Dear Joe Hockey,
Meet Archie. According to you Archie has the ideal parental configuration, that is, he has a male and a female parent as his primary carers.
Note I don’t say he has a “mother and father.” That’s because in my experience the attributes the dominant culture (as represented by you in this instance) associates with mothers and fathers aren’t necessarily founded in biology, rather they are cultural constructs and as such, can be assumed by either sex. I have seen male parents in my family engage in “mothering” while I’ve witnessed female parents happily “fathering” away and nobody much cares, as long as the babies are getting what they need.
While Archie meets your standards in terms of immediate family, after that it gets a little wild. This fortunate infant has four grandmothers, two of whom are called Jennifer because one grandfather married the same name twice, though not simultaneously because as yet, nobody’s done polygamy. I don’t see this in our futures either, as the women in our extended family are exceptionally feisty, and most of us see polygamy as favouring the male of the species. The prospect of having more than one male partner at a time leaves us uninspired, though several of us have engaged in serial monogamy.
That being said, Archie does have Mormon-by-marriage cousins in the US, albeit lapsed.
Archie also has five cousins whom we all call the Caramels, owing to their Indian mother and Anglo-Celtic father. These parents were married in two ceremonies, one Catholic and one Hindu. Archie himself recently enjoyed a Catholic baptism and an atheist Name Day, to cater for the disparate choices of his nearest and dearest. All four grandmothers were present including the bisexual one, and nobody got into any recriminatory fights.
Oh, yes, I almost forgot. One of Archie’s great-aunts is also bisexual, and her partner is transgender.
Archie’s parents both work and the extended family as a whole has a strong work ethic, even the sexually adventurous among us. We are all good citizens paying our taxes and staying out of jail.
As yet, we have no idea how Archie will decide to express his sexuality. We don’t much care.
However, all us four grandmothers love him with a ferocity you don’t want to mess with. If anybody like you tries to put Archie down because of who he loves, they’ll have us to contend with.
Until I was seven, I was brought up by my grandparents. They were then forced to relinquish me to my birth mother and her new husband. A heterosexual pair. In that configuration I experienced physical, sexual and emotional abuse that I barely survived. What I’m saying to you Mr Hockey, is that you and those who think like you are making too many assumptions, and there are too many of us with too much experience who will continue to challenge your assumptions, and we will win.
My family is a big family and we contain many differences. The babies in our family grow up accepting difference because it’s in the familial air they breathe. This is one of the greatest gifts we can give them.
I am sorry for you and your kind, Mr Hockey. I am sorry for your small minds and shrivelled spirits. With my history, I know the miracle of finding human beings who love me and let me love them. I feel sorry for you, Mr Hockey, that you are compelled to judge and reject human beings who don’t fit your narrow vision of what families should be. Maybe if like me, you’d lived in darkness from which you never imagined you’d emerge, you wouldn’t be so damn picky.
I don’t think you will win this battle. There are too many of us who can say, echoing the magnificent words of Penny Wong: “I know what my family is worth.” I know what my hard-won family is worth, Joe Hockey. And none of us need you to tell us how we should be.