When I typed into Google, “How many states have…”, the first choice was; “…have gay marriage.” It showed thirty states and the District of Columbia now allowing same-sex marriage as of press time, and barriers are being breached at a breath-taking rate.
In 1967, Loving v. Virginia finally broke the racial barrier, permitting adults of whatever origin or color to marry legally in the United States. Alabama, in 2000, was the last state to remove such laws from its books, and bans same-sex marriage today.
But it’s been legal here in Minnesota since 2013, when the first licenses were issued on August first. While I found that thrilling, and am delighted for all the young couples that can now enjoy this right and privilege, I’m moved equally by the number of couples, together for years, that are finally able to wed.
I attended the wedding of two friends and their kids last fall, one of whom wrote recently words to the effect of, “Our first anniversary–feels more like twenty-five years!” And it was, indeed. Their love, intention, and commitment had made a marriage of a quarter century. Another couple was married last February 14, the anniversary of their actual joining together. Thirty-three years together and counting.
Of course, neither of them have yet equaled the track record of 90-year-old Alice “Nonie” Dubes and 91-year-old Vivian Doyack who, after 72 years together were married in Davenport, Iowa, this September. As the local newspaper reported, “Vivian wore pink, Nonie wore taupe, and the two held hands in their wheelchairs during the ceremony.”
Then there’s Paul Huff, 73, and Tom Woijtowick, 66, of Lewiston, Montana, who married recently after a committed 30-year relationship. Once married, Catholic officials announced they would have to sign a statement supporting the concept of marriage as a union of a man and a woman and pledge to get a divorce and cease living together, or leave the church.
While Huff and Wojtowick are an example of long-standing love and commitment, they also reflect the kind of thinking—still prevalent—embodied in the case of Alabama and its outdated miscegenation laws.
So while we wish great happiness to all those entering marriage today, let’s not forget that there is still a long road ahead for equality for all.