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Op-ed: What Makes a Family

Op-ed: What Makes a Family


The relationship between Sarah Gogin's Dad and Pop helped make her the strong, successful, happy woman she is today.

Two gay, Catholic Jesuit psychologists raising a multiracial daughter in San Francisco: it sounds like Hollywood's next sitcom, but in many ways my life is just like yours. When the Supreme Court hears oral arguments this week on marriage equality, I want the country to know the love that exists in families like mine, and how my upbringing is in many ways an American success story.

My childhood included trips to museums and parks, weekend sporting events, Sunday church, and family holidays. Like every family, we endured our fair share of ups and downs; my pre- and teen years came with arguments over boys and grades. Yet through it all, we have and will continue to love each other unconditionally, because we are a family.

In school, my dads' friendship blossomed into a remarkable romance. Now, more than 40 years later, Dad and Pop are still together, and stronger than ever. Their love is the basis of our family, and it has helped shape me into the woman I am today. It is that love that matters. In this regard, all of our families are much more alike than they are different -- no matter what they may look like on the outside.

Today, as a grown, independent, successful woman, I can look back on my childhood and truly appreciate the love, support, and dedication my dads have shown me since birth. I graduated cum laude with a bachelor's in communications from Loyola Marymount University, and went on to earn my master's in organization development at the University of San Francisco. I work in the cardiovascular surgery department of one of largest and most successful hospital organizations in the country, and I recently became a first-time home buyer. Where and who I am today is a result of my upbringing.

I was raised to be a contributor to society. I was raised to be a responsible and compassionate adult. My dads also taught me to stand up for myself -- to change when I want to, and not to fit someone else's expectations. Hearing stories of the challenges my fathers have faced and overcome has inspired me to live my own life with the same determination and personal strength they have showed.

Over the years, my dads and I have experienced many wonderful times together -- including when I walked them down the aisle at their wedding in 2008, before California passed Proposition 8. Nonetheless, we also have experienced the deep injustice of having our family treated differently, for no reason other than who we are. My fathers have worked so hard, through so much adversity. It makes me think, they must have done something right to reach this point where they are successful and happy.

It is profoundly unfair that the federal government does not recognize our family equally. I hope that soon the laws of this country will catch up with the changing hearts and minds of its people, and treat all families equally.

But whatever happens, nothing will stop us from being a family, because love is what makes a family.

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