Commentary on what today’s SCOTUS rulings mean to me

Same sex marriageI must admit, I never thought marriage was in the cards for me. Aside from the fact that same-sex marriage isn’t legal in my state, I chalked it up to consistently making poor choices in the relationship department. But the U.S. Supreme Court rulings today on DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) and California’s Proposition 8 has made me rethink that. Not for myself, but for all of those who want not just the legal benefits of marriage, but the recognition as well.

I was at a party a few weeks ago for a friend’s birthday. Laughter and fun prevailed all afternoon. In attendance were two other friends, a gay male couple, who were speaking about their upcoming civil union ceremony. A young lady in attendance didn’t have a full understanding of what it all meant, and asked the question.

“Imagine if you will that you and your boyfriend are married,” my friend began, “and God forbid he dies. There is no question of you inheriting his estate without any legal or taxable issues, right”

She nodded in agreement.

“Now, imaging the same scenario for the two of us. Suppose I die, and want to leave my entire estate to my partner. Even though we are joined in a civil union, my death and his inheritance becomes a huge taxable occurrence for him. Does that seem fair?”

The young lady looked at him with a new sense of understanding…and compassion.

“Not at all,” she replied.

I am paraphrasing the actual story a bit, but this is the gist of the content. Did I mention that the gay couple in question has been together for 34 years? I would say that in this instance, that is quite a significant part of the story.

Even though the Supreme Court stopped short of a sweeping ruling on gay marriage with Proposition 8, the death of DOMA is of huge significance. While understandable in its conception, DOMA is been lorded over the gay community like the sword of Damocles for years. Now, with its death, states can re-examine their own laws. I suspect that while today has been a great victory, to battle has just begun for the 35+ states that currently have a same-sex marriage ban on their books.

Later today, my friends will be holding their civil union ceremony in a downtown courthouse. While seemingly less significant to some yesterday, it means quite a bit more today. It means that the struggles and prejudice the have experienced through their 34 years together have not been for naught, and that their relationship takes another step forward to complete equality not just for themselves, but for all of us.

As for me, I do have someone who is becoming more and more significant in my life now. Will we get to the point of the “talk” about a civil union…or heaven forbid…marriage? It’s too soon to say…at least from where I sit. But should the topic come up sometime in the future, I may consider it a bit more seriously. I never thought it was in the cards for me. But he is changing my mind…and today’s Supreme Court rulings are helping to plead his case as well.

NBC News Jenna Wolfe and Stephanie Gosk come out, expecting a baby in August

Jenna And StephCongratulations to NBC’s Today Show Weekend anchor and her partner, NBC Foreign Correspondent Stephanie Gosk. Wolfe announced this morning that the couple as expecting their first child together in August.

“We didn’t put in an order, but we are getting a girl, and we are super excited,” said Wolfe on The Today Show this morning. “We are super excited.”

The announcement of the pregnancy may have overshadowed the fact that the two were making a coming out announcement. The couple has been dating for more than 3 years, and is engaged as well. While not necessarily a secret among their NBC family, the news was a surprise to viewers and fans of the show.

Wolf and Gosk join a number of high profile news professionals who have recently come out publicly. CNN’s Anderson Cooper, MSNBC’s Don Lemon and ABC’s Sam Champion have all shared their sexual orientation on the air, while MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts became the first anchor to have a same-sex marriage.

In the upcoming issue of “People” magazine, the couple discusses their life together, their impending motherhood, and what the experience means to them both.

“I didn’t want to bring my daughter into a world where I’m not comfortable telling everyone who I am and who her mother is,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe will also be blogging about her experience of impending motherhood. Recently, she reflected on the moment she and Gosk made the decision to share their life with a child of their own.

“Two years into a great relationship and we felt like we wanted to share our adventures with a wide-eyed, little person. The more we talked about it, the better the idea seemed. And so in December, we embarked on Operation Baby. And might I just add that despite the morning sickness, it’s been the best decision we’ve ever made.”

