Any parent who's ever had to manage a toddler in public would have identified with Dr. Paul Melchert at a Capitol news conference Wednesday. As the Minneapolis pediatrician spoke in support of eliminating the state's statutory bar to same-sex marriage, his son Emmett, age 3, entertained the Capitol press corps by grabbing the microphone, running a toy truck over his dad's head, placing a small hand over his father's mouth, kissing his dad's cheek and whining, "I want you to stop talking!"
Despite the duress, Melchert managed to make his point: Research shows that children of same-sex couples are as likely to thrive as those raised by opposite-sex parents. But because their families are denied legal marriage, some of those children experience needless financial and psycho-social hardship.
His was one of three same-sex families -- spouses and children -- who appeared at a news conference announcing the introduction of bills to eliminate the state's 1997 statutory bar to same-sex marriage. The presence of fussy babies and wiggly toddlers underscored the point that marriage equality isn't just about justice for adults. It's about equality under the law for their children too.
"Children suffer each and every day that their parents are denied legal marriage," said Rabbi Michael Adam Latz of Shir Tikvah congregation in Minneapolis, who was present with his partner Michael and their two daughters. Punctuating that message with impatient kids -- and a toy truck -- may help instill a sense of urgency among legislators weighing when to act on this session's marriage equality legislation.