It’s funny how your emotions can just take over sometimes, isn’t it? Catch you off guard, shake you up a bit? When I heard the news about the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage equality, I started to cry. No, not an uncontrollable tearful explosion, but the light gentleness of tears trickling down my face, just enough for me to reach for a Kleenex.
In December, 2005, I attended the commitment ceremony between my niece, Melissa, and her partner, Jessie. To be fair, I was a bit uncomfortable as I arrived, and certainly, didn’t know what to expect, but I had loved my niece since the day she was born six weeks prior to my high school graduation. Why would I stop loving her because she was attracted to a woman?
I was as curious about the evening as others in my family, yet when I arrived in the beautifully decorated room, my tensions seemed to melt. Soon, my brother-in- law escorted Melissa down the aisle, where she met Jessie, all aglow in a beautiful white satin wedding dress with a dash of red accent for the holiday season. They exchanged vows and rings, as all loving couples do on their weddings. Oh, it wouldn’t be recognized in many places, but to everyone there – friends, co-workers, family member, gays, lesbians, straight, it didn’t matter. Who wasn’t thrilled to see these two young women pledge to take care of each other “in sickness and health, ‘til death do us part”?
I count myself among the lucky ones, because I had a family member who dragged me and the rest of her family into the eye of this issue, and demanded that we look directly into our own souls. But this was a union based on love, honor, commitment. Who can’t respect that, even if it doesn’t align with your personal beliefs? When I talked with my sister about this, to gauge her feelings, sister to sister, she responded with this – “as a parent, we all want to see our children happy.” And from day one, Jessie has been a welcome addition to our family as Melissa has been to Jessie’s family.
Melissa and Jessie have two delightful children, ages 6 and 2, who are bright, engaged, well-adjusted children, who happened to have had a blast this week in their church’s Vacation Bible School. But shortly after each was born, Melissa had to adopt them because her role as co-parent didn’t legally give her the right to make decisions on their behalf. Crazy the hoops they had to jump through.
So what’s my point in all of this? I am firmly in support of marriage equality and am in awe of the courage Melissa and Jessie have demonstrated in their lives and the issues they have overcome. Maybe I wasn’t as supportive fifteen years ago, but when it had a face I knew, it changed.
Many want to make this a religious issue. “Well, the Bible says…” This is not a religious issue, and none of us believers are afraid of Satan showing up at our door. (Well, maybe we are, but not for this.) My God is a loving God.
Many people say this is a behavior choice. Poppycock, I say. Why would people choose a behavior that makes them the target of discrimination?
This is about people who love each other and want to commit to each other, and care for each other, and enjoy the same benefits of married life others have known for the length of time. Why is that so hard to understand?
And so today, my tears were shed for all that Melissa and Jessie have endured, and all the other Melissa and Jessies out there who can now begin their life anew.