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A Letter To My New Daughter About Love

This article is more than 6 years old.

Dear Rosalie,

You’re about 12-hours-old as I write this. You came into the world last night (Wednesday, June 26, 2013) at 1:51 am, avidly voicing your objections to the various injustices to which you were subjected. You looked like a beautiful furious rose. Thus your name.

Having a baby, as you may eventually discover, involves a lot of waiting around. For this reason, me and your mom — when we weren’t bouncing on the birthing ball or pacing the halls of the birthing center or whining about the hospital food we were nonetheless stuffing into our pieholes — spent some time perusing the news.

There You Are Rosalie! (Courtesy of the author)
There You Are Rosalie! (Courtesy of the author)

Most of it was bad.

A famous athlete was about to be charged with murder and the local press was in a blood frenzy. A famous freedom fighter was fading toward death. Perhaps most depressing of all (at least on this day, the day of your birth) the Supreme Court ruled to overturn a key provision in the Voting Rights Act, which will make it easier for states and municipalities to disenfranchise minority voters.

It was hard to watch all this without losing a bit of faith in the species. But then, just a few hours after you appeared, something kind of awesome happened.

The same group of judges (or at least the five most enlightened among them) issued a decision that essentially said this: if you love someone, you have the right to marry  them.

This shouldn’t be an especially controversial notion. But you’ve been born into a strange country, Rosalie, one full of guns and greed and lazy prejudices masquerading as religious belief.

In many parts of America, it’s perfectly acceptable to discriminate against people for not earning enough money or coming from the wrong part of the world or worshipping the wrong God.

But today, thanks to the Supreme Court, it is going to become much easier for two men or two women who fall in love to be legally married, and to enjoy the privileges accorded to other couples.

That may not sound like a big deal, but it represents profound moral progress. Until quite recently, most gay people remained in hiding for fear of being ostracized or worse. They didn’t think to get married, because marriage was defined as the union between a man and a woman.

What makes today special — aside from the fact, of course, that you entered our world — is that it marks a fundamental victory for the cause of love over hate.

My own twin brother, for instance, couldn’t marry the man he loved in the state where they both lived.

I don’t know that I can explain why some people hate gays so much. Like most forms of hatred, it has more to do with their own insecurities than any kind of rational thought.

What matters, though, is that these insecurities are no longer being viewed as reason enough to denigrate the love of others.

This is not to suggest that love will be something easy or painless for you. In my own experience, love is awfully hard to come by and even harder to hold onto.

Your mother and I love each other very much. But our devotion is complicated by our own fears and anxieties. We struggle every day to be good to one another. This is a necessary part of the human arrangement, I’m afraid.

Still, what makes today special — aside from the fact, of course, that you entered our world — is that it marks a fundamental victory for the cause of love over hate.

Those of us lucky enough to live in this country, have been given cause to believe in a wonderful dream: that our children will be able to love, and eventually marry, whomever they choose without shame or fear.

It won’t matter what race or creed or gender they are, only that the two of you provide each other the respect and joy you deserve.

Here’s to dreaming, kid.


This program aired on June 27, 2013. The audio for this program is not available.

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