Heather Barwick had two mommies, and she claims it ruined her life. And because of that, she doesn’t think gay people should be allowed to get married or raise children.
Did her mothers mistreat her? No, not at all. In a long letter for The Federalist titled “Dear Gay Community: Your Kids Are Hurting,” Heather admits that both her mother and her mother’s partner treated her wonderfully. She spent her entire life, until her mid-20s, advocating for gay rights and marriage equality. But then she got married to a man and joined a church, and her whole perspective shifted. “It’s only now, as I watch my children loving and being loved by their father each day,” the mother of four explains, “that I can see the beauty and wisdom in traditional marriage and parenting.”
Heather began as the product of a traditional marriage, but her mother came out as a lesbian and left her dad, after which he didn’t come back around. She accepts this was his own choice, admitting, “My dad wasn’t a great guy.” She spent her childhood longing for a father, wondering where he had gone and what she had done wrong.
Now Heather says she doesn’t want gay people to marry or have children, because those children might be sad like she was.
Her blame here feels grossly misplaced. This is not the fault of the gay community. The only person to blame for Heather not having a father is Heather’s father. Full stop. He chose to stay out of the picture. He abandoned her. He denied her a loving father-daughter relationship. Her mother and her partner did the best they could, but of course it couldn’t ease that pain. Of course it could never replace his love.
But guess what?
This happens to children raised by straight parents every single day. I don’t have enough fingers and toes to count all the people I know who grew up without a father. Divorce, loss, abandonment — these pains give no craps about anyone’s sexual orientation.
Does she really think this pain is unique to children of same-sex parents?
She continues with a plea to be unsilenced. “Kids of divorced parents are allowed to say, ‘Hey, Mom and Dad, I love you, but the divorce crushed me and has been so hard. It shattered my trust and made me feel like it was my fault.’ Kids of adoption are allowed to say, ‘Hey, adoptive parents, I love you. But this is really hard for me. I suffer because my relationship with my first parents was broken.'”
Yes. Absolutely. They are all allowed to say that. Just as Heather is allowed to say that growing up with two mothers — growing up without a father — left her feeling lonely and different and misunderstood. But it stops there. Her personal pain isn’t enough reason to deny thousands of people the right to marry and raise children. It’s infuriating that she assumes her experience — or should I say, her perception of it in hindsight — to be universal enough to warrant that.
Children of divorce — of whom there are untold millions — and children of adoption aren’t out there picketing for a legalized end to a particular type of family unit. They have their pain, they have every right to their pain, but they aren’t suggesting no one ever reproduce again because they weren’t raised in the suburbs by the idealized nuclear family.
I feel for Heather. I am so sorry her father didn’t show up. But she cannot hold her mothers — and the entire gay community — responsible. Sins of the father do not apply here.