By: Joseph Uva Enoch
Today has been an emotional day for me. I see Red fly high on Facebook with updates on Marriage Equality being heard at the Supreme Court. I’ve had co-workers come up and ask me about my feelings, while seeing pictures around my desk of my partner and our daughter. Trevor making an Equality picture with us and our daughter on it, our small but beautiful family. A tough fight comes with great reward. I have faith that history will prove equality matters. Our daughter sees the love of her parents and some day she will read how that path for so many was not easy, but she will never doubt our love for each other.
To our family and friends who have stood by my side, our side, accepted our family and did so while many others dismiss us as something different, bad, or wrong….. I say thank you from the deepest part of my heart. You all have become our rock, the place we can rest, knowing that our love and family are important, beautifully accepted with love and respect.
The fight for Love is never wasted, it will always win!
By Kelly Rummelhart
For years I have been an ally to the gay community. I can’t really even put a date on it but I remember always thinking that gay men and women should have the same rights as everyone else. I remember not understanding, back in 2000, why people would vote yes for Prop 22. Even back then, the year I was able to get legally married in the state of California, I remember thinking how could voters single out one group for discrimination? It made no sense to me.
Years later it would be Prop 8 and I then had to explain to my three children why some people, including several family friends, could not get legally married simply because who they loved just happened to be the same gender. It still didn’t make sense and it certainly didn’t make sense to my children.
You see, my children have been raised since Day One with the knowledge that everyone is equal. I made it one of my missions as a parent to educate my children on the fact that we are all different, but that is what makes us great. We are a world full of different religions, cultures, races, sexual orientations, genders, abilities, etc. but that we are all capable of love and respect and should be celebrated. The fact that my young children don’t understand why some of their friends’ parents can’t get married because they are both men or both women, is proof that I succeeded.
When I took my first NOH8 picture back in 2010, while I was a gestational surrogate for a set of twins for two men, I was protesting a few things. Mainly, the fact that the fathers of the babies I was carrying, who loved each other greatly, who decided to create a family, couldn’t get legally married if they wanted . . . and that is a problem.
In the summer of 2012, NOH8 was in Sacramento and I had just given birth to my final surrogate baby weeks early (for another gay couple), so I took my children with me to pose. Even though I wasn’t OUT to them yet, we were protesting the fact that their friends’ parents STILL couldn’t get married (unbeknownst to them, their own mom wouldn’t be able to either). A few friends of mine, gay and straight, posed with their children too and when the pictures were ready, we posted them on Facebook and got a lot of positive feedback. However, I also heard from one person that they (and others apparently) thought I was using my children for my own political agenda. I laughed knowing that if they asked my kids, “Do you want Katie and Brandon’s mom to be able to marry her girlfriend? Do you want George and Sanj’s marriage to be honored here? Do you want Caitlyn and Wilma’s marriage to be “real”?” They would answer yes, because they do. They want those things for their friends and family members and I bet, in the future, they would want that for themselves too, if they ended up not being straight.
It’s such a simple concept to teach to a child and they get it; how do adults not? That’s the funny thing about inequality, unless it’s your rights being violated, it’s easy not to care. I think to myself, years from now, when the LGBT community can get married everywhere, will those who fought so furiously to stop it, see themselves like the racists of the past that fought interracial marriage? Will it be their photo in a textbook holding up their Hateful sign that children will scoff at and not even be able to imagine a time when that type of inequality was possible?
Sometimes I wonder if I have fought so hard for years for the LGBT community because deep down I knew I was apart of it? At the same time I am a bit saddened thinking that maybe I wasn’t an awesome ally for the same reason . . . but then I think, regardless, even before I figured out my own sexuality, that I have always thought people should be able to marry whom they love, regardless of gender, sexuality, race, etc.
And so here we are in March, with a big decision about to be handed down. And I hope with all my heart, that the few adults that make up the Supreme Court will understand what my three young children have had no problem accepting . . . that all people should be created equal, including their mother.
By Shannon Ralph
Reason #5: The push and the pull.
Marriage is all about give and take. Compromise. Push and pull. Gay and lesbian marriages are no different. Ruanita gives. I take. I push her. She pulls me. This push and pull dynamic is apparent in many aspects of our everyday life.
