I don’t know about you but Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays.
It just evokes great memories. It was one of the only meals my mother cooked really well. She’d start early in the morning and by noon the house was filled with great smells. We didn’t do the 3 p.m. Thanksgiving Day dinner. We ate around 6 just like we always did.
Of course, the meal was gone in about 45 minutes—turkey, dressing, her special green beans (right out of a can), sweet potatoes and dessert which was always either coconut custard or pumpkin pie with Cool Whip.
OK, so I was a child of depression era parents whose idea of a middle class life was a house on Long Island with plastic slip covers on the furniture and a dishwasher. I didn’t fare too badly though. They sent both my brother and I to college—something neither of them did—and were quite proud when we both achieved our respective graduate degrees.
Thanksgiving was always the one holiday that the whole family got together—all four of us. There were various visitors in different years but the constant, until my dad died, was all four of us around our grand dining room table that was only used for special occasions.
Now that I’m a parent, all grown up approaching 50, in a committed relationship Thanksgiving Day Dinner is on me. Well, actually, it’s on Lynn. I don’t cook—but I can clean a kitchen faster than most.
What’s important is that the day is still all about family—but the one we define for ourselves. Alex, our son, is home from college. His dad and step-mom would usually be with us but a bit of surgery is keeping them close to home. My best friend from first grade, her partner and their son will be driving up from Jersey to join us.
I know how lucky I am to have this family of mine. The ability to define one’s family is a relatively recent phenomenon although the legal protections that come with the standard heterosexual family unit largely escape the collective grasp of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
I’ve written ad nauseum about the myriad of rights and privileges lesbian and gay couples are denied on both the state and national levels. Domestic partnerships and civil unions just don’t cut the mustard. The civil union experiment in New Jersey bares this out. The new law was passed with the idea of providing the same rights to lesbian and gay couples as to straight ones. Over and over, we’re hearing the horror stories of folks being denied what the law says they should get.
Governor Jon Corzine had to intervene to get UPS to do the right thing. The federal courts are involved in the case of two lesbian couples who wanted to use a pavilion on the beach at Ocean Grove but were denied access because the Methodist Church that owns it doesn’t believe in same-sex marriage. The New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission held a hearing recently and heard from close to 100 couples about how the civil unions law is not working—even to the point where partners were having difficulty visiting one another in a hospital.
If a ballot measure passes in Arkansas, only married heterosexual couples will be able to foster or adopt children. Here we are wanting to be parents, hoping to provide loving, stable homes to kids who need them and the state wants to deny us because our love isn’t the right type.
Unfortunately, Arkansas isn’t alone. Florida, Utah and Mississippi actually do practice equal opportunity discrimination—only married couples are allowed to adopt or become foster parents.
Wouldn’t it be better for kids in the foster care system to be in a loving home on Thanksgiving, rather than in a setting that may be cold and institutional? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if when we sit at our Thanksgiving Day table with our family that, as lesbian and gay couples, we knew we had legal protections? Wouldn’t it be great if the LGBT community could really give thanks for living in a country that respects us and values us as citizens?
But, I’m not about to let the powers that be in DC define who I am—a professional, a parent, a partner and a pundit who wishes you a Happy Thanksgiving!