I am forever grateful for all of the straight allies who defend LGBT rights without having direct experience or threat to their livelihood. They believe basic rights - the right to marry, work, and enjoy community - should be available to all, without discrimination or judgment.
My husband, David, and I were plaintiffs in the lawsuit that brought the right to marry to the state of Arizona. Along our journey, we added the momentum of several straight allies who believed in our fight to have equal rights. Not more rights, not preferential rights, but equal rights afforded to any loving couple seeking marriage as their next step. We chose to fight marriage laws because I had just adopted two little girls who were unable to have two legal parents to protect them because our marriage was not recognized. I could not list David as their next of kin on any legal document because he had no legal ties to them. Now, with the recent decisions on marriage equality, many people think our work is done. However, this is not the case.
This summer, the Supreme Court is making a Federal ruling on same-sex marriage that will have several implications. For many states who have worked tirelessly to bring about equality, a negative ruling on this case can undo and unravel many legally recognized families. In this scenario, second parent adoptions, legal marriages, and loans and contracts regarding housing and employment under the protection of state marriage laws can all be undone. If this happens, many children and loving homes have the potential to be devastated.
However, a positive ruling can protect families and provide many states who have struggled to find marriage equality the opportunity to recognize legal marriages for all couples, buy homes together to boost the economy, provide protections offered to everyone else to maintain secure employment, and expand our families through fostering and adopting kids who deserve loving families.
For example, in my home state of Arizona, there are nearly 20,000 children in state care who need homes. As an adoptive parent, these children are not selective as to how their forever home must look. They just crave the consistency that comes with receiving love, food, education, and hope. Why should anyone deny them this security and stability?
So, why does "Decision Day" matter to LGBT families? Because we rely on fair and equal housing opportunities, adoption and foster protections for second parents and the chance to expand our families, inclusive employers that provide health benefits to our spouses and children, and the confidence and security that comes when we know there is no threat to the work it took to grow and nurture the families we have created.
It's about more than just marriage equality. It's about being feeling secure, helping children in need find homes, and being offered the basic opportunity to marry the one we've fallen in love with, regardless of gender, identity, location, religion, or creed. Love is love, and it cannot wait.
Dr. Kevin Patterson, Equality Arizona Board Member and Project Jigsaw Chairperson
As a plaintiff in the marriage equality cases against Arizona and an adoptive parent, he and his family have been closely connected to legal and social change that positively impact LGBTQ families. As an active Board Member of Equality Arizona, he is overseeing Project Jigsaw, a campaign aimed at connecting every child to a loving family through public education and outreach, providing resources to families, and advocating for policy changes to ensure that all prospective parents have the opportunity to build a family.