Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Thank You, Judge Shelby

Not for the first time this weekend, I cried last night at the sheer wonder of what has happened in Utah since Friday. 

Like hundreds of thousands of other gay men, I grew up in a time when a realization that one was gay - that one was queer, a homo, a faggot - was in most cases a death knell to the blossoming of one's individuality, one's personhood. This mental illness - for such it was considered until 1973 - was to be suppressed at all costs. 

One learned to hate oneself. Growing up in a religious environment, one also learned that, while others merited God's love, I - and others like me - did not. No matter how hard one tried to believe otherwise, the tides of self-hatred were too strong. Repress. Suppress. Carry on. 

Perhaps there would be some way to redeem myself. I thought I had found the path out of "homo hell" when I converted to the Mormon faith as a young man and embarked upon the "way of happiness." I married. I raised children. I loved to the best of my ability. But as the song, "Blessing" states, every day a bit of me died. I could not redeem what could not be redeemed. Nor, as it turned out, could God ... because even He cannot redeem what needs no redemption.

A little over three years ago, I came out of the closet amidst the death throws of my marriage. Two years ago, I met a man with whom I fell deeply in love. Today, I share my life and my family with him. We had a commitment ceremony in August and plan to marry in the spring.

But with all that has happened this past three years, with all the growth I have experienced, with all the self-hatred that has been rooted out and replaced with the seeds of self-love, I wasn't prepared for what has happened these past few days. For the first time in my life, a federal court in my own jurisdiction has ruled, in essence, that who I am as a gay man is inherently part of who I am and that I have rights - as a gay man - that are worthy of protection by the government of the United States of America.

I wonder, Judge Shelby, if you realize what your ruling really means to me and to people like me. Yes, we can now marry our loved one in our own state. But your ruling goes far beyond marriage. It fundamentally affirms who I am as a gay citizen of my country, my state and my community. And for that, I am grateful beyond words to express.

Thank you, Judge Shelby. Merry Christmas.

"Rather than protecting or supporting the families of opposite-sex couples, Amendment 3 perpetuates inequality by holding that the families and relationships of same-sex couples are not now, nor ever will be, worthy of recognition ... [T]he Constitution protects the Plaintiffs’ fundamental rights, which include the right to marry and the right to have that marriage recognized by their government. These rights would be meaningless if the Constitution did not also prevent the government from interfering with the intensely personal choices an individual makes when that person decides to make a solemn commitment to another human being. The Constitution therefore protects the choice of one’s partner for all citizens, regardless of their sexual identity."

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