- We do not have cable. This is absolutely the direct effect of Ruanita’s pull being a wee bit stronger than my push. I have pushed this issue for years. I have begged for cable. I have whined for cable. I have stomped my foot and demanded cable. As any intelligent adult knows, anything and everything of value in television today is on cable. Game of Thrones. Homeland. Boardwalk Empire. Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo. Unfortunately, my desire to watch Pawn Stars is simply no match for Ruanita’s desire to cling to her cash. Therefore, we do not have cable.
- We have three children. I admit that this one is entirely on me. Ruanita was content with one child, but I pushed and pushed until I won her over. “Lucas doesn’t need to be an only child.” “Everyone needs a brother or sister.” “Two is the perfect number.” “I want to experience the joy of childbirth.” Yea, what the hell was I thinking? Secretly, I would happily have six children. Ruanita wanted one, reluctantly agreed to two, and ended up with three. I don’t think even my stellar pushing skills can budge her even one more inch. We are done.
- We have a dog. Again, this one is on me. I wanted a dog. I thought our children should grow up with a pet. Now we are the proud owners of a completely dead lawn, numerous disemboweled stuffed animals, and a pungent aroma that permeates every crevice of our home. But am I content with all of this loveliness? No. I am actually pushing Ruanita to get another dog. A dog needs a BFF, right? Luckily, she is pulling harder than I am pushing at this time.
- I do not own an iPad. In all honestly, I do not need an iPad. I have a smartphone. I have a laptop. Actually, I have two laptops. I have a Nook. I have an iPod. What could I possibly do on an iPad that I cannot already do on any one of the other assorted electronics I own? Nothing. But, being a master pusher, it does not matter. I want an iPad. I think that I need an iPad. I am pushing Ruanita to buy me an iPad. As of yet, I have been unsuccessful. The $600 price tag and her complete lack of appreciation for any and all electronic devices (did I mention she still carries a little flip-style cell phone that is older than all of my children combined?) is causing Ruanita to pull. And pull. And pull some more. I simply do not see an iPad in my future unless one of my loyal readers—overcome with a sense of compassion for my plight—surprises me with one. I’m not holding my breath, however.
As you may have garnered from this list, I am typically the pusher in my marriage and Ruanita is the puller. I push her toward ridiculous, fanciful, often farcical ideas. She pulls me toward non-movement and stagnation. Somehow we meet in the middle. We compromise. We both give a little. As a result, we have a lovely home instead of a mini mansion we can’t afford or a rent-controlled hovel in the hood. We have three happy children instead of an out-of-control brood or one child that we managed to turn freakishly weird with our undivided attention. We have one pet instead of a menagerie to rival any metropolitan zoo. We don’t have cable, but we also don’t spend 90% of our lives staring at the television with drool forming at the corners of our mouths. And we still have Downton Abbey, so not all is lost.
The push and the pull is one more way that my marriage is just like your marriage.
By: Shannon Ralph
Reason #8: The ugly cry.
There are few people in this world who we allow to see ourselves at our very worst. For the most part, we try to put on a happy front. A dignified mask. We want the world to see us as confident. And capable. We want people to think we have our shit together. That we aren’t afraid. That we aren’t neurotic. That we don’t make stupid decisions. That we don’t question our own abilities on a daily basis. That we are better than all those losers out there who can’t seem to manage their own lives.
It can be pretty damn exhausting to keep up this façade.
When you are married, however, there is always one person who knows the truth. There is always one person who sees you for what you really are. There is always one person who knows that you snore. And that you get bitchy when you are tired. And that you ignore your children at times. That you are often selfish. That you feel guilty about every decision you have ever made in your life. There is one person who sees all of your ugly little neuroses. There is one person who sees you.
Ruanita has seen me at my worst. She has seen me cry. Some people cry these cute little sobs. They whimper silently. With tiny little sniffles. Blotting at their eyes with tissues. When these people cry, you feel an overwhelming desire to protect them. To wrap your arms around them and shield them from anything and everything that will ever cause them sorrow. Anything and everything that will ever cause them to make those pitiful little whimpering noises. My son, Nicholas, cries this way. Unfortunately, I do not.
