Monday, November 02, 2009

Family In an Age of Transition

We live at a time in history when many issues seem particularly polarizing. One of those issues is same-sex marriage. Conservatives find it easy to pontificate on the subject, railing against it as an attack on the traditional family. Liberals advocate for it from the high ground of civil rights and the inclusiveness of love.

I was born and reared in a traditional family - a traditional Southern family. My parents were decidedly heterosexual. They were married only once - to each other - and produced children who followed that same path. Yet, when I hear people talk about same-sex marriage as an "attack on the family" something in me recoils. And I think I've found out why.

Our family isn't traditional. I doubt yours is either.

Some of our family members live in relationships with members of the opposite sex, without benefit of marriage. Several of us were born out of wedlock. Two are from foreign countries. We have children from previous marriages, who have their own children, and no one thinks of them as anything other than child, niece, nephew, cousin, grandchild and great-grandchild. If we asked, a couple of us are of dubious family lineage, but we don't ask - and you better not either. And, our family includes two babies for whom we were a surrogate mother. Even though they now live thousands of miles away, and we may never see them again, we still oooh and aaah over the baby pictures. Don't try to tell us they aren't "really" part of our family. Someone will whack you in the head with a pot.

So, as I looked around the room at a recent family gathering of our "traditional" family, I realized that same-sex marriage can't and won't redefine family for us. We've already done that for ourselves. And I suspect your family has, too.