From a politically conservative and wonderful friend of mine.
I was raised in what I’ve always called a southern military conservative household. All four of my grandparents, and therefore my parents, are from Kentucky. My father was military. His father was military. I married military. I was baptized, raised, and married in the United Methodist Church, which previously booted out its ministers for performing same sex marriages. And I started calling myself a Republican when I was in grade school, because what I understood then was President Reagan took office and the yellow ribbons came down because the hostages came home.
But Friday, June 26, I gladly take the title “Republican in Name Only.” Because today I literally welled up in tears when the Supreme Court got it right and said all our citizens, no matter who they are or whom they love, are allowed to marry, because marriage is a fundamental right of people, and the Due Process clause does not allow it to be denied to same-sex couples.
I have taken part of this debate personally, and because of that, the Obergefell ruling seems to help validate my marriage. Stick with me here. My marriage to Saint (and trust me, he is; just ask the regular author of this blog) wasn’t made so we could have children. I’d decided before him that being a mother wasn’t what I wanted in my life. So Saint and I got married because we wanted to put a legal title on our relationship. That’s it. That’s all we wanted. The same thing the plaintiffs requested in their appeal to the Court: to put a legal title on their love.
All the speeches about marriage being for children seemed exclusionary, and I simply chose not to have children. I can’t imagine what it felt like for those who wanted to, but could not. But I wonder if they felt like I did: that people were invalidating my marriage because we didn’t produce children.
Arguments were presented that this was a question to be decided by the people, as if marriage, or being gay, is a ballot issue. What if the Court had left inter-racial marriage up to the people rather than ruling in favor of the Lovings? Mississippi didn’t radicalize the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery until 1995 (they called it an “oversight”). Kentucky didn’t do it until 1976, and Kentucky never even seceded from the Union. When would these states have told the Lovings they were allowed to legally declare their love in that state? Considering Kentucky passed a law in 2004 defining marriage as one man – one woman with 75% of the voters’ support, exactly how long do you think it would have been before the voters changed their minds? And why should that even be a ballot issue? Who am I to tell you whom to love?
The next argument that comes about is God. The Court’s opinion acknowledges this disparity. But here’s the thing: that First Amendment? It works both ways. This decision is about a clerk, a state employee, issuing a piece of paper. It’s about a Justice of the Peace, a state employee, performing a state-sanctioned union. Because, again, the First Amendment works both ways. If I have to keep my state out of your house of worship, you have to keep God out of my statehouse. Or, in this case, my Courthouse. No Court, no State, no law has come to the Catholic churches in this country and told them, “you must perform marriage services even when one party is divorced, we don’t care about your rules for annulment.” Why would this be any different? The churches will continue to operate as they have operated because this is a decision about the laws of the state.
What’s ironic to me is those things gays and lesbians requested are the very things Republicans consider “their” realm. Homosexuals want to join the military, to serve their county. They want to settle down with one person to whom they swear to share their lives. They want to have children join that relationship and form a stable parents/children unit. Suddenly these aren’t conservative ideals because someone you don’t like wants a membership to your club?
In case you haven’t read it, in case you don’t geek out over these things, allow me to leave you with the closing words from Justice Kennedy’s opinion for the majority.
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.
Come on. Well up with me. I’ll hand you a tissue. It’s a beautiful thing when we open the doors to everyone