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Operation Marriage - Marriage Equality through the Eyes of Children

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Welcome to our Operation Marriage page, celebrating the book AND the movie, AND marriage equality.

June 26 2015: Who would have believed, that a few years after we published this book, marriage equality would be the law of the land? In the landmark Supreme Court decision, Obergefell v. Hodges, the court found that the fundamental right to marry is guaranteed to same-sex couple. 

April 22 2015: As we await a Supreme Court decision in June on marriage equality, we celebrate the New England Journal of Medicine filing an amicus brief and posting an editorial in favor of marriage equality. 

Click here to read their editorial. 

December 2014: We celebrate the wonderful reception Operation Marriage: The Movie has been receiving around the country. Great thanks to the folks who created the film and all the donors who helped make it possible.


Operation Marriage" is based on a true story and the picture book written by Cynthia Chin-Lee.


Kathy: Mindy Cohn 
Lee: Tamlyn Tomita
Alex: Chloe Beth Jones
Nicky: Owen Pierre
Pastor: Ann Walker
Zach: Adolfo Alvarez
Zach’s Mother: Diana DeLaCruz
Zach’s Father: Roel Navarro
Pastor Rob: David J. Kono


Directed by Quentin Lee
Screenplay by Cynthia Chin-Lee & Brad Stocking
Produced by Alan Reade & Quentin Lee
Line Producer: Roxy Shih

Presenter: Andreas Weigend
Executive Producers: David Kono
First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto
Jeffrey Okabayashi
Jennifer Thym
John Larkin
Mark Jacob & Julian Turner
Michael H. Wong
Sing Yat Family Trust
Associate Producers: Christopher Yin
Eleanor & Peter Chin-Lee
Howard Fong
Susan Phinney Silver & Jim Silver
William Chin-Lee 
Director of Photography: Len Borruso
Production Designer: Reed Johns
Editor: Quentin Lee
Costume Designer: Pei-Lynn Juang
Music by Steven Pranoto
Casting Director: Rene Haynes

For more information on the cast and crew, check out: 

June 26, 2013: Reach And Teach is thrilled to share the news that the Supreme Court ruled the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional and also decided that the proponents of Proposition 8 did not have standing to contest a lower court's decision that it too was unconstitutional. With those two decisions marriage equality returns to California and the federal government will recognize marriages in states that have legalized same-gender marriage. Yay! Still lots of work to be done but today is a wonderful day.

March 21, 2013: As the Supreme Court prepares to hear arguments on the issue of marriage equality, the team at Reach And Teach was thrilled to get news from our friend Amy Jussel at that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has concluded, after four years of research, that "Scientific evidence affirms that children have similar developmental and emotional needs and receive similar parenting whether they are raised by parents of the same or different genders. If a child has 2 living and capable parents who choose to create a permanent bond by way of civil marriage, it is in the best interests of their child(ren) that legal and social institutions allow and support them to do so, irrespective of their sexual orientation."

As publishers of Operation Marriage, we applaud the AAP's policy statement and are grateful to the many leaders from across the country, from all professional fields, and from the across the wide diversity of religious and political identities, who have come out in support of marriage equality. We published the book, in part, because we wanted to show the impact if inequality on the lives of children, through the eyes of children, and having the AAP both confirm that impact while also lifting up the benefits of marriage equality, is wonderful. 

Click here to buy a copy of Operation Marriage and give one to your pediatrician now!

Moonbeam Book AwardMoonbeam Book Award 2012: Operation Marriage has received a Gold Medal in the annual Moonbeam Children's Book Awards, in the Spirit/Compassion category, for dedication to children's books and literacy and for inspired writing, illustrating and publishing.

About the Book: Eight-year old Alex has a fight with her best friend, Zach, who says he can no longer be her friend. Why? Because "her parents (both women) aren't married." Set in the San Francisco Bay area, months before Proposition 8, a ballot measure banning gay marriage passes, this picture book looks at what it takes for Alex and her younger brother, Nicky, to convince their mothers to get married while they can. Their love as a family is contagious as their neighbors begin to accept them for what they are: a normal, affectionate family.

Based on a true story, the book shows the real implications of the struggle for equality, with beautiful and captivating illustrations, by award-winning illustrator, Lea Lyon, and words by Cynthia Chin-Lee.

