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five and a half years ago i married the most amazing woman. we got married in sweden, since she’s swedish. and, after 6 months of living in two different countries right after our marriage, i moved to sweden so we could create our life together.
i’ve always wanted to live in europe. but, i must admit that part of the reason that we chose to live in sweden rather than the states, was because our marriage was legal here.
there was pretty much no way that we could live in the united states back in 2010.
in sweden, we are legally married, recognized, and have all of the rights + privileges as any other couple. in fact, there are no real issues at all in sweden regarding marriage equality. of course there are some conservative christian people (even here!) that like to talk shit about same sex couples, but that is a teeny, teeny, tiny small percentage.
the problem is that we love sweden and we love the united states. specifically my home state of north carolina. but, as i said, it was not possible for us to live in the states. the only way that lina (my wife) could live there with me was if she got a job, which gave her a work visa (not an easy thing to do at all!). or for her to study (which took loads of money).
so, sweden was our home for three years.
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then, after three years in sweden, we had the opportunity for move to north carolina! we had a huge gift given to us, and an opportunity for my love to study at an american university became a reality. then, voila! after a year of long processes, my love got a student visa for 4 years and we moved to our beloved asheville, north carolina!
so, to sum up… the only legal way we could live in the united states was to pay craploads of money for my love to study. and, our marriage was not even recognized as legal when we moved. but, we did it anyway! and we were happy.
then the unthinkable happened, literally just about the same time we were boarding the plane to move to the states in 2013…
united states vs windsor went to trial, and the supreme court decided that the federal government must recognize marriages of lesbian and gay couples.
the defense of marriage act (DOMA) was found unconstitutional, which means victory for same-sex bi-national couples. what does that mean?! it means that, as an american citizen, i could petition for a green card for my wife, just like heterosexual couples have always been able to do. lina would have the right to live in the states based on our marriage – just like i had the right in sweden.
of course, this didn’t mean that everything was fine & dandy for everyone, everywhere. in fact, in north carolina (as sick as this is gonna sound), our marriage was still not legally recognized. we had no rights as a married couple in the state.
so, our marriage was recognized by the us government, but not in north carolina. it was only legal in 13 states. at the time, though, it was a huge step forward for equal rights. though there was much work left to be done to ensure full legal, equal rights for all couples in all places at all times.
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fast forward to a little more than a year after we had moved to the states. life in asheville was good, but our marriage was still not recognized. so, if either one of us landed in the hospital, we were out of luck. the other one could not visit because we were not family. (just one example of the discrimination + inequality).
in october of 2014, a ruling in virginia struck down the law that defined marriage as only between a man and a women. in other words, it was now unconstitutional (illegal) to say that marriage was only between a man and a woman in virginia. suddenly everything changed! in literally a minute!
that ruling opened the door for other states to also strike down their own bans on same-sex marriage. north carolina had had a ban on gay marriage for a while, but i didn’t really believe that the law would be struck down anytime soon.
however, after a lot of drama and a lot of waiting, and hoping, and wishing, and a few last ditch political and horrific stalling tactics by republicans, and almost giving up, at the last minute on an october friday night, a judge in north carolina ruled that the ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional (because of what happened in virginia on monday). and then, within minutes, same- sex marriages were allowed to begin.
suddenly, within a flash, our marriage was recognized in our state. suddenly we were a married couple in north carolina – with rights and privileges. not just two girls living together. but, legitimately married. it felt amazing. and i could hardly breathe.
this was the day that love came to north carolina. the day that equality and justice won. i was so proud. so excited. and so overjoyed. and you know what else? it really did feel different walking around today, holding my love’s, my wife’s, hand – knowing that we are not just two women who live together. but, in the eyes of the law of north carolina and the united states, we are legally married. it is a binding contract, affording us the same rights and privileges as opposite gender couples. and i cannot adequately describe to you how incredible this feels.
but, there is still bad news: even though states all across the nation were beginning to make same sex marriages legal, there were many states still holding on to their marriage bans and still mired in discrimination.
and, of course, the conservatives in north caroline began putting up a good fight, spending tax payers money, trying to undo what has been done. and, you know what? they have succeeded in some ways… ugh. marriage is still legal in north carolina. but there are new discriminatory laws that are being put in place, taking away some of the right that we just won a few months ago.
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but… there is something happening in the supreme court again. right now.
nationwide marriage equality could be a real thing in the united states in the next few days. like. for. real.
this month, the supreme court is set to make a decision that just might make same-sex marriage the law of the land = legal + recognized in every single state! this would change absolutely every single thing. this is the thing that would make the united states a country of marriage equality.
this decision is HUGE: if ruled in favor of marriage equality, it would overturn same-sex marriage bans currently in the remaining 13 states, and make same-sex marriage legal throughout the country.
it time time, people. time to stop having LGBTQ couples being treated as second citizens, as less than. it is time that we live out the belief that love is love.
so here’s what’s happening: the case, obergefell v. hodges was argued before the supreme court back in april, and now the supreme court (the highest court in the country) has to address two questions very important questions:
Question 1: Does the U.S. Constitution require states to perform same-sex marriages? (because of basic civil rights)*.
