My Two Dads: 8 families share how they’re celebrating Fathers’ Day this year

This Sunday, June 16, families across the country will pull out the barbecues, take in the summer sun, and come together to celebrate their fathers, taking the time to honor the men who have served as mentors, guardians and role models for thier children. Fathers' Day is a great time to recognize the many types of families that make our country so dynamic and interesting. We know that there is no single formulation for what makes a strong family, and there's no magic map to follow to become a good father: The one thing that strong, dynamic families have in common is love, and the core component of amazing fathers is compassion for their children.

To celebrate Fathers' Day this year, we spoke with eight gay families. Some are married, but others live in states where same-sex couples do not have the freedom to marry; even those who are legally married face challenges because of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which denies their marriage federal respect and over 1,100 responsibilities that would help to protect their families. These couples are already doing the work of marriage in their daily lives - and they need to be able to share in the freedom to marry and have the option of solidifying their union through the legal commitment of marriage under the law. 

Here, these great dads share what it means to be fathers, how life has changed with children, and how having the freedom to marry would strengthen their relationships and their families. 

Johnathon & Joshua Hawley-Molloy

Kailua, HI

Three months ago, Johnathon and Joshua, who serves in the U.S. Army, welcomed a baby girl, Kylie, into their lives - something that "certainly reshuffled our priorities - a tough thing to do for two new dads in their 40s," Joshua laughed.

The men, who have been together for over ten years and married in Washington, D.C. in 2011, had been in an adoption pool for three strenuous years in Portland, OR before they joined a new domestic adoption program in early March of 2013. Soon after, they were matched with a birth mother, who was due to deliver at the end of April. In late March, Joshua and Johnathon took a trip to the Big Island in Hawaii, where mobile reception is spotty. "Once we hit a certain part on our run together, my phone beeped to say I had a text," Johnathon said. "It was from our birth mother: ‘Sorry guys, my water broke.'"

They raced home to the hospital to greet their newborn baby, Kylie, and she could come home with her dads three days later.

"Being a father is both joyous and frustrating," Joshua and Johnathon said. "Here you have this new being in your life that has turned everything upside-down. Sleepless nights, a screaming child having a meltdown , wet and poopy diapers. But then there are the amazing moments. Her smile that melts your heart, starting to reach milestones, sleeping through the night. Your life is now on her schedule, wants and needs. Singing silly songs that make no sense. Calming a screaming child. Working out what is the matter and finally making it all right. Holding her and hugging her. Having her fall asleep on your chest. She is now our world. The one whose future we are planning for. Hoping that we make the right decisions for her. Hoping that she makes the right decisions in life." (Photo by Nichole Emmons of Haole Girl Photography)

David Strah & Barry Miguel

Los Angeles, CA

"The joke in my family is that we are the new American family," Barry Miguel, the president of 7 For All Mankind, said about his family of four with his husband David Strah, the author of the 2004 book Gay Dads: A Celebration of Fatherhood. "We've been together for 20 years, we have two kids, and we're doing our best to raise them in this world." 

Barry and David live with their children, 16-year-old Zev and 12-year-old Summer, in Los Angeles, where they moved to in Fall 2012 after years of living in New York City. "We were together for about five years, and then we decided to have children," David said. "We adopted because we felt very strongly that there were so many children out there who needed homes and a loving family and a forever family."

Four years ago, Barry and David married in Big Sur, California, with both of their fathers officiating the wedding ceremony - Barry's father worked in politics in San Francisco and could marry people, and David's dad is a minister. Zev and Summer signed the Jewish marriage contract and served as official witnesses.

This Fathers' Day, Barry and David will be visiting with Barry's father in San Francisco. They're excited to be living their lives, the ‘New American Family,' as a happily married couple. "We're our kids' Forever Parents," Barry said. "And the fact that their Forever Parents are married like their other friends' parents is important."

Mark Bromley & David Salie

Washington, D.C.

Mark and David live in the nation's capital with their two children - three-year-old Tallulah and six-month old Justice - and their dog, a 13-year-old border collie mix. They adopted both of their children from hospitals in Maryland, and they're thrilled to be fathers.

"Fatherhood is awesome in every respect," they said. "It's an awesome challenge and the most rewarding experience in our lives. It's simply an awesome opportunity to bring joy to our home, our neighborhood, and the world at large."

In 1997, well before they welcomed their children into their lives, Mark and David pledged their commitment to each other in Old Town Alexandria in Virginia, in a ceremony that took place on a boat in front of 230 of their friends and family members. In 2005, they married in a legal ceremony in Whistler, Canada. Their love for each other, however, dates back to the mid-1980s, when they were best friends and later a couple (with their very own couple nickname - "DA-RK") at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service.

This month, they look forward to the Supreme Court announcing its rulings in the Proposition 8 case and the DOMA challenge, and they hope that the Court stands on the Right Side of History with the majority of Americans who support the freedom to marry. "Marriage is about rights, but also about recognition" the couple said. "This month, nine Americans will sit in judgment of our family. From their perch on the Supreme Court, they will decide whether our family deserves the same rights and responsibilities as other families in our country. Will the Supreme Court tell our children that they are destined to grow up in a second-class family? Let's hope ‘equality' means equality for all. May Justice - and Tallulah - prevail!"

George Constantinous & Farid Ali

Brooklyn, NY

Nearly two years ago, after over 10 years of commitment, George and Farid welcomed two babies into the world - Milena and Gustavo. The kids, now 19 months old, are a daily joy for the happy fathers. "Every single day is new, and the babies are growing more beautiful each time I see them," Farid said.

