BOSTON (CBS) – It was May of 2004 when Massachusetts legalized gay marriage. In the years since, every New England state has done the same, with the exception of Rhode Island. This year, the House of Representatives there has given the OK on same sex marriage legislation; the matter is now in the hands of the state Senate’s Judiciary Committee. If Rhode Island does approve same sex marriage this year, a sixth grader’s speech may take some of the credit.
“Some people are just nervous that taking the next step might not be the right thing for our country,” explains Matthew Lannon, a 12-year-old Providence boy who testified before the Senate committee last week. He says he’s already living proof that the “next step” is actually the right thing; his two moms are lesbians in a committed relationship but unable to marry.
“When I think about what marriage means to me, I think it’s about two people that love each other,” the sixth grader explained before the state Senate’s Judiciary Committee. “My parents certainly fit that description.”
A video from the Providence Journal of that speech has earned close to 100,000 views online.
Matthew says the idea to testify was his own, and that initially his parents resisted. But he convinced them and he wrote the speech himself, asking mainly for help to correct what he called his “terrible spelling.”
“I kind of just wrote what is in my heart,” he says.
“I’m always touched when I hear him speak and I think what resonates with people is the simplicity of his message,” says his mother, Maryellen Butke.
Matthew says that message is simply that he wants his family to be treated like everybody else’s.
“My family is not normal, definitely, but no one’s family is normal,” he says. “But I think they raised an OK kid, I guess, is kind of one of my points.”