I knew Monday was big, but I hadn’t realized the magnitude of it until noon yesterday, when Maggie read, “Oregon judge lifts ban on same-sex marriages, stating it’s unconstitutional.” All I could do was look at Maggie as the emotions hit me. Tears welled up and poured over and down my face as we reached for each other. We stood for a few minutes just quietly holding each other. I focused on what it felt like to feel her breath, how perfectly our bodies fit together, and I was attempting to feel and process the somewhat unexpected emotions.
I hadn’t anticipated it, but really how could I not cry? Part of me cried with gratitude for the people who spent years more than I, fighting for this day, and for those who fought hard but who are already gone… I cried for those who never showed their true selves, who lived in quiet silence out of fear for their safety, their lives, family and livelihood. All real fears not many years ago and still huge fears in other countries and certain places in America.
Most of all, I cried because I sat there looking at Maggie, the absolute love of my life, and I thought what a lonely place it would be without her right by my side. Even this morning on our walk, I managed to get a bit ahead of her to open the door for us and she said, “I like the backs of your shoes. I didn’t realize how well designed they are.” I smiled and said, “You don’t normally see the backs of my shoes because you’re always right beside me.” Such a simple and yet symbolic moment. I have never had this before. I found my person. Now that I have, I never want to let her go!
I sat back down, taking it all in and sweet Maggie leaned over me, put her hands on my heart, and said, “We’re real. Our love is real.” It was the sweetest thing to say. It both broke my heart and made me smile. Our love is real. It always has been since I met her. This ruling doesn’t make our love anymore legit or real than anyone else, but it does make navigating this life a bit more fair legally speaking and I can only hope that it perpetuates ongoing love and understanding and that more people feel safe to be themselves and to love who they love. Life is hard enough and being anyone other than myself was impossible for me, but it didn’t make it easy.
I’ve always wanted to get married. I wasn’t the little girl with my wedding all planned out, but I definitely wanted it. I also wanted to be the one wearing the sweet wingtip shoes and a snazzy tailored suit… and no, I didn’t know I was gay back then, I was just jealous that the guys got the cooler outfit… (UKnowUrGayIf reason #837, right?) I never dated anyone for longer than a few dates unless I could actually see myself being with them for the long haul. Why waste anyone’s time? I didn’t need someone to keep me company. I was an only child. I grew up keeping myself happily entertained just fine. I only had plans to dedicate and spend life with “the one.”
Maggie and I have talked about our future, love, life, family, kids, careers and marriage for over a year now. Before we ever got together, she asked jokingly via text complete with silly emoji icons, “If we don’t find someone by the time we’re 40 lets make a pact to get married.” All I could think was, “I want you now. I don’t want to wait 10 years to have you.” It felt like a movie. When we got together, we talked about marriage in a more metaphorical sense and in recent months, more seriously and directly related to and applicable to us in our relationship. I’ve saved songs, favorite quotes, Maggie’s ring size (I learned that one about 4 months in and it’s been in my phone ever since just waiting for the day), ring styles, photos, I’ve pondered the perfect vows, venue ideas and more for months. I wanted to be ready when we were ready. This is it, this is life, you know?
But there was always one thing missing… When I came out, I felt sad and angry that marriage wouldn’t be something I had. In effort to feel better, to feel more accepted as a person of value and deserving of love, and to keep me committed to showing up in my life and not hiding behind fear or retreating to the “safe” life, I convinced myself that it wasn’t something I needed… Validation by the government? I didn’t need that… But the truth is, it’s not about that. I was terrified of being gay because I wanted always to provide. I want my kids to have parents just like everyone else. If god forbid something terrible were to happen, I want to be there for Maggie and I’d hope the same for me. What about the joyous experience of childbirth? I wanted to be seen as family, as a wife, with rights to be with my wife. I want to see and hold my children when they are born… But until now, I would’ve waited in the waiting room. Shut out and not seen as someone valid in her life. I want to buy a house with Maggie, share in responsibilities, I want to pay taxes, travel and appreciate where we live.
If you wonder “THAT is what your looking forward to?” Then yes, it should seem a bit “normal” maybe even slightly “predictable” … It’s a basic human right.
