Zach Wahls. Daniel Martinez-Leffew. McKinley BarbouRoske. All three are children of gay or lesbian parents who have spoken out in support of same-sex marriage and whose stories have stolen our hearts.
But opponents of same-sex marriage have finally replied with their own poster child, and her name is Grace Evans.
Evans is an 11-year-old girl who recently testified against a same-sex marriage bill being debated by the Minnesota House Committee on Civil Law. Unlike children of gay couple, she has a mother and a father, and wanted everyone to know that every kid should be as lucky as she.
"I know that everyone deserves to have a mom and a dad," she said. "If you change the law to say two moms and two dads can get married, it would take away something very important for children like me across the state."
But don't let me take all the best bits right away. Here's Grace:
"Which parent do I not need?" she asks. "My mom or my dad?"
I don't know, Grace. I don't think you understand that allowing same-sex couples to marry wouldn't affect your family in the slightest, and it makes me a little sad.
Evans also plays on gender roles quite a bit in her impassioned speech:
"I am learning from [my mother] to be a good woman, wife, and mother someday ... She is my role model on how to be a girl and I love her very much. My dad is also very important to me because he protects me and helps me get the confidence to be a girl who is growing up to be a woman. He takes care of me in a way my mom cannot."
Or, wait, let's call those gender stereotypes instead. Mom teaches me how to be a girl, Dad teaches me how to be confident. I'm at a loss as to how these tasks can't be accomplished by a single mother, or even a single father. Why do certain "teaching moments" need to come from two different-gendered parents? What's wrong with two same-sex parents raising a child, or even just one parent, if that's what the situation calls for?
I don't have a beef with Grace Evans. If there's one thing she shares with the people I mentioned at the start of this article, it's her incredible bravery shown in speaking in front of so many people on such a hotly debated subject. But something they have that she doesn't is a family that teaches love and respect for all people, however their families are composed.
Her father, Jeff, weighed in on the situation:
"Supporters of gay marriage are deceitfully claiming that the legalization of gay marriage won't affect our religious freedoms or freedom of speech," he said. "I do not believe them. These attacks on Grace [as a result of the above video] are an example of how we have already lost many of these freedoms ... Imagine what it will be like if gay marriage becomes legal in Minnesota."
I agree that it's wrong to attack a child as viciously as some commenters have. Freedom of speech means you can say what you want — being callous and cruel is abusing this freedom. But he did not explain how exactly his family will lose their freedoms of speech and religion if same-sex marriage is legalized. His daughter got to express herself in front of a prominent state committee; no one there told her what to say or argued with her. She was allowed to mention God without being censored. Then the video hit the internet and, predictably, lots of people didn't like what she was saying.
Those who were much nicer in their opposition weren't commenting on the video because they wanted to attack her or take away her rights. They just didn't like that she spoke in favor of preventing gay and lesbian people from acquiring rights that her parents have always had.
It is worth mentioning at this point that the committee voted in favor of the gay marriage bill and sent it forward to the Minnesota House.