Suze Orman, You've Insulted the Memory of My Lesbian Mom

On Piers Morgan, Suze Orman ambushed Ryan Anderson with a crowd-pleasing, smug flourish.  After hearing Anderson's explanation of his opposition to same-sex marriage, she said she felt "compassion" toward him because he was "uneducated" about the issue.  She told him that he needed to study all the financial ramifications for same-sex couples: estate taxes, health benefits, property rights, etc.

This may be shocking to people like Suze Orman, but gay love used to be wonderful because once upon a time, it was about love and not about money.  If you were in a gay relationship, you knew it was because the other person loved you, not because the other person wanted federal benefits like military housing, a bridal registry at Nordstrom's, or dental coverage.

It remains the case that the vast majority of gay people (at least the ones I know) are kind-hearted, decent folk.  These media Moseses do not speak for us.

Orman is part of the "instant" gay political class, arm-in-arm with Rachel Maddow and Dan Savage.  These power-hungry social climbers helicoptered into the gay community from above and forced the pro-marriage ideology on us.  They live remote from recent gay struggles or even from the brutal reality of today's community, which is largely poor, marginalized, uncoupled, and battling monsters like depression, suicide, addictions, eating disorders, and sexually transmitted diseases.  Ostensibly, gay marriage equality will "trickle down" into some improvement in the lives of everyday gays -- but let's be real.  Gay marriage equality will change common gay people's lives as much as the election of Barack Obama changed everyday black people's lives.

If you are rich enough to leave ten million dollars to your gay lover when you die, and you have $185,000 to spend on a surrogate mother so you can purchase an heir, then by all means, the legal nuances of having marriage equality will mean a great deal.  But I am having trouble seeing why we need to make the fight for marriage equality a priority for such privileged persons, especially when civil unions would be easier, would cover basic legal protections, and wouldn't impinge as dangerously on the principles of motherhood and fatherhood for the purposes of family law.

Since I have come forward with my story as a kid raised by lesbians in the 1970s and 1980s, I have been confronted by many people who call me "anti-gay" or "hate-filled" or "homophobic" because I see the importance of both fathers and mothers in children's lives and underscore the need for LGBTs to develop their own model for relationships (like civil unions) rather than try to apply to themselves a model for "marriage" that was designed for people in a totally different reality.

There are details here that matter: My mother was divorced, and she did the best for me in our circumstances.  Having two moms and no dad was better for me than having one mom and no dad.  But she tried her best to establish contact between me and my dad, because she knew that my father mattered in my life.  It is an insult to her memory and my memory of living with her for lesbians today to take the importance of a father so lightly.  The struggles my mother and I faced were nothing to be taken lightly; it is wrong for lesbians to pre-arrange families without a father, not to solve a circumstance outside of their control, but rather to satisfy their own insatiable demand to know what it's like to be a parent.

It is so hard to explain all that needs to be said in the debate about same-sex marriage and same-sex parenting, because everywhere we go, there are time limits and taboos, people screaming at us, and others who only want crisp sound-bites.  When I testified in Minnesota before the state House and Senate committees, I was given two minutes before the former and eight minutes before the latter.  The two-minute speech, which was understandably rushed and incomplete, is the one that got all over the internet.  When I was interviewed by Minneapolis TV, stations ran edited coverage where my idea was whittled down to twelve seconds.

Suze Orman insulted my mother's memory by narrowing down all the complex history I have just described into a pitch for gay couples' better financial standing.  What was wonderful about gay love in my mother's era was that it was love, not financial planning.  The purity of her love showed in the way she never tried to eradicate my ties to my father, and in the way she stayed together with her female partner even though there was no money to be gained for either of them by being with each other.

If same-sex marriage suddenly means that lesbians blow off the fathers of their children and reduce love to tax itemization, I say sign up for civil unions, and let's please go back to being the loving community we once were.

Robert Oscar Lopez is the author of Johnson Park and editor of English Manif.