May 11, 2012

Maine Voices: Young man's wish for his moms on Mother's Day: the right to marry

Families come in different shapes and sizes, but what matters is the love they show each other.

By BRIAN ARSENAULT

SOUTH PORTLAND - It never seemed right to me that Mother's Day should only come once a year.  

Thinking of all the sacrifices mothers make for their children, it hardly seems a fitting tribute for the women who give so much and who teach us -- through their actions and their words -- so many of the things we need to become the men and women we grow to be.

More than school, more than friends, mothers give us our first lessons in the values that matter: love, commitment, honesty, responsibility and integrity.

For the last decade, my mom, Denise LaFrance, and her partner, Sherry Dunkin, have helped me to grow and become the person that I am today.

They are my moms.

As we get close to Mother's Day, I want to make sure that my moms -- and the whole world -- know how much I love them and appreciate all that they do for me.

As a young kid, I didn't understand that some folks might think of my family as something different or out of the ordinary.

I never kept my family a secret. To me, families come in many different shapes and sizes. And mine, different by some standards but similar in most ways, was just another one of those.

My parents -- my two moms -- go to work every day, like other parents. They cook dinner and mow the yard. They take care of the house. Volunteer in the community. Pay their bills. Do the thousands of little things that keep a household running. And they love me, unconditionally.

But it didn't take long for me to learn that my mom and her partner didn't have the same rights as other people. They are treated differently by the law and can't do many of the things that other families take for granted.

One of the biggest differences is that my moms can't get married.

Marriage is a big deal. It's the chance for two people who love one another to stand up with all of their family and friends gathered around and make a lasting commitment to one another.

It's a chance to share their joy and accept all the responsibilities that go along with being married.

My moms have been together for a long time, through thick and thin, and they've made it through the good times and the bad times together, as a team. They have shown me and the world what a lasting, loving relationship can look like.

As I finish up my sophomore year at college and begin to look ahead to my own life, I know how important marriage can be.  

And when I think of my own wedding someday, should I be lucky enough to find a girl I want to spend the rest of my life with, I can't imagine two better role models to base a family around than my moms.

It's my hope that very soon they'll be able to have a wedding of their own in front of all their friends and family. Nothing would make me happier than to stand with them and promise to help them fulfill their vows to one another.

As you can imagine, Mother's Day in a house with two moms is a pretty big deal.

We have twice the reason to celebrate. Twice the stories. Twice the cards. Twice the breakfast spectaculars. Twice the excitement. But it's still Mother's Day, and my chance to say "I love you" to the moms who have always been there for me.

I am very proud of both of my moms. They are very brave and very strong. And on Mother's Day, I want to make sure they know how much I appreciate everything they have done for me and thank them for being such great role models for me.

This fall, Mainers will have a chance to vote "yes" on a citizen's initiative that will let my moms get married.

Marriage matters to me and my family, and we need everyone's help so that my parents can have the chance to marry the person they love.

Brian Arsenault of South Portland just finished his sophomore year at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., where he majors in international development and social change and plays soccer.

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