I had just parked at the library. The boys had unbuckled and were bouncing around the van, ready to go pick out some books. I decided to check Facebook one more time to see if the MN Senate had voted yet.
The first five or so posts that met me as I scrolled through my stream immediately told me that Minnesota had indeed passed the Marriage Equality Bill (which Gov. Dayton will sign today), allowing for gay marriage in our state.
I happily announced it to the boys. I explained once again what that meant for the people of our state. And tears flowed from my eyes.
The boys said, "Why are you crying? You're already married." They asked me, "Why are you sad?"
I explained that they were tears of joy. And yes, while their dad and I are already married, this law will mean that many loving, devoted couples can now be married, as we are, if they so choose.
I couldn't help but think of our friends and family who are affected by laws that discriminate against them and their loved ones. I couldn't help but think of all of those who feel liberated and empowered by this new law. I couldn't help but think of the future generations and what this law will mean to them.
This law has nothing to do with sexual relations. This law is about the basic rights of a married couple both in life and in death. This law is about giving adults of sound mind, regardless of sexual orientation, the right to marry whom they choose. This law is about giving couples basic rights regarding insurance coverage, hospital visits and medical information, testamentary rights, tax status and deductions, and more. This is a legal distinction; this is a human rights distinction.
People can live together, sleep together and spend their lives together without a marriage certificate, so long as they choose to and are of legal age. That wouldn't change whether this law had passed or not.
In addition to the legal rights afforded by this law, what changes is the legitimacy of these relationships from the perspective of others. The level of commitment won't change for the couple who has devoted the last 20 years to each other, regardless of legal marital status, but it will change the way the world views them. They will be married; they will be connected in the eyes of the state; they will be one unit for all to know and recognize.
It wasn't that long ago that the issue being discussed and legislated was marriage between a white person and a person of color.
In Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court case that made inter-racial marriage possible in every state, Justice Earl Warren wrote, "Marriage is one of the 'basic civil rights of man,' fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State."
Yes, Justice Warren was specifically discussing racial discrimination, but in so many ways, we're talking about the same thing. Opponents of Marriage equality among gay couples fear that it will ruin the institution of marriage; that it will hurt our kids and damage our country's morals. Opponents of inter-racial marriages made of a lot of those same arguments.
I'll tell you what hurts our kids and damages our country... It's hate and fear and closed hearts and minds. It's the idea that one group knows what's best for another group. It's failing to love each other regardless of our differences and our similarities and in spite of them.
And so it was with tears of joy and gratitude and pride that my Christian, hetero-sexual, happily-married-to-a-man, heart swelled with rainbow-colored pride when I heard the news that MN had just become the 12th state in the U.S. giving all adult couples the option of marriage! Thank you, MN Legislators!
I will respect your opinion, even if I don't agree. Will you respect mine? Over and out...