Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Supreme Court rules DOMA unconstitutional

Well, well, well.  Hello there Inner Thoughts & Outbursts readers.  It's been quite awhile since I've last written here; I fell out of the habit of blogging and, until today, didn't feel compelled to sign in.

Today, though, things changed.  Today, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was unconstitutional.  Today, I felt like I was witnessing an important part of history.

I've been a supporter of same-sex marriage from what I consider "the beginning" (at least, my beginning)when my home state of Massachusetts legalized gay marriage in 2004.  (I even wrote about it for my college newspaper, but, alas, some things on the Internet aren't forever... I can't find the links.)  I have always maintained that gay rights are civil rights and that the benefits of marriage should be available to all. 

That being said, I'm also someone who is easily overwhelmed by sad or frustrating news.  I find myself having to look away when the news covers tragedy after tragedytsunamis, wars, bombings, misery....  And I feel my blood pressure rising when foolish politicians yammer on and on while taking away basic human rights and imposing their views upon others.  So I wasn't actively following the case to overturn DOMA; it was simply too hard on my heart to follow its ups and downs.

But this morning, I saw that a ruling was expected.  While at work, I started listening to the news and refreshing the blogs.  When the announcement was made that DOMA was ruled unconstitutional, I burst into tears at my desk.  A coworker asked if I was okay, and I was so choked up I couldn't answer for nearly a minute. 

I certainly wasn't expecting to cry.  I feel strongly about equal marriage rights and benefits for all, but I didn't expect to tear up when I heard the news.  I expected either feelings of triumph (I had those) or more blood-boiling frustration (none of that, thanks to the outcome), but not tears.  So why?  Why did I react so strongly?

I think I started to cry for two reasons.  First, I felt like the DOMA ruling was some good political news in a world that is increasingly full of political decisions and efforts that break my heart and raise my blood pressure.  Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, I felt relieved that my gay friends and family now had this one victory in their corner.  That should their partners end up in the hospital, they'll be allowed to visit.  That they won't have to pay more for their health insurance.  That when a partner dies they won't have to pay ridiculous taxes and fees, like Edith Windsor, the woman who took her case to court and won today.

As a country, we still have a long way to go.  Today's ruling doesn't "allow" same-sex marriage in the United States; it just awards federal benefits and protection to couples who have married in states where gay marriage is legal.  But, it's a start.  And my heart is happy tonight knowing that someday, I'll be able to dance at a family member's same-sex wedding without worrying about whether or not he and his partner will be treated equally by the law. 

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