Father and daughter team up for marriage equality

Opinion: Columns

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David and Braiden Neubecker

My partner, Lee Neubecker, and I adopted our two children, Michael, 9, and Braiden, 10, in 2009. Since they have two dads, both kids have been following the issue of marriage equality.

Braiden literally screamed out "Yes!" when she heard President Obama mention in his inaugural address that gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry. It brought a tear to my eye and at that moment I thought I should help her get her message out to those who can help our family gain equality in Illinois.

As our House Representatives reflect on their current positions concerning marriage equality, I hope they keep in mind that there are thousands of children involved in this issue whose families are not treated equally under the law. These children don't understand why the government refuses to allow their parents to marry. They don't understand what a "civil union" is. They do understand fairness.

These children want, and deserve, to have their parents be allowed to get married. As our pastor noted two weeks ago when Braiden's letter was read to the entire congregation, "Sometimes kids can understand some really important things better than adults do."

A daughter's plea

Love is important! It doesn't matter who people love, as long as they are happy. Everyone should have the right to marry who he or she wants. You may not like two men being married, but for them, it's normal.

My two dads should be able to be married and have the same rights as any married couple. How would you feel if you couldn't marry someone just because the government said you weren't allowed to? If I loved someone and wasn't allowed to marry them, I would be really sad. My family has taught me that even if you don't agree with someone, you should still be kind and respectful. The government should too. Also, my church tells me that you should treat other people the way you want to be treated.

My dads are unique. We do lots of silly things like having hot cocoa every single time it snows. Every summer we go to the same place in Florida with one dad's whole family. Our family knows how to have fun. We do lots of road trips. Also, we have gone on cruises. I really enjoy traveling with my dads. It is very fun. One of my favorite things to do as a family is family game night. I love this family and I love every single thing we do as a family.

Before I lived with my two dads, my life was horrible. My old family never treated me well. They wouldn't stand up for me. If my foster sister fought with me, my old mom would just sit there and watch me get hurt, so I would have to fight back. Each time I was at foster home, the foster parents promised me they would keep me safe and treat my brother and me equally. But they always broke their promise.

I moved five times until my dad and daddy found me. They also promised that they would always love me and keep me safe and they would treat me equal to my brother. I was four when I met them. Now I am 10 and they have kept their promises. They do so much for me. They never hurt me or my brother. I feel so safe. I believe I can do anything with my two dads.

Would there be any purpose to ban the marriage of two men or two women when they can treat children the same or even better than other couples? I hope that you will do the right thing and let anyone marry who they want to.

Braiden Neubecker

River Forest

Reader Comments

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Cindy Fountain from Marietta, GA  

Posted: October 24th, 2014 7:58 AM

David, I had the privilege of hearing your story last night at an event at KSU. So many touching & tearful moments but I was able to hold my tears at bay until you spoke of your brave daughter's letter. I am so glad I was able to find it on this site. (Google is my BFF). Forgive me for not shaking your hand & thanking you last night for your courage to love & teach love. I knew I could not speak to you without doing the "ugly cry". You have made such a difference with your life. Thank you.

Winston Johnson from Atlanta, GA  

Posted: March 28th, 2013 9:15 AM

to add to David's response to Joseph: if Lee and David can't have real marriage, their families, and especially, children will clearly get the message that somehow, their family is inferior to others who are "married"...more generally, there are over a thousand federal benefits that flow only to MARRIED couples...including Social Security benefits, the ability for a foreign partner to immigrate to the USA


Posted: March 27th, 2013 2:37 PM

Much love and continued happiness to this wonderful family!

OP resident  

Posted: March 23rd, 2013 12:29 PM

You two parents are obviously great parents raise two gets kids. It's time to get this antiquated and unfair law changed. If only there were more couples as caring and nurturing as you both.

Pamela A. McNamara from Chicago, Illinois  

Posted: March 20th, 2013 9:17 PM

Braiden, You speak for me! Let's get this HB 5170 - (Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act) passed in IL. Call your state representative today with your support. Tell them you want HB 5170 to pass. They need to hear from you in order to do the right thing. 8th District - La Shawn Ford - 217-782-5962 78th District - Camille Y Lilly (217) 782-6400

David Neubecker from River Forest  

Posted: March 20th, 2013 11:55 AM

To those sending nice messages to our family. Thank you! We are proud of both children. They both have so many great atributes. We are so very thankful that they both have entered our lives. Raising them will to be kind, gentle, caring people will be the greatest acomplishment either of us will ever have.

David Neubecker from River Forest  

Posted: March 20th, 2013 11:45 AM

That's a good question, Joseph. Marriage equality is important for many reasons. For children, it conveys a grounded sense of security which is vital. During this whole debate we have had to reassure our children that the Government would not take them away from us or that we would not have to seperate..both fears were expressed during this very public discussion on which families are allowed to get married in IL and which ones are not. It is also a matter of equal treatment under the law.

Joseph from Oak Park  

Posted: March 20th, 2013 11:36 AM

Honest question, and I'd appreciate honest thoughts, not just reactions: Is marriage the only way to recognize love? I realize both "marriage" and "love" are complex words/concepts, so let's try for some nuance as we discuss this. Thanks!

Teresa Powell  

Posted: March 20th, 2013 10:41 AM

Thanks for a beautiful and persuasive argument supporting marriage equality. Wonderful family and a credit to our communities!

John Butch Murtagh from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: March 19th, 2013 11:35 PM

Your fathers make me proud to be a parent!

Patricia O'Shea  

Posted: March 19th, 2013 11:21 PM

Well said Braiden! You have a beautiful family. Your two dads have a lot to be proud of.

A straight "traditional" married man  

Posted: March 19th, 2013 11:09 PM

You have clearly done a great job raising fantastic kids. Braiden sounds like someone who is growing up to be quite an inspiration and the two of you (David & Lee) sound as if you provide a loving home where kids are allowed to be kids. Gee, what a novel idea. You seem to be doing a better job than most "traditional" parents. Keep up the great work, here's to hoping that people get their priorities straight and start allowing marriage equality. Keep up the great work Braiden too!!

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