Thursday, May 15, 2008

why it matters to me that gay couples can legally marry in CA

This just in: The CA Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage is constitutional. The ruling doesn't go into effect for 30 days, but according to this SF Chron article, couples are already lining up appointments at the City Clerk's office.

Why am I, as a straight woman married to a straight man, writing about this? Because not long ago, I wouldn't have been able to marry him. I'm a woman of color, and he is Caucasian. There are places in the United States where we would not have been able to marry as recently as 1967, when the US Supreme Court overturned the remaining anti-miscegenation laws in the beautiful Loving v. Virginia decision.

Mildred Loving recently passed away on May 2. Her obituary in the New York Times describes how the couple's marriage certificate was hanging on the wall when the Virginia police entered their bedroom at 5:30 AM-- and told them it wasn't valid in Virginia because it was issued in Washington D.C.

That happened just ten short years before I was born. Now I'm not saying having the right to marry makes everything perfect-- we still get our share of looks depending on where we are. But if I couldn't marry him at all-- and our right to marry is recent enough that I can imagine it-- it'd be crushing. To not be able to be legally with the one person in the world who understands me and loves me best-- well, I just give deep thanks to all the interracial couples who came before us, on whose shoulders we stand.

This signals to me the next thing to fight for-- a US Supreme Court decision that overturns marriage inequality throughout the U.S. I know, it's a ridiculous thing to consider in this era of the Court.

But I can easily imagine a time when I would have been like Mildred Loving, just asleep in my bed with my spouse like millions of other couples in the world, when police come in to tell me I'm a lawbreaker.

We read from Goodridge v. Department of Public Health, the MA decision granting same-sex couples the right to marry, during our wedding ceremony (in a United Methodist church) because this is so important to us. All of us, whether same-race couples or interracial couples, straight or gay, deserve the right to choose our life partners and maintain that relationship in full view and with full support of the law-- and of each other.