My biological mother is a working woman. She spends 50 hours each week away from home, toiling as a research scientist to provide for her family of five. My other mother—my biological mother's partner—is a stay-at-home mom. When she's not preparing dinner on an impossibly tight budget or wrestling with the veritable pound of dog fur clogging a sad and overworked vacuum, she plays the role of tutor, life coach, chauffeur, interior designer and accountant. Like any stay-at-home parent, she's a "renaissance man." Her job requirement is everything.
My two younger brothers, 14 and 15 years old, demand the patience and attention all awkward and crazy teenagers do, and then some. The youngest, Brandon, lives with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. Jon has Asperger's syndrome. Over the last 11 years, or as long as my parents have been together, my mother's partner cultivated the unique set of skills necessary to deal with all the extra struggles. Aside from those other enumerated roles, she works as our in-home therapist and special-needs teacher, too.
No, we're not normal. When we go out for dinner, people stare at us. Brandon has to wash his hands five times before the food comes to the table. Jon only puts down his Nintendo DS to announce an oncoming belch. And if my mothers as much as hold hands, someone in the place will stare at us like we all wear three heads and no pants. It never fails.
I get it: This country doesn't let traditions or old ideas go quietly or quickly. But if you go to my mothers' house in Durham, you'll see boys laughing at cartoons, dogs wrestling with a rope in the backyard, a washing machine stuffed with clothes and a dishwasher packed with dishes. It probably resembles your house and your family. My moms, just like other parents, are exhausted at the end of the day. They relish in their victory if they manage to get everything done and tuck themselves into bed in time for a new episode of The Big Bang Theory. Happy and modest, they get by.
They're lesbians, not aliens.
This family, like most American families, struggles enough. On May 8, with the Amendment 1 referendum, registered voters in North Carolina have the chance to give my parents another obstacle. The electorate can decide to limit the constitutional definition of a union as solely marriage between a man and a woman, effectively eliminating a legal right that doesn't even exist. The opportunity for my mothers to marry or be in a civil union—and reap the legal benefits of their love and life together—will grow so much smaller.
Imagine if the majority of the state was composed of gay voters and the definition of marriage was set to exclude unions between men and women. What if the people in your state—your neighbors, your coworkers, your acquaintances—could cast a vote to diagnose your family as invalid, as Amendment 1 does to my family?
I ask those in support of Amendment 1 because of religion to consider the words of Jesus of Nazareth: "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets."
My family is unconventional, but we're not criminals. Don't sacrifice our hopes: Vote responsibly. Vote for my family.