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May 23 2014

Pennsylvania Just Became Better for Same-Sex Families–And The Rest of Us

By at 11:48 am

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I was watching “Frozen” with my 3-year-old daughter when I heard the news: the Pennsylvania ban on same-sex marriage was overturned! My Facebook feed exploded with cries of “Mazel tov,” as well as, “Finally, PA,” and, “Welcome to the 21st Century.” This was big news, and not just in an abstract, I believe in equality and social justice kind of way. This was news with measurable impact on people I care about, news with the gravitas of, “I remember where I was when I found out.”

That means, I will always remember that I was watching “Frozen.” Disney’s latest blockbuster is being heralded by parents everywhere, even while they can’t stop singing, “Let it Go.” It’s notable for depicting princesses who defy the waiting-for-Prince Charming stereotypes, but it’s not quite defiant enough for my taste. One of the opening songs still has Princess Anna say, “What if I meet…the one?” I was as devoted a follower as anyone of “How I Met Your Mother,” so it’s not that I’m opposed to the concept of “the one” being portrayed in popular culture. Rather, I think that marriage doesn’t make sense as the primary plot device in a movie marketed towards kids who haven’t started kindergarten yet.

Even so, my daughter is no stranger to weddings, having already attended three in as many years. Last June, she attended the wedding of two of our family’s dear friends, and she talked about nothing for weeks before or after the celebration. Leading up to the wedding, we talked a lot about being quiet during the ceremony, giving gifts, and eating a special meal, but we made no mention of gender, even though the marriage was (and is!) between two women. To our then 2-year-old, a party was a party, and the particulars mattered not at all. Even now, even after seeing “Frozen,” when I asked her this afternoon, “What does ‘married’ mean?” she said, “It’s when people love each other.”

Clearly, our version of family values is taking hold. We read “The Purim Superhero” several times a week. The day before the aforementioned wedding, our minyan (ritual quorum of 10 people who gather for prayer) had not one but two aufrufs (Shabbat celebration prior to wedding), both for lesbian couples. On the one hand, I’m conscious of the choices my husband and I are making so that our heterosexual family is an ally to all families of all kinds. On the other hand, I hope that when our kids grow up and learn about the changing social climate that has allowed same-sex marriage to become a reality, they’ll be confused as to what the big deal is. Hopefully “ally” will become synonymous with “person,” and we won’t need such distinctions to indicate acceptance of other people. Someday, when they can articulate it, I expect their response to the idea that anyone can marry anyone he or she or ze loves to be, “Duh.”

Our dear friends will now be able to change their names legally without paying exorbitant fees. Someday, if they choose to become parents, that road will be easier for them, too. I am happy for them and for all the other same-sex couples in Pennsylvania, Oregon, and elsewhere who are gaining the rights they so obviously deserve. But even more so, selfishly, I am overjoyed that my kids are going to grow up in a state where freedom to love is a given. Also, I’m thinking that “Freedom to Love” would make a pretty good title for a Disney song, and that’s one I wouldn’t mind humming for days on end.

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