I cry UGLY.
I repel people when I cry. People recoil is disgust. When I cry, my face contorts into something reminiscent of Heath Ledger’s brilliant turn as the Joker. My face is almost instantly covered with hideous red splotches. And thick green snot pours from my nose. A tissue is useless against the phlegm coming out of every orifice in my head. I need a full sized bath towel to wipe that stuff away.
And what good is whimpering? How is any emotion expelled through a tiny little whimper? I wail. I heave. I blubber. I howl. I snivel. I hyperventilate. I make noises that I am certain are painful to the dogs of my neighborhood. When I cry, it is a macabre feast for the senses. Kind of like a horror movie. You cover your eyes in terror, but can’t help looking through your fingers. I am a train wreck.
Ruanita has seen my ugly cry on more than one occasion. And she is still here. She did not toss me a bath towel and immediately dial up a divorce lawyer. She has stuck with me despite the ugly cry. Despite my neurosis. Despite the fact that I don’t have all my shit together.
Being able to look past the ugly cry is one more reason that my marriage is just like your marriage.
By: Shannon Ralph
Ruanita kisses me goodbye every morning before I go to work. She doesn’t kiss me in the bedroom. She doesn’t kiss me in the kitchen. Nor the bathroom. Nor the kids’ bedrooms. In order for our goodbye kiss to “count,” she must kiss me at the front door. With the door open. For the entire world—or at least all of Columbus Avenue—to see.
I can’t quite recall when this practice began, but it seems like she has always done it. She meets me at the front door every morning without fail as I am leaving for work. It does not matter if she is up to her elbows in school lunch preparation. It doesn’t matter if she is brushing her teeth. Or begging Lucas to please get dressed. Or wrestling with Sophie over combing her hair. It doesn’t matter. She kisses me goodbye every morning. At the front door. She’ll usually say “I love you” or “I’ll miss you today” or something equally endearing. I leave my house every morning feeling special and appreciated and loved.
To save her time and trouble, I have attempted to kiss her in the kitchen as she poured apple juice and opened Pop Tart packages. I have attempted to kiss her in the bathroom as she had one hand prying Sophie’s stubborn mouth open and the other attempting to insert a toothbrush into the tiny resulting hole. I have attempted to kiss her as she’s begging the muddy dog to please for the love of God come back inside. But she will have no part of these illegitimate goodbye kisses. She will wave off my affections and tell me to meet her at the door. There, and only there, will she kiss me goodbye.
There have been times throughout the years when we have refused to kiss. There have been instances when I was so irate that I yelled “goodbye!” and stalked out the front door without ever looking back. There have been mornings when I stood patiently at the door awaiting my kiss only to be disappointed because Ruanita was still harboring resentment over the fight we had the night before. These days are few and far between, but when I manage to leave the house without my morning goodbye kiss, nothing goes right. The day is somehow “off” from the start. I am late. I can’t think straight. I can’t form a coherent sentence. I am preoccupied with the lack of a goodbye kiss. And nothing will set the day straight again until I get my kiss at the front door. Only when I get my kiss will the stars align and the universe smile on the world once again.
The morning goodbye kiss is one more way that my marriage is just like your marriage.
By: Shannon Ralph
There comes a time in any marriage—particularly lengthy marriages—when a conscious decision is made that we will no longer hide our perfectly natural bodily functions from one another. This is not particularly a decision we are proud of, but it is a decision we all make at some point or another. It may be a decision based on logistical necessity. It may be a decision based on fundamental laziness and sloth. Either way, it is a choice we make and a decision we stand by through thick and thin.
We all belch and fart. It’s just a fact of life. If we did not belch and fart, we would spend our lives in doubled-over agony trying desperately to hold in noxious gas that wants nothing more than to be let out. We would be nothing short of incapacitated. That is no way to live.
Luckily for the married among us, we are free to let it all out.
When you first met your spouse and were trying to win his or her affections, you would certainly never consider farting in front of them. Or belching. Or clipping your toenails. Or waxing your mustache. Or peeing with the bathroom door open. You took special care to hide all of the vile things you did in private from the object of your affection.
