On the afternoon of March 21, 2014, U.S. District Judge Bernard Friedman ruled Michigan’s ten-year-old ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. To quote Friedman: “In attempting to define this case as a challenge to ‘the will of the people,’ state defendants lost sight of what this case is truly about: people.”
The case began with two brave women, April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, who initially wanted equal adoption rights for their children, until Judge Friedman invited them to expand the lawsuit to include fighting against the same-sex marriage ban.
On Saturday, March 22, a stay was put on the ruling, which will prevent marriages from occurring until Wednesday the 26th, at the earliest.
I’m sure most of you, especially if you’re Michigan residents, are familiar with the case and what is going on right now. Whether you agree with Judge Friedman’s decision or not, it must be stated that the tides are turning on the fight for marriage equality. Michigan will hopefully be the 18th state to legalize gay marriage, not to mention the fact that same-sex marriage receives legal recognition from the federal government (courtesy of DOMA being struck down).
I understand that Christians in particular struggle with the issue of whether or not to embrace same-sex marriage and gay couples in general. The struggle is real; I acknowledge that. As a lesbian and a Christian, I went through many similar struggles between my faith and my sexual orientation. I have come to the conclusion that faith and sexuality are not mutually exclusive of one another. Just as I believe that science and faith work together, so too do I believe that I can be gay and a Christian.
I am getting married to the love of my life on June 21, 2014. I spent many years in deep depression, struggling with my faith and my sexual orientation. Accepting myself was the best thing I could do for myself. I think—I know—that our omnibenevolent God wants peace and true happiness for God’s children. Because of this, I have faith that God, too, is rejoicing in this next step toward equality for all.
In the brief, 24-hour window that was afforded to gay couples before the stay, couples in four Michigan counties legally tied the knot. Now, these couples are in legal limbo, waiting to see what the Appeals Court decides. This breaks my heart. We have waited so long; we have fought so hard. Still, we must continue.
As Judge Friedman said, this is about the people. I am one of those people. Clarissa and I are people, just as much as any heterosexual couple. We all deserve equal rights, the right to equal protection under the law. We deserve to be able to visit each other in the hospital. We deserve to both have full-custody of our future children. These are only a couple of the rights that marriage gives. We want these rights, just like everyone else.
My future father-in-law quoted Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to me, and I will let the great man’s words speak for me: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”
Bethany Tap (’12) received her MFA in creative writing from the University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she also worked as the managing editor of Chautauqua: the literary journal of the Chautauqua Institution. She is currently working on her first novel. She lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, with her wife, Clarissa, and son, Alexander.