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My Marriage is Equally Valid

When I married Ellen on September 2nd, 2011 in New York City, I knew it was a momentous occasion AND I knew we still had much work to do. What makes a marriage? That is a question that so many are divided about. I can tell you from my experience there were two distinct purposes, and then occasions, which can help shed light on the differences between a commitment and a marriage. First, we married legally in NY and then we had a wedding in Texas. That is, a family/friends/spiritual/emotional ceremony and celebration in Texas, not recognized by Texas law. For heterosexual couples, those two events happen at the same time usually. They apply for a marriage license and create a ceremony where they sign that license on the same day, in the same place, by someone who is legally charged with declaring them a legally recognized couple. Our process highlights the need, at this point, in one of the 37 states that does not recognize legal same-sex marriage, to have two distinct days and ceremonies for this process. We are asking for justice and equality for one day. One wedding day, one process. That is the difference. The integration of it all. And, in some ways, it highlights how the legal aspects are totally separate from the emotional/spiritual/religious aspects of a union. As we await the decision of the Supreme Court to hopefully strike down the Defense of Marriage Act in late June, I reflect on these differences in hope for others to understand the importance for ALL couples, including heterosexual, to consider their intention for marriage and commitment.

Many times I am in community with heterosexual friends who own their heterosexual privilege and feel ‘guilty’ for their LGBTQ brothers and sisters who cannot share those privileges. We appreciate your affirmation and being Allies. AND now it is time to join the fight, release guilt that is not yours, and help win the sense of justice we all deserve. As a psychologist and advocate of others, especially those who live on the margins of the norm, I frequently am present to pain and suffering of others. The pain and stigma inflicted from words, loved ones, the media, leaders, and the government. The development of a person’s sense of self is a delicate process to create, especially a strong one. Ask any parent how hard they work to make sure their baby feels good about her/himself! Living with images of being “bad, going to hell, not being equal, being less than, etc…” takes a toll on a person’s spirit. It’s hard enough having a strong sense of self when one is within the established “norms” of society. For an LGBTQ teen and young adult person, it is harder to face oneself in the face of adversity and oppression. However, every time one comes out, feels rooted in oneself to do so, and receives affirmation of self, some of those chips of homophobia and hate are softened. The scars may remain but the love and celebration are marked. As social justice advocates we know that the single most effective way of eradicating homophobia, racism, sexism, and all of the forms of marginalization is one-on-one interaction: growth-enhancing relationships and connection with other human beings. So, go out there and form relationships with others who are different than you. Push yourself to be uncomfortable. The magic of growth, connection and understanding happens when you are OUT of YOUR comfort zone. And for those of you who are not ready to come out yet, it’s all good. We hold you in that space until you feel rooted enough in your self, as beautiful as you are to come out and be your authentic self. This will help your sense of self, your sense of being in the world as you are, and as you were created. There is space for everyone in the circle of life!! (June 3, 2013)

JUNE 26, 2013 I am overjoyed this morning as DOMA was struck down in a tight ruling, 5-4, by the Supreme Court of the United States. As of this morning, it is unconstitutional to discriminate federally against same-sex couples to marry. However, the states continue to have clear jurisdiction of marriage in each individual state. Today, there are 13 states with marriage equality. Texas is not one of them. I hope to continue to provide advocacy and activism in my community and Texas to see that all citizens have equal protection under our laws. That is what our foremothers and forefathers wanted for ALL OF US. So I clearly shout out to all of those strong men and women before us, who walked the harder walk to lead us to today. Those people who fought for our rights so we can have our chins up today and walk in beauty and pride. Thank you, ever so humbly, thank you for your work, dedication, and facing the fear. We are forever indebted to you and feel your spirit with us today.

Keep your chin up, celebrate this victory today, and carry on.

Then, let’s roll up our sleeves and open our hearts…we have more work to do, people.

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