Award Winning Team: This is a hardcover, full-color, beautifully illustrated children's picture book, written and illustrated by an award winning team of Cynthia Chin-Lee, writer and Lea Lyon, illustrator. It is based on the real lives of a family in Palo Alto.   The book is published by Reach And Teach, through its imprint with PM Press and distributed worldwide by IPG Books.

Marriage Equality through the Eyes of Children: Marriage equality has been and will be hotly debated for a long time to come. What hasn't gotten much attention is the impact that inequality and prejudice have on children. Operation Marriage shows the pain felt when some families aren't given the same respect and dignity as other families. Not only are the children of GLBTQ parents hurt, but other children around them get dragged into what ends up being an unwelcoming environment created by adults.

People often ask, why should this be brought up at all? Aren't these children too young for this? A teacher answered that question at a community forum on October 20th by saying "We're too often forced to deal with teasing and bullying after the harm has already been done. Isn't it better to avoid the problem in the first place? I think so!" 

One of the earliest group activities in a typical pre-school or kindergarden classroom is for each child to draw a picture of his or her family. With the wonderful diversity of families out there, with mom and dad, mom and mom, dad and dad, uncle & aunt, mom, dad, brother, grandma, foster-mom... it's important for children to be able to proudly draw whatever their picture should look like! Teachers and parents need tools to help talk about the many faces of family, letting children know that while families may look different, they are ALL families, deserving of respect and support. 

People Are Talking - Praise for Operation Marriage

Operation Marriage is a well-constructed, age-appropriate story with an appealing cast of characters. Spunky Alex doesn't let her best friend's abandonment get her down; instead, she enlists her brother in a campaign that is filled with humor-blasting wedding music throughout the house, making a fake wedding program-things that will ring true to all children who've found creative ways to beg their parents to do something for them.  -- Lyn Miller-Lachmann, author of Gringolandia a 2010 ALA Best Book for young adults. Click here to read the full review.

In Operation Marriage Cynthia Chin-Lee has shown the gay marriage debate through the eyes of the children effected.  A simple, but powerful story that should be in every classroom from preschool on up. --Sharon Levin, Founder, Bay Area Children's Literature List

Operation Marriage is a visually beautiful and warm book. The topic, marriage equality, is handled in a sensitive and child-centric way, helping readers of all ages to understand why recognizing all types of families is important to the growth of our children and the resilience of our society. Offering opportunities for discussion between children and the adults who care about them, Operation Marriage opens doors for sharing, compassion, stretching ourselves and seeing how even children can impact their worlds in a meaningful way. The power of love over fear is at work here, in the story and in the project that made the story into this winsome book. --Mika Gustavson, MFT, Gifted Matters 

Operation Marriage is an honest, insightful, and touching story illustrating the many ways that lack of marriage equality impacts kids' lives. Its messages--perseverance, trusting oneself, facing adversity and standing up to it--are universal, but its approach to the particular social challenge of marriage inequality fills a void in the children's book world. There is power in seeing a problem from a child's perspective, and much that we grown-ups can learn from looking at the world through a child's eyes. This book belongs in every school library and on every public library shelf. --Sarah Hoffman

"Cynthia Chin-Lee very sensitively deals with the subject of same sex marriage by telling the true story of one couple and their children.  Children are very ready to start talking about the civil rights issues of our time and this book is a great jumping off point to get those conversations started."-- Jacinta Bunnell, author of Girls Are Not Chicks and Sometimes the Spoon Runs Away with Another Spoon

For those who believe, true love does conquer all! -- Terry Hong, Book Dragon Review, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program

I have been involved in Civil Rights issues since college days when I served a 30-day jail sentence for sitting at a lunch counter with three other whites and two African-Americans....and asked for a cup of coffee! Here we are now having to dig through the weeds and briar patches of another civil rights issue: marriage equality. The beauty/emotion of this book flows from its presentation through children's eyes. The simplicity of children's thinking can effectively pierce the rough hewn edges of adult logic!! Every school library should have this book and be proud!!!
--Mary Bentley Abu-Saba, Ph. D.

