A handful of weeks ago, before Carrie Thompson showed up with her partner, Jane, at the east entrance to last weekend's Pride Parade, she sat before a Harris County Family Court judge. Jane couldn't come, leaving Carrie alone in sending her best pitch to regain custody of her three children, the three Bulgarian boys she and her ex-husband had adopted.
That ex had found a new wife, a well-monied woman who didn't care much for the three boys. This new woman didn't think twice about laying her hand on them. Which was why the three adults were there, in the courthouse, flanked by attorneys arguing their respective cases.
Carrie's pitch seemed straightforward; the defense could only offer so much. The judge looked over them. He asked a question.
"And why, Miss Thompson, would I want to send these young boys over to you? Why would I want them to be around you and your lesbian lover?"
(Carrie and Jane both requested that their names remain anonymous -- not because they're not out to those around, but because their positions with the federal government generally preclude semi-sloshed discussions on their private lives.)
Three weeks before the the United States Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, nearly a month before Houston hosted one of the nation's largest Pride parades down Westheimer, a Harris County had just castigated the woman for, as she said, a "lifestyle choice." He had just chastised a mother, and an employee in the Department of Justice, over an ingrained orientation, and a selection of a partner. He had just sided with a woman who'd opted to physically abuse her non-children over a mother who just so happened to be a lesbian.
"And I tell ya, you look around at all the people who are out here, but there's still a long, long way we've got to go in Harris County," she said. "But everything out of DOMA is great. I wish more people in the gay community recognized that, actually. Because this is, really, just great."
Indeed, that lack of excitement was extant among those gathered in neon and tutus and bunched beads on Saturday evening. To be sure, many saw shift as something to be welcomed. Screams of approval, shouts of "Fuck yeah!" and "About time!" flew around whenever the question of DOMA flew.
(Oddly, the only thing silencing the airhead "Jesus hates fags!" gang was a question pertaining to DOMA. "I don't have anything to say about that," clammed a 50-year-old man in safety glasses, which, while protecting him from the UV outside, couldn't help but blind him to the lack of logic behind his position.)
(As a quick aside: Among the half-dozen protesters was a 14-year-old boy, a child named Chris, who flanked his father(?) while holding a banner of the litigious sins of which we were culpable. It didn't take long to realize that the boy, a product of his surroundings, carried himself with greater aplomb than the rest of the gang combined. Couldn't help but feel for the kid. Here's hoping he can explore a bit more of the opportunity surrounding before he ends up like the hollow, acidic men surrounding.)
But maybe those screams came from those out-of-state. Maybe it came from those binationals, those whose same-gender, other-nation loves could finally join them in holy matrimony. "I guess I don't really see how this affects me," said Shirley Liu. "This is still Texas. My marriage is still illegal here. My partner and I had our marriage in another state, but I guess it doesn't really do much for us here."
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And that may be the case. But it is a step. It's a slow dawning of a reality that marriage belongs to neither church nor caste. It belongs to us all. It belongs to you and the one you love.
And as that normalcy seeps in -- and whenever it comes to Texas within the next decade -- those like Liu will be able to take a different look at the DOMA ruling. Because, yes: Her marriage to her partner remains null within the state. Gov. Perry and A.G. Abbott still see it as their political mission to maintain the marital status quo. That's their position. That's where they'll stand in history.
But DOMA is more than a crack in DC. For Carrie and Jane -- who simply couldn't stop reminding those around how "fucking happy!" she was to see straight allies at the parade -- it's an opportunity to enjoy all of the routine of an actual marriage.
"This woman is my wife, and we get to file joint income tax forms!" Carrie said. "Look at that! Just like any other couple!"