George and Farid married a year after having the kids -- who are their biological children -- in the office of the restaurant they own and operate, Bogota Latin Bistro in Park Slope, Brooklyn. Tying the knot on August 13 in their home state felt especially sweet for the couple, who had pitched into the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples in New York. "It's just a different feeling," George said. "It's being able to show people that this is my relationship - this is my partner. My partner for life."

As the couple continues on with their fast-paced lives - both men now are active members of business associations, and they're looking to open a second restaurant this year - they are certain to make time for their adorable children, helping them to grow and setting a positive example of speaking up for your passions. "We continue advocating for marriage equality and aspire to be a model family that those who dream of a reality that is larger than the one we've been told can look to for motivation and determination." Read more about George, Farid and their family HERE

Mark Maxwell & Timothy Young

Winston-Salem, NC

Mark Maxwell and Timothy Young live in Winston-Salem, NC with their four adopted children: 23-year-old Brandon, who will soon make Mark and Tim grandparents when he welcomes a child into the world; 17-year-old Derrick; 15-year-old Justin; and 12-year-old Torin. The couple - who married this year in Washington, D.C. after participating multiple times in peaceful action through the Campaign for Southern Equality's ‘We Do' campaign, said their children motivate them to speak out in support of the freedom to marry. "Ultimately, everything Tim and I do and everything we speak out for and against is for our children," Mark explained.

The couple said they knew for years that they wanted to raise children. "There was never a question for us about whether we would have children," Mark said. "We saw that there were children out there who really needed us and what our family had to offer. We wanted to be able to help and nurture these kids and affirm them."

Just over a year ago, on May 8, Mark and Tim watched as Amendment 1 - a constitutional amendment that prohibited same-sex couples from marrying or attaining any other form of family status - was passed in their state of North Carolina. They comforted their children as they dealt with the fallout from the amendment's passage, particularly Justin, who is also gay. May 8, the day the amendment passed, is Justin's birthday.

Mark explained, "Justin summed it up in this way: This was a bad gift that I received on my birthday. But what inspired me was watching my parents as we moved forward." Now, Justin participates in a group that blends poetry with public engagement efforts, already following in his parents' footsteps of standing up for what he believes in. Read more about Mark, Tim, and their boys HERE

Dennis Margulies & Wesley Sparks

New York, NY

Colorado is a special state for Dennis and Wes. Ten years ago, in January 2003, it was where they met and began dating while both were on vacation - which led, two years later, to them moving in together in New York and buying a home in Sharon, CT. It's also where their twin children - Lily and Logan, now nearly two and a half years old - were born after a long surrogacy process.

"The surrogacy process was very trying, and we were feeling like it was really our last attempt to have kids - but then we tried one more time, and we got pregnant with twins," said Dennis, who works as a broker at Corcoran in NYC.

Just before Lily and Logan were born, Dennis and Wes, a high yield portfolio manager, married in front of their friends and family members in Connecticut, in the garden of their home. The celebration marked the 1-year anniversary of their wedding in California, which they could legally do in the 5-month period between the CA Supreme Court extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples and Proposition 8 taking that freedom away.

Dennis and Wes agree that some of their favorite time spent with their children is when they ride bikes down the country road by their home in Connecticut. "When we have the kids on the bike seats and it's just the four of us riding down the road, that's probably the happiest moment for us," the couple said. "The kids are laughing, there's a farm with cows, and the kids moo when we go by the cows. It really feels like I would imagine any other family would feel."

Bill Horn & Scout Masterson

Los Angeles, CA

Bill and Scout recently celebrated the third birthday of their adorable daughter Simone - June 7 marked three years since the couple watched as their birth mother delivered their daughter.

Before they welcomed Simone into the world, Bill and Scout had their fair share of experience serving as positive role models for kids. For years, they've been known as the "guncles" (gay uncles) to Tori Spelling and Dean McDermott's children - and they've become recognized across the Internet from their time on the TV show Tori & Dean: Home Sweet Hollywood.

The men clearly love being parents. They share photos of Simone and their lives together each day, and every step in their daughter's life - whether it's a preschool parade, Easter celebration, or her third birthday party - is exciting.

Bill and Scout are hopeful that they get a special gift for Fathers' Day when the Supreme Court announces its rulings in two landmark marriage cases. They hope the Court rules in support of their family, their marriage in California, and their recognition at the federal level. "I would love to not have to explain to Simone why her two daddies aren't married," Scout said. "We definitely don't want to explain to her that our family isn't considered ‘equal' to other families." Read more about Bill, Scout, and Simone HERE. (Photo by Jessica Lewis Photography)

Christopher Boudewyns & Carl Byrd

New York, NY

Christopher and Carl live with their 3-year-old daughter Harper and their two dogs in the Financial District of Manhattan, and last month, they celebrated the 1-year anniversary of tying the knot after over a decade of commitment to each other.

"For Harper's sake, our marriage makes us feel more secure," Christopher explained about why marriage matters to him, a former schoolteacher of 20 years, and Carl, a professional commercial director. "Because we're now married, there's just no question that legally, we're a family. And there's no question about what would happen to Harper or our belongings or our space if something happened to either of us."

Their wedding day was also a great opportunity to showcase Harper: She served as her dads' flower girl, demonstrating the full extent of the couples' commitment to each other and their family. Read more about Christopher, Carl and Harper HERE.