Gay Marriage Advocates Use Children as Campaign Props, Times Celebrates

Sure: "Kasey is 10 years old. When the New Jersey State Senate voted against same-sex marriage on Jan. 7, he was devastated."

Some advocates of gay marriage brought along their children to a protest as props, and those allegedly hard-bitten Times journalists showcased it on the front of the Thursday Styles section (not in the news pages), along with three photos featuring the kids.

Sarah Wildman's "Children Speak For Same-Sex Marriage" addressed the issue from a clearly sympathetic place, saying that the fact of children taking "active roles" in the gay marriage debate is "helping to change the narrative of same-sex marriage to a story about families from one about couples." The Times certainly helps "change the narrative" with non-critical stories like this.

Last month, advocates and opponents of same-sex marriage packed the New Jersey State House in Trenton, supporters in blue, opponents in red. Near the end of the day, Kasey Nicholson-McFadden took the microphone. "It doesn't bother me to tell kids my parents are gay," he said in a clear voice. "It does bother me to say they aren't married. It makes me feel that our family is less than their family."

Kasey is 10 years old. When the New Jersey State Senate voted against same-sex marriage on Jan. 7, he was devastated. "We tried to buoy him and say, 'It's another step in the process and it's not over yet,' " said Karen Nicholson-McFadden, one of Kasey's mothers.

In fact, Garden State Equality, the New Jersey gay-rights organization that invited Kasey to speak, quickly told reporters they would pursue the issue through the judiciary system. It will be familiar territory for the Nicholson-McFaddens, who vow to press on - be it through rallies or lawsuits.

For as long as Kasey can remember, Marcye and Karen Nicholson-McFadden have been petitioning the State of New Jersey for the right to marry. So while much of Kasey's free time is spent on typical preteen activities - in-line skating, swim team and soccer practice - some of it is spent appearing in advertising campaigns and events organized by Garden State Equality. So many of that organization's 64,000 members have children that the group provides day care and activities for teenagers during its events.

Wildman eventually got to some critics, but no one to make a strong argument against adults cynically carting children around as campaign props:

Opponents of same-sex marriage are unswayed. "It doesn't make any sense that a small segment of society can leverage major social change simply by putting children into these situations purposefully," said Andrew P. Pugno, general counsel for, the California organization that sponsored Proposition 8. "Society is not forcing same-sex couples to raise children. If they are going to exercise their choice, it remains their choice and not become something that society has to realign itself to accept."