This Ruling Matters

Just moments ago, the Ninth Circuit ruled that California’s ban on gay marriage, known as Proposition 8, is unconstitutional.
This doesn’t come as any surprise to many of us, who have been saying it’s unconstitutional since it was passed by confused voters in 2008. And though there will likely be another appeals case to a higher court (as this case is likely going to the Supreme Court — which makes me nervous considering our current Supreme Court Justices), and marriage equality might not be re-starting tomorrow, or really anytime soon, in California, this ruling matters.
Let me tell you a story about a friend of mine. His name is Eric. Eric was a graduate student when I was at Arizona State University. I met him while working with the Human Rights Campaign at Arizona. The year was 2006. 
Together, Eric and I worked tirelessly to defeat, yes, defeat, a ballot initiative that wanted to ban same-sex marriage in Arizona. Because of our work, with the help of countless others help, Arizona became — and remains the only state to ever vote down an initiative similar to Proposition 8.

This was my introduction into politics, college, and being a young gay man.
Eric was a sincerely nice guy. I even had/have a little crush on him. I was used to being hit on by slightly-to-incredibly older gay men. But Eric never hit on me. He never treated me as anything but his equal. And he answered all those embarrassing questions young, inexperienced gay men have. 
Well, just a second after I learned of the breaking news regarding the courts second time in striking down this discriminatory law, my friend Eric proposed to his boyfriend, ironically named Ray. They live in California. I couldn’t be happier for a man who has served as such a role model, and an amazing friend, to me. 
For people like Eric, this ruling matters. 
For people like me, this ruling as matters. It illustrates that someday my dream to get married might be legal in yet another state. 
For gay teens everywhere contemplating suicide as a means to end, this ruling doesn’t just tell them that it gets better, but it proves it to them.

 This is me, front and center, holding the HRC flag after Proposition 107 was defeated in Arizona in 2006. Arizona remains the first and only state to ever defeat a so-called “marriage amendment.” That was an amazing night.  Photo via HRC@ASU

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