Friday, March 22, 2013

Gay family values & the Supreme Court

It's been interesting to watch my virtual friend Daniel Martinez-Leffew's letter to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts go viral, in a modest sort of way --- including an appearance on CNN.

Daniel, who is 12, is the adopted son of Jay (Foxworthy) and Bryan Leffew of Santa Rosa, Calif., a couple for 18 years who were married during the brief window before Proposition 8 when same-sex marriage was legal in California.

Oral arguments are about to begin in the U.S. Supreme Court on challenges to the constitutionality of both Proposition 8 (2008), which bans same-sex marriage in California,  and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (1996), which bars federal recognition of same-sex unions.

Daniel wrote the letter to point out similarities between his two-dads family and the Roberts family after learning that the chief justice and his wife also have two adopted children. Its airing has blended into ongoing drives by both proponents of and opponents to same-sex marriage that are designed to show the high court justices how America really feels about the issue.

The real situation still is division, but polls suggest that a majority of Americans --- led by younger generations --- now are generally supportive of same-sex unions.

The American Academy of Pediatrics, representing some 60,000 physicians, expressed itself this week by declaring that evidence shows childhood development is unaffected by the sexual orientation of parents.


I've been watching the Leffews for a few years --- basically since they launched a YouTube channel (linked out of right sidebar) in the aftermath of Proposition 8's passage to demonstrate through "Gay Family Values" videos how their family works.

Jay, a San Francisco sheriff's deputy, and Bryan, a stay-at-home dad, considered surrogacy after several years together, then opted for adoption. Distressingly, both dads are Star Trek geeks; it remains to be seen if that family value will be shared long-term by their children.

Daniel, then 5, and his biological sister, Salina, 12 months, both were in the California foster care system at the time. Daniel was considered "unadoptable" because of his Goldenhar syndrome, a genetic condition that affects the left side of his body. The Leffews adopted both children to ensure that they would not be separated (a third sibling already had been lost through adoption by another family).

The couple also provides foster care when called upon to do so.

It's been fun to watch the kids grow up --- and the Leffews prove that gay couples, roughly equal when it comes to parenting skills, are for the most part just as boring as heterosexual couples.


It's not clear whether the ongoing advocacy drives will affect eventual Supreme Court decisions on Proposition 8 and DOMA. Because of the makeup of the court, the justices seems as likely to uphold their constitutionality as to overturn them.

Although losses in the court would be a setback to gay families, the eventual long term outcome probably will have little effect. Proposition 8 most likely would be overnturned by California voters this time if the issue were presented, as it undoubtedly will be if that becomes necessary. And a clear Democrat majority in the U.S. House and Senate would make quick work of rescinding DOMA.

There are even rumored to be Republicans who hope the court will rule in favor of same-sex families. The GOP's extremist social agenda turns out to be similar to a crack addiction --- the addicts know it's self-destructive and wrong but lack the willpower to kick the habit. The Supreme Court could provide useful intervention.

No comments: