THE BLOG

Thank You, Thomas Jefferson, for Making Our Marriage Possible

06/26/2015 05:46 pm ET | Updated Jun 26, 2016
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The day I met Dan Pinar was the most important day of my life. He was standing on the deck of the Crown & Anchor in Provincetown under a drizzle, more a heavy fog that had enveloped the Lower Cape. It was the Fourth of July - Independence Day - and the person with whom I would spend the rest of my life was smiling at me in a tight white T-shirt. I knew I had found home.

It was 239 years ago on the same date - July 4 - that a bunch of wealthy, cisgender white men gathered in a room in Philadelphia and charted a course that led to today's course-charting decision about my relationship with Dan.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident," the men said through Thomas Jefferson's pen, "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."

There are lots of indelible words Jefferson could have chosen to mark our country's Declaration of Independence. He and his compatriots like Benjamin Franklin and John Adams chose carefully and thoughtfully. Self-evident. Created equal. Pursuit of happiness.

In 2001, the idea of getting married wasn't on our radar screen. I knew I loved Dan from the first moment I saw him - the next two days cemented the notion in my head. He felt it too. Marriage? There wasn't any reason to think about it. No state had legalized our ability to marry. A Constitutional Amendment barring same-sex marriage was on the table. When we began dating two years later we were happy to just be together. It had taken long enough to find one another. That was enough.

Yet over the years, Dan and I slowly viewed our relationship differently. While we were in love from the first time we met, how we expressed that love and how it was recognized by our government became more important. Our equal protection under the law became intimately intertwined with our pursuit of happiness.

If it wasn't on our radar screen in 2001, same-sex marriage wasn't even a remote thought for Jefferson in 1776. It wasn't a consideration. He didn't even know what he didn't know. Over the last decade we've heard this plenty, that the Founding Fathers never intended for two men to marry one another, and that certainly cannot be found in the founding documents of our nation.

Yet Jefferson knew at the outset of the American Revolution that he and his colleagues did not know all things. Save for specific language about speech and voting rights, they kept their language broad, allowing for generations to shape his words as they saw fit. "The pursuit of happiness" can be expressed differently by a range of people with various identities over time.

The right to that pursuit is immutable.

Today Dan and I are happier than we were yesterday. It isn't simply for the nationwide recognition of our marriage, but for how differently today's youth are entering the world. In 2001 there wasn't the remote possibility of equal protection under the law. Every gay child born forever after will live in a world in which their relationship is equal to that of their parents and grandparents.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court has finally granted access to Jefferson's promise from 239 years ago. While we have so much more work to do, this was a giant leap toward the promise upon which the United States was founded, for which so many wars have been fought.

Today our country is more American than it was yesterday.