Wednesday, November 05, 2008

"Marriage is what brings us together”

In 1996, I got married. I was nineteen. I was not as mature as I thought I was and despite what I said, I had no idea what a serious commitment I was making and to what type of person I was committing to. I got swept away in the idea of being married – I thought the wedding would be the beginning of my fairy tale and that all the doubts and problems I had would be erased with “I do.” I was young and naïve, and had no business making such a serious decision in my life when I didn’t even really know who I was yet.

But I had the right to get married.

I had the right to make my own decision and to do so without being judged. Well, I know I was judged because of how young I was and that plenty of people thought I was making a mistake but I was free to make that decision. It was my right. So before friends and family, I said my vows in a large Catholic church. I had the expensive dress with the long train and I looked like a princess all the while taking for granted my freedom to make my own decisions/mistakes.

When that marriage ended six long years later, I swore I would never do it again. I didn’t see why we needed marriage. My having been in such a horrible relationship for so long, had made me jaded and I lost my faith in those happily everafter’s… at least for me.

And then I met Daniel. We fell in love. We started to build a life together. We became a partnership. We committed ourselves to being there for each other for the rest of our lives and we didn’t make that decision lightly. Eventually, we decided that we wanted to share that decision, - our passion for our commitment and each other and our future - with our friends and family. So with great ease, we went to the Bexar County Courthouse in San Antonio, Texas and purchased a marriage license. A simple piece of paper that carried so much levity to us because it was a symbol of the bond we had made, of the future we would continue to build. It was not a religious decision. It was not something we went into wondering how we would affect the institution of marriage. We did not get married in a church. We did not recite the “traditional” vows; we spoke words we had written specifically for each other. A friend officiated the ceremony because that meant more to us than if anyone else had done it. It was not about church or state. It was all about our love, and our commitment to each other and wanting to share it with the people who loved and supported us. It was one of the most important days of our lives and I am grateful for that freedom.

It is with sadness that I write that some of my friends do not have that same freedom. People just like me who want to make that official commitment to their life partner had that right taken away from them yesterday and for that I am ashamed of 52% of Californians. Who are we to judge someone else’s love? Why does who we choose to commit to have to be about anything but the people forming that union? Who can say what is a perfect union when we have a 50% divorce rate in America? How can we claim to be an authority on what is right and wrong for other people? What are we afraid of?

I’m sad that my kids are going to be raised starting out their lives in a world where this is legally accepted. I am angered that we are taking away rights. But I will not be deterred. I am not afraid that they will learn this ignorance and accept discrimination of any people because we will have an open dialogue that promotes equality. My children will be raised to not judge, to love, to be the change they want to see in the world. They will know that their happiness is my only concern and that whomever they choose to commit to will be welcomed whole heartedly as long as they treat them with the integrity, love, and passion that they deserve. The schools and government don’t raise my family, we do… Daniel and I take responsibility.

My marriage is no more undermined by the people fighting for equality than it is by the people who go into it without thought and who are not ready for the commitment. If anything, marriage is tarnished by those who think they have the right to decide on others behalf what unions are valid or acceptable. As I said before, with America’s divorce rate such as it is, we would do better to worry about our own marriages and families than the people who are fighting for their rights.

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