Together we stand

“World as it is, /what’s strong and separate falters. All I do/at piling stone on stone apart from you/is roofless around nothing. Till we kiss/I am no more than upright and unset.”—from “Most Like an Arch This Marriage” by John Ciardi

The Rhode Island Senate is debating marriage equality, and this week the Supreme Court takes up Proposition 8 (California’s same-sex marriage ban), and DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act). In a groundswell, a number of large U.S. companies have stepped forward to push for marriage equality, as have many politicians (including Republicans), and a number of prominent sports figures. Scott Fujita, linebacker for the Cleveland Browns, wrote a moving and eloquent piece in today’s paper in support of gay marriage.

As Frank Bruni says, also in today’s New York Times, the question now is not “if” but simply “when” same-sex marriage will pass into Federal law, providing all of us with the same civil rights.

This will make a big difference to Cherisse and me of course. Not only will it result in shared benefits, but it also will bring legal acknowledgement that our 28 years together count as much as anyone else’s marriage. I admire and am grateful to all of the brave people who fought to get us to this foregone conclusion. Cherisse and I waited until two years ago—when “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” was repealed—to marry, in a quiet ceremony outside on a snowy January day.

The justice of the peace who officiated read the vows we’d written, including the John Ciardi poem quoted above. The poem exemplified—beautifully and concisely—what we mean to each other: “Most like an arch—two weaknesses that lean/into a strength. Two fallings become firm.” My parents gave me the foundation to become the person I am, but Cherisse provides me with the strength to navigate life. We don’t need anyone to tell us who we are, but we do need public affirmation to gain equal rights—recognized by a hospital, in case one of us gets sick, or by the government in paying benefits accorded to any straight married couple. Now, as more and more people stand together, we are finally so close.

You can find John Ciardi’s poem “Most Like an Arch” here:

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