Growing Up with Gay Parents

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Sarah Gogin and her fathers on graduation day.
From and

This week, the Supreme Court will hear two cases on same-sex marriage: Hollingsworth v. Perry, the case will determine the constitutionality of California's Proposition 8, and United States v. Windsor, the case that will decide the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, also known as DOMA.

Over the last decade, in the midst of public legislative and court battles over same-sex marriage, many gay and lesbian couples have privately decided to start families. According to the 2010 census, the number of same-sex couples raising children more than doubled over the past ten years, from eight percent in 2000 to 19 percent in 2010.

Sarah Gogin is a 24-year-old senior staff associate in San Francisco. Sarah's fathers adopted her in 1988, one of the first gay adoptions in California.

As a trailblazer, Sarah recalls some hardship growing up with gay parents. "As I got into grammar school, I didn't understand why people would be treating us differently," she says. "You hear things on the playground," she continues, "they throw out these words...sometime without even knowing what it means."

Sixteen-year-old Malina Simhard-Halm also experienced bullying when she moved with her fathers from Los Angeles to Santa Fe in the fourth grade. "I was just different," she says, "but it felt like I was the subject of a lot of bullying and my parents were also being discriminated against."

"On a school level," she says, "yes, I was a different kid. I had two gay dads. But, on a political level, too, my parents were still…unable to do certain things and to obtain certain rights."

Unlike Sarah and Malina, Kevin Gibson Weinberger, a 13-year-old who lives with his fathers in Los Angeles, has grown up as one of many kids with same-sex parents.

"More kids in my school have two dads or two moms," Kevin says. "Families are more diverse nowadays, so I don't really feel left out."

"I don't really get bullied at school at all; I don't recall being bullied at all," Kevin says. "But I feel like…the government is bullying my parents by not letting them have rights that they should have."

Kevin continues. "I get all these rights — well, not as many as adults, but I get rights, and when I'm older, I get rights to marry, and I feel like they should have rights to marry also."

Sarah is amazed by the school environment Kevin describes. "Times have changed," she says, "and it's incredible to hear."

"It's crazy and great to see kids so young, starting so young, really standing up for their beliefs and standing up for their families."

As for the cases before the court, Malina feels that her generation is part of a civil rights movement for LGBT rights. "I definitely want to be a part of the huge wave…that has picked up in the past few years." Malina and Sarah are members of Outspoken Generation, a group for children with LGBT parents, and Malina is proud that the organization wrote testimony for an amicus brief filed by the Family Equality Council.  

If Proposition 8 and DOMA are upheld, Malina, Kevin and Sarah note that while they would be disappointed, they'd nevertheless remain confident in their families.

"If we lose," Kevin says, "my family is no less of a family than we were before. If gay marriage is approved, and my parents do get married, we're no less of a family and no more of a family."