I don’t think I realized how emotional I’d be today as I headed over to volunteer at the County Courthouse in Clark County, Washington. Today is the first day that marriage licenses are being issued to all couples, same-sex and opposite-sex, and I’m choking up – with pride at being a Washingtonian, with joy that we now allow all couples who love each other to get married, and with a huge happiness that my son can now join the ranks of married people everywhere, if he so chooses.
I know what it’s like to be denied something based on something you have no control over. It’s not a fun thing. In my case, it’s gender-based. All my life. I can bore you with the details of all the things that I haven’t been allowed to do, things I couldn’t see, places I couldn’t go, wages I couldn’t make, etc. etc. etc. but suffice it to say that I know what it’s like to be denied.
When my son finally told me he was gay, it was with the caveat that I allow him to pass the information on to our family and friends in his own time. That “time” took him about ten years, ten long years, during which I made benign excuses to friends who asked if he was married yet (as in “he hasn’t found the right person yet”), an avoidance of family get-togethers (says my dad to my son: “so when are you going to get married and have some grandkids?”) and an awareness that, in most places, my son could not hold hands in public with his boyfriend the same way I could hold hands with my then-husband.
I know it was difficult for my son during this time as well, as he explored himself and who he was, and I was very happy when he finally decided it was “okay to be gay.” Those are my words, not his. As the mom, I’ve always wanted him to be happy and to be able to use all his talents and gifts, no matter what they were, and once I knew he was gay, I wanted him to be comfortable and happy with who he was. (I don’t think it was an overnight process for me, either, but I think my process of acceptance was shorter than his.) Of course, I was also relieved that I could now be open with others about him not finding a girl to marry. I remember that I felt like I could finally breathe again. Selfish of me, I know – I was also selfish for my son that he could date openly and not have hide who he was.
And now he can get married if he wants to.
My heart feels like it could swell right out of my chest.
Does this mean things are going to be easier for gay people? Not necessarily. There are still people out there who would deny them the joys, and the difficulties, of being married. But it’s a step in the right direction for this state’s residents to make, and as we join the other eight states in recognizing same-sex marriage, we encourage others to allow this recognition of a couple’s love for and commitment to each other.
It’s the right thing to do.
The above was written this morning as I waited to check-in for my volunteer slot at the Clark County Auditor’s Office.