A Spiritual Stretch - Just Married!
Yesterday was an emotional day for me. At 10:07 am I got a text from my wife, Becky, that announced to me that the Supreme Court ruled to remove all bans on gay marriage. Although on some intellectual level, I completely expected it, on an emotional level I was rocked to my core. A very long journey had taken a sudden and sharp turn.
At age 19, in my college dorm room, I finally labeled the feelings I had been having throughout my childhood. I admitted to myself that I was gay and on some level, I was devastated. Two things about my future as a lesbian, that I thought were inevitable, broke my heart. The first was that I would never be able to get married. I had always dreamed of a wedding, a lifelong companion, someone to grow old with and now, as a lesbian, I would never have that dream come true. The second was that I would never be a mother, never hold a baby of my own. I thought at the time that the second dream would be the hardest one to attain. But, I joyfully hurdled the barrier to being a mother through the process of donor insemination, and my beloved daughter was born in 1995.
The first dream of being married proved to be far more challenging and heart breaking. Through the years with my partners, we tried everything available to us to have a close facsimile of the real thing – we exchanged symbolic rings, ate symbolic cakes, had commitment ceremonies, registered as domestic partners at city halls and in HR departments, and created official legal documents of protection. Marriage eluded me until October 2011, when Becky and I, on our 5th anniversary, traveled to Vermont and got legally married in the eyes of the laws in that state. It was exciting, but we returned home to Georgia and were still not married. We triumphantly filed a joint federal tax return, then slumped backward to file separate state tax returns.
A month or so ago, while creating my medical record at a new physician’s office, I was asked if I was married by the receptionist at the front desk. I hesitated. Was this a social question or a legal question? If a legal question, who was asking – a representative of the federal government or the state government? Is insurance a federal thing or a state thing? The woman stared at me, waiting for my answer. Finally, I just said – “Well, I am married, but not in Georgia.” She smiled and replied, “Honey, always just say yes!”
Yesterday, as I watched television coverage of the Supreme Court ruling and scrolled through social media, I found myself wiping my wet cheeks. There were so many leftover tears I had never cried that needed to spill out in joy and relief. Years and years of pent up frustration and sadness melted away. Yesterday, my first dream finally came true. I began to seek a spiritual perspective on my feelings.
Love. Joy. Connection. These words describe our inherent nature as divine, spiritual beings. We are naturally drawn to these qualities in life and to experiences that provide intense moments that are filled with these qualities. Human relationships give us opportunities to learn about cultivating these qualities as we journey together on this physical realm. Marriage provides the most intense experience as we learn to find love, joy and connection through many lessons in gratitude, forgiveness, and loyalty with our spouse. These spiritual qualities are of God and know no gender, no barriers, and no sexual orientation.
So, what did it really mean to me? I changed my Facebook status to “married”. I hugged my wife a little tighter when she got home. I embraced and celebrated with a group of friends last night. I prayed a prayer of deepest gratitude. Nothing big changed in the external world of my personal life. But something tremendous changed in my mind and in my heart with the overwhelming feeling of validation and acceptance settling into every cell of my being. I felt a greater sense of Oneness with all human beings. I felt love, joy and connection.
And, from now on, I will always be able to “just say yes!”