I watched my 4-year-old daughter joyfully and confidently march around the public pool, following her swim instructor and being followed by her best buddy. My daughter’s best friend is a strong-willed little boy who is capable of giving her a taste of her own sass; he is also sweet and kind (perhaps just smart) and usually gives in to her demands or requests. But preschool drama aside, they genuinely love and take care of each other. They are each other’s safety net in new situations and they speak in a form of shorthand only they can understand. My partner and I and his parents hope they get married someday.
I watched her at a picnic table at the park next to the pool. My 2-year-old twin boys were sitting across from me, eating their snack and flanked by their “cousins.” I only use quotes to signify to you that blood is not involved in this relationship. The girls on each side of my boys are two of our best friends’ daughters. My partner and I are aunties to them, and their parents are our kids’ aunt and uncle. We have defined our family by the people in our lives and by the love in those relationships.
After my motherly instinct to scan the park and pool for signs of distress, I looked at my phone with the thinly veiled excuse of checking the time. Checking the time means seeing social media notifications, and let’s be honest, with none of my kids clawing at me for something, I’m going to spend a few minutes scrolling through headlines on my phone.
Lights, numbers, symbols, and messages were there and I knew. I knew the Supreme Court must have come to their decision on gay marriage. My world stopped, but the people around me kept running, laughing, applying sunscreen, and eating lunch. Life continues. I quickly opened Facebook and saw the words, but was too afraid to read them. What if the headlines tried to explain why gay marriage will not be made legal? What if a decision wasn’t made at all?
I focused and read the Huffington Post headline: “Supreme Court Legalizes Gay Marriage Nationwide.” I blinked away a few tears to focus again. More of the same headlines filled my news feed. Gay friends, straight friends, companies, websites were all flashing the rainbow flag that symbolizes LGBTQ diversity and pride.
I looked up again and saw my boys shoving pretzel sticks into their mouths; I saw my daughter in the pool, in the arms of an instructor as she floated on a noodle and kicked her legs; I looked at my wedding band, which has been on my finger since 2001. My partner and I live in Vermont, the first state to allow civil unions and one of the first to allow gay marriage. I am married, but many gay and lesbian couples are not and, until today, could not marry.
The Human Rights Campaign has been using the hashtag #LoveCantWait to encourage people to express their support of marriage equality, as well as #LoveMustWin. Laws aside, love didn’t wait, and I have already won in love. There was no waiting when I fell in love with my partner; we have three kids together, and with civil union and marriage licenses, medical directives, and second parent adoption paperwork, we have fought and won. So have many other same-sex couples who have been driven by love. Laws, however, will protect that love and the children who fill our homes with more love.
That is what we have always wanted. Gay and lesbian couples have only ever wanted the same rights as our heterosexual neighbors, friends, and family members. We have been fighting for equality, holding our breath as we travel to places where our relationships are not recognized, and begging courts to see us as parents even when biology doesn’t say so. Love doesn’t wait. Love fights. Love will always win, even when it is beaten to the ground by ignorance, bigotry, and fear.
In the case of marriage equality, love won, but not without the help of allies, friends, and strangers willing to have open minds. And not without five out of nine judges deciding that I and all other gay and lesbian individuals deserve “equal dignity in the eyes of the law.” With the strike of a gavel, the Constitution granted us that right.
So now what? There will still be protestors, death threats, and court cases. But there will be less fighting for what is right. Equality is always right. There will be weddings and celebrations. There will be babies and growing families. There will be a sense of security and respect. The details of how all of that will happen are still murky. But as I watch my children interact with other children at the park, I am filled with hope and relief. Life progresses.
I have no idea who my daughter or her best friend will marry. But if they want to marry someone of the same gender, they can. Kids will now grow up with this being part of their lives. Marriage is for everyone. And with that message, acceptance will follow. Kindness and happiness will fall in line. Love will always win. It was so ordered.