Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
(Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune) Darin Patterson and his son Kai, 5, of Salt Lake City, play at Discovery Gateway Children's Museum on Thursday. Utah Unites for Marriage, Discovery Gateway Childrenís Museum and Equality Utah hosted a free night at the museum to give parents and kids an entertaining evening to celebrate all families.
Children speak up on behalf of their same-sex parents
Rally » Salt Lake City has one of the highest percentages of same-sex couples with children.
First Published May 29 2014 07:57 pm • Last Updated May 30 2014 07:24 am

The first time someone asked Madison Ayoso what her dad did for a living, she was confused.

Madison doesn’t have a dad. Neither does her brother Ben Farrar.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

"Families come in all different forms," Farrar said to a small assembly gathered outside the Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum on Thursday. "Two incredible moms raised me and my sister. ... I wouldn’t want to trade my family for anything in the entire world."

It was the first time Madison, 21, and Ben, 19, have spoken publicly about their family.

Their mothers, Sally and Brenda Farrar, said they’ve always been private people. They put their children first, stayed out of the spotlight, tried to focus on the things they could control — going to baseball games and awards ceremonies, taking trips to Disney World and large Sunday family dinners — instead of the politics that seemed so beyond their reach.

But when U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby overturned Utah’s ban on same-sex marriage in December, the women said, it was an awakening for their children.

"I guess we always thought they were married; we never really had any reason to question it," said Ben Farrar, who will be graduating with honors this week before going to college in Montana on a baseball scholarship. "When we started hearing people talking about how gay couples can’t raise kids the same as straight couples, we wanted to come out and say something. Our moms raised their kids just as good — better even — than a lot of straight couples do. Our home growing up was always full of love. We’re no different."

That’s why the sister and brother decided to join with Utah Unites for Marriage, Equality Utah, the Neighborhood House and Tumbleweeds Children’s Film Festival at an open "all families" event Thursday and tell their story.

"I used to be really shy about it when I was little," said Ayoso, a college senior who will be graduating with a degree in biochemistry. "Kids would say things sometimes. It was hard."

Salt Lake City has one of the highest percentages of same-sex couples with children, according to the Williams Institute at the University of California-Los Angeles. As of last year, about 26 percent of all gay and lesbian couples in the metro area were raising children.

story continues below
story continues below

But these families are largely unrecognized by the state, which in recent months has asked for legal clarity on the validity of adoptions by married gay couples and argued to reinstate Utah’s ban on same-sex unions at the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Central to the state’s argument has been the welfare of children.

Lawyers representing the attorney general’s office and Gov. Gary Herbert have argued that adopting a "genderless definition of marriage" would send the message that a mom and a dad aren’t important to the rearing of a child.

They have pointed to, but later backed away from, the findings of Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas, who offered research to bolster the claim that opposite-sex parenting is the "gold standard" for children.

The American Sociological Society has found that children raised by two parents tend to do well, regardless of their parents’ gender. They filed a brief in support of the plaintiffs in Utah’s ongoing battle over the voter-approved ban on gay and lesbian unions.

The fight itself is hurtful for families to hear, several said Thursday.

"There’s no reason our children ought to be punished because of us," said Sally Farrar, Madison’s and Ben’s mother, who has been with her wife, Brenda, for 29 years. "We are who we are."

Inside the brightly colored walls of the children’s museum, infants lay cradled in their parents’ arms, toddlers spun wheels and splashed water, children gathered around for story time and families of all different shapes and sizes said they felt welcome.

"This is great," said Kirt Bateman, who stood with his husband Jerry Rapier and their 18-month-old son Oscar Bateman-Rapier as the toddler stared wide-eyed at the rushing stream of the museum’s water zone.

"Utah is such a family-centric state," Bateman said. "It’s been great to meet other parents and families who don’t see our family as any different than theirs."

That’s how these families should feel all the time, said Brandie Balken, executive director of Equality Utah.

Next Page >

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.