Children need a permanent and secure nurturing family to help them thrive. Decades of research have shown that children's social, academic, and emotional development are similar whether they have two mothers or a mother and a father. Their parents' marriage gives children the security and the legitimacy they need to dispel stereotypes and to thrive in school and society.
Ellen C. Perrin, M.D.
Division of Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics
Floating Hospital for Children
Tufts Medical Center
Boston, MA

Operation Marriage is a touching delightful book telling of a family with two moms. It positively confirms that marriage between two loving adults of the same sex is wonderful and legal! This book also touched on bullying which is so common in schools and how a parent can help their child who is the bully to understand and change the negative behavior. --Monique Kane, MFT

As parents, we want children to learn about the real struggles and joys of families different from ours. This book tells a true story simply and compellingly. When children learn empathy through stories like this, we can stop bullying and create understanding and compassion. --Carol and Charles Spring, Virginia

"Even 3rd-graders know that commitment ceremonies are not weddings and domestic partnerships are not marriage. Operation Marriage shows how important marriage is to children and that they understand that anything less, is less than equal."-- Dr. Davina Kotulski,  Psychologist, Motivational Life Coach, and Author of Why You Should Give A Damn About Gay Marriage (2004) and Love Warriors: The Rise of the Marriage Equality Movement and Why it Will Prevail (2010)


Click here to buy your copy now!



Check out the book launch at Keplers Bookstore in Menlo Park.


As the book was nearing publication, Outlook Video did a story about it. Check it out!

About the Author

Cynthia Chin-LeeWe've loved and promoted Cynthia Chin-Lee's books for a long time and are honored that she chose us to help get Operation Marriage published and distributed! 

From Cynthia Chin-Lee's Web Site: Cynthia Chin-Lee is a children's book author and an accomplished speaker and workshop leader. Her easy rapport with her audiences and ability to add humor to her presentations make her a compelling speaker for all ages. She is available for presentations to elementary through high-school students, key-note speeches to adults, and a variety of workshops that both engage and challenge the participants.

A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard University and a graduate fellow of East-West Center in Honolulu, she is a member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

About the Illustrator

Lea LyonWe have been huge fans of Lea Lyon for a long time and we are absolutely elated to have her working with us on this wonderful project. Click here to read an article about her on the Reach And Teach web site.

From Lea Lyon's Web Site:

Lea Lyon is an award-winning children's book illustrator, painting teacher and portrait artist who has made a childhood dream come true.

Lea loved to draw and paint as a child. She took art classes from a tiny white-haired artist who had converted her garage into a magical children's painting studio. Lea graduated to oil paints when she was 11. And - she wanted to be a children's book illustrator when she grew up. But life, as it often does, got in the way; College, raising a family, running a small doll and puppet business, then back to school for an MBA and into the corporate world. Now, at long last, Lea is a children's book illustrator. She is an active member of The SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.) Her illustration portfolios won awards twice at SCBWI National Conferences. As the Illustrator Coordinator of the San Francisco region of SCBWI she coordinates events for Bay Area illustrators.



With millions of children living in households led by GLBTQ people (according to the 2010 Census), parents, guardians, teachers, administrators, faith-leaders, and children need resources and support to thrive. Below are just some of the resources we want to highlight on our site. If you know of others that should be promoted, please click here to email us. 

Organizations & Resource Lists:


Publishing this book would not have been possible without the support of many people. We give huge thanks to the following people and organizations:

Sonia Azevedo, Maggie and Andy Anderson, Cynthia Chin-Lee, Joshua and Peter Ching, Martha Clayton, Don and Margaret Ann Fidler, First Presbyterian Church of Palo Alto, the Flora Family Foundation, Steven Garrett, David Mineau and Diana Gibson, Mitzi Henderson, Daniel and Sarah Holden, Eleanor Hiles and Bob Topor, Dick and Sarah Johnson, Bennet Marks and Kim Harris, Marion MacGillivray, Joseph Robert Martin, Dianne McKay, Julie McDonald,, Polly Moore, Sally and Craig Nordlund, Christine and John Ritz, Joan Roy and Gordon Craig, Paul Seever, Joy Sleizer, Steven S. Thomas, David and Mary Alice Thornton, James Wilczak, Peter and Evelyn Wong, and Marisela Blasini Young. 

Green America approved