As the election draws nearer, an issue very close to home for me is once again being brought into the spotlight. With the confirmation hearings of Amy Coney Barrett bringing the count to 6 Republican Justices and 3 Democratic Justices making up the 9 Justice Supreme Court, headlines are flying about the fate of the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision ensuring marriage equality in the United States. With the Court so heavily stacked to the Right, the future of this decision is more in the air than it has been since it was passed in 2015.
Let me say this: this is not going to be some politically or ethically heavy study in which I lay out the intricacies of judicial process. Frankly, I’m not smart enough nor do I have enough mental energy to attempt something like that. Rather, I intend to humanize a topic that otherwise might be written off due to the lack of one’s pure and honest look at their own inherited worldview. One thing I can say with certainty, I’m very tired of my life and my relationship being a point of political argument.
As most of you know, I’m in a relationship with someone of the same sex as myself. We met a little less than a year ago and have actually recently moved in together. Suffice it to say, I’m supremely happy. If you had told 18 year old me, or even 20 year old me that I would someday be living everyday life with the love of my life (a man), I would have thought you had hit your head really hard at some point that morning. But to wake up every morning and look into the eyes of someone that you love so deeply and so honestly is the most fulfilling thing I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing. This part of my life was not the direct result of the 2015 decision to allow for same-sex marriage. But it certainly allowed for the circumstances to exist.
Growing up, I didn’t really have an understanding of what a healthy same-sex relationship would look like. I didn’t know they existed. The few same-sex couples that I did know didn’t express that they were together in any sort of way that it would click in my naïve brain. Growing up in that environment, I was staunchly against same-sex marriage and thought that it was a direct attack on “Good Christian Values” and it was my responsibility as a good Christian boy poised to become a pastor to fight against the institution. It wasn’t until 2015, when the highest Court of our land ruled to legalize same-sex marriage, that I began to realize that maybe people just wanted to marry the person they fell in love with. For the first time, I could envision a future in which I was able to build a life with someone that I not only cared deeply for, but that I was actually, truly in love with. It took me another couple years to realize how much this ruling actually affected me personally as a gay man, but I knew that it was an important one that I shouldn’t immediately dismiss.
Let me take a moment here to say that it is not in either my partner or I’s plans to get married any time soon. We’re still pretty new in our relationship as far as living together and navigating the various aspects of it, but we do hope to someday be able to take that next step. The message that was always given to me growing up (at least subconsciously) was that gay marriage was a direct attack on Christian values for the sake of dismantling everything that Christianity has stood for these past 2000 or so years. It was always some malicious thing that needed to be prevented, otherwise our society would fall into some godless anarchy. Take it from someone who is in a serious same-sex relationship, that’s a load of malarky (I’m putting it nicely for the more conservative readers who don’t appreciate strong language).
My partner and I aren’t seeking some diabolical plan to dismantle the Church. You know what we do want? I want a new coffee table so that I can display some books in an artsy way. He wants to get a good grade in his grad school class. I want to make soup for dinner tomorrow, but I’m afraid the chicken won’t thaw in time and it’ll be harder than I’m anticipating. We aren’t working on some big “gay agenda” that will turn the frogs gay (though I have come into contact with a bear that lives outside our apartment and I wouldn’t be upset if he decided to become a vegetarian). We’re living our boring, mundane domestic lifestyle and loving each other through the difficult parts. We’re supporting each other, encouraging each other, crying with each other, and cheering for each other. And some day, we hope to be able to stand up in front of our loved ones and feel their support as well.
So this is my final plea. As the election draws nearer, consider the effects of your votes on those you love. This is more than just a theoretical issue. Sure, we could continue to live our lives together without getting married (and intend to no matter what decisions the Court make). But this is more than just whether or not we can get a legally binding piece of paper that says we are a family. This decision, and decisions surrounding the rights of LGBTQ+ people in our nation, represent the validity of not only our relationships, but our lives. If you have never had to wonder whether or not you’ll be looked down upon, spoken down to, or downright attacked for holding your loved one’s hand while walking down the street, then you won’t understand. Decisions like the 2015 one let people like me know that our country has our backs. We have legal protections from being let go from a job because of our relationships (yes, I have personally faced this one a few times). It lets us know that our lives and our love is valid and has a place in our society.
I have one more thing to say and then I’ll call it a night. Before I gained the courage to begin to accept who I am and confide in my loved ones, I was not in a good place. I was depressed, I was extremely anxious that someone would somehow find out and ruin my life, I was scared for how my friends and family would react if I ever did come out. But mostly, I was lonely. I thought that I would never have true love. I was cursed to be alone and unhappy for the rest of my life, and the thought of having to bear that was too much. I almost took my life multiple times. I can’t express to you how important it is to have a narrative of the mundane, everyday, non-diabolical life of a same-sex couple. We do dishes together and we try to cut down on takeout so we can save for a future. We aren’t out to dismantle your religion. We just ask that you don’t use your religion to invalidate our mundane, yet love-filled lives.
So once again, please consider what your vote on November 3rd (or sooner if you can) means for the people you love. I’m not going to tell you who to vote for because there are a plethora of other issues to take into consideration as well, but I will ask you to please just take a minute, and ponder the effects of your vote.
I love you all. Thanks for reading.