In all the arguing over gay marriage there is one thing we sometimes overlook: A lot of these couples are parents, and their kids are paying attention. And it matters to them that their parents' marriage is recognized -- in all legal respects! Last week 10-year-old Sophia Bailey Klugh wrote President Obama a letter. She told the president she was glad he supports gay marriage because she has two dads. And she asked Obama this question:
I am so glad that you agree two men can love each other because I have two dads and they love each other, but at school kids think that it's gross and weird, but it really hurts my heart and feelings.... If you were me and you had two dads that loved each other and kids at school teased you about it, what would you do?
Obama wrote back, of course. His letter is gracious and supportive. And his advice? Pretty much what you'd want any thoughtful adult to tell Jamie, regardless of how they feel about gay marriage.
Thank you for writing me such a thoughtful letter about your family. Reading it made me proud to be your president and even more hopeful about the future of our nation.
In America, no two families look the same. We celebrate this diversity. And we recognize that whether you have two dads or one mom what matters above all is the love we show one another. You are very fortunate to have two parents who care deeply for you. They are lucky to have such an exceptional daughter in you.
Our differences unite us. You and I are blessed to live in a country where we are born equal no matter what we look like on the outside, where we grow up, or who our parents are. A good rule is to treat others the way you hope they will treat you. Remind your friends at school about this rule if they say something that hurts your feelings.
Thanks again for taking the time to write me. I'm honored to have your support and inspired by your compassion. I'm sorry I couldn't make it to dinner, but I'll be sure to tell Sasha and Malia you say hello.
Sincerely, Barack Obama
First of all, I love the way he tells her he's proud to be her president, and honored to get her letter. That's just something any kid who bothers to write the president would love to hear. And of course, it's not lost to Obama that this is an opportunity for him to send a message to all kids, especially kids whose parents are in same-sex unions.
Our culture is slowly but surely experiencing a change of heart about what families can look like. We're opening our minds to other possibilities. And because you only live once (and I mean that in a non-YOLO kind of way), adults are taking a big chance and starting their own kinds of families. That means kids are going out there in the world and sometimes facing hostility to from people who are afraid of this change.
This isn't just about not stigmatizing the kids of gay couples. I think we need to go farther than that -- for Sophia's sake and for countless other kids' sake. We need to embrace and fully enfranchise these kids' parents.
But we can't change hearts through hate and conflict -- and that's an important lesson for kids. Treating her bullies the way she'd like to be treated, and telling them that their words hurt her, is definitely the harder path for Sophia. But it's also the higher path. And who knows, maybe her example of kindness and forgiveness will change some of those kids' minds. Sometimes confronting a bully and telling them exactly how their words and actions affect you can make a surprisingly big difference.
What did you think of Obama's response to Sophia's letter?
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