Point of View

12-year-old asks: Why do 6 out of 10 NC voters see my two-mom family as wrong?

January 30, 2014 

McKenley Johnson, 12, with her mothers, Susan Johnson and Liz Burnette


It’s May 8, 2012, and I am sitting on the floor in front of the television with my two moms, watching the final votes come in. I hardly care, for I don’t really know what’s going on. I know they seem upset, but I don’t fully get the implications. On May 8, 2012, I was only 10. Now I am 12, and I want answers about the outcome of this anti-family amendment to our state constitution.

I ask myself: Why are people so afraid of gays and lesbians? What is the difference? We are all humans. Just because one is gay, lesbian, transgender or queer, what makes them so “scary”? How does one family’s choice to marry negatively affect their neighbors? I know times are changing, but there is still so much hatred out there. In multiple libraries around the country, people have banned one of my favorite children’s books, “And Tango Makes Three,” because of this penguin with two dads. Some people seem to want to protect their kids from a story like this, but why?

May 8, 2012, as far as I can see, pretty much changed everything. As a child with two moms, I now can’t get the health care I used to, and lots of things have changed. Legally, I only have one mother. When I was looking for information about Amendment One, I was astounded when I discovered the following facts: 61.04 percent of voters chose to support the amendment; 38.96 percent voted against it. Does that mean 6 out of 10 North Carolinians see my family as wrong?

I read quotations from state legislators who supported the amendment. Rep. Paul Stam commented, “They’re going to bring with them their same-sex marriages. They’re going to want to get divorced and have custody issues. We’re not equipped to handle that.” One day on the radio last fall, I heard a man talking about a woman who got married and a lot of drama that ended in divorce. He then remarked, “Makes you wonder why the gays would ever want to get married.” Then there was Chick-fil-A. Chick-fil-A actually came right out and said it did not approve of gay marriage. President Dan Cathy said, “We’re inviting God’s judgment in our nation when we shake our fist at him and say we know better than you as to what constitutes marriage. And I pray God’s mercy on our generation that was such a prideful, arrogant attitude that thinks we have the audacity to redefine what marriage is all about.” I shake my head.

I don’t need people to tell me I need a mom and a dad. I don’t need people to tell me I’m doomed or that my moms are going to hell. Love is love. People are people. My moms are amazing together, and I think I turned out just fine – great, in fact.

I want the people of North Carolina to keep this fight alive. Seventeen other states have made same-sex marriage a reality for kids like me. Could we be number 18? This optimistic 12-year-old is crossing her fingers.

McKenley Johnson of Durham attends Carolina Friends School, where she is a member of GLOW (“Gay, Lesbian, or Whatever”).

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