August 4 of last year should have been the happiest day of our lives as a couple.
On August 4, 2010, a federal district court declared that Proposition 8, which barred gay and lesbian couples from marriage, was unconstitutional. The court ruled that Prop. 8 was discriminatory and that every day it stayed on the books was another day of “grave harm” to gay and lesbian couples and their families.
We say it should have been the happiest day of our lives, because now, over nine months later, that hateful law is still, effectively, on the books. Nine months later, we are still unequal in the eyes of the law.
This weekend, more than most, is a striking reminder of the harm done by Prop. 8. When the court ruled in August that California could not invalidate our marriage, we never imagined that our family would celebrate another Mother’s Day in limbo. But as long as our relationship is not afforded the same access to the same language and same protections as other Californians’, Mother’s Day will remind our sons that our family is still — in the eyes of the law — something less than other families.
That’s what Prop. 8 says — that we are “less than.” That day in August was supposed to be a win, but for our family, unable to take the next step, it still feels like we lost. Both of us receive cards from our sons every Mother's Day, but something as simple as picking one of them up from school can require outing ourselves anew to whomever is there, because there's no line on school forms for “domestic partners.” As far as the person behind that desk is concerned, we can't both be our sons’ mothers.
We joined our households in the fall of 2000 because we wanted to build a life — and a family — together. We raised our sons together. But more than a decade later, we are still not a family in the eyes of the law.
More than anything, we want our four sons to grow up in a household with parents whose lifelong commitment to one another can be recognized. We don't want them to have to feel singled out by the fact that our relationship, a marriage in everything but name, nevertheless doesn't have a name. We want our relationship to be as straightforward as those of their friends' parents and as those of our straight friends. We don't want to have to worry about what will happen to our kids if something were to happen to one of us, about whether they'd be protected.
On more than 14 occasions, the U.S. Supreme Court has declared marriage a
"fundamental right," which by definition every American should be free
to exercise. A federal court upheld those rulings, acknowledging that
our right to marriage is as valid as any other couple's. It was a huge
victory for us and for civil rights in general.
And yet, thanks to the actions of Prop. 8's proponents — whose standing
in the case, and thus their ability to even bring an appeal, has been
called into serious doubt — we're still not able to exercise that right.
That’s why we’re continuing our fight to overturn Proposition 8. As
long as this law stays on the books, state-sponsored discrimination will
leave our family in this state of limbo.
We’d hoped that we would be married by now, building the rest of our
lives together on the sort of solid base our parents had shown us
growing up. We want to start counting our anniversaries as a happily
married couple, not our anniversaries of years spent in courtrooms,
waiting for a final decision. We want our boys to be able to celebrate
Mother’s Day without being reminded that their mothers’ relationship is
still not the equal of their friends’ mothers’ relationships.
We are a family. But as long as the discrimination written into law by
Prop. 8 stays on the books, our family will be less than other families.
Please don’t make us wait any longer.