Thoughts on Marriage Equality

Posted by Anthony.

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization's oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

When I woke up on Friday morning, I mostly expected that it would be just another day.

I knew there were still several important Supreme Court decisions to be handed down before the end of the term, and that one of them might have a profound impact on my family and its future. I also knew that it was June 26 and that the Supreme Court has a recent history of handing down landmark decisions on the rights of LGBTQ people on that day.

So, I was hoping that the Court might continue that pattern, but I wasn’t holding my breath. As a casual spectator of the Supreme Court, I know better than to try to understand its inner workings or seemingly random scheduling.

When my phone buzzed as I was making breakfast, I assumed it was a weather advisory about the heat wave we’re currently experiencing. Instead, it was a headline telling me that same-sex marriage had just been declared legal in all 50 states. I rushed back to our bedroom to wake Kirk up and, as he stared bleary-eyed at me, I said, “Happy marriage equality day,” and showed him the headline on my phone.

As details started to come in, we both became tearful with the realization that our marriage was now considered valid everywhere in the country. And, more so, that our children would grow up in a country that simply recognized marriage as a bond between two people who love each other and who vow to support and care for each other. That they would not know the difference between “gay” marriage and “straight” marriage, because for them there would only ever be marriage, no modifier.

Indeed, Justice Kennedy made the needs and rights of children with same-sex parents one of the central pillars of the majority opinion. He wrote, “Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers, children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser.” By declaring same-sex marriage legal and on equal footing with opposite-sex marriage, the Court has acknowledged the dignity and importance of all families.

Friday, June 26, 2015 was a good day. Our nation’s union became more perfect that day. But the struggle continues. There are still far too many states where LGBTQ people do not have basic civil rights protections. This means that, although they can marry whomever they love, they could be fired from their job or denied housing because of it.

But it was still a day to celebrate and to reaffirm our belief as a nation that all people are created equal. I hope that the rapid pace of progress towards full equality for all Americans will continue to accelerate as it has in the past several decades and that we will be able to truly live out that belief in equality for all.

Header image by UpstateNYer (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons