On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal.
Some of you reading this might live in countries where that was already the case. Two men could marry each other, or two women could, and it was considered a legal union. I’m fortunate to have spent the last six years living in a state in the U.S. where that was the case, but in many other U.S. states, only heterosexual couples could make their marriages legal.
No longer. The highest court in our nation has said that states don’t get to tell couples they can’t get married because they’re not straight. The highest court in our country has declared marriage a RIGHT for all couples, regardless of gender. And the President of our country is fully in favor of it. (I saw some of his tweets. Epic.)
Just in the past few years, there have been publicized cases where same-sex couples were denied the right to marry. Where someone was denied the right to say goodbye to their dying partner because “you aren’t immediate family.” Where businesses refused to provide wedding services (cakes, etc.) for same-sex couples.
The new law might not change the behavior of those business owners, but it will change a lot of other things. Couples will now have RIGHTS in each other’s lives. Shared parental rights over children of the marriage. Shared property rights. Things heterosexual couples have taken for granted for decades, because it’s all part of the legal marriage thing. Things same-sex couples had to spend thousands in legal fees to have spelled out in documents because they were denied being able to legally marry.
When I heard the decision Friday morning, I burst into tears. Not because I’m directly affected by it; I’m not. Nor are the same-sex couples I know here in Massachusetts, where they already had the right to legally marry. But because this is something I didn’t believe would happen in my lifetime. So much hatred, prejudice, and ignorance exists in our country that I didn’t believe same-sex couples would ever be able to legally marry anywhere in the United States, whether their state of residence likes it or not.
I burst into tears because this means my 20-year-old and 17-year-old have grown up in a world of far more tolerance than the one in which I grew up, and this is further proof of how far we’ve come. It gives me hope that my grandchildren, if I have any, will come into a world where hatred and prejudice are the rare exception rather than the all-too-common rule.
I burst into tears because despite the *world* in which I grew up, my home was a place where I learned that it doesn’t matter what biological sex or gender you are, love is love, and love is an amazing thing. My home was a place where my three “uncles” were not only tolerated but whole-heartedly embraced as a loving triad… back in the 1970s-1980s, when most people in our city would have been horrified at the thought of *two* men in a committed relationship, let alone three.
I grew up not understanding why people hated. Why they cared who their neighbor shared a bed with. Why it was any of their business what anyone else did in their bedrooms–or who anyone else loved, as long as it was consenting adults.
And now at least a few small steps have been made that mean I’m living in a world where other people agree that it’s none of their business and that love is love.
It isn’t “traditional marriage” and “same-sex marriage” anymore. Let’s just call it marriage. And let’s just call it love.