August 31, 2011 - 1:02 pm
Congresswoman Michele “I’m really from Iowa” Bachmann has spent some time lately wondering whether same-sex couples with children can be considered family. Apparently they cannot, in her world. Mrs. Bachmann has hardly been a friend of the LGBT community in the past. But since she wants to become President, there are some things she should know about the people she proposes to lead:
- Approximately two-thirds of Americans do see same-sex couples with children as families, according to 2010 research from Indiana University.
- Based on 2010 U.S. Census data, there are more than 901,000 same-sex couples in the U.S., 25% of whom are raising children.
- Same-sex couples with children live in large cities, suburbs and small towns all across the country. The fact that there are 13,360 families with same-sex parents in New York may not seem surprising. But the Census also reports: 6,290 families with same-sex parents in North Carolina; 2,585 in Oklahoma; 4,550 in Arizona and 2,372 right here in Minnesota, the state she represents.
- And here’s one for Mrs. Bachmann to chew on: support for same-sex marriage is growing in Iowa – even among Republicans.
If children will teach you anything, it is that things change. Not that long ago, gay men and lesbians assumed that coming out meant that they would never become parents. Now, young gays and lesbians assume that they can. Not that long ago, same-sex marriage seemed improbable at best. Now, it is legal in six states and Washington, DC. What’s more, 53% of Americans support legalizing same-sex marriage – with support reaching 70% among young adults. Clearly, there are still fiercely divided opinions about same-sex marriage and parenting, but public attitudes are shifting and younger generations are driving the change.
“So,” I say to my daughter, “some people think we’re not a family because we don’t have a mom and a dad.”
“That’s stupid,” she says.
“What is it about us that makes you know we’re a family?” I ask.
She shrugs and looks at me like I’m a bit dim. “It makes me feel good. I feel cozy and safe. I don’t know. We just are.”
July 29, 2010 - 10:24 am
When Jane and I were considering names for our daughter, in the months before her birth, we settled happily on Hannah. Neither of us had known a Hannah growing up, so didn’t have any of those unpleasant associations (paste-eater, nose-picker) that we had with some of the names of our childhood peers. In fact, we thought we were wildly original, only discovering after the fact that our wildly original name was actually the fourth most popular choice for baby girls that year.
Apparently other gay and lesbian parents are more creative, according to a new list of the top “gayby” names recently released by Goodkin.com. Based on a survey of hundreds of gay and lesbian parents, the top names for babies born into our families are, by and large, not the same as the top baby names overall.
How are they different? Think less Jane Austen, more Harper Lee (Harper, in fact, rings in at number 5 for girl names). Parents overall (which means mostly straight) are still opting for Emma, Abigail, Isabel, Jacob and Ethan. Not so the gay dads and lesbian moms. The top names for boys raised by gay/lesbian parents include Atticus, Charlie, Milo and Dashiel. Girl names include Vivienne, Charlotte, Billie and Scarlett. Remarkably, only 3 names – Alex/Alexander and Noah for boys and Ava for girls – showed up on the top ten lists for both gay and straight parents.
Maybe gay and lesbian parents (other than, apparently, Jane and me) are bigger risk-takers or more out-of-the-box thinkers when naming their kids. It’s possible that gay parents feel they have more leeway to be creative given the fact that our families are already different. Or maybe gay parents are at the front end of the next trend. Who knows? A couple of years from now, little Atticus’ may just be showing up in nurseries everywhere.
I feel compelled to add, though, that Jane and I might have been more daring than it seems. Hannah’s middle name is Elisabeth. With an s.
May 11, 2010 - 12:28 pm
Artist and filmmaker Lisa Marie Evans is producing a new documentary film, Gayby Boom!, about (you guessed it) GLBT parents and their kids. She’s looking for home videos from around the globe to include in the film. This looks like a great opportunity to share real perspectives from real people about what life is really like in and for families with GLBT parents.