In a cross-posting yesterday, Katherine Franke raised the question of whether same-sex marriage will really help to dismantle stereotypes and transform marriage. For years now, I have counted myself in the camp that answers this question yes. My answer to the question has only become more emphatic now that I have become not only a married same-sex spouse but also a parent. It has been interesting to navigate the typical gender stereotypes surrounding parenting during the time before my daughter’s birth and now that she is finally here with us.
Being a man, it seems that some people don’t really get that I’ve been on leave since my child’s birth to take care of her. Some of the expectations about my general availability for work-related or outside activities that I would normally engage in have not been consonant either with that status (i.e., being on leave) or that caregiving role; for example, should it be any wonder that I didn’t plan to show up to what had been scheduled as a five-hour appointments meeting when my daughter was 2-1/2 weeks old? Each time I politely refuse to do something because I am at home taking care of my daughter (who is sleeping as I write this post), I would like to think that it breaks down stereotypes about gender roles within families. This type of change is never going to come from testimony in a court case or even from a legal decision itself—this type of change only comes from personal interaction. I believe that there is hope that same-sex marriage can be transformational in nature—you just have to look in the right place for the change.