Erika Napoletano here -– no relation to Janet or the other plethora of political Napoletanos running around out there. See, I got the name in the divorce. (Yes, the D-Word.) It was fancy, had a ring to it. While I didn’t want the relationship that went with the ring, I kept the snazzy name. I can already tell I’m your worst nightmare. I build broken homes.
I’ve been following your shenanigans for a while now and I have to say that I’m disappointed you played the “for the children” card. While I’m legally twenty years past being included with the children, I can remember what it was like growing up in a home with heterosexual parents.
They were divorced. Damn them and their selfishness, refusing to stay together for the children. My mother worked and went to school, my dad held a civil engineering job. My brother, sister and I were latchkey kids, microwaving after school snacks and learning to cook on nights mom got home late. We spent every other weekend at Dad’s, playing with model trains and running around his tiny little apartment until he told us to simmer down since people lived below him. Christ – kids really can’t run quietly. It was a bit of a buzzkill, but hey – those were the rules.
I’m not going to give you a story about wanting love, needing love or yearning for an intact household that my parents, who couldn’t find a way to live together, so unjustly deprived us. My brother, sister and I all graduated Summa Cum Laude from Nimitz High School in Houston, Texas (with little sis eeking out a class rank of 7th ahead of my brother’s and my kindred score of 9th in our class years…the pipsqueak) and equal honors from college. I went off to college on a full scholarship. My brother is currently pursing his Masters in Psychology and my sister a Masters in Library Science (in addition to being an ordained Lutheran Children’s Minister). They’re awesome kids – people I’m proud to call my brother and sister.
And my parents – my divorced parents – are pretty damn awesome as well.
“Children are best raised by folks who love them, care for them, provide their basic needs, nurture their creativity and strength, support them and believe in them. Though there is one dominant narrative for how families “should” look – the nuclear two-parent heterosexual household – there have been plenty of studies supporting family units that look different from that are just as valuable for the child. Aunts, uncles, grandparents, step-parents, foster parents – the structure doesn’t matter so much as the content.”
Content, my dear Mr. Pugno. Not context.
If I had been raised in the context of heterosexual parents who so obviously despised one another, who would I be today? Would I be an outspoken social media consultant and blogger-for-hire…write a weekly column for a website about sex toys and exploring sexuality…climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro…discovered a love for cycling…be wrapped in the daily embrace of friendships I’m proud to have earned and am learning to nurture more and more each day.
My parents, heterosexual in their own right, gave me love and support as they knew how. The context of a single parent home gave me the opportunity to become self-sufficient and embrace the fact I had two parents who loved me – they just lived in different places. The content? Love. Love, love, love.
Mr. Pugno, Fuck You
But Mr. Pugno – fuck you and every one of your Protect Marriage supporters for saying that my childhood is worth less because I didn’t come from an intact heterosexual home. And double fuck you for condemning those who choose to live a life that doesn’t fit your “ideal” of a “marriage.”
I’m twice-divorced. Why? Well, it’s not because I’m a lesbian or that I don’t believe in marriage. I’m a die-hard romantic, believing strongly that, as the person I’ve come to be, I have a better set of tools today to build a successful marriage than I did when I was young, ignorant and stupid and decided to walk down the aisle with two men I truly loved and initiate unions that would ultimately not last.
Marriage didn’t fail me: it was the failure of the human relationship.
What you’re telling me is that a heterosexual relationship has more value than a same-sex relationship. That one version of love is more important than another. Actually, I’m willing to entertain that notion, but here’s the rub:
If you can tell me that heterosexual couples are able to feel and live with love more deeply than two people of the same sex (and substantiate your case) – I’ll suck your dick on national television. Now, before you get all hot about the blowjob, I get to counter you arguments. I will introduce you to Amy and Cindiman, Cheryl and Kate, Elisa and Megan. These are six women I’m very lucky to have in my life – and they’re lesbians.
And they all visibly experience a love for their partners – their wives, if you will – that makes my heart skip a beat each time I see them. And once you meet these beautiful women, then we’ll go on a field trip to Walmart. There, I’ll show you some really awesome heterosexual couples with children. If we’re lucky, we’ll get some, Shut the fuck ups and I’m gonna beat yer asses while we’re there.
It’s the Content, Not the Context
Then I’ll take you to an egg donor agency (Gifted Journeys in Studio City, CA), one run by my best friend, who actively and openly works with same-sex couples. See, they’re in the Building a Family business. On a daily basis, they see people who want children more than many people who end up with them the old fashioned way. Many of their recipient parents are gay, lesbian or transgendered. They understand that it is the content of the family, not the context, which creates supportive and loving households. For the children.
I was fortunate enough to be provided a link by a social media acquaintance and (gasp) lesbian Mari Kurisato. It’s a pretty kickass study performed by the Australian Psychological Society (2007). Not only does it indicate that same-sex parenting relationships typically share the child-rearing burden more evenly, but that even gay male couples exhibit more active parenting roles than their heterosexual counterparts. (Wanna dig, Pugno? It’s on pages 17 and 18 of the study. Though since the study is all “gay,” I’m sure you wouldn’t dare bring it up in a browser window for fear of your computer catching the Gay Virus.)
