When I woke up this morning I was struck with excitement. It’s an excitement that I use to feel back when I was studying political science in undergrad at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU). It’s an excitement I get every time I realize how great of a country we live in.
We have our faults in America, but we also have a system of government, while frustrating, that is structured in a way that is intended to protect the basic civil and human rights of all citizens. Our government, its officials and guiding principles are there to make sure no population, whether gay, straight, black, white, Muslim, Christian or otherwise are marginalized and treated as a lessor human-being than all other American Citizens.
Back in 2006 when I was finally old enough to vote in the United States I got to vote against the Marshall-Newman Amendment, a constitutional amendment that excludes same-sex couples from marriage and prohibits same-sex couples from attaining any other form of legal family status. The amendment passed and I felt rejected by the very state I called my home.
Virginia, a state that has the slogan, Virginia is for Lovers decided to deny love between two people simply based on their sexual orientation. Virginia was no longer for lovers no matter what the state wanted to project.
I moved away in 2007 and swore to never look back. I wanted to live where I was accepted. I wanted my tax dollars to go to a state that valued my citizenship. I wanted any revenue from a future wedding I may have to go to support local businesses in states that support same-sex couples and our basic civil right to marry the partner we love.
Now, years later, my heart is starting to race with excitement. The political process has played out. While a majority in the state, back in 2006, were bullying the minority into accepting their religious views against same-sex marriage as our reality by using our voting system as a method of intimidation, the state is firing back by ruling against the ban.
This day, July 28th, will be a day I will never forget. The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in my home of Richmond, VA ruled in favor of same-sex couples’ freedom to marry upholding the previous marriage ruling that came out of Virginia in February.
Soon, LGBT individuals in the state of Virginia will see their civil rights realized, but even more importantly we will now be equal to the other citizens of our state. No longer will we be told we are not good enough to be recognized for our love. No longer will we be told that a straight couples love for one another is any more or less valid than ours.
What makes me more excited, if LGBT couples are allowed to marry in Virginia I will no longer have to worry about hospital visitation issues if I am ever sick and in Virginia. Hospitals in the state currently have the right to deny same-sex partners from visiting loved ones in the hospital due to family only rules.
The decision is not effective immediately. Buzzfeed‘s Chris Geidner explains, “According to the court’s judgment in the case, the judgment will take effect after the mandate is issued in the case. The mandate, under the court’s rules, will be issued ’7 days after expiration of the time to file a petition for rehearing expires, or 7 days after entry of an order denying a timely petition for panel rehearing, rehearing en banc, or motion for stay of mandate, whichever is later.’
Here are just a few of the social media photos that made my morning a bit brighter.