During the 2008 Obama presidential Campaign I was a stay at home mom, having recently moved to Boulder, CO. My kids were finally settled into our new environment and I found it was time for me to do something that was important to me, so I decided to volunteer for the campaign. I was encouraged like many to give my precious time and resources to a campaign that centered around Hope. Initially I worked at a call center then opened my home to two twenty-something young men who were between jobs, who temporarily uprooted themselves from San Francisco to help with the campaign in Boulder. Net-net they were giving their time attempting to turn Colorado from its traditional red status to blue. The overall pivotal strategy would be instrumental in winning the election.
The guys were often like ships passing in the night after putting in long hours for the cause. We saw little of one another but soon created a bond in the some of three weeks they came and went from our home. The culmination of their stay ended triumphantly as we embraced one another the emotional night Obama was elected. I could barely articulate my tears to my two grade school aged children at the time. It took me a bit to understand the power of that evening, what it represented for our collective civil rights – for diversity in our country.
Last Friday morning, June 26th, I stumbled through my bathroom door beginning my routine like any other morning, readying myself for all that I’d planned, for all that was unplanned but would surely come my way with two teens on summer break. I certainly wasn’t prepared for the news I was about to hear. I’d just finished washing my face when my husband Steve shuffled in the room with iPhone in hand. He bluntly stopped and announced, “the supreme court passed same-sex marriage…for all states.”
I froze for barely a second then raised my hands to cover my cheeks and eyes. I choked through a breath but remained silent as I tried to process what Steve had relayed. Once again, I could hardly articulate my thoughts. The swarm of emotions hit me in this early morning hour. It was a lot to digest, just what this meant to me, to my long history of having a gay dad I could barely speak openly about for most of my life. The next several hours I received a couple texts, Facebook cheers responding to the news. Mid morning my son Oliver stopped me in the midst of racing out the door to a morning class, “hey did you hear? They passed same-sex marriage,” his tone comforting, knowing the gravity of this for me was immense.
The entire day had been an especially harried one, maneuvering one parental obligation after another. I hadn’t been able to sit still with the Supreme Court judges ruling except during fleeting moments of racing from one appointment to the next, didn’t mean it wasn’t swirling inside, wrapping itself around my heart-strings. Finally, late afternoon while driving my 15-year-old daughter Violet home, my reactions began to surface, emerge from the depths of what it meant to me personally. That’s when the floodgates of thought, emotion came pouring out.
“So mom, what was special for you today?” Violet asked. This felt like a typical teen trick question I hardly had the energy to solve at the end of the marathon day I’d had. It took a second to click in but once I realized what she was hitting upon the switch flipped on, I welled up with emotion.
“Yes I heard, Dad told me this morning.” Initially I tried to play it off like yes, wasn’t it simply wonderful. But once again the subject matter was like an arrow through my heart. Suddenly I had no words, I was overcome with what it all meant to me personally. Juggling a series of driving, wiping tears, and matriculating thoughts I tried to collect myself. Then I decided I couldn’t be strong like I’d most often felt I had to be. I began to deliver the impact of the monumental ruling, as a mother. Though it came out a little choppy I let Violet see what was raw inside me, what was real for me. Through my tear-filled speech I began:
“It’s just like when Obama was elected – what I mean is, I thought about it off and on today.” Speaking through hic-up’d teary-eyed words, “I know this doesn’t solve everything. I know the hater’s gonna hate (in moments like this Violet forever quotes Taylor Swift, no matter how you feel about Swift it seemed to fit the bill.) But no matter, no one will ever be in the position I was. Yes there will be parts of the country where a gay person will come out and people won’t like it. But they will know ‘it’s the law of the land.’ That is huge. It makes all the difference. That just didn’t seem possible in my lifetime.”
I stopped to swallow, take a breath and closed with, “That is what makes me overcome with emotion.”
Violet smiled, shook her head in agreement. We sat in silence for a bit, she gave me the space I needed to pull myself together. After a long pause, my 15 year old who lives in an amazing generation, in an amazing time, closed out the moment with these encouraging, snappy words:
“Mom, just think about how great this will be for the economy. There’s gonna be a lot of weddings now!”