Amie Klempnauer Miller is the author of She Looks Just Like You: A Memoir of (Nonbiological Lesbian) Motherhood. She is a frequent speaker about gay and lesbian families, and her writing has appeared on Salon, inBrain, Child and Greater Good magazines, and elsewhere. Miller works as a development consultant to the public media industry and lives with her partner and daughter in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Congresswoman Michele “I’m really from Iowa” Bachmann has spent some time lately wondering whether same-sex couples with children can be considered family. Apparently they cannot, in her world. Mrs. Bachmann has hardly been a friend of the LGBT community in the past. But since she wants to become President, there are some things she should know about the people she proposes to lead:
- Approximately two-thirds of Americans do see same-sex couples with children as families, according to 2010 research from Indiana University.
- Based on 2010 U.S. Census data, there are more than 901,000 same-sex couples in the U.S., 25% of whom are raising children.
- Same-sex couples with children live in large cities, suburbs and small towns all across the country. The fact that there are 13,360 families with same-sex parents in New York may not seem surprising. But the Census also reports: 6,290 families with same-sex parents in North Carolina; 2,585 in Oklahoma; 4,550 in Arizona and 2,372 right here in Minnesota, the state she represents.
- And here’s one for Mrs. Bachmann to chew on: support for same-sex marriage is growing in Iowa – even among Republicans.
If children will teach you anything, it is that things change. Not that long ago, gay men and lesbians assumed that coming out meant that they would never become parents. Now, young gays and lesbians assume that they can. Not that long ago, same-sex marriage seemed improbable at best. Now, it is legal in six states and Washington, DC. What’s more, 53% of Americans support legalizing same-sex marriage – with support reaching 70% among young adults. Clearly, there are still fiercely divided opinions about same-sex marriage and parenting, but public attitudes are shifting and younger generations are driving the change.
“So,” I say to my daughter, “some people think we’re not a family because we don’t have a mom and a dad.”
“That’s stupid,” she says.
“What is it about us that makes you know we’re a family?” I ask.
She shrugs and looks at me like I’m a bit dim. “It makes me feel good. I feel cozy and safe. I don’t know. We just are.”