marriage equality

Celebrating Marriage Equality

The morning of June 26th almost started out like most of my Friday mornings: coffee, blueberries, e-mail, and NPR. This particular Friday was a little different because I was also packing to catch a 2pm flight back home to Washington D.C. from Bermuda. Half-way through my cup of coffee, an article caught my eye on NPR's website: "Supreme Court Declares Same-Sex Marriage Legal In All 50 States", written by Bill Chappell. Excitement and slight disbelief both set in as I began to rapidly read through the article. Unfortunately - like most mornings - time had slipped away from me and I was unable to finish reading Chappell's article before my friend Michi arrived at my doorstep to bring me to the airport.

We have watched as one State after another legalized (or signed bills against): "domestic partnerships", "civil unions", and "same-sex marriages". The first state to legalize same-sex marriage was Massachusetts on May 17th, 2004, eight days after I had graduated from Lynchburg College. Up next - and skipping California's mishap with Prop 8 - Connecticut legalized same-sex marriage on October 10, 2008. The following year, three states did the same: Iowa on April 3rd, Vermont on April 7th, and New Hampshire on June 3rd. On March 3rd, 2010, same-sex marriage became legal in Washington D.C. Ten days later, two of my "uncles" - long time family friends - Bruce and Don were finally married after being together for 35 years. Lucky me, I had the honor of photographing their wedding and being a witness to one of the first same-sex marriages in the District of Columbia.

Bruce & Don's Wedding, NW Washington D.C., 03.13.2010

In more recent years, a glorious domino effect occurred as one state after another (and a handful of Native American Tribes) continued to recognize and legalize same-sex marriage. In 2011, the State of New York and the Suquamish Tribe in the State of Washington legalized it. In 2012, the rest of Washington State passed a bill to support marriage equality along with Maryland and Maine. In 2013, the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians and Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians also chose to recognize same-sex marriage; the state of Michigan following not long behind. Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, the Santa Ysabel Tribe in California, the State of California, New Mexico, the State of New Jersey, Hawaii, and Illinois - all legalized same-sex marriage. (2013 was a big year!) On October 6th, 2014, the States of Oregon, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Utah struck down same-sex marriage bans; stating it was unconstitutional. Colorado and Nevada joined the "marriage equality" train a few days later on the 7th and 8th of October; West Virginia on 9th; North Carolina on 10th; Alaska on 12th; Idaho on 15th; Arizona and Wyoming on 17th of October. During the month of November, Kansas, South Carolina, and Montana nullified their state's bans against marriage equality. Florida and Alabama legalized same-sex marriage in January of 2015...

Bruce & Don's Wedding, NW Washington D.C., 03.13.2010

I thought about all of those facts during my two and half hour flight to Washington D.C. Upon exiting the baggage claim at DCA, my friend Amanda picked me up and I said, "Did you see that article on NPR this morning? The one claiming that marriage equality is legal in all 50 States?" Her reply, "Yes! The Supreme Court passed it today! Everyone is downtown celebrating!" There ya have it: Marriage Equality passed on June 26th, 2015. I'm still in a bit of shock that this dream has finally come true. Perhaps fate intervened a bit so I could also celebrate the news in my hometown just hours after the Supreme Court ruling had passed on Marriage Equality.

Bruce & Don's Wedding, NW Washington D.C., 03.13.2010

After being a member of Straight For Equality for 5 years, an ALLY for 15 years, and a supporter of LGBT rights for as long as I can remember, it seems like a fog has finally been lifted... As we commemorate Independence Day, I'm proud to celebrate one more freedom that has been given to our LGBT community: the right to marry whom you love, regardless of their gender - as now granted by the Constitution. A special "shout out" to Uncle Bruce and Uncle Don, who are currently traveling through Iceland at the moment; happily retired and still happily married...