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- Jose Lucio, self-published author of Heave Ho!

12.01.2015

Real-life "Heather" Speaks out on Having Had Two Mommies

Image Credits: Women of Grace/Amazon

Strangely fun to see Heather Has Two Mommies show up in my Facebook feed this afternoon, even though the story being referenced was from last March. I like seeing picture books at the heart of controversy. Picture books can push at the culture as no other medium can.

Sometimes, though, it feels like we are past those days. After all, in an era in which same-sex marriage has been legalized across the nation, how could something as benign as a picture book featuring a girl being raised by two moms possibly still be a source of contention?

In the 1980's, Heather Barwick's parents were divorced, and she was raised by her mother and her mother's female partner. "Gay community, I am your daughter," she writes in an open letter published on The Federalist. "Do you remember that book, 'Heather Has Two Mommies'? That was my life."

It is amazing how a game of Chinese Whispers amongst social media alters not just the content of a story, but the tone in which it was written. By the time the story landed in my facebook feed, having been posted by a man who is both a geocentrist and an end-times heralder, it was in the context of, "Look! A woman who was raised by two moms speaks out against the homosexual lifestyle! See, liberals?!!" Of course my dander was raised a few notches. His post linked to an article published on Western Journalism, which suggests that Heather's main contention was that it really is better all-around for children to have both a mother and a father, and therefore same-sex marriage is damaging.

“It’s only now, as I watch my children loving and being loved by their father each day, that I see the beauty and wisdom in traditional marriage and parenting,” they quote Heather as saying.

After reading that article, and returning to facebook, I found that many people had already taken to attacking her in absentia, calling her ungrateful for the parenting that she had, and that her newfound Christian fundamentalism had clearly corrupted her.

I was glad that I took the time to finally read Heather's actual letter in its entirety and without editorializing.

"I still feel like gay people are my people," she writes. "I’ve learned so much from you. You taught me how to be brave, especially when it is hard. You taught me empathy. You taught me how to listen. And how to dance. You taught me not be afraid of things that are different. And you taught me how to stand up for myself, even if that means I stand alone."

However, she goes on to write:

"Gay marriage doesn’t just redefine marriage, but also parenting. It promotes and normalizes a family structure that necessarily denies us something precious and foundational. It denies us something we need and long for, while at the same time tells us that we don’t need what we naturally crave. That we will be okay. But we’re not. We’re hurting."

I have not walked in Heather's shoes, but the best we can do in this life is to love each other as best we are able. I'm not sure what Heather would have preferred... Assuming her parents divorced and her mother was a lesbian... what then? Gay people aren't going to just stop being gay. It is a reality they have to deal with, and that their families and communities will have to deal with as well. I take Heather's point, in a general sense, that it is important for children to have both positive male and female role-models in their lives, but that should not preclude same-sex families from raising their children as best they can, just as my wife and I are raising our son, and parents everywhere do likewise.

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