SCOTUS 6.26.2015: Readers Respond

Hello Our Family Matters readers! Happy Pride! 

Below you will find letters Mom and I wrote regarding the Supreme Court’s historic decision on marriage equality.  Even though we were together on Friday to witness and celebrate, I left that afternoon for Long Island to visit Patrick’s family, so an exchange of letters was in order.  

We are interested in your reaction.  Please leave a comment below with your thoughts and feelings. As always, thanks for your continued support and interest!

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Dear Christopher

What a day! I never dreamed we would reach this day in my lifetime. Marriage Equality across our United State!! Glad we were together. Through my tears we could celebrate.

I talked to Isabella about how long her parents have been married. She thought it was 20 years, but I told her it has been 14 years since that August day in Seattle. All of us East Coasters who saw you and Patrick grow up traveled west to celebrate your union. A moment of grace we all thought. I think that so many of us remember it fondly partly because we knew that the state would not recognize you two and we wanted to be sure we did. (Plus it was a darn good party.)

That does not make the fact of not being able to officially marry any easier. I see how legal standing makes such a difference. To say to the world you are a family is so important. As one of the commentators said today, this happened because you and thousands like you took the brave step to be honest with your family and every one else you know. Isn’t that what the President said, a series of small pebbles made huge change. I like to think about our family as being one of those pebbles that helped tear down the battlements of fear and ignorance.

Some years ago I was finishing up my semester at Buffalo State. The office was hot and stuffy. I was copying some last minute items for my classes. A colleague of mine, a man I had know for many years, came into the office. Before I could say hello he said,

“I saw your opinion piece in the paper about your gay son and the Catholic Church’s lack of acceptance.” I waited for what I thought would be compliment. So many people had given me positive feedback I admit I was becoming a bit used to it. Others said nothing, which was fine by me.

But this man raised his voice, “How can you believe that homosexuality is anything other than a grave sin according to our Church? What can I tell my grandchildren other than it is a mortal sin?”

Astounded, I answered, “Your grandchildren will be who they are.” He made me even angrier at the Church’s position.

But today I was almost proud to be Catholic. One of the plaintiffs gave thanks to God. He said he and his husband were loyal Catholics and he felt God surely had a hand in this decision. I am not such a faithful Catholic, but I do believe the “arc of freedom bends toward justice.” And I still hope the Holy Spirit is at work in the world. That bigoted colleague, I hope his grandchildren have bent him toward the light.

Love, Mom

Dear Mom,

Soon after the news of Friday’s decision was handed down, I received a text from my colleague Kim: “After Prop 8, I clearly remember telling my GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) students that I wouldn’t see this day in my lifetime but I had faith that they would see it. So happy I was wrong.”

A bit later my friend David wrote to say “This is a great day to be an American. Haven’t felt that way too often!”

In his statement to the media after the decision was handed down, James Obergefell, the lead plaintiff on the case, said “It’s my hope that the term ‘gay marriage’ will become a thing of the past. And our nation will be better off because of it.”

I couldn’t agree more with all of these sentiments. As I’ve said countless times, I never imagined I would see this day in our lifetime. It does make me immensely proud (Happy Pride Ya’ll!). And it is my sincere hope that our country can move past the division of “gay marriage” and “traditional marriage” and move towards marriage.

It was one other quote that I heard on Friday that resonated the most with me. You and I were listening to the coverage in your living room, while Jordan and Isabella were occupying themselves with screens and Legos. It was fantastic to be with you, celebrating this historic moment. Now here was our president speaking from the Rose Garden, celebrating along with us.

imageThe last section of his remarks struck a chord. Obama said the ruling was the “consequence of the countless small acts of courage of millions of people across decades who stood up, who came out, who talked to parents — parents who loved their children no matter what. Folks who were willing to endure bullying and taunts and stayed strong and came to believe in themselves and who they were, and slowly made an entire country realize that love is love.”

We—you, Dad, Patrick, Mark, Lillian, Aunt Judy and I—all contributed to this moment. I had enough faith in you all to share who I really was, knowing that you would “love (me) no matter what.” (I also had enough faith in my colleagues and students to come out at work.) All the members of my family embraced me, my spouse, and my children. You each have challenged colleagues, friends, and other family members to see the love that Patrick and I share is no different just because we are gay.

We uncovered as a family the power of truth, integrity, and love, and in a small way contributed to a seismic shift in the history of our nation. Our example was a pebble, and in our way we showed those in our world that love is love.

That is something to be truly proud of this June.

Much love,
Christopher