That question was asked by one of my gay friends. Like many others in the Gay community, she had a hard time understanding why a Homosexual woman would want to follow any practice that was obviously connected to the Heterosexual culture and religious norms. After all, Marriage in the conservative/traditional sense was only between a woman and a man, and I did not want to be married to a man. For me to marry any man would be at my very core, to live a lie, to deceive someone I would respect and care for, to present to family, friends and all others I met, an untruth about who I was and who I was created to be.
She further probed: “Surely you don’t expect the Conservative Christian Heterosexual community to accept your marriage as legal or even moral? You will not be granted any rights or responsibilities under American laws, which are granted to married heterosexual couples, except in the state you get married in, and you don’t live in that state. You have nothing to gain by getting married in a society that, on one hand preaches family values, and freedom for all Americans, unless you are gay and want to be married. And, these same conservative Americans want less government in their lives, unless it benefits them such as the “Defense Of Marriage Act.”
And, yes I knew all of what she said was true. As I reflected on her comments and questions, I realized there was much more to all of this than Ceremony or Legal Status.
-For me it was my family of origin which formed the very core of my being.
I was raised in a large Heterosexual family, with lots of aunts, uncles, and cousins from the siblings of both my parents and grandparents. My life image was that of a large extended, loving and close family. We grew up poor and had our own set of challenges and problems, but I grew up knowing that “family would always be family”. This then was also my family dream, someday having my own family, being a link in our family heritage that would go on for generation after generation. One of my favorite aunts was married (more than once I might add), but could not have children of her own. However, she was an elder member of our family and her life was a rich link in our heritage. When we have our get-togethers, we still share aunt Florence “favorite stories”.
-For me it was my spiritual and religious heritage that taught the virtues of marriage and family.
It is the Judeo Christian belief I was raised with: that all humans are created in God’s image and likeness, and our Creator is reflected in the core of our very souls. The virtues of love and commitment, meant sharing my life with a person I believed was a gift from God, my soul mate if you will. The person I would spend the rest of my life with, cherish, love, “in sickness and in health, forsaking all others, till death us do part”. I watched my siblings one by one find that person, marry and join that link in our family heritage. Not all the marriages in our family were perfect or lasted, but through everything all of us experienced, we knew “Family was always family”.
-For me it was a sense of Community, and the importance of acceptance and doing my part to contribute and give back.
The realizations that we are all part of a greater community, who share, help others in crisis or need, follow the good neighbor rule, and become a productive and responsible member of society. My parents worked, paid taxes, educated their children, helped their neighbors, respected and cared for the elderly and the young. They had integrity, honesty, and treated others with respect and dignity. Those core values I grew up with, I believed in, and knew were right.
After I left officership, for 4-5 years, I dated men I met on the job, in college, at different churches I attended, and guys my family “fixed me up with”.
It wasn’t that I did not like men because I did. However, I never felt a deep connection, love or chemistry with any man. They were all wonderful mostly Christian men, and I enjoyed spending time with them, but my soul mate was not among them. Two of the men with whom I had longer relationships proposed, and we discussed marriage. I knew in my heart of hearts it would not work, I could not make that lifelong commitment to them, and for me that made it wrong. I could not live that lie. And I did not know at the time why I felt that way.
It was several years later when I came to awareness and acceptance that I was a homosexual woman. My coming out story is reflective of many that have been written and shared. However, my acceptance that I was a gay child of God allowed me to find and fall in love with the partner God had chosen for me.
When we reached the place in our relationship where most couples just know it is right, that is God’s gift, for them to spend the rest of their lives together, we both knew this truth, it was right for us. There was no doubt, there was no hesitation, and everything leading up to this made sense to both of us. However, at that time we could not take that next step and be married. Therefore, we made our commitments to each other, to God, to some family and friends, and began our lives together.
It was absolutely right and normal for us to marry when the opportunity to marry became a reality for gay couples.
So, to celebrate our 25th anniversary, we were married in the presence of God, some of our family, and friends. Several of our older siblings had issues and reservations with our marriage, but made it clear they loved us both, and “Family was always family”. Our extended families gained another aunt, and together, we are a link in both our families’ heritage.
Former SA Officer
(name on file)