Thanks, Obama… Same-sex marriage is important NOW

Yesterday, Obama made history as the first seated president to openly express his support of same-sex marriage. I know it’s a small step right now, but I’m really thrilled. If someone in his position can come forward with this support, we are definitley headed in a positive direction. Right after his statement, my Facebook news feed was overrun with people expressing excitement. Many of which are not even gay. Our generation is beautiful because of all of these people that show so much support and know what they stand for. It is people like this that help people like me who do not have enough of a voice.

But there are also those few folks that still say that Obama should be focusing on “more important” issues. For anyone that thinks this, please take a moment to understand what is behind this issue that you deem so unimportant — what it means to me and to so many, many other Americans like me.

I am married to a woman. We’re in love, we fight, and we always have each other. My life is quite similar to yours. So why aren’t my rights? And why is it such a big deal anyway?

First and foremost: this is about equality. We want recognition and respect for our partnerships. 

“It’s the kind of thing that prompts a change of perspective—not wanting to somehow explain to your child why somebody should be treated differently when it comes to eyes of the law.”—President Obama

Rose and I have been together for almost 10 years. I fell in love with her after we became close friends during high school theater. She makes me laugh like no one else on this planet. I feel a crazy mix of total comfort and overwhelming excitement when I am around her. We live in an apartment with our two rescue dogs. We plan to buy a house in the next 5 years. We talk about raising children. We make dinner together while sipping on our favorite local white wines. We cuddle up to watch Glee on weeknights and we dance like lunatics with our friends on Saturday night. We’re just a couple… and all we want is to be treated as such. 

We  decided to make a lifelong commitment that began with our love for each other but also expands into our community. Every partnership blossoms with the support of those around you – family, friends, coworkers. It’s so important to us that our partnership be given the same significance as any other couple. Every day of our lives is impacted by inequality – from shopping for groceries together to attending family dinners. It’s almost impossible for me to paint a picture for you unless you have actually experienced a lack of general respect as a human being. Acceptance within society is so incredibly important. Our marriage is about love, it’s as simple as that. But not only do we know that we are not getting equal respect, we also have many other legal issues to fear.

Starting a family will be very difficult for us. Filing our taxes gets confusing. We get ripped off when it comes to health insurance (and I mean more than the average American). And I’m only just beginning… 

If one of us were to be hospitalized today, we could be denied visitation rights – or worse – the ability to make a decision for the other. Throughout our relationship, we have already gone through various health issues. Rose has had multiple surgeries and even some cancer scares. I don’t even want to think about what could happen to us without the recognition of me as her wife.

Zach Wahls, author of “My Two Moms” described a situation in which one of this moms was hospitalized for extreme pain caused by her MS. His other mother was unable to stay with her partner in the hospital. I can’t even fathom how much they suffered. It’s inhumane for anyone to have to go through this. And my of my biggest fears is that someday this could be us.

I ask: Why am I any less of a citizen than you? Why should your political goals be put before mine? I contribute to society, pay taxes and vote. And yet, my marriage – a major part of my life – is not seen as the same as my equals.

I have found a fulfilling partnership with Rose and all we want is to be able to make a lifelong commitment to each other that will be protected by the law. Regardless of what the government says, I will continue to live with Rose and create a happy little home. I will never change. Adjusting the laws will not stop us from loving each other, it will only deny us the benefits of marriage. Not allowing gay couples to marry will not turn them straight. It will only make us more determined.

Imagine how much money would get circulated back into the wedding industry with all the additional weddings to plan. Then consider all the couples that will build a household together, combine incomes, and pay taxes as married folk. With the security of knowing their marriage is protected, they will have children, pay for private school, or adopt. Are you starting to see how gay marriage might also have a positive impact on the economy and society?

This is so much more than a social issue. It is about basic human rights. It is about protection and security. It’s about love and commitment. It’s about household chores and pillow talk… Gay marriage IS a political matter because we are all human beings that deserve equal treatment in the eyes of the law.

The distribution of equal rights affects our taxes, our economy and above all – the rights of citizens. Why is this more important than other issues? Whether you support same-sex marriage or not, there is no way to deny that granting equal rights will have a major impact on our society. It will affect your aunt, your neighbor, your teacher, your best friend…  me. I guarantee there is someone you know whose entire life would be directly impacted by this movement. 

Many Americans are opposed to marriage equality because of their religious views. Fine. That’s not what I’m focused on. Because there are many other Americans that simply think it’s just not important enough. That we have to fix our economy first. That we have to find more jobs and more money. But economic problems will never end. And in the meantime, gay and lesbian couples are still being treated as second-class citizens. You might say that you don’t have a problem with homosexuality, but by saying you don’t care if our president or government does something about it now: you are part of the problem.


I love who I love: What the word “lesbian” means to me

 We’re going to the NOH8 photoshoot in Baltimore tonight and I am SO excited! This is one of my favorite campaigns and I’m thrilled to finally be able to participate. 

These are our friends Jo & Jaimee posing for NOH8 last year… hot right?

This got me thinking about my own sexual identity and what makes me (or anyone) a lesbian. I came out 9 years ago when my wife, Rose, and I started dating. She is the only woman I have ever been with – and we were just kids at the time! So we really shared our journeys out of the closet and into lesbian adulthood together.

We were in high school when we first met in theater and became fast friends

When I started telling people about my relationship with Rose, I had many of my friends and family ask if I considered myself a lesbian now – often in a sarcastic way. I was a crazy intense Catholic at the time, so I was battling with my own internal guilt and really had no idea what to call myself – or if I even wanted to. I was afraid to give myself a label, because of what it might mean. I had my own stereotypes built up about gay people, and I just wasn’t ready to consider myself one of “them.” Although I loved Rose, I was scared that I would never have the option to go back to being normal (whatever that even means).

And even after I was sure that my attraction to a woman wasn’t simply experimental (remember, I had Catholic upbringing and was extremely jaded about what made someone gay), I was still hesitant to use the word lesbian, not only because of my own reservations, but also because of how I thought other people might react. I didn’t want to be forced into a box. I was afraid that it would make my parents even more ashamed of me. Most of my friends were also conservative (or at least so I thought) and I worried that they’d look at me differently if I fully identified as gay.

Now I know that labeling myself as a lesbian is empowering.

I never really had much interest in boys growing up. I knew I was supposed to occupy my time with crushes, so I’d often just pick a boy I thought was cute or nice and focus on him. I only had one boyfriend in high school and one in college – both lasted for about a month. But because I have only really had a serious relationship with a woman, I guess you could ask how I am sure of my sexual identity. Well, I’m not. And who cares?

You fall in love with the person, not the gender. Everyone has a certain type that they are drawn to – brunettes, tall, outgoing – and I think that gender is part of this. Anyone that says that they can’t tell if someone of the same sex is good looking is lying – perhaps even to themselves.

So, yes, I’ve seen plenty of women I find attractive… and I’ve also seen plenty of men. Does this make me bisexual? Maybe it does. But does that really matter? If I weren’t with Rose, would I date other women? Probably. But I can’t really say for sure. I plan to be with a woman for the rest of my life, so I’d say that definitely makes me a lesbian. And I’m damn proud of this label, because it expresses my commitment to my partner, my identity as a woman, and my plans for the future. I use it intentionally now, even when I know it might make someone uncomfortable – because that is their problem and not mine. I know who I am and I know who I love. End of story.

Together over 9 years and going strong!