As I sit here plucking away at my Mac keyboard, it's Thursday morning, the first morning of our post-DOMA, post-Prop 8 lives. My husband is asleep in the bed behind me, our cat Stoli tucked under his arm. The sun is just peeking up over the houses in our suburban New Jersey community. This is the morning I've been waiting for.
Last night, I celebrated the Supreme Court decisions with Barney Frank and Garden State Equality. Today, I've woken up in a world where the federal government recognizes same-sex marriages, where husbands and wives are simply husbands and wives. Spousal benefits, Social Security, family leave: won.
And I want to feel happier. I want to feel more buoyed by the monumental accomplishments of yesterday.
My heart is so full of enthusiasm as I look through pictures of the celebrations at Stonewall, at the Castro, in West Hollywood, in small communities with tight-knit gay communities. And then I hear a shuffle from the man in bed behind me, and I realize that, today, for us, things aren't remarkably different.
Marriage is legal in 13 states, and this is a wonderful and remarkable fact. However, the federal government still will not recognize our civil union here in New Jersey, or the civil unions of the committed couples in Colorado, Hawaii, or Illinois. The federal government still leaves in the dark those couples in domestic partnerships, or those couples in states suffering under a marriage equality ban.
Yesterday, two quick snippets really resonated with me. The first was from Kris Perry and Sandy Stier, who said that this fight was for kids across the country. The relegation of marriage to civil union and domestic partnership status lessens its strength and meaning in the eyes of our community, our families, and our children. It tells children that our families aren't as good or as whole as straight couples' families. Justice Anthony Kennedy articulated this perfectly in his opinion.
The second message that stuck with me was from Barney Frank. He talked about the period in a war when you've just won a big battle. The natural instinct is to take your foot off the gas a bit, to take a moment to breathe and celebrate, to allow your men (and women) to rest.
Please, please don't rest.
We are winning because we're being relentless. I recognize that marriage isn't necessarily the fight for everyone. For some, passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act is a key issue that requires immediate attention. To those, I say that as a community of people, one that isn't defined by sexual orientation or marriage status, but as a community of citizens living in a United States of America that offers disparate treatment and access to rights and benefits, we have our fight. This is the moment in time for which so many of us have fought. Our moment.
As the victim of a hate crime at Seton Hall University 10 long years ago, as a litigant fighting for the equal rights of gay students there, I had no aspiration to get married. I had no concept that our world would change so significantly in 10 years, that we'd have won marriage in 13 states. When I lost my lawsuit to have T.R.U.T.H., a gay-straight alliance, recognized by the university. I packed my things and thought, "I did my best, and I failed. I couldn't get us through that final door."
I rested, and it was so easy. I didn't travel. I didn't speak to folks in the community about ways in which we could build on momentum. I didn't do anything. I just went home.
Well, now we're winning. We have succeeded in changing the dialogue, in framing the conversation. We are winning marriage because we are helping, literally, to change the world around us.
And now is a moment when we can't afford to stop winning. We finally have the majority on our side, whether it's the 5-4 ruling of a robed judiciary or the over 60 percent of New Jerseyans across all demographics who support us.
It's time to finish this for all of us who are stuck under the oppressive thumb of civil unions, domestic partnerships, and constitutional amendments that keep us apart from those who are married.
Stop pulling punches. I'm a hockey goalie, and I believe that the best offense is a stellar defense. No longer. Call to the floor those who have opposed marriage. Need examples? Here are the legislators in New Jersey whose votes meant that I didn't get to have a husband: Jeff Van Drew (D-Middle Township), Dawn Marie Addiego (R-Evesham), Chris Connors (R-Lacey Township), James Holzapfel (R-Toms River), Sam Thompson (R-Old Bridge), Joe Kyrillos (R-Middletown), Kip Bateman (R-Branchburg), Tom Kean Jr. (R-Westfield), Mike Doherty (R-Oxford Township), Steve Oroho (R-Franklin Township), Tony Bucco (R-Boonton), Joe Pennacchio (R-Montville), Ron Rice (D-Newark), Robert Singer (R-Lakewood), Gerry Cardinale (R-Demarest), and Kevin O'Toole (R-Cedar Grove).
And the worst offender of all in our Garden State is, of course, our governor, Chris Christie. In my last blog post, I invited the governor to attend the Equality Walk, to help support our community in our fight for marriage. Well, considering the complete and total lack of response from Trenton, consider the olive branch retracted, Governor. Not only am I "Ready for Hillary" in 2016, Governor, but I'm ready to defeat you and everything for which you say you stand.
Yesterday evening, Barney Frank told us all that the time had come for us to stop being patient. He said that if we are surrounded by friends and family who say they support us, who are true allies, then it is completely appropriate for us to voice our expectations that they stop voting for these politicians who want to shove us back in the closets. Folks, stop voting for these people.
Look, I am humbled and grateful for yesterday. Way down deep in my heart, I'm happy about this. Windsor changed things for us again. But we can't be shortsighted enough to think that that's it.
New Yorkers, Californians, and our good friends in states with marriage equality, while your fight has been won, ours has not. And we need the experience, determination, and relentless persistence that carried you to victory to help us get there too.
We have to be us. That's the only way now. Hand-in-hand across the finish line.