Debate Forum Left, 7/26/11

A parent apparent

By Benjamin Tompkins

Benjamin Tomkins

I think this ruling demonstrates very clearly that the laws governing parent and child are ridiculously outdated. Well, that or the Supreme Court of Ohio doesn’t care much for ensuring that laws governing parent and child remain relevant to this century.

See, last time I checked it’s 2011. Gay and lesbian couples aren’t these fringe, “hide yourselves from the light of day” family units that a terrified suburban America barely allowed to exist in the 1980s. Gay culture has come into its own in the last 10 years as a result of media exposure, social evolution and progressive policies concerning tailored genes, and we’re finally getting to the point as a country that we barely even notice unless it’s pride week.

I’m 31 and I remember growing up that “gay” vaguely implied certain things, but I had no understanding beyond the knowledge that calling a kid gay was an insult. Nobody talked about it, nobody gave us any education or exposure and so we pretty much had to go with what we loosely pieced together from talking on the playground. I think the theory held by parents and teachers was that it was progressive to simply ignore the problem, because hey, ignoring a problem is more progressive than openly persecuting people, right? Yeah. Don’t ask don’t tell, and for Gods sake if you are gay, pretend you aren’t.

But we can’t get away with it anymore. Whether we ask or don’t ask, the questions are coming up. Lesbian couples like Kelly Mullen and Michele Hobbs, who are seeking the same things in life as any straight couple, are becoming the norm and for obvious reasons. We culturally accept that two consenting adults can do whatever they want and we’re all so busy trying to pay our bills that most of us couldn’t care less whether or not these two adults are screwing. As such, the tacit precedent for gay parenting rights has been founded on the idea that we should simply be able to treat gay and lesbian couples the same way we’d treat an uncle, aunt or grandparent who steps in and helps the biological parent out. Basically, the non-biological guardian exercises these rights by way of exclusive permission from the biological parent.

The problem here is patently obvious. Michele Hobbs is not Lily’s aunt. She’s her mother, and for the record I don’t like the term “social mom” because implicit in that phrase is a diminishment of parental equivalence. Legally, treating Michele as a lesser parent is equivalent to inventing a car and treating it like a horse because they’re sort of the same and it’s kind of convenient. That may work reasonably well for a while, but eventually you’re going to have to deal with the fact that a car is simply not a horse.

For two years, Kelly and Michele shared parental duties, built a life together and raised Lucy as if they were equal parents. Moreover, they entered into that situation with the intention of starting a family as if they were a married couple. By her own admission, Kelly considered Michele, to be “my child’s co-parent in every way,” right up to the point where they got a divorce and Kelly got pissy. Suddenly it’s very convenient for Kelly to use this legal nebulousness to her advantage so she can hurt Michele and drive her out of their daughter’s life. I get it. People do crappy things when they get a divorce because they’re really, really pissed off. Some people try to take the house, others try to take the kids. Gay or straight, it doesn’t make it right. Heterosexual couples just have solid laws in place.


For those of you who are getting up from your chairs to tell me how straight couples are not the same as gay couples …

Fuck you.

No really, fuck you and I’m actually pointing my middle finger at the screen as I’m typing this with my other hand. First off, mind your own business. Who someone else is having sex with doesn’t concern you.

If you can give me one good reason why you should have a say as to the gender a person should be allowed to sleep with, then you and I are going to need to discuss the difference between a “book” and “a good reason.” Secondly, all evidence, and I mean all evidence, indicates that a child who is raised by a homosexual couple has the same chance of being happy and successful as a child raised by a heterosexual couple.

Sorry. Fact.

And lastly, please go meet some gay people, because I’m betting you don’t know any personally. They’re normal people. Totally normal. They want the same things in life you want: Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and possibly better hair.

Benjamin Tompkins is a violinist, teacher, journalist, and critically acclaimed composer currently living in Denver, CO. He hates stupidity, and generally believes that the volume of one’s voice is inversely proportional to one’s knowledge of the issue. Reach Ben Tompkins at

Ben Tomkins is a violinist, teacher, journalist and critically acclaimed composer currently living in Denver, Colorado. He hates stupidity and generally believes that the volume of one’s voice is inversely proportional to one’s knowledge of an issue. Reach Ben Tomkins at

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