Those were the words that my husband and I read six months after we were married at City Hall in San Francisco. We knew it was coming. In 2004, Mayor Gavin Newsom had declared that the City and County of San Francisco would be opening their doors to same-gender couples desiring to marry.
We wanted to be a part of it, and on Valentine Day weekend, standing under the magnificent dome, we said our vows to each other and were declared married. The experience was breathtaking. What was once thought to be impossible was happening, and we were contributing to history in the making. Every legal expert said the decision would not stand when it was challenged in court. They were right.
There is a big difference between knowing something intellectually, and reading the words declaring your marriage “null and void” in black and white. It was no longer about marriage between two people of the same gender, or some concept called “marriage equality.” It was about us. Bob and Ken. It stung then and stings today as I relive that moment.
Life at home and at work is wonderful when the road is clear and all the lights are green. But what happens when the lights turn red and concrete barriers are dropped in front of you, especially when you know that the cause that you are fighting for is just, the goal that you are committed to accomplishing is absolute, and the vision that you have for the future is unshakable? How do you “be unstoppable” in the face of NO?
You rise up and you keep going.
Today Bob and I are legally married and we’re celebrating our 25th Anniversary. As I reflect on our journey, I realize how much we learned from the struggles and challenges that we faced – and still do face – as gay men. I’m also aware of how much privilege we have to live where we please and to work with people who embrace and accept us. But our challenges have changed us for the good and forever altered our view of others who face their unique battles.
Whatever you are facing in life, whether at work or at home, if you have the courage of your convictions and know in your heart that what you’ve set out to do must come to pass, rise up and keep going. Learn the lessons that the roadblocks provide. Forge a new path to your goal. Draw strength from others who have overcome their own challenges. Show compassion to your fellow travelers on the journey of life. Rise up and keep going.
Happy 25th Anniversary to the love of my life. Here’s to the next 25 year adventure together.