Legal

Mazel Tov, America!

When news of the SCOTUS decision legalizing same-sex marriage broke, I was with my three children on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, on a beach between Haifa and Acre. My oldest and youngest were bouncing giddily in the waves, which were choppier than usual. My middle son was marveling over the monster jellyfish that had just washed ashore.

Photo credit: Lisa Frank

Credit: Lisa Frank

I read my husband’s text message, wishing us “mazel tov,” while I was watching the kids at play. I smiled to myself. It was a smile that betrayed a collection of stray thoughts and emotions in response to the landmark Obergeffel decision.

Perhaps more than anything else, it was a smile of relief; relief over the finality that had come at last, after a decade not only of momentum and hope but also of ever-present doubts and question marks. It was like the relief I felt each time the adoption of one of my children was finalized. The wait, the fear, the anticipation, the vulnerability, the angst, all washed away instantaneously every time we heard the adoption judge rule that we were now legally and forever a family.

It was also smile of anticipation. I couldn’t wait to get home and to read the judges’ decisions. Not only the majority option written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose long journey in support of LGBT rights has assured him a significant SCOTUS legacy. But also the dissent of Justice Antonin Scalia, whose legendary vitriol and bile I could already taste. Sour grapes, sour grapes. (Neither opinion disappointed.)

It was also a wistful smile. Next month will mark the five year anniversary of my family emigrating to Israel from New Jersey. I haven’t left the country since then. People often ask whether I miss America. That’s generally a complicated question – but not on Friday June 26, 2015. My husband got it right when, while at home preparing the house for the Sabbath, he texted me:  “I am sooooooo proud to be American now.”

I was, too. I wish we could have been back in New Jersey that weekend. To feel the electricity in the air. To schlepp into Manhattan to celebrate at the NYC Pride Parade. To share hugs and tears with other members of the queer generation who “domestic partnered,” “civil unioned” and married time and again to ensure that our families were recognized and protected.

Back in the Galilee, though, I celebrated with a smile. And it felt terrific.

Mazel tov, America. May all hard-fought civil rights revolutions come about as swiftly and as peacefully as this one did.

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