I was taught a lot of things in school, some of them terrible: History class was filled with warfare, algebra with endless solving for x.
But never, as the narrator in a TV ad airing in advance of next week's election intones, that "boys can marry boys."
It wasn't that my teachers were trying to protect my delicate young ears. It's just that it wouldn't have been true back then. It is true now, at least in six states and Washington, D.C., but according to this ad, kids can't handle the truth.
The ad features a couple from Massachusetts, the first state to allow same-sex marriage. Speaking solemnly into the camera, David and Tonia Parker talk about how young children were being "taught" gay marriage, the same fate in store for Maryland should voters approve Question 6 on Election Day.
The Parkers sued their public school board after their son brought home a book, "Who's in a Family?" that depicted gay parents alongside other mothers, fathers and grandparents. Another family joined the suit after their son's teacher read them a modern fairy tale, "King & King," which featured a prince who married a prince.
The suit was dismissed by a federal judge who denied their claim that their rights to "direct the moral upbringing" of their children were violated by the school's "indoctrinating" them on gay marriage.
Since then, though, the Parkers have become active in opposing same-sex marriage — according to news accounts, a variant of the ad running in Maryland is also airing in the three other states that also will consider the issue on Nov. 6.
I've seen the ad multiple times — it's getting to be about as inescapable as the gambling-expansion ads — and I still don't get it. Both the Parkers and the narrator keep warning about how allowing same-sex couples to marry somehow leads to children being taught in the schools. (Supporters of same-sex marriage have countered with an ad showing a school teacher rejecting this notion.)
I don't even get what they mean about their son being "taught" same-sex marriage, as if he'd been given some kind of how-to manual on finding a boyfriend, or being encouraged to gay-marry.
From what's been written about the Parkers' suit, it seems like their son was simply given a book that showed gay couples as part of a whole range of families — headed by single parents, grandparents, interracial parents and the good ol', single-race, heterosexual, mom-and-dad kind of parents. No value judgments, simply that all sorts of families exist.
Or is that where the problem comes in, that there weren't relative values placed on which kind of family is better than other kinds of families?
That, frankly, is the disturbing undertone to all this — that the depiction of gay parents as equivalent to straight parents is somehow part of "a campaign of intentionally indoctrinating very young children to affirm the notion that homosexuality is right and moral, in direct denigration of the plaintiffs' deeply-held faith," as the Parkers' lawsuit says.
This over a book that shows lesbian parents and their kids washing the family dog in the same context as a more conventional family celebrating a birthday.
And then, there is the other offending book, "King & King," which is pretty much the same story of countless fairy tales about a prince's search for a mate — with the twist that this particular prince tells his mother, the queen, that he's "never cared much for princesses."
Hey, me either. All those passive yet pretty ladies, beloved by all — except, of course, some shrewish, jealous stepmothers — mooning around over some feckless mama's boy of a prince. This time, though, the prince finds love not with a princess, but her brother — and they live happily ever after.
Whether that's in wedded bliss, though, depends on their particular kingdom.