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A tale of two

A tale of two


The fact that Dick Cheney's grandchild will have two mommies comes at a difficult point on the Republican Party's time line. Since the country's moral values jihadis are intent on denying marriage to any family but the one woman-one man variety, Cheney knows that he and his boss will play a profound role in the political disenfranchisement and social stigmatization of his own grandchild.

The GOP may claim that no child will be left behind, but this grandchild certainly will. Bereft of the state and federal protections and rights that children of heterosexual couples enjoy, this child will be born to an unwed mother. To many Christian conservatives, that equals a lifelong stigma. Mary and her baby will experience a shared guilt and shame imposed on them by their own government. They'll feel society's dismissal of them as an illegitimate family.

It makes me think of another baby, born amid struggle, at a difficult point on the Roman government time line. The fact that Jesus came into a nontraditional Jewish family places his story within the struggle for social acceptance in a conservatively recalcitrant political era. Then and now, harm is done when differences are suppressed.

The first Mary's pregnancy is lauded now in Christian tradition as immaculate, but in her day it was viewed as morally reprehensible in Jewish social and cultural law. Like the current Mary, Jesus' mother was viewed with scorn and suspicion. According to Jewish law of the time, children of unwed mothers were called mamzerim--Hebrew for illegitimate children. They were subject to restrictions and discrimination that denied them the full privileges of citizenship, just as Cheney's grandchild will be denied those privileges.

The first Mary's story also involves the necessity of leaving home. Just as she and Joseph traveled from inn to inn and were turned away time and again, our queer families now find themselves uprooted. With all our laws restricting LGBTQ families, many of us who want to protect our children move to less restrictive states.

Now that they're with child, will Mary Cheney and Heather Poe move out of their home in Virginia? Because there is assuredly no room in that state for Mary's baby. Virginia law denies LGBTQ families not only the right to marry but also to enter into civil unions and share rights and responsibilities for children in the household.

Wouldn't it be great if we could embrace the pregnancies of both Marys, the old and the new? For Christians, it would be a chance to exalt the diverse configurations of God's beautiful human family. And for a Republican Party tangled in its own oppressive dogma, a pregnant pause could be a godsend. n

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