Family / Family-building

How Do You Measure a Decade in the Life?

PHOTO CREDIT: REUTERS

PHOTO CREDIT: REUTERS

Ten years have passed since the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s landmark decision of Goodridge v. Dept. Public Health, which granted marriage equality to same-sex couples for the first time in the United States. Looking backwards, of course, ten years seems like the blink of an eye. But the battle cry sounded by that hard-fought victory and the incredible advances in marriage equality that we have seen since then have been spectacular and downright awe-inspiring.

During the ensuing decade, 17 states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriage, through either court decisions, state legislation or ballot initiatives. During the past six months alone, federal and state judges have struck down same-sex marriage bans in eight additional states, although the full effects of those decisions will not be fully felt while the decisions are being appealed. The President of the United States has “evolved” in support of marriage equality. So has the United States Supreme Court. In 1972, it dismissed the appeal of a gay couple denied a marriage license by a Minnesota county clerk. Forty years later, SCOTUS struck down portions of the Defense of Marriage Act, a decision that instantly required the federal government to give full federal recognition to same-sex marriages. Countries on five continents either perform same-sex marriages or recognize same-sex marriages legally performed elsewhere.

This change in the marriage equality landscape has fueled some interesting “when I was your age” moments when I have talked to queer teens and twenty-somethings about marriage. Thankfully, many of them will be able to take for granted the right to marry in ways I, and others my age, could not. During the seventeen years that my husband and I have been married, we have said “I do” five times to ensure that our relationship would be recognized and protected. In addition to being married by our rabbi under our wedding canopy, we were domestic partnered in New York City, domestic partnered in New Jersey, and civil unioned in New Jersey. Before emigrating to Israel four years ago, we were married again in Darien, Connecticut, this time under the town hall marriage tree, in an unceremonious ceremony presided over by the town clerk.  Israel recognizes our US marriage.  My Israeli national ID card, which lists Daniel as my husband, is a prized possession.

If the marriage equity avalanche over the past ten years has proved anything, it is that the lived experiences of same-sex married couples are simultaneously as ordinary and as sacred as those of our straight counterparts. We share the same aspirations for mutual love, security and respect. We experience the same blessings and challenges that come with creating and sustaining a family. We, like our friends and neighbors, yearn for better lives for our children and our children’s children.

Ten years after Goodridge, let us take a moment to be mindful of and appreciate the astonishing progress we have seen in such a short amount of time and be grateful for the tenacity and courage of those who have fought to make it happen.

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