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Watch Your Phraseology
The "New English" in Gay America

By Dorothy Anne Seese
[email protected]



The more I read about civil unions and domestic partners in the gay and lesbian community the more confused I get, especially when they want to adopt children.  I mean, all my life I've known the family as man and wife (male and female) right?  That's just the way it's been for however many thousands of years.  You know, the old "vive la difference" stuff back before political correctness and all these rearrangements.

Okay, now I don't know the language of the special interest group, so let's just explain things to me in old English ... the 1960's variety.

If two men form a domestic union, is there a "wife" or what?  Aren't wives women?  Can both partners be husbands?  Or are they just partners?  Somehow, our language just hasn't been revised (but it doubtless will be) to accommodate these new arrangements.

If two women have a domestic partnership, is one of them a "wife" or a "husband"?  Or are they lovers or just partners or is there another term for each half of the union?

After this it gets a bit complicated for someone who isn't in the hip bunch.

Okay, if the domestic partners adopt a child (we know that kid had a male dad and a female mom somewhere) then:

If the partners are men, does the kid call both of them Daddy?  Or is one Mommy?  Or is one Daddy and the other just Jack or Sam?  When the kid goes to school and another kid asks, "what's your mom's name?" does the kid say "Paul" or what?  Or does he just say "I don't have a mom, I have two dads."  Somehow this seems like it would be kind of confusing to a kid to have Dad and Paul but then, I'm from another era.  (When I read today's news and think what it was like 20 years ago, I think maybe the aliens took me to another planet.)

Now, if the two domestic partners are women, and they adopt a kid, which one is "mom" and which one is "dad" or are they both "mom" or is it Mom and Trudy?  When the kid is at school and another kid asks "where does your dad work?" the kid says, "Oh I don't have a dad, I have two moms."  That isn't quite right, so maybe the kid says, "I have no idea who my dad is, I'm adopted and my mom is lesbian so I guess I have Mom and Trudy."  (Pardon, I think my mind just did two orbits around Pluto.)

What happens with the kid's birth certificate?  Does it have the name of two men or two women?  Or do we need a new class of birth certificate for Adopted Kid to Domestic Union of Two Gays/Lesbians?

Nah ... that would be discriminatory ... or would it?  The way the judges interpret the law now, maybe it's discriminatory not to have a birth certificate like that.  Or ... do you use a regular birth certificate and enter the name of the adoptive gay/lesbian parent and put the other parent as "unknown"?  Oh no, you can't do that ... in case of a severance/divorce in the "union" then would "unknown" be entitled to visitation?  I mean, these unions are severable.

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When the kid enters school and the school nurse has to notify the parent(s) that the kid has a fever, and they call home and get a male, do they ask "Is this Joey's dad?" or will that cause a lawsuit because the one at home is the de facto mom?  What's the proper language here?  Does the nurse have an Advance Warning Sheet that the kid has two same-sex "parents"?  Or is that discriminatory?  Or is it discriminatory not to have it?

When the teacher wants to discuss Joey's or Kathy's grades with his/her parents, and two same sex people walk in, what does the teacher ask?  Which one of you is the father and which is ... mother?!?  Errr.  Does teacher address each as Mr. Blank?  Or if females, as Ms. Blank?  Or does teacher just pitch it and say "Hello Jenny and Trudy"?  (Teacher probably can't say Mr. and Mrs. Blank at any point, whether two males or two females.)

If it ever gets to the point where a male can be called "Mrs." and a female can be called "Mr." then how will the kid know what a "mister" or a "missus" is/was?

Maybe I am making this unnecessarily complicated, since I'm not part of this community and surely don't know the protocols.

Oh well, the courts will figure it all out and the government will tell us what to do.

Somehow, it just seems like something's wrong somewhere, because it doesn't make sense. On the other hand, should it?

Just hand me another Excedrin and I'll turn on the stereo and relax to some 50's music when we didn't have all these problems.

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