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Shelley Whelpton Headshot

Catching Up With the Times

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My 10-year-old son and I went to the steps of the Supreme Court this morning to soak up this historic moment.

I am a Canadian woman who has been married to an American woman for sixteen years. We had a commitment ceremony in Maine. We have been legally married in San Francisco (and then this marriage was annulled by the courts), in Canada (this marriage stands) and, with the recent Washington, D.C. City Council decision, our marriage in Canada is now recognized in the District. So, we're now married, but not for the purposes of U.S. citizenship.

My two sons have been raised in a world where having two moms is totally normal -- and wonderful. They understand that the law has somehow not kept pace with the times -- they get this when I have to separate from my family and go through a different line at U.S. customs. And they understand that the courts now have a chance to catch up with the times.

The first signs that we saw this morning were "Death Penalty 4 Fags" and "Obama Go to Hell." We walked through and past the pro-DOMA picketers to pick up American flags, a DOMA Project "Binational Couples Fight for Equality" sign and join the more numerous and celebratory pro-gay marriage supporters.

Initially, my son was subdued, taking it all in. There were not many DOMA advocates there, but they were doing their utmost to command attention. Once over being a little stunned, he started asking questions: "Why are (DOMA supporters) so mean about this and how can they be allowed to use words like 'hell'?" My son has strong sensibilities about the use of profanity. In his judgment, the police officers all around us should have insisted that the "Obama Go to Hell" sign come down. He noticed their commercially-produced signs (our side had homemade, hand-scrawled signs) and wondered who would agree to produce these kinds of hateful signs in the first place. Giving it all more thought, he asked why these supporters of DOMA care so much about this issue, saying "it really won't matter for their lives" and if DOMA is overturned, "so many more people in America will be happy."

As we started to leave the steps of the Supreme Court and were approaching supporters of DOMA, I asked my son if we should walk through or around the group. He was quick and clear in his response, "Let's walk through them." As we waited for the light to turn, steps away from a gay couple kissing in front of the "Death Penalty 4 Fags" sign, my son made a point (subtly) of turning around our "Binational Couples" sign to face DOMA supporters.

I was inspired by my son this morning. I was inclined to walk around, rather than through, the group of DOMA advocates. I have hope that kids in this country are growing up with the sensibility and clarity and conviction of my 10-year-old. And, in the meantime, it would be great if we can all catch up with them.