Monday, July 25, 2011

A Victory for the Dignity of All Human Beings

Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images
My heart broke this morning when I saw this picture.  I should be thrilled for them, and I am, don't get me wrong.  After all, as The Vancouver Sun reported today, "Phyllis Siegel (right) and Connie Kopelov...were the first couple to marry at Manhattan's City Clerk's Office Sunday in New York [p. B5]," after, in late June, that state became the sixth in the U.S. to allow same-sex marriages.

Finally, following twenty-three years as a couple, Siegel, 77, and Kopelov, 85, were not only able to make their partnership legal, but also they were able to have their love for, and commitment to, each other formally recognized.  Yesterday was truly a momentous day for them and 823 other gay and lesbian couples, who were also married throughout the state on the first day same-sex marriage became legal.

You know, when I look at these two women--obviously seniors, obviously very much in love, obviously at the latter end of their lives--I'm moved to tears at the thought anyone would deny them the right to be legally married, to legitimize their relationship.  That anyone would think their love is less valid than the love between a man and a woman (or, for that matter, between two men).  That anyone would misuse some outdated reference in the Bible to presume God doesn't approve of what these women share.  If you don't get it, then you are truly without a heart.  

On this occasion, I think about how shameful it would have been had either Siegel or Kopelov passed away before Sunday, having never been legally married.  I think about the injustice that would have been done to them, not to be extended the same legal rights as all heterosexual married couples, not to have the world recognize the love they have for each other.  And I think about the other forty-four United States of America where people just like Siegel and Kopelov still can't be legally married.  What about them?  What about their rights as human beings?  What about their love?

I'm subtitling this post, "The Beauty of Love," because that's what I see when I look at this picture.  All gay men and lesbian women around the world want is to love someone of the same sex without being judged for it, without being told they're wrong or evil or immoral or going to hell because of it.  All gay men and lesbian women around the world want is for the love they have for someone of the same sex to be recognized as valid and legal and beautiful, and for that love to be looked at no differently from the love between a man and a woman.  Because, I assure you, there is no difference.  Our love is exactly the same.         


  1. You're right, Rick, it is the same, and the people who disagree are becoming the minority, and hopefully by the time my kids are having kids, the idea that anyone thought there was ever a difference will be looked upon with the same disbelief that we have when we read about segregation, or women's suffrage, or any other human rights issue.

  2. Amen to that, Sarah. Amen to that.
    I still can't believe how black people were treated over the decades, and how women were considered second-class citizens, without even the right to vote. Doesn't that blow your mind (in a bad way)?
    Thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to leave a comment.

  3. I agree, Rick. Love is love no matter gay or straight. I live in New York State and we've had a lot of celebrating to do these past few weeks. I call it "sharing the wealth of happily-ever-after" (read more in my post here:

    To Love!!

  4. My thoughts were much the same when I saw the photo. Look at them. What are people getting riled up about? What is objectionable, sinful, immoral, vile, sick, different about this? In video footage I saw the love, pride and jubilation in other couples. Moreover, I saw the satisfaction, even elation, in the judges and clerks who donated their time on Sunday to help New York make a giant step forward. Suddenly a New York State of Mind is deeper, freer, fairer.

  5. @Donna: When I wrote this post, I thought of you. I knew you'd get it, you'd feel it. The pictures coming out of New York this past Sunday were both beautiful and heartbreaking. How could these people, from the beginning, not have had the same right as straight men and women to commit to their life partners through marriage? I don't understand how love became wrong. I just don't get it.

    @Rural Gay: I can't recall if I used the word "harm" in this post, but that's the first thought that came to mind when I saw this picture. What harm is there in these two ladies loving each other and getting married? How is the institution of marriage endangered or harmed in any way? Sure, some gay and lesbian people probably shouldn't get married, but that could be said of straight men and women, too.

    Your comment about the judges and clerks is tremendous. They realized how critical their role was in turning a wrong into a right, and they couldn't wait to do it. The future will look back on Sunday, July 24 and mark what an historic occasion it was, how justice was finally served for hundreds of gay and lesbian human beings, who wanted nothing more than their love honored and celebrated.

    My thanks to both of you for your interest in this post and for taking the time to leave comments.