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Sarah Kate Ellis Headshot

My Kids Have Everything -- Except Married Parents

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With Memorial Day just a couple of weeks behind us, I have taken residence on the weekends

in a pool side lounge chair, at the local swim club my partner, Kristen Henderson and I joined

just a mere month ago. I feel so lucky to be able to enjoy the picturesque views of the Long

Island Sound as our two year old twins splash in the water.

As I was adjusting their life jackets

this past weekend, my mind wandered to how much time parents spend worrying about their

children's well-being. The safety checklist that rolls through my mind on these warm summer

days: Did they drink enough water in this hot sun? Do they have the proper amount of SPF

sunscreen on? Are their life jackets fastened properly? But then my thoughts segue into larger

safety concerns that I can't control and are in the hands of the politicians of New York State.

The hotly debated Marriage Equality Act, that is creating such divisiveness among politicians

and the citizens of New York State, denies me the right to marry my partner. And as I checked

to make sure that my daughter's life jacket was tight enough and my son's was buckled

correctly, for the first time, I wasn't angry. Instead I was heartbroken, for my children. With all of

the countless precautions I take to nurture and protect my children, I cannot guard them against

the deep ramifications the non-passage of this bill would have on them.

My partner and I have been together for six wonderful years. We met through a mutual

friend, became domestic partners two years later and started to try to have a family almost

immediately. I ran into one devastating infertility issue after another and before long we

decided we would both try for a baby in the hopes that one of us would succeed. And then the

improbable happened, we both became pregnant on the exact same day. Kristen gave birth to

our boy and I gave birth to our girl in February, 2009.

We moved from Manhattan to a small town on Long Island and were welcomed with open

arms. Soon after arriving we enrolled our kids in a top notch preschool, signed up for the

recommended Music Together class and most recently joined the swim club in town. All of this

we are doing to ensure that our children have the best possible life we can offer.

And now I realize that the life jackets I am meticulously adjusting and re-adjusting signify what

marriage equality is to me -- shielding my children from danger and giving them the best possible

chance in this life. In a few years time, my children will be aware enough to know that their

moms aren't married.

Without the Marriage Equality Act our children are left in a very dangerous position, with the

stakes higher for them than anyone else. As it stands now, they need to go through the courts

to be adopted by their non-biological parent (even when they were born into a committed

relationship). They are at risk of being torn from their non-biological parent and separated from

their siblings. And they can run into inheritance challenges.

My children will come to realize the state and country they live in does not consider their moms

as equal, and that, I fear, will damage their self-esteem. That they will, without their young minds

even knowing it, feel less important. As they move through their daily lives they will subversively

learn that they are second to the boys and girls in their classroom, at their swim club, and on

their little league fields.

At the center of the Marriage Equality Bill are our children. The children of gay and lesbian

parents who deserve the same chance at a life that all children deserve and by denying their

parents the right to validate their relationship they are being marginalized. I am not asking the

church to recognize and validate my relationship and family. I'm asking for the same right from

my government that every other family in America is afforded.

It is a mother's instinct to protect her children, and without the Marriage Equality Act, my

children, and the thousands of children of gay and lesbian parents, will effectively be tossed into

the deep end of the pool without life jackets. We need to validate and protect them.

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