Robert Stinnett is a 39-year-old gay man from mid-Missouri.
This morning sitting at a friend's house here in New York on vacation, I waited anxiously for 10 a.m., the magic hour, to strike and the Supreme Court justices to release their opinions on both DOMA and Proposition 8. For all of my 39 years, I’ve been living a “separate and unequal” life of my own. My first job I had out of college I was fired from for being gay; I’ve been attacked and beaten for what I am; I have watched as people use religious beliefs to spread hate. I waited with so many other gay friends for this decision, expecting the worse but hoping for the best.
Watching the SCOTUSblog and Twitter feeds, history unfolded before my eyes.
It just took a few words to scroll across my screen, and I knew that what I’ve fought hard for all these years was coming true – the federal government would now extend benefits to gay married families the same as they did to other marriages – equality, finally!
Words could not express my joy enough — in an instant, my Facebook page turned into an explosion of celebration from friends coast-to-coast. In an instant, a huge weight had been lifted for gay people everywhere. In that moment I could imagine being no other place (in New York where gay marriage is legal), during no other time (Pride Month) for this to happen.
As it settled in, I had to start thinking about what’s next for me — Missouri has banned gay marriage, so even though I celebrate today I know that when I return home next week it’s “hatred as usual.” Other friends who live in the state shared the same thoughts. This is a great win, a huge accomplishment, but for us and others in states that have written hate into their Constitutions, it means a lot less for us.
So now, as I take today to celebrate, I also start thinking about my life and where I want to be. In a state that deems me a second-class citizen, or in a state that welcomes me, supports me, and extends me all the benefits of the federal government, should I decide to get married to the man I love? After all, why should I pay taxes to a state where the majority of people hate my lifestyle with such a passion they write it into the law of the land?
A new door has been opened — and now I, and many other gay people across this country, will have to decide whether to walk through that door, or keep banging on the ones that have been slammed shut in our faces.
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