Now, I get it …

The District of Columbia began to recognize same sex marriages. There was much consternation, but couples were married and life moved on. This year, the State of Maryland began recognizing same sex marriages. Those opposed shared tales of doom, but couples got married and life moved on.

Personally, I have been able to marry the person I wanted to marry and felt that everyone deserved the same right. I have family members that were in same sex relationships that traveled to another state to marry (at that time, they could not do so here).

It was no big deal. People closest to them had already accepted them as a couple. When family and friends are happy, most of us don’t even notice that their partner is the same sex. Usually, we have bigger fish to fry (like who will be stuck doing the dishes after Thanksgiving dinner). I was happy for for them. It was just another milestone, like any other event that occurs in your family.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, I attended a wedding of two friends that had been together for over 20 years. It was like any other wedding, good food, good music and lots of catching up with friends. It was a celebration.

Then came time for them to share vows. The officiant turned and said, “Andy, do you take Tomas to be your lawful wedded spouse” (or something like that, it was a wedding and I wasn’t paying close attention). He replied “I do” and in an instant I realized this is so much more than a legal union.

The words had barely escaped his mouth and Tomas began to weep. His shoulders heaved and he turned his back and shook. At first, I thought ‘tears of joy” and then he turned back to us and shared “I never thought I would live long enough to hear those words”.

Now, I get it.  Freedom to openly be who you are and free to marry. Freedom from years of exclusion and oppression. Freedom to enjoy the same rights as everyone else. Freedom to step up and “legalize” a relationship that has existed for so many years.

Consider living under a cloud cover for year after year after year. Then one day, the sun bursts threw and casts a brilliant warm light on you. No longer doomed to the fringe. No longer going through each day without even casting a shadow to validate your existence. Free to be who you are with your soul mate, your partner, your best friend. Now I get it.

I thought I understood. I have never walked in their shoes. I just accepted them as Andy and Tomas, my friends. I do not know all that they have faced, nor do I know the challenges that lay ahead. I do know that the piece of paper certifying the marriage is a by product. They now can legally share all the good and bad marriage has to offer. They have been doing that behind closed doors for too long. They deserve their day in the sun.

Now I get it.

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