by Erin Okuno
While making lunch the other day, I thought about my wedding, it was such a fabulous day. It was a gorgeous September day where summer prevailed and our closest friends and family gathered. More than one friend remarked at how diverse, warm, and inviting our wedding felt.
Our close friend Julian conducted the ceremony and gave us a Native American Yakama blessing and cleansing. Julian and his brother Lloyd sang in their language and shared with our guests several Yakama prayers. Around us were friends and family from rich and diverse backgrounds all willing to share their day with us. We had friends from mixed backgrounds, international friends and family, Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, Natives, Whites, singles and widows, couples straight and gay-- some married, some not, old and young, and one couple was celebrating their own 20th wedding anniversary.
That day was special; it symbolized the life we were starting and it represented the life we live and the people we want sharing it with us. Now married for several years and with one pre-school age little boy and another baby weeks away from making a debut, I believe more than ever in wanting my children to respect others who are like or different from them and to be
respected for their own unique and genuineness.
This includes respecting families who may look differently than our family. Our pre-schooler is perceptive. He understands the notion of family and how his family has a daddy, mommy, grandparents, and extended family. Now I want him to know that other families may look different-- some may have two or more parents, some may have parents of the same sex, and others may have one parent or a grandparent raising them, or other ways of being a family.
As a parent I realize I only have so much influence over my child (soon to be children) and as they grow that influence will be shared outside of the home. That is why I believe strongly everyone should have the right to be legally married-- including gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered individuals. Being legally married signals as a community we value all families and that children of lesbian and gay parents- many of whom are and will be my children’s classmates and playmates- are equals, valued, and respected. Already in his class there are several children with two-moms and other family configurations.
The Washington State Legislature passed a bill which Governor Gregoire signed it into law on February 13, 2012 (my birthday) allowing gays and lesbians to marry. It is being put to a voter referendum on the November ballot. I hope you will join me in voting to approve Referendum 74 so the law can go into effect. If you aren’t a Washington voter than your job is to talk to others and keep the issue alive, hopefully we’ll see the day where everyone has the same legal rights to marry regardless of where you live. As I wrote in a Facebook post after the vote was passed, thanking my friends who worked hard to bring the bill to vote: “I wish you didn't have to fight for a right I take for granted. If invited to your wedding I will dance like crazy...” I want others to have wonderful wedding memories and to have the same right to family that I am so fortunate to have.
Erin Okuno is a volunteer parent ambassador with Pride Foundation, working toward the freedom to marry for all Washingtonians. If you’d like to help out too, contact Laurie Carlsson at email@example.com.