A Tale of Two Uncles
In light of US v Windsor we are posting this poignant piece by Stephanie Sprenger regarding her family's views on gay marriage. For more information about the case in the SCOUS there will be a link to Huffington Post at the end of this piece.
Post by Stephanie Sprenger @ Mommy, For Real
My daughter turned six this year, and there were a whole handful of topics that I kept waiting to come up that never did. The “tricky” conversations, like, “Where exactly did my baby sister exit your body?” and, “How precisely did she get IN there?” or maybe even, “Why does Daddy pee standing up?” or “Why do I have so many grandmas?” I was certain, with her constant chatter and never-ending curiosity, that we would be broaching these delicate subjects sometime soon, but I never wanted to push the “serious” discussions before it was time.
Somehow, forcibly initiating the conversations seemed inauthentic; whenever I envisioned myself casually saying, “Hey Izzy! Do you know what “divorce” means?” over a nice cherry popsicle, it didn’t feel right. So I waited.
There was one more conversation looming that hadn’t been brought up yet: the gay uncles. I really hadn’t the vaguest idea how my daughter would pose the question: “Hey Mommy, I get that Uncle Brian is your brother, but why is Brandon my uncle, too?” or maybe, “Why doesn’t Uncle Brian have a wife? Why does he live with Uncle Brandon?”
Truth be told, I had no clue whether or not she “got it.” The uncles were together. And I had no idea if it was important for me to bring it up with my first grader, or if it was one of those things that didn’t need an official sit-down. Here’s one thing I was certain of: it sure as hell wasn’t going to be one of those “things we don’t talk about.” The two uncles are an important part of our family, and my daughters will grow up supporting gay rights. But when? When would we teach her about gay marriage?
Then one day, the opportunity naturally presented itself. As we cruised down the highway to school in the morning, my little reader, with her infinite creativity, began reading the exit signs aloud. “What if Kipling and Ward got married?” she began, inventing her own interstate love story. “Which one do you think would be the boy? Kipling or Ward? Is Kipling a girl’s name or a boy’s name?”
I saw my moment, and I seized it.
“What if Kipling and Ward were both boys?” I asked her tentatively. “Could they still get married?”
“No, “ she said dismissively.
“Actually, yes, they could,” I replied, ignoring the nauseating legal technicality that in our state, no, they couldn’t. Not the point, however. “Boys can marry boys, and girls can marry girls, if they love each other.”
“Oh yeah,” she said slowly. “Like Uncle Brian and Uncle Brandon!”
Yes, I thought. She does get it.
“Did Uncle Brian and Uncle Brandon have a wedding?” she asked, “With flowers and music?”
“No,” I answered, “Not yet. But maybe someday they will.”
My younger daughter is not yet two, and such questions would never occur to her. In fact, she seems to think they share the same name. I was curious why she only talked about “Bandon” and never mentioned my brother, so one day, as she sat between them on the couch, I asked her, “Where’s Uncle Brandon?”
She looked slowly back and forth between the two of them, unable to respond, her mind having thoroughly been blown. Given the fact that my brother is 6’4, bearded, and as white as humanly possible, and his partner is average height, clean shaven, and black, it would be hard to imagine she has somehow mixed them up. Rather, she appears to perceive them as one entity. In her tiny brain, her uncles are united.
Since our illuminating car ride discussion, the uncles have become engaged. They plan to get married in two years, after Brandon finishes grad school. I can only hope that by the year 2015, our state legislation will have caught up with the benevolent, intuitive brain of my toddler.
For more information on the Wednesday's Supreme Court rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and California's Proposition 8 as an affirmation that marriage is a state-level issue, check out this Huffington Post article.