Gracie, no one is trying to take one of your parents away.

I rarely get so enraged that it’s hard for me to write. Certainly I can be emphatic, sarcastic, even outraged, but that usually motivates me at the keyboard. Only rarely do I get so furious that I want skip writing altogether and just go out to scream on the streets.

But that’s happening today.

An 11-year-old girl, Gracie Evans, is getting a lot of press from the antigay establishment. As NOM describes it:

Here is an 11-year-old(!), Gracie Evans, testifying before the Minnesota state legislature against same sex marriage. She had a question for the legislators: “I want to ask you this question: which parent do I not need: my Mom or my Dad?” [emphasis added].

She asks the question twice and looks around the room in vain for an answer. Out of the mouths of babes, my friends, out of the mouths of babes!

The anti-gay establishment is using Gracie to push the notion that same-sex marriage is wrong because children need a mother and a father. And they take the room’s silence as evidence that no reply to this could ever be made.

At first when I read this I wasn’t angry at all. I just thought this was ridiculous rhetorical stunt that some adults had put together. I mean, when our eloquent straight ally Zach Wahls describes the two devoted moms who brought him up, he could just as easily ask, “Which of these two parents did I not need?” and any decent person would have no good answer for him.

Then I thought of another reply, so clear, so obvious, a reply as simple as:

But Gracie, no one is trying to take one of your parents away.

And with that, I thought my argument was done. But the sentence popped into my head again, this time with a different inflection:

But Gracie, no one is trying to take one of your parents away.

And that’s when the rage started to build.

NOM is making full use of this girl’s testimony. They’ve created a graphic out of it and are building a PR push around it — NOM, an organization devoted to destroying our families. And that — that – is what makes me want to stand in the streets in front of NOM’s offices at shout “How DARE you??”

The only way I can pull it together is to imagine what I would say to the person I’m not mad at, little Gracie Evans, and how I would explain the situation to her. Here’s my best attempt.


Dear Gracie,

Congratulations on speaking in front of the Minneosta state legislature. That must have been scary. Even grown-ups get nervous doing it. You must be a bright and special girl, so I think you deserve to know why no one had a answer when you asked, “Which parent do I not need: my Mom or my Dad?”

See, Gracie, those of us who believe in same-sex marriage also think if you’re lucky enough to have two parents who love you, then you have every right to say you need them both. In fact, I wish every child were lucky enough to grow up in a safe, stable home with loving parents. And Gracie, that’s why I support same-sex marriage.

Let me tell you about two little boys who weren’t as lucky as you, at least not at first.

John was 4 years old, and his little brother James was only 4 months old. Their parents did not take good care of them, so they were sent to live with two men who had a nice home. John and James showed up in dirty clothes, and John had worms living in his scalp. Someone had given him medicine, but there had been no one to make sure he used it, so the worms were just getting worse and worse. Even the baby was sick, just a little 4-month-old boy with an earache.

Gracie, I know this sounds awful, but I also know you’re brave, so let me keep explaining.

Even though John was just 4, the only thing that mattered to him was taking care of his baby brother. There had been no one else to do it, and it had been very hard. Although John got lots of food in his new home, he would sneak extra and hide it in his room, because having enough food to eat was such a strange and unusual thing for him. Before he lived in that home, he had never seen a book, didn’t know how to count, and couldn’t even say what the different colors were.

But Gracie, things got better after they moved in. A few years later, the boys were going to school, saying grace over dinner, doing homework at night, going to church, and they even had pets! A dog, a rabbit, and a kitten.

Soon these two men, whom John and James called “daddy” and “papi,” wanted to give them a safe place to live forever. But believe it or not, some people didn’t want this to happen, just because the parents would be two men. But Gracie, think about the boys’ lives before they found this home, and how things got better after they moved in and became a family. Now think about little John asking you, “Which parent do I not need? My papi or my daddy?”

I bet you wouldn’t have an answer for them, either.

John and James were lucky. They did get to stay with their new parents in a safe home. But in a way, Gracie, you’re even luckier, because your parents were allowed to get married. Our country has a lot of laws that help married parents keep their family strong and protect their children.

