Books for Queer Families: Mom and Mum are Getting Married!

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I bet you can guess the plot of Mom and Mum are Getting Married! Published in 2004 (in Canada, not the UK as I assumed from the Mum), the book tells of Rosie and Jack’s moms’ wedding – and Rosie’s desire to be a flower girl. The books does seem a little dated now – both because of the clothes in the illustrations and because Moms getting married in the middle of their kids childhood (and not because they are creating a blended family) is from a particular two decade-ish moment in time. This is certainly still happening, but now that same-sex marriage is legal in the U.S. (and Canada and a dozen other countries), I think there will be less and less of two moms or two dads getting married after years and years together with several kids in tow.

Pros: Moms getting married is NEVER an issue. Yay! The only issue is Will Rosie Get to Be a Flower Girl/Ring Bearer, an issue that any kid who has been involved in a wedding will relate to.

Cons: I don’t love the illustrations. Not my favorite style (although I do really love Rosie at the wedding with a bandaid on her knee), and as mentioned, they look pretty dated now.

The Bottom Line: Worth reading, but you can totally just get it from the library.

Looking for more books about queer families? You can find the other books I’ve reviewed here.

Books for Queer Families: Mom and Mum are Getting Married!

Taxes

I weirdly love doing my taxes. Jami’s taxes too, since she is kind enough to let me do them. I think it’s something about the order of it – all those little boxes to fill in, although the fact that we usually get money back (especially since buying the house) certainly doesn’t hurt.

This was my first year to do our taxes since we got married, and so for the first time I got to see the actual financial cost to us for not having our marriage recognized by the Federal government. Because we filed jointly in DC as a married couple, I had to create a “mock” federal return to use as the basis of our District return. Actual cost to us to be “unmarried” in the eyes of Uncle Sam? $869. We would have gotten $869 more back if we had been able to file jointly.

Now the money to me isn’t that big a deal (although I’m sure I could think of lots of good, economy stimulating things to do with the money). We are still getting tax returns this year and I don’t actually mind paying taxes. I think social programs are important and I’m happy to be able to support them. The few extra pennies that Medicaid, and public schools, and the VA, and the NEA, and everyone’s grandparents get because of my tax dollars are money well spent, I think.

I mention this only because it is a concrete example of the difference that marriage (the federally recognized legal institution of marriage) has on one couple. People who oppose marriage equality often ask why same-sex couples want to get “married” any way. Why aren’t civil unions good enough? Why isn’t living together enough? In what way are same-sex couples being harmed by being denied the right to marry?

Generally, the concrete, practical arguments in favor of marriage equality sort of bother me. Not that the issues themselves aren’t important (if your wife is dying and you are not being allowed into her hospital room, that is not a silly issue), but I hate that every discussion of same-sex marriage comes down to hospital visitation and taxes. I resent the fact that I have to justify why I wanted to enter into an institution that opposite-sex couples enter every day without ever thinking about the practical benefits. I am a human being and a citizen, and I believe I have a right to marry the person I love and build a life with them. Period.

But I also believe that the most important thing anyone can do to battle discrimination and homophobia is to come out. When faced with “real” gay people, folks generally become more tolerant and supportive of equal rights. I generally try to avoid the soapbox, but by not mentioning the tangible costs to being denied marriage equality, I worry that I am allowing those opposed to continue with the false assertion that no one is being harmed by the current state of affairs. Marriage inequality cost my wife and I $869. That’s not the end of world and I’m not upset about it, but it’s not nothing either.

Taxes

Marriage Equality: A Rant

Dear Well-Meaning, Soon-to-be-ex-coworker of Jami’s,

I know that you are a well-intentioned, liberal lady who is all for the homos, so I want to give you a little piece of friendly advice. Do not ask your soon-to-be-ex-coworker if her new employer will “recognize” her marriage.  It’s a shitty thing to ask, and here’s why…

Your soon-to-be-ex-coworker (ie, my wife) is legally married in the District of Columbia. I’m sure that you know this because it would have been hard to miss the hullabaloo when it became legal earlier this year. This means that my marriage is a legal marriage and that it is EXACTLY the same as every other legal marriage in the District of Columbia. This is the beauty of marriage equality. This is exactly why marriage equality is so important. Because suddenly relationships between two consenting adults, any two consenting adults, who choose to marry are treated the exactly the same. If your DC employer will pay for the health care of the opposite-sex spouses of their employees, for example, they will also now be paying for the health care of the same-sex spouses of their employees. This is why Catholic Charities is no longer covering spouses on their health care plans.

