When children can't tell

Filed under: Just For Moms, Work Life, Gay Parenting, Sex

Suppose you were gay. And, suppose you wanted to serve your country by enlisting in the military to protect it. Currently, you'd have to not mention the former in order to do the latter. It's idiotic, I know, ("You know, I used to feel that way too until I found out that Alexander the Great was a fag. Talk about gays in the military!") but that's the way it is. A lot of good, patriotic men and women have made that sacrifice, hiding a part of themselves so that they can be allowed to serve the country they love.

Such choices, however, rarely affect just the person making the choice. There is the whole matter of a partner who may accept the same sacrifice. And then there are the kids. In any situation, one must always consider the effect on the kids. I'm sure it must be a very difficult decision to join the military, knowing that there will always be the possibility of leaving any current or future children orphaned. Perhaps, this makes the decision to serve all that much more noble. For the children of gay and lesbian parents, however, there is more to it.

Dana over at Mombian has written an essay detailing an aspect of service that, I have to admit, I never even considered. Cheryl Parker (not her real name) is a decorated officer in the U.S. Army who has served her country in Iraq. A few years back, Rachel, Jared, and I visited a friend in the Seattle area. After twenty years in the Navy, he was retiring. We were able enjoy a playground on the base and even borrow some rowboats to take out on the lake. Cheryl Parker's two kids, however, are unable to take advantage of such perks because they might tell another kid about their mom -- their other mom.

Cheryl Parker is in a long-term, committed relationship with another woman. Because of that, she could be discharged because of the military's policy of discrimination. Never mind that she is a decorated officer. Forget about the fact that she risked her life to serve her country in war-torn Iraq. Toss out all that training and experience. Who she falls in love with is obviously far more important than any of that.

The big losers, however, are the couple's two kids. Parker can't let them play with other military kids or attend social events on base. "They had this humongous playground on one base that William absolutely loved," says Parker's partner, Donna Lewis. "But if there were a lot of kids around, we couldn't go, because he might say 'That's my mom, my other mom's at home.' That's what kids do. They introduce themselves. If he was going to play by himself, which really sounds sad, then it was okay for him to go to the playground."

She goes on to note that her son is "dying to play soccer, and they have on-base teams for younger kids. We have to find a team off base, away from the area. William can't go to the swimming pool, he can't go to movie day, the things other kids are allowed to do."

During the holidays, they miss out on a lot too. "We had a Thanksgiving function," Parker explained, "where all the other officers brought their spouses and children. The children were running amok in this big banquet area. I can't bring my kids to these wonderful things because I'm afraid of what they could say. It would cost me my job."

Read the whole article; it made me sad, but mostly it made me extremely angry. Here is a person trying to do a lot of good in her job and she stands to lose everything because of discrimination towards something completely irrelevant. Why should anyone have to hide their family? Why should anyone have to be afraid because of who they are? Why should these kids have to suffer because of outdated bigotry?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.