Just last week, Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court upheld a law that prohibits joint adoption by gay couples.
In a 5-4 decision, the court said a woman could not adopt a 12-year-old girl whom her longtime partner conceived through in vitro fertilization. In the majority opinion the court stated a family composed of a mother and father is best for a child’s “dignity, stability and well-being.”
A few days later state senator Víctor Vassallo Anadón compared homosexuality to bestiality and pedophilia, wondering why homosexuality was not outlawed. He has since apologized but his words show a great deal of prejudice and ignorance.
As a Puerto Rican man it hurts even more—it’s personal!
Many of us who are Boricua and LGBT enjoy family support—more and more of us every day, actually. The embrace we experience from our mothers, fathers, siblings, and abuelas is won through sometimes difficult, but always profoundly moving, acts of courage. We stand before our loved ones and tell our truths and we are free to let the people we love most in the world see us as we actually are. And in knowing us, wholly and completely, we form familial bonds that are stronger and more loving because of it.
In many ways, family is THE source of our strength. I find strength in the memory of my abuela, who modeled for me how transformational truth and love can be. Growing up, I never would’ve imagined that she could have embraced me as fully as she did after I disclosed to her my sexual orientation. I know she didn’t understand it right away but she grew in her understanding and showed me as only grandmothers can, in big ways and small. She told me in the way she ran to me whenever I walked in her door, in the way she bestowed her blessing on me at the end of every phone call, “Que dios te bendiga…” “May God bless you.” In the end, it didn’t matter to my grandmother WHO I loved, it mattered THAT I loved. All she saw was the love between us. I miss her and I’m so proud of her for that.
I like to think that, someday, I could be a father and that my husband and I could share with the kids we adopt together the story about my abuela, Carmen, and her capacity to grow in love her entire life. That’s my dream. I’d love to take them for a walk on the beach in Luqillo or a hike in El Yunque and know that the beautiful island from which I can track my family’s history for generations acknowledged and respected my family – ALL OF IT! If my abuela could do it, I know that the government of Puerto Rico can do it, too.
The fact is, Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court sent a cruel message to gay people: that we’re less of value than anyone else, that our parenting skills are secondary to opposite sex couples. I’m sure their decision was based on ignorance about same-sex parents.
If Puerto Rico is truly going to have an island-wide conversation about the rights of families and pass judgment on what constitutes a family let me first suggest that those in positions of power base those judgments on facts and not myths, on love and not fear.
A large body of research consistently concludes that being raised by gay or lesbian parents has no adverse effects on children. Kids of gay parents are just as healthy and well-adjusted as other children.
It’s now up to the government of Puerto Rico to teach what the Courts obviously don’t know—that in the end, it’s only the love that counts. Let the people of Puerto Rico witness for themselves the love modeled to them by LGBT families and they’ll know the truth and be transformed by what my abuela taught me: LOVE makes a family.
(Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
Wilson Cruz is an openly gay actor and National Spokesperson and Strategic Giving Officer at GLAAD. Tweet him at @wcruz73 and @glaad.