DC’s move to marriage equality wasn’t an empty gesture, it was a very real, legal, serious thing. And by asking if my marriage is “recognized”, you are saying it is different. You are the ONLY person who is saying that it’s different. Which I am sure is not what your well-meaning, liberal self intended. My best advice? If you believe in marriage equality, recognize all marriages as equal. Practice what you preach. And if there is some way in which my marriage is not equal (there is still that pesky little matter of the federal government), and it’s something that I want to talk you about, I will bring it up. Because if you bring it up, especially if you imply that my marriage isn’t recognized, it’s just going to make me feel like you see my marriage as “less than”, which I most certainly do not and at which I will probably take offense.

I know the question was not meant in the manner in which it was received, and living in a glass house, I have no wish to throw stones. I’m sure, as a well-meaning, liberal white lady myself, I have made my share of well-intentioned, but not-so-appropriate remarks. So please just think about what I said, and the next time you are faced with a coworker or casual acquaintance who is married to someone of the same sex, don’t focus on the differences that you may see between their marriage and other marriages, focus on what is the same – or just don’t focus on their marriage at all. Thanks!

Carrie

Marriage Equality: A Rant

Save the Date!

Books

So… as may be assumed by our “engaged” status, we’re getting married! This is exciting and momentous and occasionally stressful. We’ve had over a year to get used to that “engaged” idea, and now it seems that the wedding is just around the corner – May 1st to be exact. After picking the location (and finding a photographer, yay!) this summer, we were able to push-off pretty much all other wedding-related tasks because it was so far off. But the wedding powers-that-be seems to all say that Save-the-Date announcements should go out 5-6 months before the big event and that meant we needed to get our list finished and our announcements designed, printed and out.

I had this idea to do a history of our relationship in book titles as our Save-the-Date (from Shy Single to Happily Ever After, with some other milestones like Cross Country, Living in Small Spaces, and The Fire in between). Jami and I are both librarians after all, and good readers to boot, and it seemed a little more personal than the ubiquitous Save-the-Date Magnets that are so popular these days. In the end that didn’t make for a very good image, but luckily Jami has a good eye for photography and came up with the image above. We ordered the Save-the-Dates from Snapfish and I was super happy with how they turned out.

We sent them out last week while in New England, and today DC gave us an early wedding present. See, so far, we can’t actually get legally married in the District of Columbia, but we are hoping it will be legal by our wedding. The DC Council today voted to pass the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Equality Amendment Act which would make same-sex marriage legal in the District of Columbia. The bill has to get voted on again once more for final passage (and then has to go through a 30 day Congressional review period. Boo!), but things are heading in the right direction. Fingers crossed.

Save the Date!

Obama won and I’m still sad

It is a great thing that Obama won. Amazing and wonderful – and I am very excited and grateful. I voted for him, rooted for him, celebrated when it was announced that he won. I went to bed on Tuesday night happy and hopeful.

But try as I might, as much as I would like to be, I am not happy today.

Because this amazing day in America, this day where hope and change won and history was made, was followed by the news that Proposition 8 in California and the gay marriage and adoption bans in Arizona, Florida and Arkansas have all passed. There is a bitter taste in my mouth.

I would like to believe, like so many people do after this historic election that America is a more just place. That citizens are truly judged on the content of their character. That America is a place that embraces freedom and equal rights. But the fact is, despite how far we have come (and I do not question that for a second – tremendous progress has been made in this country in the arena of civil rights – and the election of Barack Obama Tuesday night is the prime, awe-inspiring example of that), we all still live in a country where every single anti-gay ballot initiative up for a vote on Tuesday passed.

We elected a black man president, we defended a woman’s right to chose in South Dakota, we guaranteed that chickens would be treated humanely in California, for christ’s sake, but America, at least a voting majority, still hates me. Hates that I am making my (normal, boring, home-owning, tax-paying) life with a woman. Doesn’t think my relationship should be recognized. Doesn’t think I should be able to adopt children. Doesn’t think that my family is deserving of legal protection. Doesn’t think that I should be able to enjoy the same rights and responsibilities that straight, married couples don’t even have to think about.

And so I feel sad today. Have felt sad since I woke up on the morning on November 5th and checked the news online.

It feels like, while the world of possibilities are opening up for so many Americans, I am being specifically excluded. That there is something so horrible about loving someone of your own gender, that it is necessary to take rights away from any person who does. (And that is what Proposition 8 did. It didn’t prevent the granting of rights in the future, as many marriage bans have, it took away existing rights. Can you imagine doing that? To anyone?)

I do not like being told that I am “less than”. I do not think that a majority population should be EVER be able to determine the rights of a minority population. You DON’T put rights to a popular vote.

So I am mad, that while everybody else gets to be unequivocally happy about this amazing and momentous election, this election that I was equally invested in, I sit here hurt and angry and upset, because my country has told me that I don’t matter. That while I share the dreams and aspirations of my fellow Americans, I am not deserving of the rights that they enjoy. I’m mad that I don’t get to feel the joy, that I should rightfully feel, having survived 8 years of the Bush nightmare and having elected a great man to be President.

Obama won and I’m still sad