permit me to reflect a moment.

It is amazing to me that we have elected a black man as President of the United States. When my dad was young, the skating rink in town had “black night” on Thursdays. This was the only night black people were allowed to skate. School segregation was in full force. Interracial marriage was prohibited. The list goes on. Gradually these things began to go away, and finally, in 1967, the Supreme Court ruled in the landmark case of Loving v. Virginia that anti-miscegenation laws were unconstitutional, saying:

Marriage is one of the ‘basic civil rights of man,’ fundamental to our very existence and survival.… To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

Without this ruling my grandfather would not have been able to marry the woman he loved, my step-grandmother. I grew up playing with He-Man action figures on the floor of their dining room with my cousins. We had huge Thanksgiving dinners of turkey and mashed potatoes, with desserts of pudding layered with thick slices of bananas and vanilla wafers, never paying heed to the differences in the color of our skin. My Grandma and Grandpa loved each other, and that was what mattered. Loving v. Virginia changed the world, against public outcry, against the will of the majority, because it was the right thing to do.

I’ve heard arguments that it’s not a fair comparison. That race is immutable, that gay and lesbian people choose to live the life they do and could just as easily choose another. I’m not going to argue the biological nature of sexuality, but I will say this: yes, we make a choice every day. We make a choice to live our lives true to ourselves, to not hide, to love and be loved by the people we surround ourselves with. We make a choice to enter into commitments with the person we love and have chosen to spend the rest of our lives with, to start families together, to hold them when they cry, to laugh with them and celebrate our lives together. We make this choice just as Mildred and Richard Loving did, and just as my grandparents did.

Last June was the 40th anniversary of Loving v. Virginia, and Mildred Loving issued this statement:

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.

Thank you, Mildred and Richard, for paving the way. Thank you, Grandma and Grandpa, for showing me that love just is. And thank you, Firefly, for holding me in your heart and choosing me as your wife even if the government doesn’t recognize it now. They will.


2 Responses to “permit me to reflect a moment.”

  1. 1 wishinghopingpraying November 7, 2008 at 3:31 am

    I love your grandparents. Thank you for sharing that.

  2. 2 Sam November 7, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    wow that was so wonderful. This week has been so joyous and so sad all wrapped up in one. I can’t wait for the day when we all have the civil right to marry who ever we love and choose.

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