5.11.2012

How One Dad Is Moving Forward, After Amendment One

The below guest post was written by Matt Shipman, a science writer and father of three who lives in Raleigh. This is his third contribution to def shepherd. You can follow Matt on Twitter at @ShipLives or connect with him here on Google+.  

I wrote, some time ago, about how becoming a father made me a much stronger advocate for gay rights. As a dad, I spend time with my children every day. I see them running around with their friends. Odds are good that some of these kids I see on the playground will grow up to become gay teens and adults. And I have become increasingly horrified that someday someone would want to hurt any of these youngsters because of their sexual orientation.

That paternal, protective instinct makes me reject anything indicating that someone who is gay is somehow less important than someone who is straight. That extends, of course, to “Amendment One,” which passed overwhelmingly in North Carolina on May 8.

The passage of Amendment One has made a lot of people angry. It’s also made a lot of people, including me, incredibly sad. It will be some time before we can fully determine its impact, and there are many outstanding questions regarding what this will mean not only for same-sex families, but for domestic violence protections and unmarried heterosexual couples. No one – and I mean no one – can have any real idea of how these issues will play out.

There is also a great deal of discussion right now about the potential for legal action against Amendment One. I’m not an attorney, so I won’t prognosticate about that either.

All of this uncertainty can leave one feeling powerless. What can I do? If you’re a parent, there is a great deal you can do.

Make sure your children know that you will love them, no matter what. Teach them, by example, how to treat people with compassion and respect regardless of their sexual orientation. And, for those who can’t remember, going through puberty was excruciating. I can’t imagine what it is like to go through that while also fearing rejection from peers or one’s own family because of who you’re sexually attracted to. The least we can do for our children is let them know that they will always have our love and support. Home should always feel safe.

So that’s what I’ll be working on. Loving my kids. Showing them what it means to treat people with respect. Raising them, I hope, to be strong and honest and kind.

Amendment One has me feeling pretty blue right now. But if we, as parents, get this right, I have high hopes for the future.



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