Marriage, however, is a completely different story. First and foremost, “private” doesn’t really exist anymore once you tie the knot. Healthy boundaries disintegrate sometime shortly after the honeymoon–specifically if you are married with children. You shower while your spouse is brushing her teeth in the same bathroom. You dress while discussing your checkbook. You pee while your child shows you his latest math test. There is no privacy. At least not in my house.
If I have already spent my day showering, dressing, and peeing with an audience, what is there to keep me from letting go of all that gas while lying in bed with my spouse? What shred of dignity could I possibly have left? Why torment myself and tie my stomach into knots by trying to hold it in? Why disengage myself from my warm and cozy covers to excuse myself to the chilly bathroom to fart? She’s already seen me pee. She has to know I fart, as well. Right? Is it possible that she thinks my body is the lone exception to the laws of biology? That this temple is somehow immune to the side effects of the Chipotle burrito? Surely not.
When you are in the office or sitting in a coffee shop or hanging out with friends, there are certain social mores that surround the belch and the fart. If one happens to slip out, we understand that the farter or belcher will undoubtedly be mortified. Therefore, social norms suggest that the belchee or fartee (the one who is belched or farted upon) ignore the incident. We pretend it did not happen. As our eyes water and our noses scream out for relief, we completely ignore the rogue bodily expellant.
In a marriage—in an environment of communal showering and dressing and peeing—these same social mores do not apply. Therefore, Ruanita feels free to screech and hold her nose and swat at the air dramatically when I pass gas in bed. And I feel the same prerogative to leap (perhaps a bit overzealously) at the unsuspecting dog resting innocently at the foot of our bed and selflessly fling my body on top of hers to protect her from Ruanita’s pestilent fumes. Though we both know that belching and farting are natural bodily responses to excess gas, we do not let the belcher or farter off the hook so easily. No, we call obnoxious attention to the act while secretly finding solace in the knowledge that Ruanita loves me enough to fart in my presence and I love her enough to belch in hers. Isn’t that what true love is all about? The good, the bad, and the stinky?
A lack of basic social boundaries is one more ways that my marriage is just like your marriage.
Tonight is an historic night and yet another step toward equality for all. It looks likely that it will be 4 of 4 states that have voted to legalize same-sex marriage. It’s the first time after some 30 losses across the country that by popular vote same-sex marriage is supported.
By: Shannon Ralph
Reason # 19: The in-laws.
When Ruanita and I stood before our family and friends and declared our commitment to one another, two families became one. We committed ourselves not only to loving each other for life, but also to tolerating our in-laws for better or for worse. Through the last 15 years, we have definitely experienced the better and the worse with the in-laws. Had we initiated a worldwide search, we could not have possibly merged two families that were more diametrically opposed.
Ruanita comes from an extremely small family. When we first met, Ruanita’s family consisted of her mother (who is certifiably insane), her brother (who is a “born-again” Christian and, therefore, has chosen not to have a relationship with sinners like Ruanita and me), and her estranged father (who had divorced her mother when she was pregnant with Ruanita and had never really been a part of her life). She did not have aunts, uncles, or cousins with whom she was close. Growing up, her grandparents were her primary caretakers and the loves of her life. Once they were gone, “family” took on a different meaning for her.
My family, on the other hand, is extremely large. Loud. Obnoxious. Enmeshed. Up in each other’s business. I have two sisters and a brother who are my very best friends. I have 11 aunts and uncles whom I adore. I have 20-plus first cousins who I don’t see often enough, but immensely enjoy when we do get together. Needless to say, my family was a bit of a cultural shock for Ruanita.
Navigating the in-laws has been a struggle at times throughout the years. In my family, we are extremely close, as I said. That closeness can at times be claustrophobia-inducing—particularly for someone not accustomed to people who freely give unsolicited advice, are in possession of extremely loose tongues, have no sense of privacy, and share all secrets small and large.
In addition, I was raised with a strong sense of duty when it comes to family. If someone in my family needs something, I give it to them. I don’t question it. I haven’t always considered whether it might be the best thing for my own household. I haven’t always considered Ruanita’s feelings or needs or desires. I admit this has caused tension in our marriage at times throughout the years.