Heather Cornwell was also gracious enough to share with me her thoughts on the beauty of an intact heterosexual home: she’s the product of one.
“Regarding the argument that children are best served by an intact male/female marriage, I would just point out that environment is only a partial determiner in the outcome of a childhood. If we extrapolate that theory, then I should be a perfectly balanced, straight, Christian female. Instead, I am a balanced, gay, agnostic female. My parents are still married, and demonstrated a great deal of affection towards each other, and to my siblings and myself. I am a happy lesbian, my sister is a single, divorced mother and my brother is a single, divorced father. Whether or not my parents were in an intact heterosexual relationship had little to no bearing on how my siblings and I have developed into adults.”
Your organization purports the following:
“Traditional marriage is the foundation of society and has served our state well for centuries. California’s constitutional marriage amendment exists to strengthen society, encourage monogamous and loving marriages and to provide the optimal environment to ensure the well being of children.”
Ensure the well-being of children. How noble. I’ll start heading towards a close with some interesting examples, all of which blow your reasoning more effectively than a $20 hooker:
- Edward Albee (gay) – Adopted by a heterosexual couple. Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright (and one of my professors in college)
- Patricia Cornwell (bisexual) – Product of a broken home, adopted. Best-selling author and former Medical Examiner for the State of Virginia.
- Truman Capote (gay) – Abandoned by his parents (along with the rest of his siblings). Literary icon.
- Dalai Lamas (celibate) – Once recognized, boys are removed from the home of their birth parents to be trained for their future station. While they do not lose contact with their birth family, they are not raised by them.
- President Barack Obama (married, heterosexual) – Parents divorced when he was two. Last I checked, he holds the highest political office in the United States (much to your chagrin, I’m sure).
- Menendez Brother (killed their parents) – heterosexual married parents.
- John Wayne Gacy (serial killer) – heterosexual married parents.
Your rules fail you, Mr. Pugno. If heterosexuality is the stepping stone to familial and developmental perfection, you need to get to work on doctoring the history books ASAP.
Legislating Morality Makes Me Queasy
Mr. Pugno, the thought that your group of a mere 100-some-odd thousand folks who feel that they can drive to legislate morality makes me queasy. Considering the pro-Proposition 8 campaign raised $39.9 million in 2008 and continues to spend taxpayer dollars by tying up the court system tells me that there are a lot of people, while entitled to their beliefs, aren’t secure in them enough to nose the everloving fuck out of everyone else’s business and tend to their own families. And Heather, whom we met earlier, backs that up:
“In my opinion, this country was founded on NOT allowing the government to make our choices for us. Granted, the pilgrims were fleeing religious oppression, but I think that any oppression goes against the founding principles of our nation. If I choose to marry my partner, have children or not have children, the government should not be given a say in that decision. More to the point, the government should not DEMAND a say in that decision.”
The way I see it is this: you’re telling me there was almost $40 million available (in addition to the $43 million raised by anti-Prop 8 forces in 2008) in our economy to support the persecution people for being who they are instead of helping people become who they want to be? I’m speechless. And I’m sure the State of California, in its dismal financial state, is appalled as well. We’re a country that sings the hymn of human potential yet you fail to realize that this song is comprised of varying voices.
Stay the Fuck Out Of My Bedroom
In closing, I don’t think everything you and Protect Marriage are doing is bad. You’ve done one amazing thing that few others have been able to achieve: showing the world what is possible when an overzealous herd gets a little cash and begins substituting the word “government” for “religion.” I’m not on board with that. I’ll kindly have the government stay out of my bedroom, out of my vagina and out of the affairs of people with whom you wouldn’t deign to share a dinner table. “The children,” as you say, need protecting from people and organizations like you and yours, not from same-sex couples. Close-mindedness is a blight on the development of mankind. And the children – the future of this nation, the reminder that anything is possible and the glimmer of hope that winks over the horizon with each sunrise and sunset we’re blessed with witnessing.
PS: the offer for the blowjob still stands. Line up your case studies and I’ll line-up mine. If it’s a tie, we’ll have a kiss-off to determine the winner.
End note: The Executive Board of The American Anthropological Association, the world’s largest organization of anthropologists, released the following statement on February 26, 2004 in response to President Bush’s call for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage as a threat to civilization:
“The results of more than a century of anthropological research on households, kinship relationships, and families, across cultures and through time, provide no support whatsoever for the view that either civilization or viable social orders depend upon marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution. Rather, anthropological research supports the conclusion that a vast array of family types, including families built upon same-sex partnerships, can contribute to stable and humane societies.
The Executive Board of the American Anthropological Association strongly opposes a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual couples.”
Yeah. Suck it.
Reprinted by permission.