For the last couple of months, Kate and I have been traveling through states that don’t recognize our Washington marriage as valid. Somewhere in Texas it occurred to me that if we were in an accident or if one of us got seriously ill, we could be barred from hospital visitation or from making health decisions for each other. We’d better stay safe at least until Iowa, I told Kate.
We are in Springfield, Missouri now, visiting my dad. Yesterday morning, we were all three sitting outside, watching thunderclouds roll in, when Kate saw on her iPad that the Supreme Court justices had ruled 5-4 in favor of gay marriage. Nationwide. No more state-by-state discrimination.
We whooped out loud and went inside to watch the news. The storm hit then. Rain in sheets. Rumbles and flashes. We watched in amazement jubilant crowds on the steps of the Capitol. Newsmen confirming with lawyers: “This is it then. No going back. Gays and lesbians now have the same rights to marriage as heterosexuals in every state.” When Obama spoke, Kate and I held hands and I think I saw tears in my dad’s eyes. “Sometimes there are days like this when that slow and steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.” And we laughed when a thunderclap shook the ground hard enough to jolt both dogs upright.
I knew this decision was in the works, but I hadn’t let myself think about it much. Too many times we have been elated, then disappointed. Kate and I were married in Portland, Oregon in 2004, only to have our marriage revoked by Oregon voters and officially annulled by the Oregon Supreme Court. Thirteen months of wedded bliss abruptly ended with a letter and a refund. (For more about our first marriage, see “Domestic Warriors.”)
It’s astounding that our civil rights could hinge on popular vote, that our freedom to marry could be granted or denied based on the political and religious views of people we live near. Someday our grandchildren will look back on this fight with disbelief. But today, we are here, watching this historical decision unfold. When I was younger, I never dreamed I would see this day. Now that it’s here, my faith in this country has been restored. And I am so, so grateful to all those who stuck with this battle to the end.