It’s Christmas week! A time for warm hearts, families, and holiday magic. So what better story to find than the tale of a small Texas miracle?
I have never been to Texas, but from the outside looking in, it impresses me as being a very hostile state for LGBT families. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I would like to introduce into evidence Governor Rick Perry. The prosecution rests.
If you do need more convincing, in 2005, Texas very nearly became the only state in the union to prohibit qualified LGBT adults from becoming foster parents. The Texas House bill wasn’t even close. It passed 135-6. Thankfully, the State Senate did not approve the provision, because I’ll bet you $10,000 there was no Governor Perry veto on the horizon.
Last August, in Harris County Texas, Judge Charley Prine, a “good ole boy” and raging homophobe, presided over the case of William Flowers, a divorced gay father who sued his ex-wife for custody of their three children. Judge Prine not only refused to consider Flowers as custodial parent, on his own motion the judge ordered Mr. Flowers never to leave his visiting children with any male not related by blood, though there was never an allegation of abuse or inappropriate behavior. I will leave you to decide if you think Judge Prine’s order was in spite of, or because of, Mr. Flower’s new, legally married, same-sex husband.
In August of 2010, St. Vincent’s, a private “Christian” school in Bedford, Texas, rejected a four year old for having lesbian parents. They said the school would be teaching values and morals (Bigotry and hate?) that would differ from those she was learning at home (Compassion and love?).
“Suffer the little children to come unto me, and impede them not” Mark 10:14 (Somebody had to remind them, why not the atheist blogger?)
But for all the anecdotal evidence I found detailing how difficult it often is to be an LGBT parent in Texas, there is something unexpected happening behind the scenes. According to the 2009 census, Texas is home to the leading community in the nation for its percentage of same-sex couples raising children. It’s San Antonio, at 34%. In fact, Gary Gates, a demographer from UCLA, has found same sex couples in Texas and other southern states are much more likely to be raising children than same-sex couples in more liberal locales like New York or California. And the community is diverse! Southern Black and Latino same-sex couples are twice as likely to be raising children than their counterparts in the North East or on the West Coast.
Experts studying the surprising numbers of LGBT families with children in the South found that a majority of the children are from previous heterosexual marriages. They further postulate that a greater percentage of LGBT Southerners enter into heterosexual marriages because of the conservative and religious pressures of the culture. Later, when these marriages fail, the LGBT spouse keeps the children, and eventually forms a new family with a partner of the same sex. So in a perverse way, it is the homophobic Southern society itself that accounts for that region having more LGBT families with children than the more liberal parts of the country, where the pressure to marry is not as great.
Whatever the reason for the growing number of southern LGBT families with children, the phenomenon has brought a small miracle to Texas this Christmas. For the first time in its forty-one year history, The Cathedral of Hope, a Dallas church with a congregation of primarily gay members, has enough children to put on its very first Christmas pageant.
Jo Hudson, Pastor of Cathedral of Hope, announced the little tykes’ theatrical debut on the church’s website, which says of the Cathedral of Hope: “No matter who you are or where you are on life’s journey, you’re welcome here.” I expect that will give hope to four year old Texans of lesbian heritage. The pastor further mused, “Who would have thought that a gay church would ever have enough children to have a Children’s Christmas Pageant? But this Sunday when we gather at 11:00 a. m., our children will fill the chancel area of the church. They will sing the songs of Christmas”.
I know our hearts will be singing with them.