04/14/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Modern Family Needs Some Fearless Love

My friend Drew is married with children--and still very much in love. Drew's husband is a warmly affectionate bear of a man who welcomes friends and family with hugs when we visit their home. Their children are playful, bright, happy, and much better behaved than ours were at that age. As is the case with most parents, their sex life--appropriately--is private, and behind closed doors. "Sex isn't the issue," Drew complained, "it's affection, love. You and your husband can take a walk holding hands, kiss goodbye at the airport, rest your head on each others' shoulders at the movies. Unless we're in West Hollywood, we can't."

I had to admit that, even with the evolution of inclusion and equal rights, many of my coupled gay friends still felt restricted in publicly expressing not just their sexuality, but their human warmth to their beloved partners. How many times had I entwined my fingers with my husband's as we hiked with our children, or walked with him for an evening out, arms around each others' waists, without giving it a second thought? How many times had I given my husband a squeeze, a hug, or a comforting pat, or leaned against him after a weary day? How difficult it must be for Drew and his husband to wall their emotions and keep a physical distance to avoid potential public censure.

Valentine's Day celebrates romance AND love. Yet on the often amusing sitcom "Modern Family", the gay couple, Mitchell and Cam, have only been granted "Don't Tell, Don't Show" privileges. While Jay and Gloria cuddle like puppies in heat, and Phil and Clair hug, kiss, and talk and play out their fantasies, Cam and Mitchell are relegated to chest bumps, flowers, and sitting stiffly apart on separate chairs. Cam has had more physical contact on camera with his father-in-law Jay than with his husband, Mitch! Having baby Lily to run interference does allow the writers to avoid discomfiting social conservatives by focusing on "family" activities--but denies these gay parents the equal rights to demonstrate the "G-rated" affection that children see as a parental bond. Cam and Mitchell, Lili comfortably keeping them apart and "safe", spent Valentine's Day eating chocolates and helping young Manny find heterosexual romance, rather than celebrating their own sentiments as did the other adults on the show.

No one is asking to see "The L-Word" or "Queer as Folk" scenes in a family comedy. But, writers, let's give Cam and Mitchell a chance to relate to each other as a fully-developed loving couple, for their daughter's sake, and for ours. Because, until Cam and Mitchell--and Drew and his husband--can express their human caring for each other as my husband and I do, we truly have not achieved equal rights. Come on "Modern Family", it's time to give Mitchell and Cam some, in the inspiring words of Melissa Etheridge, "Fearless Love."