Thursday, May 23, 2013

One Word

Wow. This is just what I needed. There's nothing quite like a good Thursday morning tear jerker. And today, the Las Vegas Sun delivered the goods.

Sun reporter Jackie Valley penned an article on the Flamer-Fletcher family. They're like so many other families in Southern Nevada... Except that they must endure additional discrimination. Why? Read below.

They live in a spacious Summerlin home that boasts four bedrooms, a three-car garage, an outdoor pool and a sizable patch of grass in the backyard. The environment screams family atmosphere, and it is.

[Greg] Flamer and [Fletcher] Whitwell, a gay couple, consider themselves and their adopted daughter a family like anyone else in the gated neighborhood. They love each other and spend their nonworking hours as a family unit. They take Hudson to swimming lessons and gymnastics classes. They go out for an occasional brunch or dinner. They travel to see relatives.

“I feel like we’re a very normal family and treated as such,” Flamer, 40, said.

But the road to becoming a family was a difficult one because of Nevada’s ban on same-sex marriage, which added extra steps throughout the adoption process, they said. Flamer and Whitwell are one of eight couples that filed suit in April 2012 to overturn Nevada’s ban on same-sex marriage.

The couple had to spend $60,000 and wait through several months worth of court hearings just to adopt their daughter, Hudson. They had to file for single-parent adoption in Oklahoma, then jump through additional legal hoops to bring Hudson to Nevada. Fortunately for this family, they had the resources to endure this incredibly arduous process. But for many other LGBTQ families in Nevada and elsewhere in the nation, they simply don't have the time and/or money to endure the intense process of protecting themselves and each other legally.

This is why Greg Flamer and Fletcher Whitwell decided to become co-plaintiffs in the historic Sevcik v. Sandoval law suit now pending in federal court. While trial court wasn't kind to them, the case is now pending in the friendlier Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals. And regardless of the outcome there, the case will likely then head to the US Supreme Court. And of course, the outcome of this case may be decided even sooner depending on the outcome of the Prop 8 and DOMA cases now pending in the US Supreme Court.

Yet while we're all waiting to see how the marriage law suits ultimately shake out, the Nevada Legislature has not. Rather, Nevada's LGBTQ families SJR 13 has been moving in Carson City this session. It still must pass the full Assembly in the next 11 days, then it must pass both houses of the Legislature again in 2015 before going to the voters for final approval in 2016. It's a long process, but ultimately it secures full marriage equality regardless of what happens in court in the coming months and years.

Still, I can understand how difficult it truly is for families like the Flamer-Whitwell household to have to wait on pins and needles for seemingly endless months for legislatures to debate bills, initiatives to go before voters, and cases to go before judges. But alas, such is life for Nevada's LGBTQ families today. Just don't try to explain this to Bush Administration Defense Scretary Donald Rumsfeld. He's caught the vapors over... Well, you just have to see his bullshit explanation for yourself.

I guess Mr. Rumsfeld has never met the Flamer-Whitwell family, Zaki family, and/or any other loving LGBTQ family. Below is more from today's heart wrenching Sun story.

“We have a lot of friends who are parents, straight and gay,” Flamer said. “I think we’re doing a pretty good job. She’s definitely well provided for and loved.”

Flamer and Whitwell would like to adopt again to give Hudson a sibling, but the obstacles associated with their classification as an “unmarried” couple make them uneasy.

But their desire to be married goes beyond procedures and benefits, they said. It’s symbolic of their love for each other and maybe even a little old-fashioned: They want to raise their daughter and any future children in a married household.

“We’ve flown to every corner of the country going to all our friends’ weddings,” Flamer said. “We’ve seen how wonderful it is for the whole family. That would be nice.”

Rumsfeld and other 21st Century Know Nothings claim "morality" as an excuse to deny equality to millions of loving American families. They just don't seem to notice the disgusting immorality of breaking families apart because of others' bigotry. While Nevada hasn't been as challenging of a landscape lately, families here are still denied over 1,100 legal rights and the most basic recognition of a loving, committed relationship.

It may just be one word, but it's one word that can wield so much power over so many families. It's one word that can break families apart or keep them together. It's one word that shouldn't be denied to millions of loving families just because of who they are.

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