Marriage Doesn’t Make a Family

By Echo Brooks/TRT Online Columnist-

Zach Wahls, a nineteen year old man raised by a committed lesbian couple, took a stand before the Iowa State House of Representatives who was proposing a bill to ban same sex marriage and abolish the recognition of civil unions. In a confident eloquent demeanor, this young man spoke of his family, as being a family. He spoke of the generations before his parents and their lack of support in his mother’s endeavor to create a family together. He went on to acknowledge his accomplishments in education, business and a very obvious sense of self. His words have spread across the internet at a rapid pace, and each time the video is posted, I am reminded that my own family is a similar representation of the family Zach speaks so highly of.

I too have a nineteen year old successful child. Her biological father has been deceased since she was only a few months old. While I raised her alone for a good portion of her young childhood, she has had two mothers since the age of six. She is a collegiate scholar in college, works full time, and has had a healthy relationship with the same young man for over two years. Her child rearing by two women has not affected her in a negative way at all. Her sexuality has not been “compromised” by our influences and no one would ever say she was maladjusted. As a matter of fact, and with all bias aside, I would say her being raised by two mother’s has enabled her to see, first hand, the injustices in life, how to overcome them, and how to treat all people with equal respect.

Being raised by same sex parents doesn’t come without its hardship. However the hardships have nothing to do with the family as a unit, but rather those that chose not to acknowledge the family is indeed a family, just like any headed by heterosexual parents. Enduring bullying, apprehension and a need to sometimes hold your family dynamics a secret is very stressful on a child. A child should never have to hide a family they are proud of, because of others’ fears and ignorance. Children of same sex couples will overcome these obstacles with maturity, only to realize that not everyone else will mature with them. The same children influenced by their ignorant parents will very likely become similar ignorant adults, yet those raised by same sex parents will likely grow to support and educate others that family is about nurture, not just nature.

Zach Wahls rhetorically asked the question, “would this vote affect my family?” The answer is an unequivocal yes. It would allow his family to be validated. It would allow him to knowledge what he has known all along in his heart, his family is real, they do matter, and they are not second class citizens. He goes on to ask “would it affect yours?” The answer here is a resounding no. Allowing all people the right to choose to marry who they love would have no bearing on who anyone else does or does not love and create a family with. And perhaps with the evolution of society it is time to take a look at the institution of marriage and what it means. Marriage no longer dictates what a family is. And with divorce, unwed mothers, and a slew of other breeches to the bible’s teachings, standing behind religion for what constitutes marriage is hypocritical. Marriage needs to be an option for all, or none. And families need to be recognized for what they are. Zach Wahls knows firsthand that marriage doesn’t necessarily make a family, “the sense of family comes from the commitment we make to each other.”

Echo resides in northern New Jersey with her wife and the two youngest of their five children. You can visit her blog at dysphoricallyspeaking.blogspot.comor send comments and questions to

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