As a lawyer who facilitates step-parent and co-parent adoption for lesbian couples, I have the unique opportunity to speak to hundreds of lesbian moms about their parenting experiences. I have concluded that those lesbian moms who engage in play groups with their child or children have an opportunity not only to enrich their child(ren) but to educate the straight contingent on the way the world discriminates against lesbian and gay families.
Before you shake your head and say, “I didn’t join a play group to further the cause,” hear me out. I’m certainly not suggesting that educating the world should be your reason for connecting with a play group. You should join for the right reasons, which is to benefit your chid(ren) and help them learn important socialization skills (all while having fun).
However, your participation might lead to a happy side effect. If you are not part of a lesbian/gay-only play group, you will most certainly engage in conversation with heterosexual parents. Inevitably, the conversation will turn to those real life issues we all so love to discuss.
Da da da daaaaaa …. there’s your moment of opportunity, folks.
My clients have told me that most straight parents are stunned when they are told that those lesbian parents have had to go through the adoption process in order that their biological child will be considered the legal child of the non-biological parent in all 50 states — even though they are legally married in Connecticut. Remember that a child born to a heterosexual couple is presumed to be a child of the marriage (and thus of both parents) in every state. Oops, that’s because heterosexual marriage is recognized nationally, federally and internationally, same-sex marriages are not. Are you following me?
Okay. So therein lies your opportunity to say that you had to endure some legal procedure that they didn’t have to do in order to have the same darn rights. In every case, I am told, the response is something akin to, “that’s just plain ridiculous!” Um, yes, I agree.
When the next election rolls around, those newly-unlighted folks might just pay attention to issues that will matter to the lesbian and gay community. It’s worth a shot and hey, you were going to have to make idle chit chat any way.
My plan is simple: educate one person at a time and the world will change. Are you with me?
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copyright 2012 Irene C. Olszewski, Esq.