Celebrating a milestone
It’s an incredible feeling to know that on June 26, 2016, our community will celebrate the one-year anniversary of Obergefell v. Hodges – the historic Supreme Court ruling that legalized marriage equality nationwide. That day will be forever etched in history as the culmination of decades of struggle, setbacks and ultimately triumph for gay and lesbian couples that were denied the dignity, rights, and civil protections the institution of marriage provides.
Person-by-person, story-by-story, we set out to change the hearts and minds of Americans by being visible examples of how love can manifest itself beyond the heteronormative ideal. The world is indeed changing. The debate may continue about same-sex marriage rights, but one thing is for certain, our community’s courage to demand respect and recognition for our relationships have not only changed the law but has also changed the trajectory for so many LGBT youth for generations to come.
Allow yourself to think back to the first time you fell in love – the first time you ever allowed yourself to entertain the idea of settling down with your chosen partner – the first time you sat down to plan your dream wedding despite such nuptials being illegal in a majority of states or before you even knew who would stand next to you at the altar. The legal roadblocks or one’s perpetual bachelor/bachelorette status never stopped us from loving and hoping and, for many, never stopped us from dreaming about experiencing the ultimate form of commitment.
It’s a dream I’ve had as far back as I can remember. The fact that my “bride” would most likely be a groom didn’t seem to deter me from making wedding plans prematurely in my head. My intuition assured me that society and the American legal system would recognize marriage as a civil right for gay and lesbian couples in my lifetime.
We’ve come a long way from 2004 when the overwhelming majority of Georgia voters approved a discriminatory marriage ban that excluded gay and lesbian couples from civil marriage recognition. Yet, with recent so-called “religious freedom” legislation, we’re reminded that bigotry and discrimination is still alive and well in our state and remains a threat to equality.
How can anyone be opposed to love between two consenting adults? It’s a rhetorical question that I’m sure you’ve asked yourself many times throughout the years. It’s a question I found myself asking again as I gazed at the wedding photos of the four gay and lesbian couples featured in this issue. So evident is the love between these couples that their joy in finding each other and the public declaration of their love literally leaps from their photos. We should all be so lucky to find someone to share our lives with, and thanks to the Supreme Court, sexual orientation is no longer a determining factor in one’s pursuit of happiness.
Georgia Voice is proud to feature the couples chosen for our annual wedding issue and we’re equally proud to serve as a source for planning your own special day. Whether you’re actively pursuing marriage or actively running away from it, let’s join together to celebrate the fact that the option is no longer unattainable and it was the work of ordinary people doing extraordinary things that made it a reality.
By DARIAN AARON