift up the voices of children in the fight for marriage equality.

Just last year, the US Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of DOMA and returned marriage equality to California. Today, 30 states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex couples to legally wed, and the ban on same-sex marriage is being challenged in every state in our country. We are witnessing a historical moment in the fight for marriage equality, and at the heart of the overturning of several same-sex marriage bans this past year are our children’s voices.

In the Supreme Court’s ruling, there was nothing more telling than Justice Anthony Kennedy’s remarks about the harms children of same-sex parents endure. Back in August, 7th Circuit Court Republican Judge Richard Posner—a Reagan appointee—also expressed concern about the injustices children of same-sex couples experience. The source of both judges’ points, and the credited factor in the overturning of the marriage bans, were the Voices of Children Amicus Briefs filed by the Family Equality Council. The briefs not only brought to light that same-sex couples are successfully raising the next generation, but also that the ban on marriage indicates to children with same-sex parents that their families aren’t legitimate. Through the use of children’s personal stories, the briefs unveiled the inequality children of same-sex couples feel, simply because the law won’t acknowledge what they already know: love makes a family.

In my lifetime, I never thought I’d get a chance to marry my partner. So long before the possibility of legal recognition, she and I committed our lives to each other, like many of our same-sex peers. We now have two wonderful daughters, Sanibel (6) and Brennan (10), and my home state of Wisconsin has just been added to the list of states with marriage equality. The thought alone makes me well with tears. The reality that our family will now be legally and equally recognized under the law is one that comes with great happiness. However, each day I go to work, I am reminded that the LGBTQ community does not universally feel the joy I’m feeling, and I am reminded that there is still much work to be done. Until every person in every state has the ability to marry the one they love, we will continue this work. Until lived equality matches the legal equality, we will continue this work. Until every young person is safe in their school, we will continue this work.

As the Midwest Regional Manager at Family Equality Council, I work daily to ensure that LGBTQ parents and their families are able to connect and celebrate as well as support each other. We work to promote both their lived and legal equality, and we host annual events across the country. Our largest event—Family Week—drew over 500 families this year alone. Families joined us from almost every one of the 50 states, affirming our presence across the country and my personal commitment to fighting not only for my own family but also for all LGBTQ parents and their families.

Family Equality Council events provide opportunities to bring families together to celebrate, and I am extremely proud of our programs. The Outspoken Generation™ empowers children with LGBTQ parents to use their voice to speak out and dispel myths and misinformation about their families. Their voices are resounding in today’s amicus briefs and in local communities across the country, leading the charge for equality for our families.

Although we know that love makes family and full marriage equality seems impending, twenty states do not recognize same-sex marriage. In November, we have another opportunity to raise our voices about our families during National Adoption Month. With LGBTQ parents and their children living in all 50 states, it is especially vital to ensure legal recognition of parent-child relationships for those who live in states without marriage equality. Through our Allies for Adoption campaign, we will use the voices of our children to further express the extensive measures many LGBTQ parents must go through to legitimize their own parental rights.

As a lesbian mom, raising two daughters in a country where my ability to protect my own children varies state-by-state, adoption was the way we chose to form our family. November’s Allies for Adoption campaign serves as an important opportunity to highlight our family values and educate our country about the lack of protections LGBTQ families endure. Through the voices of our families sharing our personal stories, we will continue to inch closer to full equality for all LGBTQ families.

For more information on The Outspoken Generation™ and Allies for Adoption visit: familyequality.org/outspoken.