Marriage and marriage equality. When I told my fearless HelloGiggles leader I wanted to write about the Supreme Court’s recent decision to declare the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, I nearly pleaded with her to let me discuss the importance of the ruling. For me, the concept of marriage itself has always been more personally confusing than that of marriage equality; whether or not I could figure out what the union meant to my own life, I never doubted that all human beings should have the right to define it for themselves. For years, I have been an active LGBT ally and my belief in equal rights has never wavered; in fact, it has only grown stronger with the passage of time. Naturally, I was naive enough to think that my strong beliefs would make it easy to express the meaning of this momentous occasion, the importance of the landmark 5 to 4 vote. As it turns out, this is one of the most difficult pieces I have ever had the pleasure of writing. It is often easy to have faith and conviction, but much more difficult to put into words an issue or a moment that defines millions of people’s lives.
For years I have been asked why I care so much about marriage equality and I never fail to be astonished with the question at every pass. It is true that I am not gay, a fact that these inquiring individuals tend to point out, but the fact that no one opposes my sexuality is at the center of my support for those who must defend theirs. Similarly, I do not know whether I want to get married, but I know that if I have the right to make that decision, all others should have the opportunity to honor their love and commitment with that choice too. I have never had to live my life knowing that I am something others vehemently oppose, but I know that if I don’t have to fight against the world to be exactly who I am, nobody else should either. I don’t worry each day that I will be bullied for my choices, but my activism stems from the fact that there are thousands of people who don’t see that if they are not bullied for how they live their life, it is wrong for other people to be bullied for the way they live theirs. Straight or gay, everyone needs to understand we all want the same things; we are all trying to live the same life and it is unfathomable to think that what is simple and second nature for some is a battle for others.
I consider myself lucky to have had many opportunities to stand up and speak out for equality over the years. One of the most important moments in my life came when I had the pleasure of standing next to a dear friend, posing for a photo as part of the NOH8 Campaign in Washington, D.C. In fact, my involvement in the campaign may have meant more to me than it even did to Jon; probably more than he knows. I have gained so much from Jon over the years; his strength is contagious and continues to rub off on me to this day. By being himself and showing no remorse or shame for who he is, he has allowed me to be myself, even in times of great doubt. I know it isn’t easy for him to constantly show his true colors, but he does so without fail and that inspires me every time I am with him. When it comes down to it, Jon’s belief in himself and, subsequently, in me is at the core of my belief in equal rights. As I move through adulthood, I recognize that some of the most genuine individuals that I have been blessed enough to call my friends are members of the LGBT community and they inspire me just as Jon still does today. The fact that someone, somewhere wants to deny any of these individuals the right to get married or be who they have worked so hard to be their entire life is at the root of what pushes me to take a stand. Jon always allowed me to be me, with no apologies, and that is the reason I choose to fight for him and all others to be accepted for being nothing more than themselves. That is why, as a straight female, I take pride in, fully celebrate and applaud the take down of DOMA.
You see, gay marriage isn’t a gay or straight issue, it is actually an anyone-who-thinks-hate-and-inequality-are-wrong issue. A favorite ally organization of mine, Straight But Not Narrow, has a motto that, quite simply, tells it like it should be; like we should all strive to see it.
Just be you and encourage everyone else to do the same. There is really no need to over complicate things. People should simply be allowed to be the most authentic versions of themselves without the risk of being made to feel that they are anything less than awesome.
The entire world will become exponentially more peaceful when we realize that the issues of our peers are our issues too; that just because the laws and politics that lie in front of us don’t directly affect or limit our personal actions does not mean they don’t negatively impact the world we are a part of. While we may have a long journey ahead, I can honestly say that I have never been more proud to be an LGBT ally than I was on Wednesday morning; I was humbled to be associated with a group that refused to settle for inequality, a population that demanded the rights of the people I love so much be recognized. I wholeheartedly believe that if I choose to get married, the symbolic gesture will mean a great deal more knowing that those I love most have the ability to share in the same union. Furthermore, if I so choose to have children, we are one step closer to them growing up in a world where being gay isn’t different, it’s normal; because it is.
To those of you who have spent your entire lives defending who you are and who you love; to those of you who have stood by your life partner in lieu of deserved acknowledgement; to those of you who have stood up, loud and proud, to fight for your rights and the rights of the entire LGBT community, even when it wasn’t easy or popular…
Wednesday was your day. Today is your day. This is your time and it is comforting to know that the world is beginning to support and walk with you on the right side of morality and history. My belief in equal rights has never been more fierce and I am proud to say that I stand by you as an LGBT ally. Thank you for breaking down barriers to make everyone’s world a better place and proving that love is love. It is my hope that soon the whole world will celebrate with you.
Feature Image via KP