One of the funny side effects of transitioning as a married couple is you go from being a straight couple to, at least on the outside, a gay couple. OK, so first we go through the transgender stuff and now we’ve got the gay stuff to deal with! Actually, it’s a piece of cake, in comparison! (The unpleasant add-on is that some lesbian factions are anti-trans. How you can be anti anyone who is fighting for similar things I’ll never understand, but I digress.)
So Lina and I, supportive of gay rights all along anyway, find ourselves identifying more with the issues and more invested in learning about them. The problem we learned more about recently was second-parent adoption for same-sex couples, which is not legal here in North Carolina and in eight other states.
In a hetero relationship, if, for example, a woman has biological children and she’s single, widowed, etc., and ends up with a new male partner, he can easily adopt her children and become their legal parent. On the other hand, if two women are together, and one has a child and they are a family in every way, the “other mother” cannot legally become a parent, regardless of how long the couple has been together. This poses many, many legal issues, from hospital and school visitation rights to Social Security benefits and on and on. Families pay an emotional price as well.
We went to a documentary in progress about the issue called “Unconditional,” focusing on two parental challenges. One family, two moms and their three awesome children, live in our area. We know them as fellow members of Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. At one time in NC, second adoption was legal for gay couples, and they enjoyed that right. Then the law was challenged and overturned. Their rights were taken away, just like that. The other parent in the film remained anonymous. Her situation was particularly heartbreaking. She’d been with a woman and they’d had a child. The other woman was the biological mother. Later the couple broke up, and the bio mother took away the rights of the co-parent. Eventually, the co-parent was able to get visitation rights, but those are always tenuous.
So I hope you’ll read up on this particularly heartbreaking and heinous form of discrimination. Find out what the laws are in your home state and do what you can to help bring change. As always!