Question 2: Does the Constitution requite states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states? (same reason)*
*of course, i am majorly, majorly simplifying the issue. i’m not lawyer or constitutionalist, you know! hehe.
i am breathlessly, crazily waiting to hear what the supreme court decides. because, whether i live in the states or in sweden, this affects me and my wife. and it affects many, many other couples as well.
over the next two-ish weeks, we wait to hear what the decision will be. the supreme court makes its decisions (opinions) on thursdays + mondays (if i understand it correctly).
and a decision will be made by monday, june 29. when it will come, no one is really sure.
so, we wait. and we hope. and we keep on believing. fighting every single day for every american to have the right to simply love who they love. we fight by raising our voices and by living our lives. we fight by living a life of love. and never giving up. we show what we mean. we share our stories. and we believe that, in the end, love will win.
because that’s what is at stake: love
onwards + upwards!
to keep up with the latest news from the supreme court + marriage equality click –> http://www.hrc.org/campaigns/stand-for-marriage.
In regards to question 2, (“Does the Constitution requite states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states?”), your stated reason of “basic civil rights” is far from the only reason – it’s just practical. There are a WHOLE lot of problems that come from NOT recognizing other states’ laws. For example, let’s say a gay couple married in Iowa moves to South Dakota. Let’s say they want to get a divorce. Well, SD doesn’t see them as married, so they don’t HAVE to get divorced, right? Except, what if one of them gets remarried… and then moves back to Iowa? Then is that person a bigamist? Somehow, they WOULD be in Iowa, but not in South Dakota. Isn’t that insane?
To me, even if you take “basic civil rights” out of the equation, it is absolutely insane not to recognize the marriages of other states. We recognize other states’ drivers licenses, warrants, and a host of other things. It’s all about Article IV of the Constitution – “full faith and credit.” Even if morality weren’t on the side of same-sex marriage (which, in my opinion, it VERY OBVIOUSLY IS), it wouldn’t matter. It’s just utterly crazy to try to do anything other than recognize other states’ marriages, which would very obviously lead to allowing same-sex marriage everywhere eventually, anyway.
But yes, you’re right in that the morality is the most important thing. But that goes, in my opinion, more to question one than question two, which is a legal question that I think Article IV of the Constitution pretty clearly supports.
oh lord, david! you are so right in all you say. i’m way too emotionally involved at this point to be able to think academically about it all. nor so even pretend to know anything thing really legal about anything. but, THANK YOU for your super thoughtful comment. i love it!
Right! I totally understand & empathize. Too many people I care about are too involved for me to JUST think purely academically. That being said, though, my best friend’s dad is a lawyer (a divorce lawyer, actually; he always jokes that he can’t be “objective” about same-sex marriage because it’s going to be good for business once some of them become same-sex divorces!), and he WAS told of a case where two women married in Iowa, got divorced, and then one wanted to re-marry to a man after moving to Wisconsin. This was several years ago, before Wisconsin had legalized same-sex marriage. It was a big problem because Iowa required six months residency to petition for a divorce, but one of the women had moved to Wisconsin, and didn’t want to move back with her ex (duh). So she was in this horrible limbo. She COULD HAVE married in Wisconsin… but then could have also been prosecuted for bigamy in Iowa! My friend’s-dad-the-lawyer and I talked about it, and it basically came down to the fact that “this is why ‘full faith and credit’ exists.”
So yeah; for me, always, that has been one of the things that – not my faith in the hearts of my fellow humans, but that there’s just too much of a legal quagmire if we don’t get to a point where ALL states recognize ALL marriages, whether or not all states actually PERFORM them. And once they’re all recognized, I figure there becomes no reason NOT to perform them, and we end up in the right place, even if it’s not for the best of reasons!
That is just freaking horrible that those women had to go through that! And yes, it will make for good business! And, finally, how is it even possible that we’ve lasted so long with this whole unrecognized marriage thing?! I’m telling you, it felt so weird (and horrible!) to be legally married and not recognized as legally married.
Also, your link to the 13 states where same-sex marriage is illegal is broken. Here is the corrected link:
Liz, this is such a well written and incredibly moving post about this important human rights issue. I am hoping and praying for a positive outcome on the 29th. The time has come. Sending you and Lina so much love.
Thank you so much, Kate. Feeling the love + sending it right back to you. xo
Liz, thanks for writing and sharing such a wonderful article. The usa legalities between country and state confuse me so much!
i massively hope for a positive result!!
in our marriage ceremony i had my friend read something id written about equality… and you know, it is a basic right, just so funny that not all countries are there yet!
personally, even with a very deep love to travel, there are some countries out there i will never go to because of the country legalities!
I know… Lina and I have talked a lot about wanting to travel places and not going there because of the lack of human rights. What a crappy thing to have to deal with! Thanks for reading – yes, the US is super confusing when it comes to national and state government. It all boils down to Americans never wanting one big government to decide everything, so they decided to make each state have some control too. It’s supposed to be some sort of checks and balances kind of thing, but many times it just makes things confusing. The best way to think of it is like the EU. Different countries, but one EU. Different states, but one nation. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s the best analogy there is.