As many of you may know, I am the father of two sons, Javier and Nathaniel. For all the late nights, homework, and worries that parenting can bring, for me, raising my two boys has been so fulfilling and rewarding. It is why I have a special place in my heart for those couples who make the decision to pursue a family together, only to find that their options are limited if not insurmountable.
Currently same-sex couples are banned from adopting in Florida, Utah and Mississippi and because marriage equality is limited to a few states, starting a family has additional legal hardships that must be overcome. It can be a tiring, unfair, and unjust process that no one should be forced to endure.
In Florida, GLAAD is partnering with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on a public education campaign designed to support litigation challenging the adoption ban and to help people understand how the ban hurts children and families. GLAAD has been on the ground to train local families to speak out to their neighbors at PTA meetings, on Facebook and in the local media.
We work with many media platforms to amplify the voices of the LGBT community throughout the nation and bring stories that grow support for equality. In this regard we were delighted to work with CNN and the LGBT focused "In America"– a series of reports and documentaries which premiered with "CNN In America: Gary + Tony Have A Baby." This documentary detailed the trials and joys of a gay couple as they try to start their own family. I was proud to be a part of a panel of gay and lesbian parents hosted by CNN’s Soledad O’Brien that followed premiers of the special screenings in Los Angeles and New York. As I listened to the other gay and lesbian parents I was reminded that as Americans get to know gay parents like those in Gary + Tony, the country will better understand that we simply want and deserve the same rights and responsibilities as other families.
Another example of your GLAAD investment at work was our successful call to action following the announcement that the NBC Today Show’s "Modern Wedding Contest” excluded same-sex couples from participating. Over 4,000 advocates and allies wrote to NBC executives to explain that same-sex couples deserved the same chance to celebrate our love. Executive producers agreed to meet with GLAAD, and after hearing our concerns, opened the contest to all loving and committed couples. By increasing the awareness of marriage equality in a cultural institution like The Today Show, GLAAD is helping to eliminate the barriers that currently keep LGBT couples from starting a family.
Accurate and inclusive representation in the media leads the charge to building support for LGBT families and our full equality. And for me, personally, that makes things easier for my own children and dads like me everywhere.
Jarrett T. Barrios, President