Usually, the voice of veteran NPR correspondent Nina Totenberg is measured and plodding as she carefully explains the intricate workings and rulings of the nation’s highest court. When I snapped on the radio yesterday morning, she was excited and a bit flummoxed as she struggled to report the Supreme Court’s big surprise decision of the season – its refusal to hear any of the same-sex marriage cases before it, effectively clearing the way for a nationwide victory for gay marriage in the coming months and years.
I reached for my phone to call my son in Seattle, the gay one, but realized 6:30 was too early for him. As the day unfolded, the Supreme Court’s milestone decision dribbled out of my awareness.
The warm October evening beckoned us out to the patio for supper last night, enjoying the amazing late season bounty of tomatoes in all iterations. I broke our family rule about mealtime sanctity, and answered my phone when it rang.
It was my youngest son, evidently nominated as the connector, because suddenly we were all on FaceTime. Three of my boys, and a gaggle of close friends – including my son’s boyfriend – passed in and out of my little cell screen, all crowded around a table and hard to hear in a crowded Mexican cafe in Seattle. Everybody smiling, talking, touching.
“Guess what?” someone cried, and again, “Hey, Mom, guess what?”
I said that I knew – wasn’t it great news about the Supreme Court decision? There were confused looks all around. “What decision?” they asked, exchanging joyous, curious glances. I tried to explain, but they were all talking over each other, raucously laughing and crying out, “Guess what?!”
So, what, then?
“Terrance and I are getting married!” my son finally managed to shout into the phone. I’m pretty sure my jaw dropped. The phone call was my son announcing to me that he had asked his beloved to marry him, and the answer was yes. I am thrilled for them. I love them to pieces – my son and the person he has chosen.
All politics are local, and personal. Washington State passed a ballot measure making same-sex marriage legal almost two years ago, an event celebrated by all of my sons on the streets of Seattle. Now, as of yesterday’s high court ruling, couples in eleven more states will enjoy the right to marry, and bans in six more states are likely to be overturned. Ironically, the young men who yesterday announced their intent to marry were not even aware of it.
How far we have come.