Today, we’ve achieved victory in the decades-long effort to obtain recognition of the constitutional right of all Americans to marry the person they love. We’re elated and blessed, and it makes it worth the two-year-long fight that Cleo and I have been waging for marriage equality in Texas.
Throughout it all, we had faith that in the United States of America, equal treatment under the law is a fundamental right that protects us all. Today is a great day of joy and hope for us, and for thousands of our fellow Texans. The decision is historic, and it’s a victory for love.
In the two years that we’ve been fighting for marriage equality, the same questions kept coming up. Why are you doing this? Is it all about the benefits — the dollars and cents?
It’s true that we both want to be legal parents to our children. And we don’t want to pay for lawyers to protect our families. We want our loved ones to inherit and be protected under law like any other Texas family.
And some of the ways in which our families are vulnerable in the law aren’t just inconveniences; they can be matters of life and death. During this process, we gave birth to our second child, a beautiful baby girl. The labor was scary, and on a day that is supposed to be one of the happiest days of our lives, I had an infection that led to an emergency C-section. If I hadn’t made it through the childbirth, our child would’ve been an orphan. Cleo would not have been our daughter’s legal mother because our family was not respected in Texas. No parents should have to face these struggles and stress because their marriage isn’t recognized in their home state.
But marriage is more than a collection of benefits. I know this because I felt profoundly different after marrying Cleo than I did before. I felt differently about myself and about our relationship. It was a maturation of sorts. I’d made what at that point was the biggest commitment of my life. The last thing I was thinking about on that day was what benefits I would be entitled to because of my marriage. If that’s all that this fight was about, then we could have traveled to Vermont to get a civil union.
My marriage to Cleo is a sacred bond. It is a declaration that the whole is stronger than the sum of its parts. It commits us legally to each other in a way that is deliberately difficult to break because we know that the commitments we make in marriage are not easy ones to keep. We promise to love, to cherish and to remain faithful to one person for the rest of our lives. And so with marriage, we enlist the help of our family and friends as well as the laws of our state, our nation and our religious faiths to hold strong to those vows. And in so doing, we lift ourselves, our children and our communities.