I wanted to share this family with you because I believe we need and deserve to see more examples of gay couples, especially those who believe "longevity" isn't possible. Years ago, when "The Cosby Show" debuted people didn't believe black families lived the way the Huxtable family did, including black folks. It was inconceivable to those who had never witnessed a successful couple, but that show set the precedent. Every black family on television today is middle class or better because of The Cosby Show, and no one questions it. If television networks aired sitcoms depicting poor black people like "Good Times" there would be an uproar in this country. The NAACP and every influential black polictical figure would speak out. The same is true of our relationships. Once we're programmed to believe the possibility through television shows, movies, and other media we'll believe it's possible and the effects would be seeing more examples in real life. Media has that kind of effect on how we think...Essence magazine will be featuring the couple in the June issue...
Dr. Alvin Williams and Nigel Simon have been in a committed, intimate relationship for the last six years. They held a commitment ceremony in the presence of 300 family and friends. Al and Nigel successfully adopted a child and are raising their six-year-old son. Dr. Williams, a South Carolina native, is a dentist in private practice. He served in the US Army as a general dental officer. He is Chairman of the Board of Directors of Us Helping Us, a Washington, DC community-based HIV/AIDS service organization committed to reducing HIV infection in the African-American community.
Nigel Simon, a native of Trinidad and Tobago, is an environmental protection specialist for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, DC. He served in the U.S. Army National Guard as a military policeman. Nigel is also a member of the Board of Directors of Us Helping Us. The family attends worship services at Covenant Baptist Church, a predominantly African American inclusive congregation. They live in Prince Georges County, Maryland.
It is an honor to be here today to share with you why family is important to us. The two of us have been in a committed, intimate relationship for the last six years. Three and a half years ago, we held a commitment ceremony with hundreds of family and friends. Since that time, we have successfully adopted our son, and we are raising him in a loving family in our home in Prince Georges County, Maryland. He's now six years old. We are very pleased that we are treated as a family by our own extended families, friends, and co-workers. We spend holidays, vacations, and special events together, and we are both active in the community. We also feel it is very important to instill in our son the value of community service. We are active in our faith community. We attend worship services at Covenant Baptist Church. And we are active in our local community. And we both serve on the board of directors of Us Helping Us, a Washington, D.C. community-based HIV/AIDS service organization committed to reducing HIV infection in the African American community. Although we are a family in every way imaginable, we are not fully protected as a family under the law. In 1997, the U.S. General Accounting Office compiled a list of 1,049 rights and benefits related to civil marriage. The list includes thirteen categories of rights and benefits, including Social Security and related programs, housing, veterans' benefits, taxation, federal civilian and military service benefits, employment benefits and related laws, immigration and naturalization, trade, commerce, and intellectual property, financial disclosure and conflict of interest. In a family with one military veteran, one federal employee, one native of Trinidad and Tobago and with one child, marriage discrimination could deprive our family of veterans' benefits, civilian benefits and tax benefits. That could expose our son to enormous instability if something should happen to one of us.
As the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court wrote in its historic decision last month, "It cannot be rational under our laws, and indeed it is not permitted, to penalize children by depriving them of state benefits because the state disapproves of their parents' sexual orientation." That's why we're here today. For our family.
Source: National Black Justice Coalition
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