I realize I am talking about court rulings in an impersonal way. I do this intentionally, at least at the outset. The truth is there has never been a way to talk about the DOMA without getting personal.
That’s because DOMA barged into the private lives of gay people. It said to them we don’t approve of you, we don’t accept your equality as American citizens, and we are going to prevent you from enjoying the rights and entitlements that we enjoy ourselves. It’s for your own good.
DOMA tore gay couples apart, denied them immigration visas, denied them the ability to make medical decisions for each other, denied them health care, denied them tax breaks, denied them inheritance rights, denied them survivors benefits, most of all it denied them their dignity as people.
Crucially though, in the seventeen long years of DOMA’s existence, no one has ever been able to explain how even one heterosexual marriages was defended by tearing tens of thousands of gay relationships apart.
In my own fifteen year-long relationship with my partner I discovered that DOMA got in our way so often. It never seemed to run out of finding new ways to break our hearts. Everything cost more and delivered less. It cost us tens of thousands in legal fees to pursue the same rights that any heterosexual couple can pick up for $35 at City Hall.
We had to crisscross the Atlantic a dozen times, we had to wait to wait anxiously outside Embassy doors, we had to create and sign our own legal documents everywhere, we had to find endless imaginative new ways to confirm what the whole world could already see but the law refused to accept: we were a couple.
When the ruling was handed down on Wednesday morning I felt a door open in my imagination that has been long shut. It was the door to our future. It was no longer barred to us. For a few hours of this unexpected freedom I hardly knew what to do with myself.
Now I know what to do, though. I plan to marry. I plan to live here in the United States as an equal citizen under the law. I plan to eventually vote. I plan to avail of all the 1,047 rights and protections that are enjoyed by married heterosexual couples that were denied to gay ones. Being gay, I also plan to open a registry at Bloomindales and Barney’s. I have seventeen years of catching up to do. At last.