My sister Trish has been married three times — to the same woman.
The first time was 18 years ago in New York in what she calls a “spiritual but not legal” celebration in the presence of family and friends.
The second time they finally made it legal before a judge in Oregon. However, several months later, Oregon changed its mind and issued them a refund. “Without interest,” my sister adds sarcastically.
The third time was two years ago in a joyous, legally binding ceremony in Seattle with more friends and family.
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The marriage of these two determined women has been a simple matter of fact for our two daughters, who have always known their aunts as a loving, committed couple. Their marital status has never required an explanation.
What’s there not to get about love? “Duh,” as my girls would say.
Last month the Supreme Court officially acknowledged what we’ve always known. Aunt Trish and Aunt Pam’s love is real. Their love is legitimate. Their love matters.
Their right to marital benefits is as legitimate as the rights my wife and I enjoy, and their relationship has had no effect on the definition of our marriage. If anything it serves as a model of how to sustain love and fidelity under the strain of being treated like marginalized citizens.
As parents, my wife and I have tried to build our family upon the tenets of love, respect and acceptance of all people. That’s how I was raised.
My parents intimately understood divine love and used it to propel them to the front lines of desegregation and the civil rights movement. Despite opposition from some in their church-based circles, they knew that they were doing the right thing.
They exemplified a loving God and embodied the Christ who said, “Love your neighbor.”
Because of them our family knows that love never excludes — not for race, religion, income, gender or whom you choose to marry. There is no “worthy” or “unworthy.” It doesn’t keep score. It doesn’t favor a flag or an anthem or an ideology.
Love sows peace. It never drops bombs or flies airplanes into buildings or invades another country or burns down churches. Love has no need to cling to weapons as a symbol of power and freedom. Love is power. Love is freedom.
Love lifts up the downtrodden. It does not blame the poor for being poor. It does not measure the length of one’s bootstraps or the effort with which one pulls on them. It does not deny access to health care, food or shelter.
Love comes from a place of abundance where there is plenty for all. It has no use for excess or hoarding.
Love surrounds hatred with light and renders it powerless. Only fear thrives in the shadows. Only fear lashes out in an attempt to dishearten and control others. Only fear seeks revenge and has the audacity to call it justice.
The love our family knows is free. There is nothing you can do to earn it or lose it.
I respect the right of others to disagree with my beliefs. But I also know that the Supreme Court has done the right thing by ruling in favor of inclusion and nudging our nation in the direction of love.
Just as I watched my parents put their love into action, our daughters are listening and watching our words and actions as they frame the context of this historic moment.
I intend to leave no doubt in their minds about where I stand. I choose love.
To reach Jim Cosgrove, send email to email@example.com.