Shelley Hayes and Mary Horvath

Montanans Shelley Hayes, Executive Director of an AIDS Service Organization, and Mary Horvath, an X-ray Technician, have been together four years. They have two sons and do not have access to the same protections for their children as their non-gay neighbors.

"We know that we do not have the same rights as heterosexual couples in many areas, and in a very conservative state the extremists are trying to pass more laws limiting and taking away even more of our rights," says Shelley about how her family has been harmed because she and Mary cannot legally marry. "We cannot afford an attorney to draw up all of the documents that we need to secure our interests and the children's interests. If anything happened to either one of us who knows what would happen."

Millions of kids in this country — children in every state — have gay parents, and authorities as respected and knowledgeable as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association agree that it is in the best interests of these kids to provide their family the same support and protections as others — including the freedom to marry. Gay men and lesbians will continue to have kids — whether biologically or through adopting and/or parenting the kids of their partner as well as other children needing care. All these children deserve to know that their relationship with both of their parents is stable and legally recognized. If we as a society care about kids—real kids, not just rhetorical children used as a weapon in a culture war—then we have to acknowledge that same-sex couples do have children and those children, it follows, have gay parents. Those kids deserve protection and security.

All children deserve the right to insurance coverage, social security, emergency care and inheritance rights. All families benefit from the intangible reassurance that comes from knowing that your family is safe and secure.