By MEUSA National Media Director Stuart Gaffney
This article originally appeared in SF Bay Times, May 15, 2014: http://sfbaytimes.com/reuninted/
As we celebrated LGBT couples getting married in Arkansas last weekend, we were packing our bags to head to my 30th college class reunion—attending together as a legally married couple. Like birthdays and anniversaries, reunions are occasions that mark the passage of time, and this one also serves as an important milestone along the road to marriage equality.
Five years ago, we were legally married in California, but we had seen marriage equality come and go as Prop 8 put a stop to the over 18,000 weddings of 2008. As we were planning whether we could attend my 25th college reunion, we needed to consult the court calendar—the California Supreme Court was about to rule on whether Prop 8 violated the state constitution in May of 2009. As it turned out, the court upheld Prop 8 right before the reunion, and I felt like I was heading to see my classmates with a heavy heart.
How wonderful it was to find that my classmates did not see this as discouraging news, but rather expressed their love, support and amazement at how far we’d come in so short a period of time. When I was in college in the 1980s, the idea of marriage equality was a distant dream, barely detectable on the radar. At the National March on Washington for LGBT Rights in 1987, the year John and I met, a symbolic wedding ceremony was held for hundreds of same-sex couples who wished to celebrate together. But, at the time, it felt more urgent to protest the US Supreme Court’s recent decision in Bowers v. Hardwick that upheld the constitutionality of laws that criminalized the physical expression of our love.
My freshman year boyfriend was a young architecture student, who would stay up late at night designing neighboring houses for us to live in discreetly, with a hidden passage connecting our two houses underground. It was a romantic image, but also a graphic rendering of the love that dare not speak its name.
Today, as I return to campus with my lawfully wedded spouse, I look forward to seeing a close friend who has been legally married in Massachusetts for ten years (bringing their two kids) and my junior year boyfriend who is now legally married in Connecticut. Another classmate will arrive with his newborn in tow as a newlywed after marrying his husband in New York the weekend before. And, who knows? We may find out that one of our classmates was among the first couples to have married in states as diverse as Arkansas, Michigan and Utah—or is waiting to wed in the many other states with lawsuits, one of which may well bring us marriage equality nationwide.
Even five years ago it would have been hard to believe we’d have come this far so fast. With our community working together to continue the momentum for full LGBT equality, we are hopeful that when we go to my 35th reunion, we will have nationwide marriage equality and so much more.