In the same way that Ruanita struggles at times with my family that is so very different from her own, I struggle with her family. Her mother is mentally ill. She has spent the last 48 years slowly sucking the life out of Ruanita. I know that sounds harsh, but I am sure Ruanita would not argue with that description. In many ways, Ruanita never had a mother/daughter relationship with her mother. She was always more of a caretaker to her mother than the other way around. Try as I may, I can’t hate her mother. I know she is ill. Plus, her illness helped make Ruanita the person she is today. The person I am completely mad about and the person to whom I chose to bind my life. So I can’t hate her. At the same time, however, she’s an incredibly hard person to love.
I won’t say much about Ruanita’s brother. I have met him. I have little time or energy to devote to a man who did not acknowledge the birth of any of his sister’s children and still thinks he is heaven-bound because he espouses to be a “Christian.” Yea….good luck with that one on Judgment Day, buddy.
Despite the occasional struggle, family has also been an immense source of joy in our marriage. Before she passed away, my grandma–an old devoutly Catholic woman who had lived in conservative Kentucky her entire life–accepted Ruanita with open arms. She adored Ruanita and worshipped the ground our firstborn son walked on. She would never let Ruanita walk out her door without first giving her a big sloppy granny hug and kiss. In many ways, she reminded Ruanita of her own grandmother, and I think her love and acceptance was one of the greatest gifts in our early marriage.
My family has also given our children the aunts, uncles, and cousins to grow up with that are lacking on Ruanita’s side of the family. They have given our children a sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves. Bigger than our little house on Columbus Avenue. Despite their flaws–and I do not deny that they do have their flaws–my family has welcomed Ruanita and our children with no reservations. No sideways glances. No hesitation whatsoever. The kids play with their “Kentucky cousins” when we visit home. And they know that they have a large network of adults who love them and will always “have their backs.” One day they may wish that all those adults would just get the hell out of their business, but hey…that’s family, right?
Ruanita also recently reconnected with her father. He’s made some regretable mistakes in his life, but he is an incredibly likable man. Funny. Irreverent. Kind. And deeply committed to repairing the broken relationship with his daughter. I see so much of him in Ruanita. And in my Lucas. Lucas and Nicholas instantly adored him, and he even managed to win over skeptical Sophie a bit. Just yesterday, I got an incredibly sweet belated birthday card in the mail from him. After fifteen years with Ruanita, I have the joy of adding a whole new set of wonderful in-laws to my family–Ruanita’s dad, his wife, his other daughter, her children. In-laws who are easy to like. Even easy to love.
In-laws will always be in-laws—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Learning to navigate the in-laws and survive “family” is one more way that my marriage is just like your marriage.
By: Shannon Ralph
Reason #25: We are monogamous.
I couldn’t cheat on Ruanita. Even if I wanted to, I couldn’t do it. I mean, logistically speaking—I couldn’t do it. Who has the time?
There is no way in hell I could find the time in my busy schedule to even consider getting a little action on the side. Let’s take this weekend for example.
This morning, Sophie and I are supposed to be raking leaves at a cemetery for Girl Scouts. Then I have to pick up Lucas from choir, with Sophie in tow. After choir, the entire family is going to head to Costco to do our twice monthly Costco shopping and have lunch at one of our favorite dining destinations—the Costco snack bar. After Costco, we have to head home and clean the house prior to all of our friends coming over for Bunco tonight. Bunco, and cleaning the aftermath of Bunco, will take us straight up to bedtime. We will retire upstairs where our children will sleep in sleeping bags on our bedroom floor because—well, who the hell knows why? Because they are as codependent as the two adults who brought them into this world.
Tomorrow, Ruanita and I will awake at the crack of dawn to the sensation of three children and a 40-pound dog trying to squeeze their large bodies into our little queen-sized bed. A queen-sized bed that Ruanita and I more than sufficiently fill on our own, thank you very much. We’ll enjoy our usual Sunday morning family love-fest in bed. Ruanita kisses Lucas, he giggles like a little school girl. I tickle Sophie. She screams like a banshee. Stella (the dog) licks Nicholas. He laughs and kicks his legs—right into Mommy’s full morning bladder. We make a “Lukie sandwich.” Then a “Nicky sandwich.” We attempt to make a “Sophie sandwich,” but she is offended to her very core that Nicholas’ leg is touching her own. Five people and a boxer in a queen-sized bed, and she doesn’t want to be touched! One day that child will be the cause of my grisly and completely untimely death. I just know it.
