Family Legacy

Judge Monica Marquez and Retired Judge Jose D.L. Marquez

If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Retired Colorado Court of Appeals Justice Jose D.L. Marquez swore in his daughter Monica Marquez to the Colorado Supreme Court on December 10, 2010.

The story of Deputy Attorney General Monica Marquez pending appointment to the Colorado Supreme Court was first made known to me by my parents who reside in  Colorado. 

This past fall in the midst of the ugly homophobic and anti-immigrant political campaign season my mother excitedly called me in Oregon one day to tell me about the announced judicial appointment of Monica Marquez to the Colorado Supreme Court. 

Both of my parents were excited about this appointment when they learned that Justice Marquez would be serving as the first Latina to this position as well as the first out lesbian.  And I have to say that an excited phone call from my straight, white, middle America parents about the appointment of a Latina lesbian reminded me how much my accident of birth is related to where I am today. 

I don’t know if you recall or saw, but just last week a study was released that showed how familial acceptance leads to healthy lives for LGBTQ youth while familial rejection devastates these young people’s lives.  Having parents who first accept your difference and later stand with you against an oppression they do not personally experience is not terribly common among LGBTQ folk.  A screening of the vast majority of It Gets Better videos attests to the all too common family tensions and rejections queer people face when coming out to their parents and families.

Back in the day when I was slowly coming out as a lesbian, in the late ’80’s, it was common within my queer community to refer to your fellow LGBTQ friends as ‘family.’  And I recall how desperately I clung to my fragile new gay ‘family’ while I was struggling to come out to my original family and contemplating their probable abandonment.  That queer family stood by me and held me up when I struggled with my faith and the loss of former friends.  That family housed me and talked me through the nights before and after I came out to my parents and my siblings.

I can’t fully explain how valuable that queer family was and still is to me.  But I do have to say that for me when my parents and siblings proved to withstand their devotion to me rather than to a church and society damning me to hell my personal path toward self-destruction did a 180 degree turn. 

In a scene not unlike that classic moment I recently watched with my daughters where the Grinch’s heart expands and he is soon lifting a giant sleigh over his head; I found that once my parents and siblings knew me, loved me, and began to share in my struggles I had the strength to take on the world.  Had I been born into another home with parents who couldn’t or wouldn’t cope with my sexual orientation things may likely have gone quite differently for me.

Instead for the twenty plus years since those days my family has stood by me, my partner, and now our children.  They have been a great source of support and guidance for my own growing family in a difficult and challenging world. 

And so today when I realized for the first time that Judge Monica Marquez was sworn into her new position by her father…

when I saw the beautiful photos of the father and daughter face to face at the ceremony and the photo posted here of them embracing…

I couldn’t help thinking again about the very real legacy we can offer our children with our love and respect.

For to me it is no minor detail that Justice Marquez father was the justice who swore her in this past week.  As it is no small note that her partner and her sister together ceremoniously cloaked her in her new black robes.  To me the presence of the Marquez family at the pinnacle of Monica’s success as a public servant is a reminder that the outcome of familial love, respect, and devotion to a sexual minority child is a thriving human being.

And that is an inheritance that can yield dividends every day even as it builds up savings for tomorrow.

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