Corri Planck and Dianne Hardy-Garcia are just one of the loving same-sex couples whose lives were dramatically impacted last month when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and restored the freedom to marry to California. Now, they're speaking out about why it's so important that we keep the momentum going so that we win the freedom to marry in each and every state.
Corri and Dianne live in Los Angeles with their two daughters, Tina and Raquel. They married in Los Angeles on September 20, 2008, during the five-month window where same-sex couples had the freedom to marry in California, before Proposition 8 took that freedom away. Corri and Dianne were devastated on Election Night when they saw that Proposition 8 had passed, and while they were grateful that their marriage was respected by the state of California, they knew that it was not respected federally because of DOMA - and they knew that so many of their friends and neighbors in California could no longer share in the joys of marriage.
Last month, on June 26, the Supreme Court finally ruled that Corri and Dianne - and hundreds of thousands of married same-sex couples - should be seen as equal in the eyes of the federal government, and that families across California should have the freedom to marry. It was an amazing day nationwide - for same-sex couples, for their children and families, and for the large and diverse majority of Americans who support the freedom to marry.
Hours after the ruling came down, Corri and Dianne reflected on the impact of the rulings. They speak for many Americans when they explain how significant this day was for them - and for so many other families across the country - and why we need to keep up the momentum and achieve the national victory that so many families are depending on.
I feel very grateful to live in this country today, a place where change is possible. Not always easy, but possible. It feels like a real gift.
Tears of joy just welled up - it was a flood of emotion. I know how important it is for Corri and I and our family. The federal benefits of marriage are something we deeply hoped to have equal access to in order to best protect our family.
I also remembered all the years of activism and the countless people I know - both straight and gay - who worked to make this moment possible. I felt profound gratitude to them all.
I felt hopeful for those who will now have a chance to be married, including some dear friends, but especially my brother, who is living abroad and separated from our family because he and his partner were unable to be married in the United States.
As a parent, it was great to see our daughters jubilantly volunteer to be flower girls for a few couples - including their uncles.
I was optimistic that the Court would rule in favor of fairness and equality - the arguments were just so compelling and it was time. But even now, a few hours after the decisions came down, it's hard to totally comprehend the magnitude of these victories.
Last night, I went into my daughters' room and kissed them both on the head and hoped that they would wake up to an affirming message about their family, their country and the values of fairness and equality. I'm beyond grateful that they did.
With full marriage equality, the daily routines of our life won’t change much. We will still work hard to provide for our family. We will juggle who is dropping off the kids at school and who is picking up. We will still get them to piano lessons, choir and swimming. We will still go to parent/teacher conferences and holidays shows at school. We will worry about their grades, that they are growing up too fast and whether the soccer uniforms are clean for the next game.
But with full marriage equality, a fundamental truth of our life is now irrefutable – that we are married. And that means we will be able to manage the day-to-day responsibilities of our family life with the security that married couples and families need – that we can provide health insurance and make health decisions for each other without question; that we can, like all other families, inherit from each other without unfair penalties; that we don’t have to file as married on our state tax returns and unmarried on our federal ones, which is simply false. Ultimately, it’s hard to rationalize denying any family the opportunity to be responsible for each other.
I've spent half my life working on these issues. As the anticipation of the decision wore on throughout this month, my thoughts have also been on all the people I've been fortunate enough to work with and call friends who have contributed to this collective effort over so many years. There are volumes and volumes of stories of love, courage, vision, creativity and commitment in this struggle.
I'm so thankful for the small part I've been able to play, and to have worked with and know so many people who each helped make history today.