Tomorrow's Supreme Court decision isn't just political. Each of us has a very personal reason that our stomach is filled with butterflies today. Here's mine.
Five and a half years ago, while making Milk, my big brother, who was living in Virginia, came out to me. I remember wishing I could hold him that day, but I was in California. Being far apart was never easy for us, so for years we wore simple, white gold bands to keep each other close when we were too far for an embrace.
Then, four and a half years ago, after a devastating loss over Proposition 8, Cleve Jones and I declared in the San Francisco Chronicle that "now is the time" for full federal equality for LGBT citizens, the time to demand that our gains in one state apply to every citizen... including my beautiful big brother way out in Virginia.
I reaffirmed that promise on an Oscar stage months later, we marched on Washington to demand action, and I got to work helping build the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER) in order to challenge Proposition 8 in federal court. It has been the honor of my life to be involved with this case. So as I walked up the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year, I wanted nothing more than to call my big brother and let him know that the freedom I might feel with a win could also be his... but I couldn't make that call.
Last year, late in the evening of Jan. 24, my big brother slipped his ring off his middle finger, and I slid it onto my left hand. I remember being surprised that it fit so perfectly, that we had the same ring size. I'd always thought of him as so much bigger than I. A few hours later he lost his battle with cancer and left this Earth, never knowing what it might feel like to be a full and equal citizen in the country he loved.
For the past year, I've worn my family ring on my right hand and his on my left, never taking them off, never letting him be too far away, looking to him whenever I take a stage to give a speech or need the courage to make a tough call.
Today, on the eve of the Supreme Court's historic decisions on our case, I've been fidgeting from nerves and anticipation, taking his ring on and off and on and off. And then, without thinking, I slid his ring onto the same finger as mine. It stayed there for some time before I finally gave it my full attention, but when I did, I couldn't help but notice that together they form a perfect equality symbol... and I felt certain and strong again.
My big brother is with me still in this fight. I know it. And regardless of the decision tomorrow, I know that together we will soon be equal in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states. Because this is personal. I know we as a people will not stop fighting until we live in a nation where we no longer leave a single one of our brothers or sisters behind, no matter whom they love or what state they call home.
For so many of us, for so many reasons and for so long now, tomorrow is, was and has always been about family... those we've loved, those we've lost, those we were born to, the families we've built and the families we still dream of building.
And for me, tomorrow is about my big brother.
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