Expanding the Geography of Love
(From Lindi von Mutius)
In middle school, I announced to my family that I would probably get married to a woman when I grew up. This did not go over well. I remember that the final argument from an older cousin ended with, “well, in any case, it’s not legal, so it doesn’t matter what you want to do.”
When I graduated from college, at that point in love with a man, my church ordained its first openly gay bishop, and soon thereafter our small-town church began performing same-sex weddings, in spite of their lack of legal recognition as “marriages.”
Comforting as it was to tell my cousins, “See? It’s not a sin,” same-sex marriage was only recognized as legal in my home state of Massachusetts. I’d have to stay put if I wanted to have a marriage.
In June, we celebrated the anniversary of Loving v. Virginia. If you didn’t see the movie, the Loving case centered around an interracial couple legally married in Washington, D.C., who visited family in Virginia, where their marriage was illegal. The Lovings were arrested, jailed, and found guilty of “unlawful cohabitation.” The Lovings were sentenced to a year in jail, though the trial judge agreed to suspend the sentence if the Lovings would leave Virginia and not return for 25 years.
They were told to stay put; their love dictated by state laws based in hate and fear. As the child of a bi-racial marriage, the ban on same sex marriage seemed similarly cruel and illogical.
In 1967 – the same year EDF was founded – the Supreme Court ruled that state law bans on interracial marriages were unconstitutional.
A few weeks ago, also during PRIDE Month, we celebrated the two-year anniversary of Obergefell v. Hodges, where the Supreme Court once again struck down geographic limits on love and family. James Obergefell, had sued Ohio’s state government for refusing to recognize his Maryland marriage to John Arthur. The night of the Obergefell decision, I sent a note to my cousins: “The Supreme Court says that I can do what I want!”
Last March, citing Obergefell, a federal judge ruled in Campaign for Southern Equality (CES) v. Mississippi Department of Human Services, that Mississippi’s ban on same-sex couples adopting children was unconstitutional, making gay adoption legal in all 50 states. It was one of the best days of my life to date.
Last week, the Pew Research Center published a poll that the majority of Republicans no longer oppose same-sex marriage. I’ve given up trying to convince my cousins, but I am no longer constrained by geography and hate.
LGBTQ rights and acceptance remain fragile. You can still be fired from your job in 28 states for being bisexual, lesbian, or gay, and 30 states for being transgender. While states defend bathroom laws with justifications grounded in hate and fear, murders of transgender women of color are sharply on the rise.
While I remain hopeful despite the current political situation, I marched in the San Francisco Dyke March so that everyone will have the freedom to live, love, and create a family, regardless of geography.