“I love you in all fifty states.”
It has become my ongoing exchange with my wife in the past 24 hours. One of us says “I love you in all fifty states” and the other answers “I love you in all fifty states”. (I sometimes add “and the District of Columbia and all territories”.)
Of course, this was true before 10am yesterday. I would have loved Heidi in the most homophobic place in the world. But now our love, and our marriage, is recognized in all fifty states, and that’s worth repeating.
Heidi and I are in Cleveland, Ohio right now. We are attending the General Synod of the United Church of Christ, the first mainline American denomination to vote to bless same-sex marriages.
When we arrived here on Wednesday, we were married in the eyes of God. And we were married in the eyes of our home state. But we were not legally married in the eyes of Ohio. Even a hospital visit could have been complicated for us. For my same-sex married friends who live in Ohio, everything from their parental rights on has been in jeopardy.
But by Friday morning, that changed.
I was sitting in a room with over fifty UCC clergy members in our 20’s and 30’s. While we broke into discussion groups, a few of us kept our cell phones out, refreshing our Twitter feeds feverishly.
When the Supreme Court decision was released, I asked our leader if I could share the news. I said “the decision from SCOTUS has been released, and same-sex marriage is now legal in every state.”
I can only describe what happened next as one of the most profound experiences of the Holy Spirit that I have had in my life. The whole room, all of the servants of God’s love and grace, burst into applause. We cheered and clapped. And a few of us held one another’s gazes, knowing what this meant for our own families.
Some of us choked back tears. Some didn’t bother to hide them.
We prayed together, and then we spontaneously sang the Doxology. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”
And then I called my wife