I celebrated the end of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) on Twitter and Facebook. I was happy to hear that the marriage equality was restored in California. I know it’s a watershed moment, but the Supreme Court moved marriage back to the states, and the state I live in often forgets there is a separation of church and state as the legal reasons don’t exist.
I live in Virginia and stood by the polling place in 2006 handing out information on why a constitutional amendment “that defines marriage as solely between one man and one woman and bans recognition of any legal status ‘approximat[ing] the design, qualities, significance, or effects of marriage'” should not pass, and I had to celebrate the nearly one million people, who voted against it, even as it passed. (source) To overturn a constitutional amendment in Virginia takes two different election cycles in the House of Delegates plus a statewide referendum. Maybe in twenty-five years.
Whenever marriage comes up in our home, my son, in all his practical thinking, says: Well, I can only get married here if I marry a girl and you can only get married here if you want to marry a boy.
My daughter replies: Ew! I don’t like boys.
I reply: We could always move so you could get married in one of twelve [now thirteen] states or even to Washington D.C..
We could move sounds akin to we could dye your hair or skin or Teach you to talk different. When it comes to something as sacred as marriage, moving shouldn’t be the answer. However, for my state and several others, I fear it will be desegregation all over again and will take an act of Congress or a Supreme Court ruling to grant marriage equality to Virginians. And, of course, all those couples who finally have marriage equality where they live today, may one day find themselves in a Virginia due to changes in employment or family or military post and be “suddenly rendered legal strangers in Indiana or Michigan, their property rights are potentially altered, spouses disinherited, children put at risk, and financial, medical, and personal plans thrown into turmoil.” (source)
Of course, I’m overjoyed to live in a country with a federal government supporting gay marriage, and I know this already positively affects so many families. But I feel like my state line became a mote. (source) I love Virginia. I love all the things I can do and my friends and how happy my children are. I love that I can point out where I met Scott and where we first lived together. But Virginia elects people who make ignorant choices, and for a state, which loves independence, we spend so much time in citizens’ bedrooms that we force the federal government to take charge.
And jealously, I wonder how much longer I will have to explain that love is love to my children while others just live it.