Family Friendly

two men w son 1219
Random internet image — not the family at hand. Borrowed without any permission whatsoever.

I don’t know if you heard about this story, but shortly before Thanksgiving at an elementary school somewhere in Utah, a substitute teacher asked the class, fourth or fifth grade, to take turns expressing their gratitude for something. While several were thankful for turkey or pie or no school, one 10-year-old boy told his classmates what was really in his heart: he was thankful for being adopted by his two dads and finally having a family to call his.

Isn’t that sweet and touching? Well, his substitute teacher didn’t think so. She found this disgusting, and immediately lanced into the poor kid, and his classmates, with a diatribe on the sickness of homosexuality and how awful this child was to think that was okay.

The boy’s classmates tried to get her to stop, and when that failed, three girls from the class summoned the principal, who immediately escorted the substitute from the building. She just got more voluble, blaming a 10-year-old boy — it was his fault that she was so mad, apparently.

She is no longer employed by that school district.

But let’s think about this little boy for a moment. He is 10 and just now getting a forever home. It comes with two dads. Two parents who love each other, and him. This made him happy and grateful, so happy and grateful he wanted everyone to know that was what he was most thankful for — and this awful woman ruined his moment of happiness.

He didn’t even want to tell his dads what had happened, because he was afraid — afraid! — that they would no longer want to adopt him. A previous near-adoption had already fallen through for this boy who wants nothing so much out of life as a family to love him. Instead, one of his dads, some semi-celebrity who is or was a coach on some talent show (Dancing With the Stars, maybe), burst into tears at the notion that the thing his son was most grateful for was him and his husband.

I hope that this boy will eventually remember all the good of an awful day at school: his classmates came to his defense, and so did the principal. Immediately, with no hesitation. The woman was fired. His dads love him that much more, if such a thing is possible.

But no matter what, it’s likely to always be somewhere in his head, forefront or back, that his bubble of happiness was burst by someone who thought it so wrong she felt compelled to lash out at a 10-year-old boy and his classmates.

This morning CBS tells me the Hallmark Channel is recanting, after initially collapsing to pressure from an organization called One Million Moms, whose apparent reason for existence is to stamp out homosexuality. Failing that, perhaps they can just hide it from the masses. Whatever their mission statement is, they didn’t want Hallmark airing commercials for some wedding planning company whose commercials feature two women getting married.

Apparently Ellen Degeneres’ Twitter response was something like, “Isn’t it almost 2020?”

Whether it’s 2020 or not, the U.S. Supreme Court decided some years back that it is okay for men to marry men and women to marry women in all 50 of these United States. Just as they had decided, decades before that, that skin color shouldn’t be a factor in deciding who can and can’t be married.

These days, I can’t watch a commercial for any product that doesn’t feature an interracial couple. I’ve also seen several commercials featuring gay or lesbian couples. Thanks to one Million Moms, I might not have seen this on Hallmark (I guess I’m assuming that they probably also come down on the side of intolerance when it comes to race, but perhaps they formed strictly out of a collegial sense of homophobia).

Hallmark, to its credit I suppose, immediately changed it position, issued an abject apology and will be running all the wedding planning company’s ads, whether heterogeneous or homogeneous. Apparently the greeting company prides itself on its dedication to diversity, a dedication that comes as a surprise to me.

I used to watch Hallmark’s schlocky Christmas movies, until not only all the plots but the actors became the same three women. It’s a very white channel. And most of the female leads are blonde, to complement the tall, dark (but not too dark) and handsome leading men, who unlike the women, get one movie and then are heard no more.

So it’s news to me that they value diversity. There seems to be one token black character in every third movie, where in all movies the leading woman lands in some very Christmasy uber-white town. I don’t recall seeing any gay people in these movies, either.

Advertisers are a different matter, however, and that’s why I’m seeing so many interracial and now gay married couples. They want to sell to the people who are buying, and people who are buying want to buy products from people who look like them. Or so goes the thinking. Advertisers are never going to wait for the Supreme Court to tell them what’s okay and what isn’t. Why wouldn’t a national wedding planning company want to tap into all available markets?

At the Gunnison Country Times, I once worked with two homophobes, both named Chris. Both were young men who came to us straight of of Western Then State Then College. And both of them, to their credit, were able to grow beyond their prejudice.

The Chris who did not stay very long, just a couple of years, got sent to Crested Butte to interview a gay couple who owned some sort of guest business (bed and breakfast, small hotel, I can’t remember). He came back and reported, in a very shocked voice, “They’re just like the rest of us!”

He actually went on to become quite friendly with these men, I think entranced by the money they were making, marketing to gay couples with no children who had a lot — I mean a lot — of disposable income. A whole world of financial possibility opened up to Chris, and along the way he lost his homophobia.

I’m not sure why One Million Moms feel threatened by the notion of two women not themselves getting married to each other. These newly-married women can still be moms, either biologically or adoptively, as good — or as bad — as any other parent on the block. Isn’t that the goal? To protect “family values”? Values that include parents who love each other and their children?

The very fabric of society has not ripped apart because two people with obvious skin differences have married, and it’s not going to because two women are shown kissing at their wedding in a commercial. (All you have really done, Million Moms, is boost this company’s profile. They should send a thank-you card.)

And under no circumstances, ever, should anyone rain down on a little boy expressing his happiness for at last having a family to call his own. Put that way, it hardly sounds family-friendly at all.

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