For over forty years I have lived my adult life in a country that has not recognized my right to love, but I never expected to be affected so deeply when DOMA was overturned by the Supreme Court today. What the ruling brings up in me are feelings I never even suspected were hidden. I want to understand these tears and tremors. The surge of longing to be seen and accepted is making me shaky. Why now?
Why not now. Why not a tsunami after forty years of stuffing down and damming up such natural longings for societal acceptance? My tumult and tears show me the pain I have hidden. It feels terrifying to allow hope. Yet, believing that DING DONG the DOMA’s DEAD brings a cleansing exhilaration! No matter how disappointed I may feel at another juncture down the road, right now the release of hope feels a bit like taking the risk of falling in love. You know it’s maybe dangerous, but you don’t care. But a tumult of questions arises and stirs confusion. Will I now expect too much? Will I want to live with my love in an equal rights state? Not where I live now? No one ever promised that sweeping change would be easy.
The repeal of DOMA is causing an abrupt societal lifting of long shame. Since shame is socially induced, it can only be lifted in a socially-witnessed context.DING DONG the DOMA’s DEAD and, pow, we are no more to be treated as shadow citizens, whose plea for passing invisible was the most we could ask. Yet how can shadow citizens enter the full sunlight of freedom to love without blinking and stumbling? For decades I have held myself in a certain posture of resistance and ready defense. I have, in my bones, the experience of profound social exclusions and wounding remarks. The legal restrictions have been, before now, air I breathed, forgetting its poisons in order to keep breathing.
Long ago on this same date as DOMA’s overturn, my mother and my father married one another. There they were, scared and ecstatic, two who loved one another, making a vow to bond as a mated pair. They faced the unknown as I do, and the risk they took was fully as foolish and demanding as the one I face today, should I marry the woman I adore. But this is the first time in my life that my society allows and endorses my taking that risk!My mother and my father took their right to love for granted. That is the difference.
For me at the age of sixty-six, this fresh air of acceptance releases so much untapped energy within me that I hardly recognize my breadth! May this be the true legacy of DOMA dead— that millions, like me, will pour our released love and power and joy, out into the wide world. I end by thanking each person who took each small action along the long path to overturning DOMA. Each has been a drop of water in the stream. Today, in a stunning waterfall, the stream of change cascades thunderously over the edge, into the pool where we all have the freedom to love.