Dana Rudolph

Rosie and Kelli Working on Their Issues; So Is the Media

Filed By Dana Rudolph | October 22, 2009 1:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Marriage Equality, Media
Tags: kelli carpenter o'donnell, kelli o'donnell, media, rosie o'donnell

Two of the most famous lesbian-mom spouses in the world are having trouble. Rosie O'Donnell told USA Today that all is not well between herself and spouse Kelli Carpenter O'Donnell, but would not confirm if Kelli had moved out, as some sources are reporting.

Here's the interesting thing about how the story is being reported, though. See if you can figure it out before the end of the post:

The Advocate says: "O'Donnell and Carpenter married in San Francisco in 2004, and the couple has four children together: Parker, Chelsea, Blake, and Vivienne."

USA Today writes: "The couple married in San Francisco in 2004 and have three adopted children--Parker, 14, Chelsea, 12 and Blake, 9, as well as Vivienne ('Vivi'), 6, whom Carpenter carried."

CNN says: "Their family includes four children. The three oldest--Parker, 14, Chelsea, 12 and Blake, 9--are adopted. Six-year-old Vivienne--conceived through a sperm donation--was born to Carpenter."

Newsday: "The couple married in San Francisco in 2004 and have three adopted children--Parker, 14, Chelsea, 12, and Blake, 9--as well as Vivienne, 6, a daughter Carpenter gave birth to through artificial insemination."

Daily News: "O'Donnell and Carpenter were married in a non-state-recognized ceremony in San Francisco in 2004 and have three adopted children - Parker, 14, Chelsea, 12 and Blake, 9 - as well as daughter Vivienne, 6, whom Carpenter gave birth to via artificial insemination."

Yes, the Daily News has to throw in the snide "in a non-state-recognized ceremony," but that's not what first caught my eye.

Only the LGBT source, the Advocate, doesn't care how the children came into the family. Adopted or biological, it doesn't matter. All of the other sources take the "let's highlight the breeding habits of the urban lesbian" approach and specify how they became parents to each of the kids.

The worst offenders are CNN, Newsday, and the Daily News, who feel it necessary not only to mention that Vivienne is biologically Carpenter O'Donnell's, but that there was sperm donation/artificial insemination involved. If she was born to Carpenter O'Donnell, then clearly there was sperm involved. We lesbians have been hoping for parthenogenesis for a while now. Trust me, you'd know about it if there had been any big breakthroughs.

Not to mention that the phrase "gave birth to through artificial insemination" is incorrect in any case. All the women I know give birth through their vaginas (or C-section incisions), not through AI.

It's true that parents' relationships with their biological and non-biological children may differ in complex (and not necessarily predictable) ways. That is an internal family matter, however. What matters in the current context is not how they became a family, but simply the fact that they are one.

It seems, however, that the two moms are focused on the right things. USA Today reports Rosie's statement:

"[Our children are] adorable and wonderful and they are by far a priority. Kelli and I love each other very much and we are working on our issues. Those are the only words I am ever going to say. Ever. But everything's fine and everybody's good and we're still both raising them together. We will both continue to parent them and we're friendly and everything's all right."


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It's interesting - I wonder how straight parents getting divorced would respond if their adopted children were separated off in this way? I doubt that the MSM would have gone to such lengths in the case of a straight family. In fact, I don't recall the same thing happening (or at least to this extent) when Madonna got divorced from Guy Ritchie, even though the last two children were adopted under extremely controversial circumstances (I won't go into dear Maddy's penchant for using African babies as accessories). Plus, she never married the father of her first child (oh, horrors) and she was pregnant with the second when she married Ritchie. The press did not, rightly, resurrect any of this at the divorce.

The more things change...

I hope they are able to work things out.

Sexist and homophobic. I hope by the time I have children, newspapers won't have to explain how a lesbian couple ended up with four children. It's ridiculous that a story about RELATIONSHIP problems, there needs to be a sex ed lesson. There's a lot more to lesbians than their vaginas and reproductive ability.

While they're at it, they ought to point out straight moms who had children through fertility treatments. You know, other than the "octomom". For some odd reason I don't see that happening.

Well, I'm not so sure that straight celebrities aren't treated the same way. I can't remember a single article about the Brangelina brood that didn't take pains to point out which kids were adopted and which were not. Yes, there's the extra fascination of the MSM with "how can two girls have a kid?" but I think it dovetails with a pre-existing bias that adoptive parenting relationships aren't as "real" as biological ones.

Good point, and I agree. Adoptive parents, LGBT and not, are subject to the same kind of statements that imply their adoptive kids are somehow less than fully theirs. With lesbians, though (and single moms of all orientations who conceive by choice with a donor), even the bio kids are subject to unnecessary comments about their creation.

It's got to change, all of it. Family is family.

I can't imagine if my relationship troubles were tabloid fodder. I really feel for both of them.