Family at odds over love

By Kathryn Powley, Kathryn Powley

Conservative stance pits parents against lesbian daughter.

Jessie Foote, left, and Sarah Morris had a civil union three years ago.  Photo / Northern Advocate
Jessie Foote, left, and Sarah Morris had a civil union three years ago. Photo / Northern Advocate

The lesbian daughter of a Whangarei couple who gave a damning submission opposing gay marriage says she still loves them despite their beliefs.

Jessie Rose Foote is in a committed relationship with her partner, Sarah Morris. They had a civil union three years ago and have three children aged 6, 10 and 11. The Whangarei artist and clothing designer is currently preparing for an exhibition in Wellington called Saints and Sinners.

Foote said she was going about her life without too much trouble or fuss from society.

But her conservative Christian parents, David and Penelope Foote, firmly believe homosexuality is "evil" and "repugnant" and they said so in a strongly worded submission opposing gay marriage last month.

Penelope Foote told a parliamentary select committee that finding out her daughter was in a same-sex relationship was "the most traumatic thing we have ever been through". She blamed her daughter's homosexuality on "abuse she has suffered [from men]".

Jessie Foote, 33, told the Herald on Sunday it was a "very unfortunate" comment to make in public and she was unhappy that had been suggested as the reason for her being gay.

"I have never set out to hurt my parents, but you get to a point where you need to be true to yourself and to others. It's just really sad for everyone involved that I am the one thing my family cannot and will not accept."

Despite it all she said she still loved her parents very much.

"Of course, I'd like more than anything to still be in their lives like I was. It's just sad that, through their interpretation of the Bible, they've had to take such a stand," she said.

Jesse Foote, did, however, admire her dad for standing up for what he believed in.

"I just wish he believed in something that wasn't condemning my lifestyle. It is just heartbreaking that these strong religious beliefs have to come above everything, even family, and cause such division."

If he was willing, she'd gladly resume their father-daughter relationship.

Despite the rift, Foote, the middle child of five, said she made sure her 11-year-old daughter visited her parents regularly.

"They're not bad people and I want my daughter to go there because I think it's important for her. They are, after all, her grandparents."

Foote said she had thought her parents might eventually manage to accept her.

"I've always been hopeful and thought they might get over it, but sadly I don't see that happening. It's a really hard situation but I'm really lucky Sarah is such a great support."

Submissions on the Marriage Amendment Bill, sponsored by Manurewa MP Louisa Wall, have closed. The Government Administration Committee's report is due by the end of this month.

- Herald on Sunday

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