Welcome, Jimmy… and welcome freedom
Today, in Flagstaff, Arizona, the sun is shining and the air is clean and clear.
And the family of The Legal Genealogist is gathered here to watch a beloved niece, Katya, walk down the aisle and join in matrimony with the love of her life, Jimmy.
It is a wonderful, joyful event and even thinking about it brings a smile to all of our faces.
Katya is the youngest child of my brother Paul and his wife Nadine, and their only daughter. Her three older brothers are here to see her marry today, even her brother Rudi who lives in Australia. Jimmy is a talented photographer and sweet guy who loves Katya to distraction.
In many ways, Katya and Jimmy are polar opposites. Fair and dark. German and Russian on one side, Irish and Korean on the other. Even vegetarian and omnivore. And yet in so many ways, it’s a perfect match.
And it’s a match we are so happy to be here to witness.
Yet — without wanting to take anything away from the joy of welcoming Jimmy to our family today — we are all riveted on events so many miles to the east where, yesterday, the Supreme Court of the United States by the narrowest of margins gave equal rights to other members of our family.
Where, yesterday, in a 5-to-4 decision, it said that another of my nieces can live her life freely and openly without legal discrimination by the federal government or the government of any state where she and her dearly loved partner choose to live.
Where, yesterday, it said that my niece and her partner have the same rights that Katya and Jimmy have. Like file a joint income tax return. Be the beneficiary of each other’s Social Security benefits or pension benefits. Make medical decisions for each other if the need arises.
Where, yesterday, it said that my niece and her partner can marry — legally — anywhere in the United States.
To me, these rights never should have been considered gay rights. They’re human rights. Rights of people who have faces. And names. Of friends, of colleagues, and of many I love with all my heart. People like my niece and her partner, whose faces and names I still decline to use online because they are what they are, two women who love each other in a country where, even after the Court’s decision yesterday, their lives will still be difficult and they will still face discrimination for that fact alone.
I cannot and do not accept such discrimination. I cannot and do not understand it. That they find joy in a partner of the same sex is so much less important than that they find joy in a partner.
And I am so proud that, yesterday, this nation has taken such a huge step towards seeing to it that such discrimination will end.
It will not affect Katya and Jimmy in the slightest — nor any other straight couple in the entire world — that her cousin is now legally able to do just what Katya and Jimmy are doing this afternoon. No right is being taken away from Katya and Jimmy in order to give it to her cousin and her partner.
No religious group will be forced to perform marriages it disapproves of; no pastor or rabbi or priest will lose his (or her!) religious freedom. This doesn’t affect religions at all — it’s a change in the way the law treats individuals, not in the way it treats religions.
We do not take away freedom from some by giving legal recognition to the freedom of others.
So my family is doubly warmed today.
By the Arizona sun shining down as we welcome Jimmy to the family and share in the joy of one straight couple.
And by the sun of legal freedom shining down on the joy of another couple miles to the east. A couple that just happens to be gay.
What a wonderful day…