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Gracie, no one is trying to take one of your parents away.

Rob Tisinai

March 19th, 2013

I rarely get so enraged that it’s hard for me to write. Certainly I can be emphatic, sarcastic, even outraged, but that usually motivates me at the keyboard. Only rarely do I get so furious that I want skip writing altogether and just go out to scream on the streets.

But that’s happening today.

An 11-year-old girl, Gracie Evans, is getting a lot of press from the antigay establishment. As  NOM describes it:

Here is an 11-year-old(!), Gracie Evans, testifying before the Minnesota state legislature against same sex marriage. She had a question for the legislators: “I want to ask you this question: which parent do I not need: my Mom or my Dad?” [emphasis added].

She asks the question twice and looks around the room in vain for an answer. Out of the mouths of babes, my friends, out of the mouths of babes!

The anti-gay establishment is using Gracie to push the notion that same-sex marriage is wrong because kids need a mother and a father. And they take the room’s silence as evidence that no reply to this could ever be made.

At first when I read this I wasn’t angry at all.  I just thought this was ridiculous rhetorical stunt that some adults had put together. I mean, when our eloquent straight ally Zach Wahls describes the two devoted moms who brought him up, he could just as easily ask, “Which of these two parents did I not need?” and any decent person would have no good answer for him.

Then I thought of another reply, so clear, so obvious, a reply as simple as:

But Gracie, no one is trying to take one of your parents away.

And with that, I thought my argument was done. But the sentence popped into my head again, this time with a different inflection:

But Gracie, no one is trying to take one of your parents away.

And that’s when the rage started to build.

NOM is making full use of this girl’s testimony. They’ve created a graphic out of it and are building a PR push around it– NOM, an organization devoted to destroying our families. And that — that — is what makes me want to stand in the streets in front of NOM’s offices at shout “How DARE you??”

The only way I can pull it together is to imagine what I would say to the person I’m not mad at, little Gracie Evans, and how I would explain the situation to her. Here’s my best attempt.

Dear Gracie,

Congratulations on speaking in front of the Minneosta state legislature. That must have been scary. Even grown-ups get nervous doing it. You must be a bright and special girl, so I think you deserve to know why no one had a answer when you asked, “Which parent do I not need: my Mom or my Dad?”

See, Gracie, those of us who believe in same-sex marriage also think if you’re lucky enough to have two parents who love you, then you have every right to say you need them both. In fact, I wish every child were lucky enough to grow up in a safe, stable home with loving parents. And Gracie, that’s why I support same-sex marriage.

Let me tell you about two little boys who weren’t as lucky as you, at least not at first.

John was 4 years old, and his little brother James was only 4 months old. Their parents did not take good care of them, so they were sent to live with two men who had a nice home. John and James showed up in dirty clothes, and John had worms living in his scalp. Someone had given him medicine, but there had been no one to make sure he used it, so the worms were just getting worse and worse. Even the baby was sick, just a little 4-month-old boy with an earache.

Gracie, I know this sounds awful, but I also know you’re brave, so let me keep explaining.

Even though John was just 4, the only thing that mattered to him was taking care of his baby brother. There had been no one else to do it, and it had been very hard. Although John got lots of food in his new home, he would sneak extra and hide it in his room, because having enough food to eat was such a strange and unusual thing for him. Before he lived in that home, he had never seen a book, didn’t know how to count, and couldn’t even say what the different colors were.

But Gracie, things got better after they moved in. A few years later, the boys were going to school, saying grace over dinner, doing homework at night, going to church, and they even had pets! A dog, a rabbit, and a kitten.

Soon these two men, whom John and James called “daddy” and “papi,” wanted to give them a safe place to live forever. But believe it or not, some people didn’t want this to happen, just because the parents would be two men. But Gracie, think about the boys’ lives before they found this home, and how things got better after they moved in and became a family. Now think about little John asking you, “Which parent do I not need? My papi or my daddy?”

I bet you wouldn’t have an answer for them, either.

John and James were lucky. They did get to stay with their new parents in a safe home. But in a way, Gracie, you’re even luckier, because your parents were allowed to get married. Our country has a lot of laws that help married parents keep their family strong and protect their children.

But John and James’ parents aren’t allowed to get married, so they don’t have that help. They have to do it on their own, and they will, because they love their new sons. But do you think that’s fair? Now that John and James have been lucky enough to find a safe home, don’t you think their family deserves the same help and protection as yours? Haven’t their live been hard enough?

Thanks for listening, Gracie, and I hope you to take a little time to think more about John and James.

Yours truly,





Ben in Oakland
March 19th, 2013 | LINK

Rob, you NEVER fail to impress me. You hit this one right out of the park.

