by Sally Farrar
As I stood in line for a Utah marriage license, I didn’t feel excited, hopeful, or joyful. In fact, I felt pathetic, foolish and less than. When I turned to look at the beautiful woman standing next to me, the woman who has been standing by my side for 27 years, I felt a sense of overwhelming sadness. She … we … deserved better than what we were doing. Our love and family deserved better than desperately standing in line in the freezing cold hoping a door would open, literally and figuratively. We were standing in line with hundreds of people, yet, my heart and soul felt so very heavy.
My thoughts were suddenly jolted as my phone rang. I answered, “Hi baby.”
“Hi Mom. Ya’ll getting married?”
“Well son, we are in the line waiting.” I didn’t want to say more as the excitement in his voice was so innocent and sweet.
“I’m hungry,” he said.
As an 18-year-old boy his mind was focused on only a few needs.
“Okay,” I said. “Have your sister pick you up food on her way to the house.”
“Okay Mom, love ya.”
“Love you buddy,” I replied. “See ya soon.”
After the call, an overwhelming sense of disappointment and and old familiar despair began to enter my thoughts. I would once again have to explain to our children that while God loved our family, there are still people on Earth who do not understand His love and compassion. So often we are asked, “Why do you live in Utah?”
That answer is simple: Utah is our home. I am Mormon, while Brenda, my partner, is Catholic. We have no spiritual home, as our religions remain firm in their beliefs denying rights to their gay members.
The truth is we love Utah and the culture. We love the people. We don’t drink, we don’t smoke, and we love raising our kids here. We fit in nicely except we happen to be two women in love.
My toes were freezing standing in line and my thoughts traveled back to last month and a phone call I had received from our daughter.
“Hey baby girl. I had replied.
“Bryce and I got our marriage license!”
“Finally, the wedding is in two days! Did it take you long?”
“Nope. Just walked right in.”
How ironic that last month we had celebrated our daughter’s legal marriage. We proudly walked our daughter down the aisle in front of 400 guests where a Mormon Bishop married her and Bryce. The ceremony was beautiful.
I was brought back to the present as my phone rang.
“Hey baby girl.”
“Are ya’ll almost done?” My daughter asked.
“Well, this is taking a bit longer. Can you let everyone know we are delayed?”
“Okay, but hurry. Love you.”
“I love you, too,” I replied.
My thoughts were filled with frustration. My family had planned to make Christmas cookies. It was upsetting that chasing a marriage license had taken away our family time. It was not fair and was wrong in so many ways.
Finally, the clerk’s door opened and cheers erupted. But the cheers quickly turned to moans as we are all turned away and told to come back Monday morning.
Humiliated, I grab Brenda’s hand and say, “Let’s go.”
On the long drive home we discussed Judge Shelby’s ruling and its legal significance. When silence replaced our words, my mind wandered. I thought about the State’s legal argument denying same-sex couples the right to marry and how they claim studies show that children are better off with a biological mother and father.
What studies, and who’s included in them? My family has never been studied or evaluated and we have two straight children—who, of course, we think are amazing. Okay, my biased thoughts aside. Our daughter just married an amazing man and is in her final year of college as a biochemistry major. She is beautiful from the inside, out. She is smart, caring, loving and has a great sense of humor.
Our son is compassionate, kind and truly funny. He is an incredible athlete who received a scholarship offer to play collegiate baseball next fall. They are really good kids by societal standards and both are straight.
I, on the other hand, was raised by straight parents. In fact, my father was a Mormon Bishop, Stake President, and Mission President; and, straight Catholic parents raised Brenda. We were raised in an “optimal situation,” but both of us are gay. So if being gay is ‘bad’ … an abomination, and allowing gay people to marry will destroy marriage and society, then producing gay children must be considered bad and undesirable as well. Our union produced two well-adjusted straight children. Our parents’ unions produced two gay children. Certainly, producing gay children is a detriment to society and traditional marriage, right?
Let’s be honest here. My life has been way more difficult being gay than my children’s lives. I have faced trials and obstacles that I never thought possible to overcome. I spent hours praying and counseling with church leaders. I had been ‘saved’ at my friend’s church. I tried everything to become straight, but to no avail.
Alternatively, my children who are a product of a gay relationship are straight and have it much easier than we ever had. So suffice it to say in this scenario, the best interest of the children was to be raised by a gay couple.
I hope you see this rationale is absurd. While this country, and Utah, determines LGBT people’s legal rights and equal protections, please include my children in these studies. Please consider all the straight parents who produce gay children.
Freedom of religion and freedom of speech remain in place to protect religions and their members’ beliefs. These freedoms provide religions the ability to deny my religious right to marry the person I love, but it does not provide religions the right to deny my legal right to marry.
I choose to be judged by my god, not people. I choose to live in a country where legal rights and equal protections are applied to all people. Legal marriage should remain about legal rights not religious definitions.
The Constitution unequivocally protects the right to freedom of religion, and yet it is very clear that the separation of Church and State is an intricate part in a democracy. While marriage is a spiritual act in religion, it is a legal act in governing. The government must provide legal rights and protections under the law equally to all people.
Religions do now and can continue to deny gay members rights. Religions remain divided on the definition of marriage and treatment of their gay members and that is their right to do so. The government must allow legally defined marriage equally to all citizens because that is its duty to do so.
My heart is heavy, and I am tired. I’m tired of hearing that children are better off raised by a man and a woman. The studies undeniably show children who are raised by loving, supportive parents, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, are well-adjusted children. Our children are proof.
Moreover, the fact I am gay is not a result of my environment, as five of the six siblings raised by my parents are straight. I was created from the same DNA and the same god and I am gay. God created me just as He did my brother and sisters. God does not create mistakes, and I am not a mistake. I am a product of two amazing, loving parents who believe in God, the Bible, morals and standards, and who raised me to believe the same. They did not fail by producing me.
We have raised two children by the same standards and beliefs. We had to raise them without the loving support a religious institution and congregation can provide. We never found a home or felt welcome in our place of worship. We taught our children they are children of God who are loved and are to serve Him and honor Him. We were not legally recognized, so we had to tell our children that our relationship and our family are valid and real despite our denied legal rights.
I have always known in my heart and head there would come a time when we would find legal recognition and spiritual acceptance. The time is now.