Friday, June 26, 2015

Love and Marriage

My barre studio is still closed and I wanted to work out in anticipation of having friends over tonight to eat, drink, and watch our kids burn energy in the pool. I was working from home, so I had some flexibility to start early in my pj's and then head out in search of exercise. James suggested the Y. I always forget we belong, but he swims there and I decided today was my one day a year I make use of our family membership too. And then I got there and decided I should run, on a treadmill. In a gym. I have done this maybe twice in my whole life. Most of the TVs mounted on the wall were set to sports, so I chose CNN as the least boring of the options, popped in my ear buds and started running to my barre play list. And then, about a mile in, I saw "Breaking News Alert: Supreme Court to Announce Gay Marriage Decision" out of the corner of my eye and my heart jumped in my throat. I couldn't believe it was happening and I was going to get to watch it, all because of the stars aligned to get me on a treadmill in front of CNN at 9 a.m. on a Friday morning. I kept running, feeling like I could barely breath and then it was announced: 5-4. And I knew love had won.

And tears started rolling down my cheeks. I wiped one, still running, shocked to realize I was crying. And then I couldn't stop. I kept running, mostly because at least then I was facing a wall and not a gym full of people, but I had to concentrate on taking deep slow breaths and not just losing it completely. It was an overwhelming feeling. Joy, relief, and more joy as I watched the faces in the crowd for whom this meant so much. As I wrote on facebook, I may hate running, but I've never actually cried while doing it before.

What an incredible day. I finished my run and immediately jumped on facebook, tears running again as I saw all the love bursting from my feed- gay friends, straight friends, family, allies, everyone. My pointer finger was exhausted from all the "liking" and rainbows.

As I've mentioned in the past, I've been a supporter of gay rights since my best friend came out to me our junior year of high school. We were 17 and on the phone (he had moved to Dallas a few years prior) and he said, at the very end of our call, "there's something I need to tell you." We'd been chatting out the latest plot developments on The OC, so I was surprised at his change in tone- from upbeat and laughing to nervous and scared. "What?" I said, to my best friend of 12 years. "I'm gay. I mean, I think I am, well I'm pretty sure. I'm gay. I just wanted you to know that."

This was 2000. A lifetime ago. Y2K was a recently averted disaster. Gay characters on TV were rare and generally reduced to shallow caricatures. Gay rights and gay marriage weren't phrases you heard often. I lived in an extremely conservative and religious suburb of Houston, so I heard them never. We were talking on our giant cordless family phones because we didn't have cell phones or AOL instant messenger. It was a lifetime ago.

And I remember saying something eloquent like, "Okay."

Just, okay. Because it was. I think we talked a little more, I probably told him I was glad he'd told me and it didn't matter to me. I asked if his parents knew and he said yes. We said goodbye and I'm sure we talked again soon.

It was okay. It changed nothing for me as it related to him, but it shook (and ultimately shaped) so much of how I viewed my world, my politics, my religion, my friends. One of the admissions essays for the Plan II Honors Program at UT was something like "describe a time when your beliefs about something were challenged." I wrote about Sean and our late night phone call. I submitted it and got in to the program, but waited months to show my parents the essay for fear they might think badly of my friend (they didn't, but again it shows how much has changed that I would even think they might).

Today isn't about me, but Sean is who I thought of as I read the close-captioned CNN story at the gym. That 15 years after a hushed conversation, he can legally get married in any state in our country. That he can experience that same joy and acceptance and security that comes from calling someone husband as opposed to partner, lover, or friend. When I met James in college I fell head over heels ridiculously in love. Sean met him a few months later and I whispered excitedly that I was going to marry this man and what did he think of him. And I remember thinking then, in the back of my love and lust-filled brain, how unfair it was that Sean couldn't do the same. That he couldn't meet someone, feel the same overwhelming feelings I felt for James, and whisper excitedly to me that it was the man he would marry. And when I did marry James, it was Sean standing up by the alter on my side of the church, a bridesman in a suit with a tie the same color as my bridesmaid's dresses. And again I thought, how unfair that I can't do this for him.

My marriage means everything to me. That union--what James and I are together, separate even from how I feel about him as my husband, partner, and friend--is a bedrock of my life. It is an intensely private relationship that comes with a proudly public title that stands for something beyond words. Though Justice Kennedy certainly tried to capture them:

"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.

The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.

It is so ordered."

It still gives me chills. I am so glad my children, my friends, my fellow Americans can marry who they wish.

Love is love.

Love wins.

What a day.


  1. Thank you for this. My wife and I are married in California but ironically it's hard to travel to even nearby states as we have had to worry about one of us getting hurt or sick and our legal rights to care for each other.
    Tonight, I looked at my wife and said "we can go to Arizona to see hummingbirds!"

  2. LL, beautifully said. I spent the first part of the work day reading the decision and wiping away tears. It is such a different world than when I had my first friend come out to me (1997). The relief and joy and excitement is palpable.

    Have you seen this video? I thought of you as it is in your neck of the woods...

  3. Dang it. I thought I had got all my crying out yesterday and then I read this. This is BRILLIANT and beautiful and in 7? Years I've been reading your blog, hands down my very very favorite post. It's perfect!

  4. I had gotten* sorry- can't click away knowing that's incorrect.. Had to make that slight correction.

  5. I am a lawyer in Fort Worth, and a small part of my practice was preparing estate planning documents to protect the interests of same-sex couples. More than a few of the couples married out of state to get federal benefits but would not have any other protections in Texas.

    Like you, my best friend (of more than 25 years now) is gay and was a member of my bridal party. Although he hasn't found his someone special yet, I have been pulling pages from MS Weddings for years in anticipation of throwing him a kickass wedding shower. I am so thrilled that he can marry whenever and wherever he chooses.

  6. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on what your Attorney General is saying.

  7. I also cried! At work, no less. Such a wonderful day for our country!!
    Thank you for writing about it so beautifully.