Editor’s Note: This blog was was written and published between the draft and the official ruling on Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court.
I love celebrating PRIDE.
One of the best things about Pride is that we do it all together, as a community. We are all there, together, proudly being our authentic selves all at once.
I have marched in parades, carried banners, sang loudly about life, liberty and the freedom to pursue happiness at the top of my lungs.
This year, I find my celebratory feelings a bit muted. Things don’t really feel like they used to, even if they might look the same…
The definition of Pride
- a feeling of deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.
- consciousness of one’s own dignity.
Thank you Oxford Languages English Dictionary.
While many of us were not there nor intimately involved in the Stonewall riots, most of us have significant feelings and deeply admire the qualities and the significant achievements of those that participated in the uprising 50+ years ago. While my favorite Pride soundtrack always comes from a Jess King ride, this year I find myself swiping over to a Ross Rayburn meditation to sit with the truly awesome achievement of our collective consciousness in agreement that all individuals are deserving of dignity. We, as a collective, have achieved so much.
Need a quick refresher on some of these achievements? Here is a quick timeline.
- July 4, 1968: One of the earliest Gay Pride demonstration marches, “Reminder Day Picket”
- June 28, 1969: The Stonewall uprising
- June 28, 1970: First Pride Parade
- June 26, 2015: Gay marriage legalized
- June 15, 2020: U.S. Supreme Court rules to protect gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex
The written law vs. what actually happens
While our history is there, for all to see, read, digest, process and accept, it doesn’t necessarily change the experiences we all have in our day-to-day lives, perhaps like I thought it might.
I became a mom, for the first time, during the pandemic. My wife delivered our daughter a week before the world shut down in March 2020.
At the risk of sounding cliche, my point of view has totally shifted. I have this selfie from two days before my daughter was born, and I look at it all the time. I do not recognize the girl in that photo. Becoming a mom — in a same-sex family — for the first time during a global pandemic was hard AF. But I worry these last few years have been easy-peasy (lemon squeezy) compared to what we might face together in the future.
From the moment I became a mother, I was immediately fighting for my rights.
My daughter was born via emergency c-section. My wife was whisked away to the operating room, and I was not allowed to be there. The nurse finally returned to tell me that the baby was out and doing just fine, but that my wife was still under anesthesia recovering. I immediately asked for my daughter. The nurse hesitated. And then said no — I wasn’t immediate family, she didn’t know who I was. I exploded into tears, furiously shouting that if I was a man they wouldn’t have even hesitated.
Looking back on that very intense moment, I think that nurse was doing what she thought was best, and right. Her POV, her frame in which she views the world, did not include two women as the parents of a child. She reacted how the world, how society, has shaped her decision making. The situation was righted within 10 minutes, but the damage and the trauma was done. The repressed fear that we would have a harder life, that our daughter would have a harder life, because we (two females) made a choice to be together definitely resurfaced that day. And for good reason.
Having a child, as a person who identifies as gay, means I come out all. the. time. This beautiful creature has only known a life with two moms — how amazing!? But that means when we meet people for the first time, at a doctor’s office or the playground, there usually ends up being an awkward explanation (that heterosexual couples don’t usually have to experience). It has become an elevator pitch at this point: “Yep, I am mama. Yep, she is mommy. Nope, no dad. All good.” Check out my two mom heroes who can commiserate.
It could get worse.
In early May news broke that the Supreme Court was poised to overturn the 1973 ruling of Roe v. Wade, making abortion illegal in 22 states, to start. As a woman and as a mother with a daughter, this really upset me. As a gay lady with a beautiful wife and a growing family, this really scared me.
If it’s been a while since you have spent any time with the constitution, now is a really good time to get reacquainted with it, and get especially familiar with the Ninth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment.
This incredibly pivotal moment in our country’s history was supported by these two amendments in our constitution. But there have been a few other, truly historical decisions that impacted our society’s ever-growing universal acceptance. I bet you know of them…
- 1954 Brown v. Board of Education. This case unlocked a huge step toward equality when the Supreme Court unanimously declared that state-sanctioned segregation of schools violated the Fourteenth Amendment.
- 1965 Griswold vs. Connecticut. Here, the Supreme Court struck down a state law that criminalized the use or education of birth control, citing the Ninth Amendment that constitutionally protected everyone’s right to privacy. This case ruling was critical in supporting the argument that legalized access to abortion when Roe v. Wade was being decided.
- 1973 Roe v. Wade. On January 22, 1973, the Court handed down its decision in favor of Roe, declaring: [The] right to privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment’s concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the district court determined, in the Ninth Amendment’s reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.”
- 1978 Regents of the University of California v. Bakke. In this case The Supreme Court held that a university’s admissions criteria which used race as a definite and exclusive basis for an admission decision violated the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
- 2015 Obergefell vs. Hodge. This court ruling is one almost everyone knows about, and many of us can even tell you where we were when we heard this news. On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that bans on same-sex marriage violated the due process clause, in the Fourteenth Amendment.
- Additionally, interracial marriage and the right of adults to engage in consensual sexual intimacy, were all found by the Supreme Court to be protected in part by the due process clause (aka the Fourteenth Amendment) and the constitutional right to privacy (aka the Ninth Amendment.)
If Roe v. Wade is overturned by the Supreme Court using the arguments that Justice Alito has laid out then all of the cases above are in jeopardy.
None of us can see into the future or know the intentions that motivate our elected officials to act. But this feels like a sign of things to come. If the Supreme Court reverses this ruling, this action puts other Supreme Court decisions made based on the protection of the Ninth Amendment and the Fourteenth Amendment, like the fundamental right to marry whomever you want, in jeopardy.
Let’s do this, all together.
I think about that moment in the hospital with that nurse a lot. It was one of the most vulnerable and powerless experiences of my life. While that moment triggered a catalyst of advocacy for me, that isn’t the case for many others. How many other non-cisgendered families experienced unnecessary suffering from this well-intentioned nurse?
We are all at the precipice of a moral and ethical evolution as a society. Some of our most important and intimate rights are in serious jeopardy. Coincidentally enough, this is a moment about Pride. It is a moment where we, as a society, reinforce that everyone in this country is deserving of Pride, of the consciousness of one’s own dignity.
What do we do next?
- Get educated. Revisit the journey the LGBTQ+ community has gone on. The ACLU provides a really comprehensive list of legislation that affects LGBTQ rights around the country.
- Get familiar. Read LGBTQ literature.
- Take action. Support LGBTQ+ owned business and VOTE.
One of the best things about Pride is that we do it all together, as a community. Let’s do this, all together.