Gene in L.A.
March 19th, 2013 | LINK

Rob, your emotions are quite clear, but your article is unclear to me as someone unfamiliar with the situation. What exactly was done to this girl that would make her ask this question in the first place? Is there a divorce imminent, causing the parents to fight over her? If this is in fact testimony against same-sex marriage, how did she come to be involved? Is there a reference you can give where I can understand the situation better? Right now, I’m not sure I see the basis for your rage.

Bose in St. Peter MN
March 19th, 2013 | LINK

So many of us have had bio-parents we did not need because they were unable to parent in a reasonable or responsible fashion.

I did not need one of the parents I got after untreated mental illness and addiction robbed the person of any ability to play a positive role in a kid’s life.

Yeah, it’s tragic and infuriating that a young one, no matter how self-composed, pretends to speak on behalf of kids does not know and has never met. I just wish for her a fun, diverse collection of friends once she’s college-aged, because she’ll meet some of the kids she thought she was supporting.

Priya Lynn
March 19th, 2013 | LINK

Gene, I think there’s no imminent loss of a parent, her parents are getting along fine, they just put her up to this stunt to try and make a case against marriage equality.

Gene in L.A.
March 19th, 2013 | LINK

My apologies Rob,
After I posted, I found the underlined word and looked over on the NOM blog. The specific point was a bit hard to find, down the page, and they don’t really say anything more than what you quoted here. The video made it clear, though. The girl had to have been coached, probably all her life, to have come up with her written comments.

This isn’t the first time I’ve wished BT had a “delete” or an “edit” prompt in the comments box. I’d have deleted my previous one.

David in Houston
March 19th, 2013 | LINK

Perfectly said.

The problem is, it took a dozen paragraphs to explain to Gracie why her (anti-gay spoon-fed) statement was based on a lie. NOM has the advantage of using short catch-phrases to manipulate the public: “No one has the right to redefine marriage for the rest of us.” “The people have a right to vote on marriage.” “Children have a right to a mommy and daddy.”

The catch-phrase answer to little Gracie’s comment is, “Which do think is better Gracie, two parents or ZERO parents?” — “Because gay couples that go out of their way to adopt children, do so because those children don’t have ANY parents, unlike you.”

March 19th, 2013 | LINK

I agree with you, of course, but there’s nothing wrong with (politely) holding Miss Evans responsible for her words. She’s 11, not 5, and she was speaking on marriage, not the intricacies of the budget sequester. Eleven-year-olds are perfectly capable of understanding social issues, and unless her parents pressured her to do this, she is responsible for what she said.

Rob Tisinai
March 19th, 2013 | LINK

No worries, Glenn. I added a bit of explanatory material to the first part, so I’m glad you asked your question.

Richard Rush
March 19th, 2013 | LINK

How do the NOMsters live with themselves? It’s easy. One of the coveted perks of their religion is that it allows them to persecute people, and feel really good about themselves while they’re doing it.

Richard Rush
March 19th, 2013 | LINK

It shouldn’t be too hard to find an 11-year-old who could say, “I want to ask you this question: which parent do I not need: my drug-addicted Mom who brings home a different guy every night, or my Dad who is in prison? Okay, that’s extreme, but . . .

When NOM talks up the coveted Mom and a Dad, they are counting on people immediately imagining the idyllic parents by default, and hoping they never think about the legions of really bad mom+dad parents.

March 19th, 2013 | LINK

Ironically, most of the scenarios that might actually threaten to “take away” one or both of her parents are (unlike same-sex marriage) perfectly legal and none of them have ANYTHING to do with gays.

March 19th, 2013 | LINK

The other point about this is that NOM is being very deceptive, implying that everyone in the room was dumbstruck at how perceptive and bright Gracie proved to be (“and a little child shall lead them…”).

As anyone who has testified before legislative committees knows, the purpose of holding hearings is to let people have their say, period. Gracie wasn’t there to get answers to her questions, nobody was. And, in any event, what legislator in his or her right mind was going to argue with an 11 year old girl?

Gracie’s testimony involved asking a purely rhetorical question, to which nobody should have expected an answer. NOM attempts to argue that the fact she didn’t get an answer means something. It doesn’t.

The ONE question I would like put to Gracie, or anybody who makes this argument, is “explain to me exactly how it is that marriage equality will deprive you or anybody of their mother or father.” I feel that NOM’s “room” is silent when we ask that question… still waiting for an answer…

March 19th, 2013 | LINK

gsingjane, thanks for bringing that up … I had the exact same thought as I was reading. Why WOULD she get an answer from a roomful of legislators during a public hearing when she has the floor? Arrgh.

March 19th, 2013 | LINK

Okay, I’ve managed to take Gracie’s parents away. Gracie herself has been packed off to the highlands of New Guinea under a Liberty University inspired relocation program.

In New Guinea, Gracie will be living in a traditional family structure with a wife and her children in a “small house” assisted by other women of the tribe; plenty of same-sex parenting. The men and older boys all live in the big “long house”.

So there’s the answer to Gracie’s question. It’s a father that she doesn’t really need. Not any more.

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