Yesterday was a big day here in the U.S. The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) issued a ruling that makes same-sex marriages legal throughout the country!!!!!
Are you done dancing your jig yet? Ok, let’s continue. This is huge news. SCOTUS also issued a big ruling for health
insurance coverage in this country several days ago. That’s huge too, but it doesn’t have the same kind of emotional impact for me. There weren’t celebrations all over the country for that (at least, not as far as I know.) So today I’m writing about the equal marriage ruling.
This is a good thing for our entire country. Many of my heterosexual family members and friends are saying that, too. But as a bisexual woman, that feels very personal. I’m currently single. Maybe one day I’ll get married, and when I do, it might be to a man or it might be to a woman, but whoever I marry, that marriage will be recognized throughout the country!
I have many friends who woke up yesterday knowing that their marriages were only recognized in some states. A few hours later, those marriages were recognized in every state! This has a lot of legal, financial, and logistical implications. I won’t get into hospital visitation rights, adoption, travel, or taxes right now. And there’s still a lot of work to do to gain housing rights, end LGBT youth homelessness, end employment discrimination, etc. You can see a good partial list here. So yes, next week we need to continue to fight, but right now we need to celebrate!
I spent the morning on Facebook. I hated to be alone – I just wanted to hug someone! I was bouncing up and down in my chair, crying and laughing at the same time. I’d stop crying, then read something like “Love wins!” and start crying tears of joy all over again. We finally had marriage equality!
This wasn’t quite a surprise. I knew this ruling was coming. I was watching the SCOTUS blog, and was disappointed each day when they didn’t rule on this important case. I expected a win. But when it came, the emotions were shocking and overwhelming. I could hardly believe it! We won!
So there was no question I had to celebrate. A large group of organizations had gathered together to host a rally and a celebration on whatever evening the ruling was issued, so obviously it was going to be yesterday. But here’s the thing about adrenal problems: any stress is a problem. That includes good stress. As I told my dad a few weeks ago, winning the lottery right now could leave me bedridden. So while this was a fantastic day with glorious news, the emotional excitement of the morning at worn me out. I could feel the chest congestion, the difficulty breathing at times, the roughness in my throat. My body had started to rebel.
I debated. I debated a lot. I knew that going to the celebrations could have really bad results, but how could I not go? I was protesting at the State House here in Massachusetts in 2004 when the legislature tried to work around the Supreme Judicial Court’s ruling to make same-sex marriage legal in this state. I was there when they finally delivered the vote that would lead to the first marriages in May 2004. But in May 2004, I didn’t feel well enough to go to City Hall and see the first marriages taking place. I was there, though, in 2012 when we celebrated the SCOTUS ruling that invalidated DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act. This meant that the federal government would recognized all same-sex marriages, an enormous victory! So even if your state didn’t recognize your marriage, the federal government would.
And here we were in 2015 and I wanted to celebrate. First things first, I sat on the tv with some knitting and a movie and I forced myself to relax. It was tough not to go online, but I knew I needed to calm my emotions. After I rested, I made a simple plan: I would get takeout for dinner, then go to the first rally. I would skip the more boisterous celebrations. As much as I wanted to go to them, I knew it would be more than I could handle. And if at any point on the way to the rally it felt like too much, I would come home, because celebrating on my own, or on the phone with loved ones, or any other way, would be good enough. It wasn’t my first choice, but it was the right choice.
In the end, I made it to the rally. Where I once saw opponents holding truly hateful posters, I now saw waving rainbow flags. There was a huge rainbow flag on the gate to the State House! I almost cried all over again. I heard amazing speeches, saw the cheers, and felt fantastic, though tired. So I found a place to sit. I didn’t cheer out loud, only in my head, and I took it easy. It was a necessary compromise, and one that I don’t regret at all.
I can’t begin to explain how meaningful yesterday’s decision was to me. Everything I write here is woefully inadequate. But the energy yesterday was perfect. We all understood each other. Strangers hugged and cheered together. I hugged my friends, simply saying, “Can you believe it?” and “What a day!” and we all understood. No explanations were necessary.
And now, as I type this, there is a rainbow stripe at the top of my screen, because apparently WordPress is in on the celebration. My Facebook feed is filled with celebratory notes, excited words, memes, articles, videos. Profile pictures are rainbow-colored or bi-colored (I went with bi colors.) My straight friends and family are celebrating just as much as the queer ones. Just as it should be. Because yesterday, we all won. And in my own way, I got to celebrate that, despite my illness.