Photo by Bill Miles
Just? There is nothing particularly just, reasonable, fair or simple about risking one's health to fly across the country to avail oneself of the privileges that heterosexual people enjoy. But that is exactly what my 47-year-old, terminally ill cousin, Lisa Dumaw, and her partner of 15 years, Therese Pieper, did. Despite all odds, it was Lisa's dream... and dreams do come true.
Following a day of travel, they arrived in New York, Lisa's frail physique being pushed in a wheelchair through the airport terminal by a beaming, devoted and loving partner, their nuptials less than 48 hours away. This wedding aisle was longer than most, more political, and with much more at stake, but the resilience of the human spirit knows no boundaries, does not recognize state lines, defies all logic and can be absolutely magical when summoned.
On the eve of Nov. 1, in a room filled with white flowers and love, twinkling by candlelight, they exchanged their vows, with not a dry eye in the house. Five-year-old Magnolia Bing-Edwards traveled from Manhattan to fulfill her role as flower girl, gently tossing white rose petals as she entered the room. "I don't understand why two girls cannot get married in Colorado," she had remarked earlier in the week (straight out of the mouth of babes...). As her parents struggled to respond, Maggie simply replied, "New York is so great because you can marry who you love."
This love was felt around the world. Having first written about Lisa and Therese's story on The Huffington Post, I awoke to emails from well wishers across the globe. This is not just a gay-rights story or a same-sex-marriage story. This is a human story, a great love story.
This wedding had far-reaching impact. People in the town of Woodstock literally came out of the woodwork to help and be part of making this a beautiful celebration. We walked in stardust all weekend, captivated by the miracle of it all. It was a reprieve from the harsh realities.
"Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue...." By Sunday morning that "something blue" was a hospital gown as Lisa lay in a bed in the ER, contending with the complications of her cancer. She had risked her life to come here, maintaining that it was a journey worth taking. She is my hero.
And yes, Maggie, New York is a great place.... and you can marry whom you love.
"Love is love. There is no gender to it."
P.S. Lisa and Therese did make it home to Colorado safely that night despite the medical scare. The hospice nurse met with them the following morning. I still believe in miracles, and love is a genderless, politics-less, wondrous miracle.