For Mother’s Day, I want all of my children to have the freedom to marry - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Voices

For Mother’s Day, I want all of my children to have the freedom to marry

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Posted: Sunday, May 11, 2014 12:15 pm

My youngest child, my daughter Annie, is moving home to Arizona after graduating from Stanford University this month and I’m thrilled she’s returning to be near us for at least a little while.

Our family has deep roots in Arizona. Four of our five children chose to make this their home. But for Annie, the last out of the nest, that choice will be tougher.

Annie is a lesbian and, as it now stands, she will never be able to marry the person she loves and raise her family in Arizona.

Children fly to where their heart and work takes them. I know this and embrace it. But it breaks my heart to know that Annie can see all that is wonderful about her life in Arizona — can see herself working here to the betterment of her community — and yet may decide against living here with us.

I wouldn’t blame her if she did. Why would she stay in a place that doesn’t offer her the freedom to protect her closest relationships?

The fight for the freedom to marry is a fight for family. Marriage is the foundation of the legal and social structure that safeguards families. All Arizonans should be offered a strong foundation on which to build and care for their loved ones.

My family, like many modern families, is complicated. We’re a close-knit clan — children and stepchildren, grandchildren, children-in-law and former spouses — made stronger by our diversity and the challenges that we have faced. My husband and I feel incredibly blessed to be among the family we now have.

But without the legal structure of marriage none of it would have been possible. I want Annie to have all the possibilities that I have had, right here in Arizona.

Human potential thrives where it is recognized and embraced. A society builds its strength by supporting everyone in it for exactly who they are, encouraging the gifts they’ve been given. By withholding marriage, we actively erode the strength of our shared society.

Denying marriage to select members of our community tells them that we, as a state, don’t feel they should fully experience the joys, sorrows and challenges that marriage can bring.

As a mother, I can’t accept that. I’m so proud of my daughter. She’s a wonderful young woman and will be a wonderful wife and mother — someday. Hopefully, by the time she’s ready for that step Arizona will be too.

This Mother’s Day, I’m asking Arizona’s mothers to join with me in supporting the freedom to marry for all couples. It will benefit all of us by making our state a more welcoming place to be and a place where families come first.

• Lisa Graham Keegan served as Arizona’s superintendent of public instruction from 1995 to 2001 and was a senior advisor on education policy to Sen. John McCain during his presidential campaigns.

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