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Emily Hecht-McGowan Headshot

A Letter to My Baby Girl

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We have reached an incredibly historic moment in the movement for LGBT equality. Today, the U.S. Supreme Court began hearing two pivotal gay rights cases: on Proposition 8, the referendum that stripped away same-sex couples' right to marry in California, and the "Defense of Marriage" Act (DOMA),the law that requires the federal government to discriminate against married same-sex couples.

I have been an advocate for the LGBT community for many years. I've worked on the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" and DOMA. I've fought for safer schools for our kids, for employment non-discrimination, and to protect families with LGBT parents. But my perspective on these issues fundamentally changed when my wife Sharon and I became parents. I hope our 6-month-old daughter, Sadie, will never know how her family was treated unequally by most states and the federal government just because she has two mommies. But I imagine that someday Sadie will come to Sharon and me, and ask us to explain what all of the fuss was about.

I've written her a letter with what I want to tell her.

Dear Sadie,

Here's what the fuss is about:

When Mom and Mommy were married on June 5, 2010, our marriage was not legal in most places. Because it was important to us that our marriage be a legal one, we traveled to Boston (along with your grandparents, aunties, uncles, and all of Mom and Mommy's friends), where they allowed gay and lesbian couples to marry, to have our wedding. We didn't marry for "rights" or "benefits." We married for the same reasons that most people do -- both gay and straight. Because we loved each other, we wanted to stand up in front of our friends and family and make a lifelong commitment to one another and we aspired to build a family together.

That dream of a family came true on October 2, 2012, the day you were born.

Because you have two mommies, it took a little extra help and a little longer to bring you into the world. But there has never been a child who was more anticipated or planned for, and certainly none that is more loved than you. You are such a wonderful little girl, with a light and a spirit and a smile that just illuminate a room. You bring so much joy into our lives, each and every day.

Mom and I are teaching you to be compassionate, and to stand up for what you believe in. To tell the truth, and to treat others with respect. And we want the same things for you that most parents want for their children -- to feel loved, safe, and supported. We want you to always be surrounded by loving friends and family, and to grow into a happy, confident, thriving adult with a strong sense of self and purpose. And we hope that someday you, too, will have a family of your own. No matter what path you choose, your mommies will always be here to love you, support you and cheer you on.

Now, there are some people who don't think that you should have two mommies. The opponents of marriage equality have made sweeping statements and assumptions about the quality of your life, and the lives of all children raised by gay and lesbian couples. They've argued that Mom and I are not good parents, and that families with biological ties to each other are somehow superior to other kinds of families. There are many reasons why these arguments are offensive and ludicrous, but at the most basic level they simply ignore the reality of today's American family -- the reality of OUR family. We are a nation of blended and multi-generational families, adoptive and foster families, families headed by single parents, divorced parents and unmarried parents. And yes, some families have a mommy and a daddy, some have two mommies, and some have two daddies. So while opponents of marriage equality attempt to render families like ours invisible, new information tells us that there are many more of our families than we originally thought, and that our numbers will only continue to grow.

Perhaps what's even more infuriating is that some people have made judgments about the worth of our family, and have professed to speak on your behalf without ever taking the time to actually get to know you or our family and learn about our experiences. At 6 months old, you're too young to speak for yourself -- although with two lawyers for mothers, my guess is that you have already formed some strong opinions on this topic!

So when I had the opportunity to work on the "Children's Voices" amicus brief, I jumped at the chance to give you and hundreds of thousands of children like you a voice in this critical discussion. The brief, filed by Family Equality Council and our partner organizations, attempts to paint for the Justices an accurate picture of what families headed by gay and lesbian couples truly look like. The voices and stories of the children whose lives and families are at the heart of the DOMA and Prop 8 cases are too often absent, or simply dismissed as unimportant. Because you and children like you are among those most directly impacted by marriage equality, you are uniquely qualified to speak about how your families function and how your parents' exclusion from marriage impacts your lives.

The young people who speak out in this brief are truly remarkable, and capture so much of what I think you would say, if you could communicate your feelings to the Court today.

These are your role models -- the Outspoken Generation. They are speaking out for what they believe in; they are telling the truth. They are standing up for their families and are demanding that they be respected and valued, just the same as everyone else. These young people are my heroes -- because they are standing up for YOU.

By the time you read this letter, we will know the Court's rulings. But today, on the cusp of this historic moment, while it's impossible to predict the outcomes, there are a few things I do know for certain. We are at a tipping point in the fight for equality. Last November, marriage was on the ballot in four different states -- and for the first time ever, equality won in every instance. Support for marriage equality nationwide is at unprecedented levels. And we now live in a world where any serious candidate for President of the United States will have to openly and unabashedly support the freedom for all Americans to marry.

There is no going backwards. The momentum is on the side of equality, and every single day we are one step closer to a world where all you will ever know about this fight is what you will read in your history books.

I hope this explains what all of the fuss was about.

I love you with all my heart,
Mommy