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Editorial: For gay families, remarkable change

The most startling part of the Monitor’s recent project on gay parenting was a story based on reporting from the newspaper’s archives circa 1987. That was the year the New Hampshire Legislature banned gay people from adopting children or serving as foster parents. The hateful language used by state lawmakers in public debate, no doubt controversial at the time, is nearly unthinkable a quarter-century later.

Writer Clay Wirestone included the history lesson to show how different the state has become. In the 1980s, gay people were considered unacceptable as parents. Today, he and his husband – as well as adoption officials and several other gay parents interviewed – report a largely positive experience.

What struck us as even more remarkable has been the change in public attitudes toward gay people in just the past few years. In 2008 when the state first legalized civil unions (a precursor to gay marriage), the Monitor took significant criticism for publishing a front-page photograph of a gay couple smooching and, later, a funny, full-page comic strip by Wirestone about his own civil union ceremony.

Just five years later, that half-step toward marriage equality already seems quaint. And a two-day story and photo project about gay families drew an encouraging reaction.

Progress is uneven, of course, as evidenced by a local minister’s recent column in reaction to the Supreme Court’s rulings on gay marriage issues. But by and large, it is no longer 1987 for gay people in New Hampshire. It’s not even 2008. And that’s something to celebrate.

Wonderful to see stories that highlight families. After all families are made in a wide array. We all need loving and supportive environments to grow in.

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