News & Politics

The Reality of LGBT Families

The headline that popped up in my email from my Google alerts read, “Mormon Leader Denounces LGBT Families as Counterfeit.” That’s the kind of headline I can’t resist. It calls to mind the image of parents like me, huddled in our family rooms, churning out gaybies like fake twenties on some sort of human printing press. I imagine giving a tour of my home, “There’s the Wii and our board games and our wall of family photos and that? Oh, that’s how we do our conterfeiting.”

According to the article, last weekend at the annual conference for the Mormon Church, L. Tom Perry said, “We want our voice to be heard against all of the counterfeit and alternative lifestyles that try to replace the family organization that God himself established.”

I feel like I should try to muster some outrage or at the very least surprise, but the word choice is so ridiculous that all I can do is laugh. That word is just the latest used against our families but the charge is always the same–LGBT families aren’t real families.

Counterfeit. Synthetic. Fraudulent. Fake.

As our families become more visible, as our relationships gain legal equality, bigots can no longer deny our existence so they have to find other ways to undermine us and stoke the fires of intolerance. Words like these can hurt and they are undoubtedly dangerous but–increasingly–they simply sound desperate.

Last weekend, as a stranger tried to distort the reality of my family. We got takeout and sat at our dining room table reflecting our trip to New Orleans. We talked about seeing wild pigs and alligators in the swamp. We talked about what we’d learned at The World War II Museum. We talked about beignets and snow balls and how much we liked our hotel. Last weekend, there were soccer practices and science projects and math homework and laundry to be sorted and grocery shopping to be done.

There was nothing extraordinary about the weekend just as there is nothing extraordinary about our family. Of course, I realize that depends upon whom you ask. L. Tom Perry would likely focus on the fact that we are two women raising children while my sister would marvel at our menu planning and grocery list.

I have long been fascinated by behavioral psychology and the concepts of extinction and extinction bursts. Research has shown that certain behaviors will decrease if they are no longer rewarded but, before they completely disappear, the behavior actually increases in frequency and/or intensity. Our culture and attitudes are shifting, and LGBT equality is gaining momentum. Those who have relied on hatred to fuel their agenda are fighting to remain relevant, to avoid extinction. The increase in anti-LGBT rhetoric and the passage of outrageous legislation are evidence of that.

Some people do not change their behavior until they are forced to accept that it no longer works in their favor. We are reaching that point.


  1. I have been feeling that extinction burst, too. As less insane rhetoric and the more nuanced language that never names “gayness” as objectionable, instead passing laws that ban the adjacent trimmings, like legal marriage and marital rights, is failing to sway voters to the case against gays, there’s desperation speech instead. It’s like leaders and politicians can no longer get people to follow their goals, so they say the crazy,fearful things that are really in their hearts and minds. You’re right it’s not enough to make one angry, because it’s like a last gasp of the dying.

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