The picture in the paper showed two 60-something women, embracing and kissing, having just been pronounced spouse and spouse.
As I looked at the photo, I felt it: a rumbling, crumbling sound. Earth tremor? Landslide? The arrival of unwanted company?
Conservatives warned us that legalized same-sex marriage would tear asunder the American family, destroying our society, our culture. Now same-sex marriage is legal where I live in Colorado, and the familial destruction – oh, my.
My wife looks at me differently. So do the dogs. The cats don't care.
Actually, the cats have it right. The dogs? They are always confused. In truth, my wife still thinks I'm the same well-meaning putz she married almost 30 years ago.
Nothing has changed in Colorado – nothing – except that some people who have been loyal partners for years can now become legal partners. (We will be on the lookout for men marrying their dogs, or their five-irons, as Focus on the Family has advised will happen.)
The U.S. Supreme Court refused to act on a lower court's ruling that overturned same-sex marriage bans in several states in the West. So those two loving, graying life partners? They're legal.
So too with two teary 30-something women pictured in the same newspaper after marriage vows, and with their two joyous children. It's a touching family portrait.
Yes, this is about rights, not about preening politicians or pious pastors. It's about equal treatment. It's not about Red State stasis.
The only unfortunate thing about what the Supreme Court did was that it didn't settle once and for all, and for all jurisdictions, that legal same-sex marriage is the law of the land.
This means jurisdictions like Texas, Arizona and Florida are more like rogue nations now, camping out beyond the boundaries set by the Constitution.
We really didn't need the courts to explain how wrong this is. Long before the constitutional argument began to gain momentum, the public health argument was undeniable.
We had a disease – AIDS – that raised the stakes for stable, faithful sexual relationships. The very people who wanted to portray AIDS as a "gay curse" succeeded in blocking the best means possible of promoting safe pairings among those they blamed for the epidemic.
AIDS was never a gay disease, of course. Shame on those who plied hysteria and myth to make it so. Shame, too, on those who still refuse to see that society benefits when people of any sexual orientation embrace and practice monogamy.
Speaking of myth: We're told that having two mommies or two daddies is damaging for children. Not a trace of evidence supports that. What hurts children is lack of nurturing. In an age of single-parent households, doubling up on the love can only be good.
Nonetheless, expect more demagoguery from politicians who denounce human rights for human beings who happen to be gay, lesbian or transgendered. A few years ago, with little else to campaign on in his quest for re-election, Texas Gov. Rick Perry went on a tour promoting a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, this though it was already illegal in Texas.
It was one of the greatest, and phoniest, grandstand plays I've ever observed. I wonder now how it would play today for Perry to campaign for, as the courts have observed, the unlawful and unequal application of the 14th Amendment. "Keep the 14th for us," would be his rallying cry.
No, people, this is not a time to bemoan the collapse of anything. It's time to celebrate on behalf of two key quality-of-life matters: (1) monogamy, (2) equal treatment of the law.