Almost fifteen years ago I married the love of my life.
In this incredible week for equality, I have been thinking a lot about my wedding day. Not just about what a special man I married and what marriage really means but how truly fortunate I am.
And how oblivious I was about all of it.
I think it is safe to say that none of my wedding guests characterized my wedding as a "straight" wedding. They were there because they loved us and wanted to bear witness to the start of our lives together. Our wedding was a destination wedding by choice, not legal necessity. There was only joy in our wedding planning, no sideways looks and certainly no outright hostility in any of our logistics. And there was no one who "no-showed" because they did not accept our marriage.
As we signed our marriage certificate deeming us legally married, I did not think about the 1,138 legal and economic protections -- the strings that formed a safety net for our lives together -- we would enjoy because we were straight. I came back from my honeymoon, filled out a lot of government forms, and my legal status changed forever. When we did our federal taxes that next April, all we did was check a box for "married, filing jointly" and that was it. I never had to worry that the state I lived in would not recognize my marriage, or that at some point in the future my community of friends and neighbors could vote to decide if my marriage was appropriate or legitimate.
Each year as my marriage has gone on I learn a little bit more about how fortunate and oblivious I was.
I learned that my boss, who had attended my wedding with her partner, split from that partner years later because of the strain of a chronic illness and no family health insurance coverage. I learned that a friend did not attend because he was not yet ready to be out to his friends from home.
I learned about what a marriage really is. My marriage looks like a typical marriage -- whatever that means. We have a house in the suburbs and a minivan, and we are raising two amazing sons. Our house is usually in some state of chaos and I am sure my neighbors are wondering right now if we plan to rake our leaves sometime soon. There are days when we do not connect, when his dirty socks on the floor can enrage me. There has been love and laughter, but also unexpected job loss, scary financial times, and crises. My husband has held my hand when my mom went through a cancer scare and been my rock when my best friend died tragically. There have also been some dark times when the strings attached to marriage weave a different kind of safety net for our love.
And most of all, I learned that our commitment and the life we have built together is no different than that of any two people -- gay or straight -- who have made the same commitment.
The desire to stand in front of your wedding guests, the most important people in your life, and pledge your commitment to each other, come what may, is one that most everyone shares. We have all been a wedding guest, witnessing not a straight marriage or a same-sex marriage, just a marriage, starting with a ceremony where we are happy for the people we love and the commitment they make to each other for a lifetime.
Sometime during the past fifteen years, I stopped being oblivious and instead became acutely aware of the true meaning of marriage -- and this Tuesday resoundingly proved that a record number of Americans have joined me. This week's four-for-four marriage equality victory sent a clear message: more Americans than ever before understand that love is love, family is family and marriage is marriage. Their votes spoke volumes -- and now it's time for US, the wedding guests, to speak.
Let's work together to weave the binding strings of marriage into a safety net that will support and hold all married gay and lesbian couples, in good times and in bad.
Join me in asking our elected officials to respect the marriages of ALL Americans by passing the Respect for Marriage Act.