I look over the very ordinary, very middle aged photos of the plaintiffs, and I'm surprised at how deep my emotions run.
Why do I care so much? Is it because I see myself in those couples' faces? I, too, am past my youth. I, too, have raised a child with a spouse I love. Even the Goodridges, divorced as they are, posed with their now-grown daughter... I see myself in them. I, too, am a divorced mom with a grown daughter.
I know there is so much to the story of growing up and living a life as someone who is gay, or lesbian, or trans, that is outside my experience or my empathy. I was saddened, for instance, to read Heidi Nortonsmith's comments, on how, away from home when the Supreme Court overturned Section 3 of DOMA, her joy was not mirrored by those around her.
If I had been at home in Northampton, it would have been a nonstop celebration. Instead I was back at my alma mater, 30 years later, feeling like on one hand we've come so far--and on the other, here I am having some of the same old experiences. Everyone was talking about their kids and families, and when I mentioned mine, my partner in the program--someone I had been studying with, eating with, and getting to know for 45 days--heard what I said, turned on his heels and walked away.I read those words, and I felt saddened... but I also felt surprised.
I'm a straight girl. I get to feel surprised.
But also, I get to feel grateful. The original story of the success of Goodrich v. Dept. of Public Health came at a time in my own life when I was struggling with health problems, a stressful new job and family issues that sometimes seemed beyond hope. Goodrich was, oddly or no, one of the handholds I used to claw my own way up out of despair that year. I was nourished by knowing that this one good thing had come to pass, the recognition of love as a thing my society should cherish.
I remember the tears flowing down my face, overwhelmed by joy in a season of fear.
The story of same-sex marriage isn't over yet. Not just in North Carolina, but all across the country, all around the world, there is more to do. And even when we have achieved marriage equality, there is more still--so many ways exist that people refuse to honor the sacred in one another.
Nor is the story my story--or, to the degree I share it, I am less than a footnote to the real story.
Still this is a story that has sustained me, given me hope in times that seemed very dark to me. And maybe that's the place where I really come to feel joined with this story: I need to remember my own gratitude, and keep on working to secure that same gratitude and hope for everyone who is living through the darkness now.
I need to believe in hope. I need to believe in love, and in the value of all its forms. And I need to do what I can to pass them on.