Why Marriage Equality Is Personal To Me

I believe in human rights and feel passionately about the topic. I will stand up and advocate for the rights of people around the world and be a part of that fight in any way I can. We are all born with inherent rights that we are fundamentally entitled to regardless of our nationality, where we live, sex, ethnicity, color of our skin, religion, language or any other status for that matter. These rights include political and civil rights, such as equality before the law-which is precisely why same-sex marriage should be legal across the planet, period.

My older sister, Kristin, has been in a relationship with her partner, Kelly, for 11 years. Kelly is a sister to me- maybe not through blood but certainly as measured by my love for her. She was everything I could have wanted in a partner for my sister and in a new sister of mine. Kristin and Kelly began dating in college. They were both on a full scholarship for golf and met on their college golf team. They were inseparable. My sister always dated boys growing up, however I do remember her telling me when we were in just middle school that she had a crush on this girl from her basketball team.

They never came out to my family and said they were together, as a gay couple, but instead insisted that they were just close college friends and roommates. I think I was the only family member who they came out to, and the only one they could intimately talk with and be openly affectionate with towards one another. After awhile I think most everybody, family and family friends, knew- but it was an unspoken knowledge for a really long time. I’m really not sure why she chose to keep her relationship under wraps. Maybe she was not confident in how my parents and grandparents (who we were very close with) would react. She had never dated a woman, after all.

After living with their relationship going unacknowledged for long enough, my sister and Kelly began to make it very obvious, through remarks or subtle displays of affection, that they were in fact in love and together. My grandparents were accepting and loved Kelly as they did their own grandchildren. My parents, however, for years referred to Kelly as “Kristin’s roommate” in introductions. This pained me, and I can’t imagine how it pained them. I wish I would have stood up for them and insisted on Kelly’s correct place in our family, but I guess I was young and lacked the courage. I also didn’t want to make my sister and Kelly uncomfortable.

The girls announced their engagement to me in 2005. They got married in secret in Las Vegas- probably the only state we could lie and say we were visiting for fun and have everyone else believe us. The only friends and family in attendance were myself and my best friend, who was like a sister to us.

I felt so honored to be a part of their modest ceremony. My best friend and I sat in the guest chairs at the wedding venue, anxiously waiting for the song that would cue the bride to begin her stroll down the aisle. Kristin looked beautiful- tall, blonde, blue eyes, in a stunning dress- but I felt a sense of profound sadness, an emotion ill placed for a wedding day. I looked around at the empty seats. I looked at her, beautiful but alone, without her beloved father on her arm. I felt so deflated that they were not be surrounded that day by people they love and who love them in return. My sister didn't get to pick out her wedding dress with her mom and others that she loved. Instead, I was the only one there to first see her in her wedding dress. There was nobody there to bare witness to this union of these two incredible, accomplished, kind, honest women. Going home knowing that their marriage would not be legally acknowledged made the whole ceremony feel like a dream. There, and then gone with the desert dust.

After 10 years, it seemed everyone eventually gave up and acknowledged Kristin and Kelly’s relationship. Some insanity ensued and ignorant and ridiculous things were said to them at times, including that "gay couples will go to hell". If there is a hell, Kristin and Kelly would be the last people on earth to be residences. The disapproval eventually stopped and actually Kelly became a beloved member of our family. My mom ended up seeing their marriage certificate in a box while she was helping them to move. She seemed pretty indifferent about it and I’m not sure if she told me dad. So it is out at this point that they are married. I still to this day haven’t heard anyone refer to Kelly as “Kristin’s wife”.

The girls went to their local court house here in California and got married in 2013, when California became the second state (after Massachusetts) to allow same-sex marriages. My sister finally was able to change her last name to that of Kelly’s.

Kristin and Kelly, like so many other same-sex couples, struggled with their families, with discriminations and inequalities- a fight that nobody, no human being, should ever have to endure. Friday’s Supreme Court decision to make same-sex marriages legal and recognized nationwide is monumental and so exciting for homosexuals and their supportive families. And even though there is much to be done in the fight for equality, no gay couple will ever have to fight the battle of being able to marry and be legally recognized again- and that is one giant leap in the right direction and one less life battle that needs to be won for gay couples.

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