WHITNEY: Gay marriage trial impacts all families

If we’re anything more than unlucky, the families we’re born into prove to be the people we would have chosen to fill our lives had we been given the option to pick our familial arrangements.

In other words, you love the ones you’re with, and they love you back. Unconditionally, and regardless of who we are.

Yet that idea is on trial in Michigan this week as two women fight to keep their family intact and challenge our state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, who live in the Detroit suburb of Hazel Park, are asking U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman to overturn a state law that prevents them from adopting each other’s children in addition to taking on the state ban on gay marriage, which was approved as a constitutional amendment by voters in 2004. Without legal adoption, DeBoer and Rowse would not be able to assume custody of each other’s children if one of them died.

As of this writing, the trial has just begun. By the time you read this column, however, there might be a clearer picture of how Friedman will rule. Nonetheless, I’m using this space this week to talk about why any parents — any family — should be concerned about what this kind of legislation could mean for them.

It only takes one strong-willed group of people who’ve decided that you’re living your life in a way they don’t condone to threaten your existence.

There are a few articles circulating the Internet now claiming that, given the costs of raising a child in our society, young people shouldn’t consider having their first child until they’re making a six-figure salary. Imagine how few of us would be parents now had we waited for the illustrious six-figure salary before we had our first child.

Or, conversely, imagine how many of us would pass our child-bearing years before making advancements in our careers necessary to earn the prescribed child-rearing income others believe we should have.

I tried to find some research to support belief that high earners make better parents — because science is the search for information that challenges what we believe, and I love science — but I didn’t find anything legitimate. A few odds and ends about “affluenza,” but I’ll leave probing the legitimacy of that debate for your spare time, dear readers.

I did, however, find studies that suggest children of gay and lesbian parents perform better in school and are more compassionate toward their peers. Where do DeBoer and Rowse’s children go to school? Can we arrange a play date?

No matter where your family fits on the spectrum of “traditional” or “not traditional,” this statewide and national debate about who is fit to be a parent or fit to be married should be threatening to all of us.

We should be fighting for stable parenthood, not legislation that would leave children in limbo if one of their parents died. We should be fighting for legitimizing all marriages and families.

I hope to see Michigan’s same-sex marriage ban overturned, because ultimately I hope to see all children in loving, supportive homes established on a foundation of security. But I also hope this case make all parents pay attention.

It wouldn’t take much for someone to challenge the worth of your family’s dynamics, no matter how strong you believe them to be.

Even though they didn’t choose their parents, even if they slam the doors and hate their moms some days, I’m quite sure DeBoer and Rowse’s children would maintain that their family deserves a change for legal legitimacy. They love the ones they’re with. We should fight for their right to familial love and stability.