RE: DOMA and Prop 8

new-yorker-cover-bert-ernie-gay-marriage-580_r620x349“DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal. The principal purpose is to impose inequality… Responsibilities, as well as rights, enhance the dignity and integrity of the person. And DOMA contrives to deprive some couples married under the laws of their State, but not other couples, of both rights and responsibilities.”

~  Justice Anthony Kennedy


Following the Supreme Court’s verdicts last week, someone asked me, “How do you feel?”

I wasn’t sure what to say at first, so I simply replied, “I feel good.”

I realized what I was feeling was more complex than run of the mill goodness.  But it’s not everyday the Supreme Court legalizes love and upgrades my citizenship. What I was feeling was something different, an emotion similar to pride but more grounded in resolve.

us-blog(eernie)Six years ago, while living in New York City, I fell in love with my partner, Jake (in the pictures on the right, where I am Bert, Jake is the Ernie looking dude on the left).

  • Five years ago, Jake and I settled down in California.
  • Following the approval of Prop 8 four years ago, which banned gay marriage in California, Jake and I did the next best thing – We registered as “domestic partners” at a UPS store.
  • We assumed that would be the worst we’d encounter, but then three years ago – Jake accepted a government job, and two years ago I became unemployed.  Because of DOMA, he was unable to add me to his health insurance.

Proposition 8 and DOMA were fueled on fear. Each attempted to regulate the pursuit of happiness. While there are far more egregious examples with other couples, it’s safe to say Jake and I were negatively impacted by both policies.

So now that the Supreme Court has overturned DOMA and dismissed Prop 8, how do I feel?

Well, how I feel ultimately depends on who I’m talking to…

I feel included.

Never underestimate the power of belonging.

To Supreme Court Justices Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan, I’d like you to know…

In overturning DOMA and dismissing Prop 8, you gave me more than the right to wed who I love. By allowing me to be an active participant in the great experiment that is our country, you fulfilled a promise penned during our nation’s inception…

Because of you, dear Justices – We are all citizens of a more perfect union (so long as we don’t cross the state line).

I feel vindicated.

The only thing I hate is hate. Therefore, the fight for marriage equality has never been about homosexuality. For me, this cause has been always been a question about love.

I was raised Catholic, and I’ve known and loved many good Christians in my lifetime. It’s because I respect the teachings of Jesus, I take exception with those who presume to speak on his behalf.

Marriage EqualityTo my evangelical opponent, I say this…

It’s easy to hide behind a bookmarked bible, retrofitting verses to accommodate your view of the world. But it takes sacrifice and discipline to love unconditionally.

If you value the teachings of Jesus then I challenge you to act more Christlike: forgive the sinners, care for the poor, and embrace your lepers.

Words mean nothing without the actions to back them.  If you claim to be a good Christian, prove it – Make the world a better place by choosing love over hate.

I feel humbled.

Yesteryear, I had the wind in my face. Today, I am being nudged forward, down the aisle, with onlookers cheering me on…

In the year leading up to the Supreme Court’s decisions, a majority of Americans joined the President of the United States in supporting marriage equality. Meanwhile in other parts of the world, homosexuals are still persecuted for the unbearable crime of falling in love with a person of the same sex.

To those of you straight and gay, who stood beside love and equality, please know…

I appreciate your support.  The Supreme Court’s rulings would mean nothing if it didn’t have the backing of neighbors and friends. You weathered the hate so that people like Jake and I, along with future generations, wouldn’t have to.

Because of you, we are anew – Americans emboldened to be free.

I am honored.

The right to marry, the fight to have it, and the acceptance of thy neighbor would mean nothing if I didn’t have someone to love.

Like Ernie to Bert, Jake is my best friend and lifetime companion. I don’t need a court, a doctrine, or Snuffleupagus down the block to define what we have. He accepts me when I’m fussy and opinionated, and I find his love of rubber duckies endearing.

To Jake, I say…

After six years together, marriage equality has been restored to California, and DOMA has been overturned.  I’d like to think, by sheer force of will, my love for you made both injustices disappear.

When the Supreme Court announced their rulings, it wasn’t the feeling of inclusion, the sense of vindication, or being humbled that gave me pause.

I was rendered speechless when I realized you would be given due respect, when it dawned on me how honored I’d be to be your guy, to have and to hold, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.

Because of you, when I heard the news, I could only speak three simple words…

I feel good.


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  1. I’m so happy for you guys! Please remember that the fight isn’t over. My partner and I have been together for 12 years, but we live in Florida.We must bring the right to marry to same-sex couples in all 50 states!

  2. In England and Scotland, legislation is now passing, for equal marriage in the Autumn. I am not going to get married, but for me it is a symbol of equality, of equal value, that delights me.


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