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When I heard the words of President Obama affirming marriage for all couples, it made me proud to be an American and proud to be a person of African heritage. I thought back on meeting President Obama in the Oval Office and sharing my story with him around the need for equality for all Americans, including LGBT people. I believed him then when he responded that he would do his very best to work for fairness and equality.
Today, I am encouraged that President Obama has stepped onto the justice side of history by courageously speaking to his convictions. I stand a little taller as an African American who is clergy, lesbian and legally married in Washington, DC. I do not take the President’s support lightly.
I think back to the moment in February when I knew my Maryland citizenship counted as I stood before the Maryland State Senate and told my story.
“I am Rev. Candy Holmes, a minister of the Metropolitan Community Churches and I have lived in Prince George’s County for over 35 years. Because of who I am and who I love, my family is not able to be legally protected, and is vulnerable in ways others will never have to worry about.”
I urged the legislators to pass the Civil Marriage Protection Act to provide my family and the families of many committed same-sex couples equal standing in the eyes of the law. When Maryland’s Governor O’Malley signed that bill we celebrated loud and long. Though there are those who seek to vote away my right as a citizen, I hold true as a Marylander and await the day the law will go into effect.
Now, in the midst of the disappointing vote around the passing of Amendment One in North Carolina and The United Methodist Church again rejecting gay and lesbian people, my faith is renewed because of the stance of President Obama. I am deeply moved by our president’s affirmation of same-sex marriage and appreciate his journey toward a more complete understanding that all Americans should be seen as equals and protected under the law. I learned that my citizenship as an American really does matter!
I treasure my place as a citizen of Maryland and the United States. Many have walked a long hard journey to ensure my rights that many take for granted-voting, marriage, freedom. I now walk that journey to freedom and responsibility for the next generations. I walk this journey for our children and our grandchildren so they can be who they are and be respected and treated fairly under the law-regardless of who they love.
As one of our grandkids innocently said some years ago to my wife and I when they were trying to understand why their grandmothers had not gotten married, they said “Love makes you and grandma, and everybody better. The law needs to catch up with love.”
My resolve around equality is strengthened by the faith of my family. I will not stand idly by as naysayers attempt to disrespect our families. Our grandchild said it best — marriage equality isn’t a “gay thing,” it’s about love and family. It is about the fundamental values that all who desire to marry should be afforded this right. All couples, including same-sex couples deserve the joy, happiness and ‘completeness’ that comes with a civil marriage. Now is the time for justice to catch up with what really matters –love, family, and protection under the law for all Americans. Thank you, President Obama for standing on the side of justice.
Rev. Candy Holmes is a minister in the Metropolitan Community Churches (MCC). She is a Public Policy Liaison for Marriage Equality, Adoptions and Faith with the Global Justice Institute.