Read more on the couple, and their journey together here, and in the latest issue of “People” magazine on newsstands Friday. And as always, share your comments with us.

Supreme Court begins hearing gay marriage issue today

Supreme Court building.The proceeding at the U.S. Supreme Court got underway this morning. The decisions regarding gay marriage will have a ripple effect that will be felt for some time, but does same-sex marriage really matter? Follow this link, and see real-time and time-delayed coverage of the proceedings. What are your thoughts on gay marriage? How will it impact your life or the lives of those you care about? Weigh in with your comments.

National Coming Out Day…remember you are worthy!

National Coming Out Day means a lot of things to a lot of people. And don’t get me wrong; I think it’s great that there is a day set aside as a day folks can stand up and finally be true to who they really are. For those of us who have made the choice to “come out,” it has to be one of the most courageous statements we can make in life. However, once we have chosen to emerge from our closets, the real work begins. The struggle to come out was hard, but often times the aftermath can seem much harder. Cliché as it may sound, the words are true; it does get better.

I was lucky. When I came out to my mom, she couldn’t have been more gracious and understanding. “Sweetheart, I knew that when you were eight,” was her only reply (I wish she had informed me of this little factoid a bit sooner, but I digress). That, and her sincere wish that I just be careful, take care of myself, and remember that I was worthy of love. That’s one of the components to our coming out process that we often forget; that we are worthy.

A fair cross-section of society would love to see us go back into the closet, and would gladly wield the hammer to nail the door shut. But the tide is changing slowly. There is more and more support from the “other side.” Still, in this election year, the cause of same-sex couples has been a topic up for discussion, but not a front burner issue. Why? Are we still considered “too hot to handle” in the volatility of today’s political arena? President Barack Obama, no pun intended, came out (finally) as an open supporter to the plight of gay marriage in this country. On the other side of the political coin, Presidential contender Mitt Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan have campaigned to their conservative base a vow to add a ban on same-sex marriage to the U.S. Constitution. I think it’s safe to say that Msrs. Romney and Ryan are not celebrating this National Coming Out Day.

Our sexuality is such a minimal part of what makes up our humanity. And isn’t that our most important attribute; our humanity?  We are all here to love and be loved; regardless of the sex of the other person. And often when individuals come out, they forget that they are worthy of receiving love. Do not forget you are worthy….NEVER forget you are worthy. And if you have any religious stumbling blocks, keep in mind that God doesn’t make junk. Like my mom said all those years ago, we are all worthy of love. Gay, straight, bisexual, transgender, queer…it doesn’t matter. We all deserve to love and be loved in return. Wait…there’s a song in that last line, I am sure of it…

So remember, not just today but every day, to love one another regardless of their sexuality. And if you are making the choice to come out today, welcome! You are already loved!

Here, courtesy of the Huffington Post, are some groundbreaking celebs that have made the choice to come out in the public eye. If they can do it, you can do it. As always we welcome your thoughts. Happy Coming Out!

N.C. same-sex marriage vote could have ripple effect nationwide

Could marriage ban in NC spell end of hopes for other states?

North Carolina is the latest state to join the ranks of adding a same-sex marriage ban to their constitution. They would join 12 other southern states with similar bans in their state constitutions. Colorado passed their own constitutional amendment in 2006, under a cloud of criticism. The North Carolina ban is a bit more inclusive than Colorado’s same sex marriage ban; it includes civil unions in the ban as well.

With a civil unions bill in the state senate in Colorado, proponents on both sides will be watching this vote with a great deal of scrutiny; including Sen. Pat Steadman, the voice of civil unions in Colorado’s senate.

“The amendment will allow the people of North Carolina to decide what marriage is defined as,” said state Senator Daniel Soucek, a Republican sponsor of the bill.

What are your thoughts on this pending piece of legislation in NC? What effect will it have on future plans for same-sex marriage in other states? Weigh in in our comments section.