While I was in synagogue yesterday for Yom Kippur, the President proclaimed the day "Family Day 2009." Amid the platitudes on the importance of strong families in keeping adolescents from substance abuse and electronic device overdose came a nod to us...same-sex couples raising children. Here's the quote:
American families from every walk of life have taught us time and again that children raised in loving, caring homes have the ability to reject negative behaviors and reach their highest potential. Whether children are raised by two parents, a single parent, grandparents, a same-sex couple, or a guardian, families encourage us to do our best and enable us to accomplish great things.
We've heard Presidential rhetoric before. When Bill Clinton accepted the Democratic nomination for president in 1992, it was the middle of a family values war. Clinton's contribution in his acceptance speech was the following:
I want an America where "family values" live in our actions, not just in our speeches. An America that includes every family. Every traditional family and every extended family. Every two-parent family, every single-parent family, and every foster family. Every family.
At the time I was thrilled. He didn't mention us by name, but he didn't exclude us either. He said every family. I believed him. That was before the Newt Gingrich Congress of 1994 and a Congress that handed him the Defense of Marriage Act just before the 2006 election.
Obama is three years from reelection. It looks unlikely that he will get DOMA repealed before then. But he's willing to include us in the list of families. And when his administration defends the constitutionality of DOMA, it now makes clear that we make good parents.
It's not enough, but it's progress.