So all of this talk and time in the last year that we spent talking about marriage, I always felt like I was talking about someone else’s life… Like I couldn’t quite get my hopes up, I couldn’t move forward, because that wasn’t something I actually had a right to — legally. I wanted to get married in Oregon where I wanted, not in a state that’s not my own simply because I was accepted there. I didn’t want a “celebration” and a courthouse marriage. I want a WEDDING. So Monday helped to make my dreams of having a family, a wedding I’ve hoped for and a marriage founded on truth, not discrimination, a reality for me.
Dr. Ralph Nicols, legend in the field of listening, said it best: “The most basic of all human needs is the need to understand and be understood…” I’ll add that one of the greatest human needs is to love and be loved… It’s hard enough to find someone in this life, why would we ever stifle someone from love? … Love does nothing but good. It does incredible things. It perpetuates happiness, productivity, compassion, care and kindness. It fuels creativity, connection, passion and increases our lifespan.
How could we ever deprive someone of that?
Monday afternoon my Mom called to “talk to an authority” … Literally, that’s what she said to me. I knew when the phone rang that we would probably talk about this, if she had in any way been watching the news (or Facebook). She had, and it made me smile. I felt acknowledged in some way that yes, something important, something that matters to my life and my future is happening, something incredible that we’ve worked years for… She went on to ask “Since you’re an authority in this area, I’m calling to ask you. With this same sex marriage thing happening all over the TV… It has taken over every news channel this morning, I’m just wondering why is this such a big deal here in Oregon? Everyone is talking about it. Is Oregon the first state to lift the ban on gay marriage?”
I shared with her that Oregon is actually the 18th state in the United States to lift the ban on same sex marriage. She seemed confused and went on to ask, “Well does that mean gay people get everything that everyone else does now?”
“Well, that’s the goal, it’s a bit different in all states, but the goal is equality… A point where we can pick our kids up from school because we’re recognized as their parent, we can visit and care for our sick spouses because finally we’re seen as “family” and therefore allowed in and yes, a place where we’re financially responsible for each other as a family unit among so many others things,” I explained.
I went on to share my observation that the reason it has taken so long is that for quite some time, between the strengths of religious beliefs, fear of the unknown, and the misinformation that same-sex marriages would receive some type of special treatment, meant that we just didn’t understand. It took a while, it took brave people sharing and living boldly and outwardly to show others it’s safe, it’s okay, and it doesn’t taint the principle of marriage by making it equal and that yes, love indeed IS love. My love doesn’t make your love any more or less valid. It took countless acts of heroism and stories of pain and struggle simply because for such a long time, we, as a community, lived in fearful misunderstanding. As we learn more, we better understand, and as we better understand, we make better decisions, and as we make better decisions, we change the world.
Monday was of those days.
Just before ending the call with my Mom, The Ellen Show (my Mom’s favorite show second to Oprah), ended and the news came on immediately. My Mom, who had been following this story since 7:30am Monday morning, began dictating what she was seeing as images flashed across the TV screen, “Oh here they all are at the courthouse. They’re all getting married. Oh! And the boys are kissing the boys… and oh wow, the girls are kissing the girls and they’re all hugging. Oh, and look their marriage certificate… yep! It looks just like mine.”
We talked a bit longer about it and every once in a while she would spontaneously interject, “Oh, and look at all the flowers. Everyone’s hugging everyone and they all have have bouquet.”
I share this not to poke fun, my Mom is freakin’ adorable. She grew up in the 50’s and 60’s and you can bet this wasn’t a part of her life then… In the 50’s they were just getting black and white television, listened to the radio for information and news, and nobody was outwardly gay. I share my Mom’s very candid stream of thought to point out that on this day we are changing paradigms, people are learning, my Mom is reaching out and calling ASKING to understand, still a bit scared of what and how to ask, but I know my Mom isn’t the only one asking, talking about it, understanding more and feeding the love in the world.
Monday was a big day for so many. I’m proud of all of the the conversations and actions that inspired the change and excited by all the new dialogue that it’s provoking. It helps to further connection, equality and ultimately a world where we continue to seek to understand instead of judge each other.
It feels better to believe that not to, better to hope than to fear, and better to love than to hate.