Author Lorrie Goldin
Like Everybody Else
By Lorrie Goldin
I'm a straight, middle-aged woman who strongly supports marriage equality. I hope that my voice may help persuade those who are not quite there yet.
My friends Ann and Joan got married during the 4 month window of time when marriage for same-sex couples was legal in California. The brides were radiant in their silk tunics, silvery hair, and sensible shoes. After waiting 17 years to walk down the aisle, they'd earned their comfort.
Like any couple getting married, Ann and Joan vowed to love, honor, and cherish each other until parted by death. They could pledge this with more certainty than the average newlyweds, having already lived so many years together for better and for worse.
Ann vowed to try not to throw things away. Joan promised she would try to throw things away. That's what comes from being forced to wait nearly two decades for marriage. You know one another's foibles so well that what used to drive you crazy now deepens your love. You know it's precisely your differences that bring balance. You know it's the trying that counts.
Guests were invited to place a rose in a silver vase and express what this wedding meant to them. By the end, the vase was crammed with roses of every hue.
I grew up dreaming of bridal bouquets and my bridesmaids' matching sashes. I didn't know what blooms would be in season when I married, or whether my color scheme would be driven by the daffodils of spring or the chrysanthemums of fall. But as a straight woman, I knew I could count on having a season.
Now there is a season for everyone.
Opponents of same-sex marriage argue that gay people shouldn't be granted special rights. But what is so special about wanting to be treated like everybody else? It's not just gays who benefit—we all do. My joy in realizing a childhood dream is enhanced because my gay friends and family members are no longer excluded from having such dreams.
I cannot possibly imagine how same-sex weddings threaten traditional couples. A marriage that draws its strength from discrimination is not a sound marriage at all. As I listened to the readings about love, friendship, and commitment that Ann and Joan chose for their wedding, my feelings for my husband of 22 years only deepened.
Surely Ann and Joan don't need the state to affirm their love and commitment. At 60-something, they can buy all the bath towels and appliances and flowers they want. They can even buy a lawyer's time to secure most of the rights that straight couples take for granted. But without the state's sanction, something is missing.
Now we all have a chance to enjoy what money can't buy: Inclusion and equality.
At the end of the ceremony, Joan and Ann grinned through their tears while we all cheered and wept.
"This is something we never dreamed would happen," Joan said. "We never imagined that we could get dishtowels and kitchen gadgets, like everybody else."
At last they can.
And, at last we can give them.