Parent Power: Stephanie Hazen Speaks at MN’s justFair Lobby Day

Yesterday, hundreds of Minnesotans traveled to their statehouse in
St. Paul for OutFront Minnesota’s justFair Lobby Day. This year, OutFront MN is
advocating for marriage equality, recognition of out-of-state
marriages, youth supports (including health security and provisions
for homeless and runaway teens), and safer schools, a joint project
with Family Equality Council. (Click here to learn more about our “Safe
Schools for All Bill.)

Family Equality Council’s National Training and Advocacy Manager,
Stephanie Hazen (pictured speaking–see below for full speech), is
based in our St. Paul Office. For years Stephanie has worked to
improve Minnesota school safety and inclusion through the Rainbow
Families School Initiative. She and her partner, Carolyn, raise
their daughter, Emma, in Minneapolis.

A few weeks back, Stephanie gave testimony on the “Safe Schools for
All Bill” at its first hearing, in the Minnesota Senate. Watch the
video below.

Stephanie’s Speech at the justFair Lobby

Good Afternoon,

My name is Stephanie Hazen. My partner Carolyn and I live with
our amazing daughter Emma here in this great state of Minnesota.
Every day I work to ensure equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender parents and their families through Rainbow Families,
the Midwest Office of Family Equality Council. I do this work for
my friends and family and because I believe that all loving
families should be treated with dignity and respect.

Right now in Minnesota at least 6,500 LGBT parents are raising
children under the age of eighteen. Our families live in every
single county in the state. We work hard, pay taxes, contribute to
our communities, participate in our children’s schools, and worship
with our neighbors. Yet our children are less protected than others
because we live in a state that, while supportive of our families
in some ways, has not finished the job of securing equality for all

We’re here today to tell our legislators what equality means to
us and our families. Equality is not some abstract principle. When
you live with inequality, you understand that. My partner and I
feel the emotional toll of inequality almost every day. Our
daughter feels it, too.

Our daughter Emma turns five years old on Sunday. All she’s
ever known is that she has two moms. Now that she’s a little older,
she understands that her moms cannot be legally married. She
worries about it, whether we want her to or not. Just the other
day, while riding in the car, Emma suddenly looked upset. She asked
me when my partner and I would be able to get married. When I told
her it would probably be a few more years before her moms can be
legally married, Emma replied, “It’ll be a thousand years,”
and started crying. For a child, having to wait a few years for
your family to be considered equal seems like an eternity. Clearly
the inequality our families face impacts our children,

That’s why I’m here today—so as Emma grows up she will feel
equal and protected, so when she goes to school she can focus on
learning, not on defending herself and her family from attacks. I
want children to learn to respect each other and parents and
teachers to hold each other accountable for stopping bullying in
its tracks. I want to provide school districts with the tools to
keep our kids safe, so students like Andy Berlin are never hit,
spat on, and harassed to the point of having to leave their schools

The Safe Schools for All Bill we’re advocating for today is the
first big step we must take to ensure safe schools for our children
and youth. On behalf of my family and friends and the families I
represent nationwide at Family Equality Council, I want to thank
you for taking part in this important day. Your stories, your
experiences and your persistence will change the hearts, minds and
votes of your neighbors and the people who represent you.

Thank you.

(Pictured: Emma, Carolyn, Stephanie)