But John and James’ parents aren’t allowed to get married, so they don’t have that help. They have to do it on their own, and they will, because they love their new sons. But do you think that’s fair? Now that John and James have been lucky enough to find a safe home, don’t you think their family deserves the same help and protection as yours? Haven’t their lives been hard enough?

Thanks for listening, Gracie, and I hope you to take a little time to think more about John and James.

Yours truly,

Rob

 

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13 comments to Gracie, no one is trying to take one of your parents away.

  • 1
    Christopher says:

    Thank you for taking the time to address Gracie’s question. Reading about NOM’s adversiting campaign based on her naive but, I believe, honest question my first thought was, “At long last have you, NOM, left no sense of decency?” But Gracie deserves an answer.
    Although I think it should be noted that it’s because of NOM, and similar organizations, that Gracie has gotten the impression that someone is trying to take one of her parents away. Having made that claim repeatedly they now have the gall to act surprised when a child repeats it, and they compound that by pretending her question is truthful and profound. So it would be wrong of me to ask if NOM now has any sense of decency left, because it’s clear they never had any sense of decency to begin with.

  • 2
    Colm says:

    This letter is a very good first draft for an illustrated story book.

  • 3
    Scott Rose says:

    It should be noted that when members of the public speak to the legislature about a matter, as this girl did, there is no interchange between an individual member of the public and the legislators.  The reason “nobody had an answer” for Gracie is that it is against protocol for anybody to answer directly to any member of the public.  Rather, individuals are permitted their say.  

  • 4
    Mrs. Chili says:

    Is there any way you can get that letter to that little girl?  Maybe we can catch her before it’s too late.

  • 5
    Chris M says:

    Thank you for so elequently expressing this issue.

  • 6
    Regan DuCasse says:

    Scott Rose is absolutely right.
    1. NOM is using the non answer this girl received as if there is no moral or philosophical answer, however the TRUTH is the legislature doesn’t answer back as a matter of their protocol.

    2. The photograph that NOM is using to represent Gracie is a stock photo from the portfolio of a photographer of a different little girl the photo describes as “dreaming”.

         Even though Brian Brown and hundreds of their supporters have been to the respective state capitols in question and gotten still photos and video footage of the proceedings, there is none of this “Gracie”.
     I’m willing to bet who doesn’t exist. NOM has not only been known to bend the truth, they are known to not use the truth at all.

  • 7
    Clayton says:

    Many things anger me about NOM’s “Gracie Strategy,” but here are some of the top.
    1) It wasn’t all that long ago that courts refused to grant custody to gay or lesbian parents in divorce cases.
    2) Until 2010, Florida had a law on the books forbidding gays and lesbians from adoption.  That law was overturned by the Florida Supreme Court in a decision that upset many people on the political right.
    3) In many states, a child cannot be adopted by two people, unless they are married to each other. In many of those same states, gays and lesbians are not allowed to marry.  This means that even if there are two people in a committed relationship jointly raising a child, the child legally has–and is only legally permitted–one parent.
    So who, exactly, is trying to take children away from whom?
     

  • 8
    Neil says:

    You should send this letter to Gracie, see if you get a response.

  • 9
    Deeelaaach says:

    If Gracie exists at all, I would not be surprised to find out that the adults in her life don’t allow her to see any response Rob sends. 

    On another subject, From what I know of NOM, they are not known for their honesty.  They testify before legislatures all the time and know the policy, making their Gracie campaign disingenous at best.  They knew Gracie would not get a response – if she exists at all, and yet they use the lack of an answer – one they knew they would not get – as if it reflects badly against the marriage equality camp. 

    So a side question is this – there are only so many legislatures in the US – which one did she testify before?  When did she testify?  The presence or lack of a real Gracie would be reflected in the records, would it not?

  • 10
    Neil says:

    Gracie, giving her testimony in the MN House.
     

  • 11
    Deeelaaach says:

    Thank you Neil!

  • 12

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    [...] wrote a lengthy response to Gracie, but sometimes we just need a quick reply. If anyone pulls this bit on me, here’s [...]

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