Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bye Bye DOMA

What's a nice dragonfly like this doing here? I put him here because dragonflies have a special meaning to me. They represent awakening to and overcoming self-deception. This particular dragonfly was photographed by my son-in-law, John Kereny, who has a gift for capturing wonderful images with a camera. I really love this image. I am hoping we can, as a nation, overcome our destructive self-deception and recognize that being gay is not a sin, a compulsion, or some abhorrent deviation from the norm, but is simply a normal variation of human existence, like having blue eyes or red hair. 

Yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States did something that took me by complete surprise. They overturned DOMA, the Defense of Marriage act which had narrowly defined marriage as being between one man and one woman. I really did not think they would do that. When I heard the news, I burst into tears and it was hard to stop the flow. A lot of us did. I can't begin to express the depths of my gratitude to the court for doing that. That scared little girl who knew she was too different to even tell anyone about it back in the 1940s felt a big hug from the Universe when that happened. I hope this will go a long way in helping the little girls and boys who are discovering they are different today to understand that they are exactly who they are supposed to be and that they will be loved and accepted, and that it helps them to grow up whole and healthy and strong with the possibility of living up to their full potential. Bigotry and homophobic hate have exactly the opposite effect. Lives are destroyed by it. 

This decision means a lot to same sex military spouses, who are now eligible for the same benefits their straight counterparts have been receiving. There are thousands of legal benefits straight married couples take for granted that are now also available to gay married couples. Inheritance tax relief, social security survivorship, joint filing for income taxes, no longer being taxed on spousal insurance benefits, just a host of relief for everyone.

Unfortunately, for the most part, these things only count in the 12 states (and the District of Colombia) that have legalized marriage equality. Those of us in states that have not legalized it are still stuck with second-class status. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called our situation "skim-milk marriage." The southern state we live in is so backward that I don't see an enlightened attitude toward marriage equality happening here in my lifetime, but I was wrong about the Supreme court overturning DOMA, so maybe I am wrong about that, too. The tide is definitely turning. 

In an ironic twist, we are legally married in our religion, Reform Judaism, but not recognized as married by the state. That's the exact opposite of what one might expect. There's something truly hopeful and comforting in that irony. 

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