Parent Survival Guide Parent Survival Guide Issue 02 (Spring) - Page 25

Chris Strickland’s Story


by Traci L. Slatton

Continued from PSG Issue 01, The Short Straw in a Rigged Draw

(Continued from PSG Issue 01(Continued from PSG Issue 01Co

(Continued from PSG Issue 01

In the most primal way, it was supposed to be about love. Chris Strickland and her former wife fell in

love and wanted to build a family. Chris thought they would be together forever.

This journey of having children is always primal and almost always interwoven with love, if not at inception then when an infant is held in arms. It is fundamental to who we are as human beings: biological creatures of soul and psyche. William Blake says “We are put on Earth a little space/ That we may learn to bear the beams of love.” Nothing teaches us love like having children.

For a same-sex couple embarking on the journey, there is a special sweetness. Cultural and legal prohibitions did not permit such couples to build a family together until recently. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that gay and lesbian parents were shown openly and sympathetically in the media, in films like “That Certain Summer” (1972) and the documentary “Sandy and Madeleine’s Family” (1974). According to “Milestones in LGBT Parenting History” in The Washington Blade, it wasn’t until 1979 that a gay couple in California became the first in the country known to have jointly adopted a child—and it wasn’t until 1997 that New Jersey became the first state to legally allow same-sex couples to adopt jointly1.

Until 2016, Mississippi law imposed a ban on same-sex couples adopting children. This was a baldly stated injunction: “Adoption by couples of the same gender is prohibited.” Mississippi was the last state to maintain such a ban. Chris Strickland and her former wife and their two children live in Mississippi.

The Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that states can not keep same-sex couples from marrying and must recognize their unions. This decision was reached on June 25, 2015. Mississippi had a ban on same-sex marriage firmly in place until November, 2014, when a district court judge ruled that the ban was unconstitutional.

However, enforcement was stayed pending appeal. Then Obergefell v. Hodges ended the debate. Lesbian and gay people were accorded equal rights, equal dignity, under the law. They could love openly and sanctify their love through marriage.

Marry legally and the next thought concerns children.