The following is a letter to the editor of The Chicago Tribune penned by ACLU of Illinois plaintiffs Michelle Mascaro and Corynne Romine. Michelle and Corynne are clients in the lawsuit seeking the freedom to marry for same-sex Illinois couples.

A column by a lawyer fighting our lawsuit seeking the freedom to marry for lesbian and gay couples in Illinois demeans our family and the families of thousands of committed, loving, same-sex couples. Our commitment is founded on shared values and devotion to the well-being of each other and our three children. No one should be arrogant enough to think he or she knows what is best for our children, or to dismiss our relationship by equating it to a children's nursery rhyme.

We asked a Cook County court to strike down Illinois' current ban on the freedom to marry. Those seeking to defeat us argue that marriage is about children, and only different-sex couples can provide the homes children need. This view ignores the reality of modern family life — where families form in a variety of different ways.

Most important, suggesting that children suffer if we marry reveals ignorance about the way we live, and a deplorable lack of concern about the well-being of our own children and thousands of others who have same-sex parents.

Our lives have been transformed by our children. We see our children off to school and help with homework. We read together and go to church as a family. We take vacations and visit relatives. Our children are loved by our extended families — and they grieved at the loss of their grandparents. We are proof that caring for children, being a strong family, instilling values (like fairness and acceptance) do not require parents of different genders.

Opponents of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples cling to an outmoded view about parenting. But facts are facts: Based on more than 30 years of research, every major child welfare organization concludes that same-sex couples are just as well-suited to raising healthy successful children as are opposite-sex couples. The key is not the gender of the parents but the love and care provided to children.

In large part, we want to marry for the sake of our children. We want them to be able to grow up without being told by government that our family is not worth as much respect as other families are.

Our children are cared for each day by parents who love one another and love our children. Perhaps opponents need to spend a day with us to recognize this reality.

Michelle Mascaro and Corynne Romine, Oak Park