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Corbyn Hightower

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The President Recognizes My Family

Posted: 05/10/2012 8:32 am

My oldest child is the product of a gay relationship. Yesterday, with one simple sentence, the President of the United States and the most influential leader in the world uttered the words that legitimized the family of my firstborn.

I believe without a doubt that this movement -- the movement to legally recognize gay marriage -- is right and good and just. I'm proud to tell my children and one day, my grandchildren that I lived this cause, stood up for this cause, and have raised my family in support of this cause.

I'm a bisexual mom with three kids, a husband and an ex-partner, with whom I co-parent. Almost 18 years ago, she and I decided to try to have a child. It took nearly five years of monthly donor inseminations, lots of tears, some false hopes and one heartbreaking miscarriage before we successfully conceived and delivered a little girl. Someone who was there took a photo: it's black-and-white, and in it is a crowd of open-mouthed faces of the people we loved most, surrounding us and watching in bliss at the moment Rainer left my body and was given over to the world.

We felt married, my partner and I. We even had a ceremony in a park near our home. Some family members chose to come and observe our commitment vows, and some pointedly did not attend. My father got very, very drunk and my mother cried to my brother and wondered what she had done wrong to send me down this path. It was our wedding day, and from then on we defiantly called each other "wife."

And a decade later, things had changed, as they sometimes do. We amicably separated, and continued to co-parent our cherished daughter. My ex-wife (yes, I call her that, affectionately) is respected as an equal in the raising of Rainer, regardless of the variety of strictures and liberties that were not bestowed on our marriage (and subsequent divorce). I have a husband now, and she has a new partner, one far better suited to her. Our homes are less than a mile apart, and our collaborative parenting style is loose, flexible, friendly.

Sometimes I think about what might have happened had I died; would my family have honored her rights to our child? I'd like to think so. Or what might my ex may have suffered if I was unwilling to honor my commitment to co-parenting? Thankfully, we upheld our promises to each other ... except for our marital vows. We hadn't had our union blessed by the scepter of societal acceptance, and maybe -- just maybe -- as a result, it always felt there was an "out," like a card that was held close to the chest but could be played when things got tough and unfulfilling.

I played that card: Get Out of Jail Free. "Divorce" with quotation marks. And I am not saying I would't have made the same exodus, even if the institution of marriage had encompassed and included my relationship within its encyclopedic definition. I don't view until-death-do-us-part as a moral imperative, but I do think it does great honor to the couple professing their devotion to feel that their community and its leaders sanctify the promise. It's a secular consecration -- with great legal ramifications, yes, but benefits as well, even ephemeral ones.

I have three children, and I consider us all -- including my husband -- part of an extended gay family. My ex-wife and her partner are a part of our success story as parents. My oldest is entering her teenage years, and I want her to look back on the photos of her birth and see the unfettered joy of a community surrounding her, those wide smiles and hands held up in the thrill of welcoming new life. She was born into a family, and today, my president recognized that.

 
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