Eventually, we will rise and begin our day. The kids will watch cartoons or play the Wii while Ruanita and I read the Sunday paper at the kitchen table. Afterwards, I will take a quick shower and head to Target to do our normal weekly grocery shopping. These people like to eat. After that, we are heading to Eagan to my nephew Sullivan’s third birthday party. Those exciting festivities will be followed by a Minnesota Lynx game at the Target Center with friends. We will arrive home just in time to tuck our sleepy, and inevitably crabby, children into bed and fall on top of our own covers exhausted.
Monday begins another week of working opposite schedules. If I am not at work, I am alone with my children during the week. I suppose I could have a secret lover over to hang out while Ruanita is at work. Try as I might, however, I doubt I could convince any potential mistress of the inherent sexiness of Easy Mac and Power Rangers.
Yea, I think cheating on Ruanita is pretty much out of the question. For the reasons outlined above, but more importantly, because I just don’t want to. I have no desire to be with anyone other than Ruanita. I was lucky enough to find someone to love me and put up with all my baggage and weird little idiosyncrasies. Why would I ever risk losing that? How could anything ever be better than the life we’ve built together? I love my life. Ruanita and I belong to one another, and ONLY one another. We are monogamous to the core.
That, my friends is one more reason why my marriage is just like your marriage.
By: Joey Uva Enoch
This past weekend Trevor and I drove up to the central coast of California to take a tour of a possible wedding venue for a 2013 ceremony. On the drive up, I turned to Trevor and asked; “What are your feelings on why it is so important for us to get married?” We have talked plenty on marriage but I have never asked him that specific question. His response was very to the point; “It solidifies our relationship and our family” I have been asking myself the same question. Here are my beliefs and why I think marriage is so important for me:
Our relationship is valid. Our relationship is just as important as any other American or person on this great planet of ours.
Our dedication. We are dedicated to sharing our life together. We strive for greatness together.
Unity and love. Our love is not defined by the beliefs of others. It’s defined by our spirits, two souls that have come together in a place of unity and love.
Security. I want to know that there is security. That our family will not be divided because society has forced it to be. Our marriage would hold our family together in times of crisis.
True freedom. Not only ours but our daughters. She deserves to know freedom. True freedom, not freedom that comes with the limitations that one group places on another. I truly believe she will see this in her lifetime but I’d really like her to see it in our family. I want her to know that her family is just as important as any other. That our family is not less than.
Let God be the judge. I believe in God, in a higher power. My definition is based on my own beliefs. I will be ready for God’s judgment at the end of this life for my acts and the impact I’ve made on others. Let God cast the first stone on me if my love and marriage were not truly right with him in the end. The stones you throw are heavy and they will weigh you down into darkness.
Don’t compare, know your own strength. I have heard a lot of things like, “this celebrity got married and it failed in 72 hours.” Or, “this person has been married 4 times, so why can’t gays and lesbians get married?” For me, that is not a valid argument. Every person on this planet makes mistakes and has lessons to learn. I think for me it’s looking at what marriage means for my own relationship and family that matters most. The failures of others should never be compared to who I am. I know the strength of my relationship and family.
Be the change. Why can’t I be part of the change? I know that my relationship is strong and deserves the opportunity to stand the test of time. Why can’t I be the one who is able to stick it out in marriage through the good times and the hard times? I want to be able to stand in those last days with Trevor and say, “Look! We made it! You have been the best husband in the world and my love for you is never ending!”
Love is enough. Why can’t love be enough? Why can’t two people who truly love each other be enough for others to understand why we want to dedicate our lives to each other? Why must so many people be focused on their own beliefs that they force them on others and judge from such a dark place? Our love is enough!
Trevor and I have been talking about getting married for a while now. Whether it’s legal or not when our time comes we know that our relationship is strong, that our family is important, that we are dedicated to one another and that our love is enough.