When I was 18, I met the man I wanted to marry. Three volatile years later, though, I was single once again and re-evaluating every aspect of my life. And in that space of upheaval, an unlikely thought occurred me... I had always assumed I was straight, but what if I had been denying some truth about myself, pushing it aside, rationalizing it away? What if there was something to the jokes about my comfortable shoes and mens flannel shirts?
And as I took on that very jarring and personal self-evaluation, it occurred to me that if it turned out that the truth was that I was bi, and the person I ultimately spent the rest of my life with turned out to be a woman, then I would suddenly lose a right I had had only a moment before. I would be the same person, making the same commitment, taking the same vows, but I would suddenly be denied the same right to do so.
Much has changed in the dozen years since, and those who know me know the outcome of that internal evaluation. They know I now have two beautiful children and a wonderful partner who supports me fully. Though my partner has seen me at my worst, at my most vulnerable, they are with me for the long-haul. We share all the joys our boys bring us (like our two-year-old pronouncing big boy chair "boo-bee chair"). And we share all the stress our lack of money brings us. We laugh, we cry, we rip on the politicians... My partner... in crime, and things less nefarious.
Today, the Supreme Court announced it would hear the cases challenging DOMA and Prop 8.
Today, my partner and I took our oldest son to get his hearing checked. Later, he fell asleep cuddled on my partner's arm, as our youngest fell asleep on my chest. And just now, my partner handed me a slice of homemade pumpkin pie. Fortunately... our love can overcome iffy pie.
Can our country finally overcome this old prejudice?
To the State, there is nothing functionally different between a same-sex marriage and a straight marriage. In practical terms, there is hardly any difference. It is not incumbent upon the State to protect what has been the norm, the tradition for most Americans. It is not incumbent upon the State to protect a majority of Americans, or any minority of Americans, from discomfiting social changes. It is incumbent upon the State to treat every American as an American.
This long denial of the right to marry is a prejudice we are no longer willing to let stand unchallenged. We have demanded a reason - an urgent, irrefutable reason - to be presented to justify the need to deny some Americans this equal right. In the last dozen years, we've seen a lot of bullshit excuses fall away. We've seen a lot of people expand their views of what freedom really means when they've had the courage to challenge everything they thought they knew about themselves, their traditions, and their fellow Americans.
My partner and I didn't have to get married. We knew neither one of us was planning to go anywhere. But it made a difference for us to be married. It feels different. It will likely make a difference to our boys someday, even if it's only through a subtle security from our clear and validated commitment to each other.
But how does it make a difference to anyone outside of my family to know, when I refer to my spouse, my partner, whether I'm talking about my husband or my wife?