Editor’s Note: Marci Weis is the chief operating officer at a healthcare consulting and care management company in Washington. She is pursuing a Masters in Divinity degree for ordained ministry in the United Church of Christ. Weis and her lesbian partner have been together more than 20 years and they have two daughters.
Washington's Senate passed a bill late Wednesday that would allow gay marriage in the Evergreen State. A House vote is expected within days. If it passes both chambers, Gov. Christine Gregoire has promised to sign it into law.
By Marci Weis, Special to CNN
"Mama, if it doesn’t pass, will we still be able to be a family?"
Those were the words of my then-7-year-old daughter on the night of the 2009 election. Over the prior months, sides had been chosen, harsh words had been hurled from all fronts, battle lines drawn. Up for vote was a referendum on whether Washington state would allow gay and lesbian couples to have several of the rights and responsibilities of legally married heterosexual couples. My true love, my lesbian life partner of now 20 years, had watched the debate unfold along with our two daughters. We had heard the harsh condemnation of our relationship, of our family.
And so it has begun again, this time for the legalization of marriage for gays and lesbians in Washington state. The battle has occurred in the legislature and most likely will move to a general election. Again, sides have been chosen and a fair number of my fellow Christians have argued that my love, my family, undermines society by our very existence. While I strongly support marriage equality, the debate over the right for gays and lesbians to marry raises a much more pressing concern for me. Why do my Christian brothers and sisters feel so strongly that my love, my relationship, my family has the power to shred the fabric of our very society?
So I have to ask, do you know my family? We are not unlike many of you. We are a family formed from the foundational love of two people, formed through tentative steps, risks taken and hearts put on the line. We moved from the blush of first love to the challenges of living in union with each other while allowing the other the chance to grow and change. We failed as often as we succeeded, sometimes learning, sometimes not. We made the decision that we were called to be together for the rest of our lives. We shared sacred and holy (though not legal) vows in front of our God, our family and our friends. On that day, we danced in celebration with our community and we danced in celebration with our God.
We chose to start a family. We lived through the heartache of infertility, trying month after month to get pregnant. We lived through the fear, the anticipation and the subsequent shocking and awe-inspiring beauty of holding our newborn daughter in our arms. Twenty months later, we held her sister, tears streaming down our faces as the four of us lay in a hospital bed, marveling at the miracle of life and love. We struggled as new parents. We struggled through a job layoff and the subsequent financial challenges many families with young children face. We struggled to remember that we were in love when faced with two toddlers whose needs were always front and center. We watched our daughters grow and change. Now, as they enter their tween years, my partner and I can begin to see flashes of the women that they are becoming and it scares us, excites us and saddens us.
Through it all, my true love, our two daughters and I have loved each other in that beautiful, flawed and ever-expanding way that we humans love. Through it all, we have tried to be good members of the communities we are blessed to walk in. Through it all, we have tried to rest peacefully in the beauty of a God that clearly shines through in our love for each other.
"Mama, will we still be able to be a family?" My daughter voiced the fear that had gnawed at her throughout the prior election season. I told her then, "No law, no government will ever take away our love for each other. It’s that love that makes us a family."
Will my partner, our daughters and I still be a family when this current battle is over? I have faith that we will be. Will we continue to feel the warm and loving embrace of a God that dances in delight at our family’s love? I have faith that we will.
Is my family really that scary, that dangerous? I do believe that ultimately the fear people have of my family will dissipate and most will recognize the healing and fulfilling power of love, all love, in this world. I have hope that ultimately my fellow citizens in Washington state, and in particular my Christian brothers and sisters, will realize that my family is not that different from theirs.
I have faith also that someday soon, the enormous wedding that my daughters are planning will come to fruition. On that day, the woman who I have been blessed to spend 20 years with will stand with me in front of our family, our friends, our faith community, our God and our children and we will reiterate sacred and holy vows. We will dance in celebration with our community and our God.
I have faith that day will come, soon. It had better. My daughters have already picked out my gown.
The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Marci Weis.