Baby’s Chance Encounter with President Obama
My toddler son met you in Iowa in 2007 at Tom Harkin’s Annual Steak Fry. You were greeting the crowd at the fence and came over to say hello to my family. You asked me and my partner, knowingly, if we were his parents and we said yes. You nodded and took our son in your arms. You both regarded each other, and, with a broad smile, you said, sincerely and warmly, “He’s beautiful.”
That moment now hangs on the wall in the room of our biracial, adopted son because of all of the possibility it represents. It’s the possibility that a brown-skinned man can become the President of the United States. It’s the possibility that one can be anything, despite challenging odds, but especially when assisted by love and unconditional support. It’s the possibility of the difference that one mom (let alone two) can make in a young man’s life, especially if he’ll never really know his birth father.
I crossed paths with you again at an event in Washington, DC in 2011. As a lesbian living in Virginia with her partner of 19 years and a young son who sees his moms as married, rather than “married,” I could have listed all of the things I still wanted from you. Instead, I thanked you for all of the little things you’ve done to support same-sex couples, including partnership recognition for federal employees. But I especially wanted you to know that I appreciated deeply your leadership on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.
And on an otherwise unremarkable day — May 9, 2012 — you touched my heart again when you ‘came out’ and said publicly that you have come to believe that same-sex couples deserve more than civil unions and should be allowed to marry legally.
It was a moment of honesty above the din of political parsing, and a moment that embraced what our children understand about love and commitment, pure and simple. In that moment, as you spoke, I couldn’t find words to replace the tears welling up in my eyes for this gift. Not unlike the first time we met, you embraced my family — including others like us and generations to come — in a deeply significant way.
Your words in support of same-sex marriage, Mr. President, were beautiful.