Today, the Supreme Court halted same-sex marriages in Utah and it makes me sad. A Utah girl born and raised, I was so excited when I heard the news in December that the ban on same-sex marriages was struck down by U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby. I honestly never imagined that happening in Utah, at least not in this decade, and to have it happen a day after New Mexico was pretty amazing.
Now, I don’t want to get religious or political here. That’s not the point of this blog. I want to talk about love. Last August, I wrote what I think love is, and I want that for everyone … no exceptions. With a few edits, here’s what I wrote:
I think love is kind. And simple. And happy. It’s that feeling of being proud of the person or people you’re with. It’s the quiet moments when you’re sitting next to them and nothing else in the world matters because you’re content.
True love is selfless. It also makes things more bright and beautiful … and light. It doesn’t weigh you or others down. And it can be a fairy tale, but it’s one you have to create for yourself, no matter the circumstance. No one can do that for you.
I think love, for me, is being able to say and/or feel it often for others, no strings attached. It’s in laughter over the simplest of things. It’s in long days filled with adventure that I never want to end. It’s when my friends, fiance and family are happy and excited to be with me, and I feel exactly the same way about them. It’s when they are there for you in the hard times … the times you cry for hours and they don’t care because they love you. It’s when you see something is wrong with them and you try your hardest to help.
I think love can last that way. I think it can last when we care more for others than ourselves. When we don’t need some Hollywood plot to make us feel like it’s real. When we don’t get lost thinking love has to be magic and fireworks all the time, and it’s actually just as strong on the simple days. And I think when we come to the end of our lives, it’s wishing that others are happy without us, no matter what. And maybe if we lose someone, love is about taking adventures without them … for them.
I don’t think it should matter if you’re gay or straight. Everyone should be able to feel the kind of love they need and imagine. And if they want to get married, they should have the choice.
Growing up, I was taught gay marriage was wrong and I believed it because that’s what many people instilled in me. Not only was I taught that it was morally wrong, but it was culturally wrong. People couldn’t really wrap their heads around it because they didn’t understand it.
And then college came and my views started to flip upside-down (or perhaps right-side up) as classes invited panels of LGBT students to talk to their peers about growing up gay, hiding it, coming out and coming to terms with a world that often still did not accept them. That was only 10 years ago. Our country has come so far in 10 years, but days like today can put us right back to 2004 in an instant.
I remember listening to the stories that came out of these panels and I thought long and hard about them afterward. This issue wasn’t something I could put in an imaginary box and hide away because my heart wanted something for these students who often felt like outcasts in their hometowns, their schools, and sometimes even their families.
I remember one night, years after listening to that first panel of LGBT students, I told one of my best friends that not allowing same-sex couples to marry did not seem fair. I asked him, “What’s the happiness in that? What’s the happiness in not getting to be with the one you love in the way you want?” He didn’t agree with me on the issue, but he could see my point, and he didn’t have an answer.
As I’ve said in a previous post, I now believe we are all connected in some way. Several experiences and a lot of thought has gone into this belief. I believe we are connected to the dead, the living and future generations yet to grace this earth. And although each person’s influence will affect our lives differently, one way we can ultimately connect is love.
People who disagree with same-sex marriage often say they still love gay people, but just don’t think they should be able to marry. And while I believe they mean what they say, I think they are still more concerned with themselves than the couples who long to have families just like straight people do. And I always have to wonder, why are people so afraid of same-sex couples who love each other? Even if they are allowed to marry, that does not change the relationships straight people get to have at all. I just don’t feel there is enough love in the statement, “I love them, but …”
Love isn’t about making someone act the way you want them to act. Love is just about … love. No strings attached.
In 2012, I went to the Pride Parade in Salt Lake City and I can honestly say the atmosphere was full of love. There was laughter and rainbows and goofy costumes and there was cheering. There was support. And there were a whole lot of people, both gay and straight, on floats … entertaining as a way to be accepted by crowds who had already accepted them.
I’ve seen videos of same-sex couples getting married in Utah and New Mexico and they are beautiful. Some people have waited decades for this moment, and I hope in Utah it’s not taken away for long.
In New Mexico, the Dona Ana County Clerk just started handing out licenses to same-sex couples one day, saying simply it was time. That happened to be the same week Travis and I got married. We were gone less than a week, and when we got back, we knew four same-sex couples who also tied the knot. It was pretty amazing.
One of the women we know, who had actually told us that a marriage certificate didn’t mean anything, got married and ate her words. She said marriage actually did feel different to her. She said there was something sweet about it, even though she’d been with her partner for 16 years already.
So, I know my little blog won’t change the minds that are already made, and I never want to make people feel bad. My hope is that we can each evaluate what love means to us and what marriage means to us. And if it’s something we find beautiful and beneficial, I hope we’ll wish it for everyone who wants it … no strings attached.