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Same-sex marriage is good for kids



Last modified: Friday, October 28, 2011
On Oct. 25, the House Judiciary Committee passed a bill to revoke the state's same-sex marriage law and replace it with a poor excuse for civil unions. Proponents of same-sex marriage repeal insist over and over, like an annoying, online pop-up ad you can't get rid of, that their measure is necessary for the welfare of New Hampshire's children.

But what does it say to our kids if we pass a measure that revokes basic rights from a specific category of our citizens?

Either citizens are equal in this state, or they are not. If they are, the Legislature needs to walk the walk - especially for the sake of our children.

A repeal of New Hampshire's same-sex marriage law would be particularly damaging to gay kids, many of whom are no stranger to the pain of being valued differently. The stories of bullying, for example, both local and national, are too prevalent to count. Teens and even younger children are shuffling home from school, hiding in their rooms, dreading the thought of the next online or text or in person contact they'll be forced into with their peers.

These bullying victims have to suffer through each day as their self-esteem is knocked down another peg, until they're fully convinced that the gist of what they keep hearing and seeing live and on Facebook is true: They're worthless.

There have been too many incidents in the news lately of gay teens or teens perceived as gay who've been bullied until they take their own lives. Educators, psychologists and other concerned adults keep trying to intervene, to address the problem, to find ways to make kids see that it's not okay to treat any kid as less valuable than any other.

How many of you reading this are parents? How many parents have had to comfort a bullied child?

Your heart grows so large it feels like it might stick in your throat as you offer whatever reassurances you can find. 'It's okay, honey. It'll be all right. It doesn't matter what anyone says; you're just as good as anyone else. Don't let anyone tell you you're not.'

Less worthy?

So why would the New Hampshire Legislature, having acted in 2009 to treat gay and straight citizens equally, now say to New Hampshire's gay adults and kids alike, 'You're right: You are less worthy than the rest of us'?

When we tell our kids, especially our gay kids, that they are just as good as anyone else, do we mean it? Or are we just offering platitudes devoid of any substance? Because if the people of New Hampshire mean what we say, legislators, you need to do more than talk. You need to walk the walk.

For nearly two years now, same-sex marriage has been legal in New Hampshire. Families have been created. People looking to solemnize their union within the bonds of matrimony have been able to do so with the blessing of our state and have been able to take advantage of all of the benefits this state confers upon married couples.

No harm

And look, the state of New Hampshire still stands. Heterosexual marriage still exists, solid or broken as it ever was. Gay marriage hasn't affected my own straight marriage. Nor has it affected yours (if you're straight). You still have to take full responsibility for that.

Nor do I fear my kids will grow up to be 'converted,' another argument often heard from same-sex marriage opponents. If my kids turn out to be straight, they're straight. If they turn out to be gay, they're gay. But whatever they are, they're my kids and I'll love them.

And in New Hampshire under the law that exists now, it's comforting to know that my kids and my friends' kids and all the kids I don't even know will have the same rights to get married and build a family as anyone else. Because all of New Hampshire's kids deserve equal opportunity.

Enough of the divisions. Enough of dividing society into us and them. Enough of talking about acceptance but not meaning it. We need to walk the walk. We have same-sex marriage in New Hampshire and it's harmed exactly no one.

Instead, it's allowed the creation and strengthening of marriage and of families. It's shown kids who may be struggling with their identities that our society accepts them on equal terms. Let's not take a step backward on that.

Let's not hurt families and kids anymore. Keep the same-sex marriage law intact.

(Tracy Hahn-Burkett of Bow is a writer who focuses often on family topics. She blogs at unchartedparent.com.)