This is a bit of a different kind of blog post for me. I tend to keep this level of ‘personal’ discussion to my other social media accounts, but since so many of my friends in the ‘adult’ circles I live in have asked me, I thought I’d share it here. I’ve had a few people ask me about the moment I found out DOMA was dead, and letting my wife know the news. So, before my memories started to become less set in my mind, I thought it best to put pen to paper and tell the short story.
In case you don’t know, the SCOTUS announcements aren’t allowed to be recorded (either audio or visual). The way that most find out what is going on is via live text feeds written by people that are in the room as they are being read out. For me, I was reading the SCOTUSBlog site as I had every announcement day since the start of June.
My initial plan was to camp out in front of my laptop at my parents’ house. (I’m currently on vacation in the States, staying with them.) That changed to going to my brother’s house for a few reasons – if things didn’t go in our favor, I’d have someone to keep an eye on our son in the event that Mrs and I got too emotional. I also wouldn’t have to face my upset parents right away and I’d have time to compose myself. Thankfully, those issues didn’t happen.
I was on my own in my brother’s livingroom while the rest of the family (Mrs, our son, my brother and his partner and their 2 year old son, my SIL’s mother, and my grandmother) were hanging out in the other room. They knew what was going on, and I think they were just giving me my space. The time came and the text started updating. The blog hosts were just making chit chat at first, then the decisions came down.
“Here’s Lyle with the first opinion. It’s DOMA.”
I know the phrase “minutes feel like hours” is cliché, but well…yeah.
“5-4 per Kennedy.”
So my mind starts going. I knew that there would be at least a few dissenters, but not that many. I knew Kennedy was a “swing” vote, so which way did he vote? Tick tick tick…
“Roberts dissents. Scalia dissents. Equal protection.”
This was the “OH SHIT” moment. This is when that part of my brain stood up and did a fist pump because this looked like we had “won”. But, logical me wanted to wait a few minutes. Read more. Make sure I was 100% sure that this was the truth. I didn’t want to upset Mrs by giving her good news only to have to take it away later, even though at this point I was pretty damn sure.
“Scalia is joined by Thomas, Chief joins in part.
Alito dissents, joined by Thomas in part.
DOMA is unconstitutional as a deprivation of the equal liberty of persons that is protected by the Fifth Amendment.”
I could see my reflection in the monitor. My mouth was open, but my hand was over it. My eyes were wide open, and the tears had started. I was smiling. I knew that we had won. Time to go tell Mrs.
I made my way to the room where everyone else was, just chatting away. She was standing across the room, looking down at our nephew. I called her name, and when she looked up at me, I gave her a thumbs up and shook my head ‘yes’.
“Yeah, they struck it down.”
Tears. My hand went back over my mouth. I made my way to my wife, and we hugged harder than we had in years. She was shaking, and crying. I looked around and my brother and SIL were crying as well. My confused grandmother didn’t really know what was going on, so I explained that the Supreme Court changed the laws, which meant that we would be able to move home.
Yes, Gram. Permanently.
Our lives have changed forever.