On Monday, Feb. 9, I watched history happen in Alabama.
When the news was announced that marriage equality would soon be coming to Alabama, no one was as surprised and shocked as me. Growing up gay in the “Bible Belt” is not only hard, but sometimes dangerous. I never thought I would ever see marriage equality come to my home state.
News quickly spread about the gay marriage ruling, and several Alabama politicians voiced their concerns over the issue. Despite opposition from those?politicians, equality moved forward and is now the law of the land in this state?…?sort of. Even though local judges are defying orders, same-sex couples here?can receive marriage licenses (if they travel to the counties that will give them out). You can click here to view a list of each?individual county and their stance. Alabama will forever go down in history as the 37th state that allowed gay couples the freedom to marry.
I knew that I could not miss out on this historic day.?Even though my boyfriend and I will be getting married in the near future, we wanted to have everything planned out in advance. Therefore, we opted to go and view the ceremonies instead of participating. We knew that Wedding Week was planned for this historic occasion and we wanted to see it all unfold.
On Monday, Feb. 9, I witnessed history unfold right before my eyes. I watched the first same-sex couples in Madison County, Alabama get married. Wedding Week in Huntsville was beautiful. Same-sex couples would come out of the courthouse with their marriage licenses and walk down the steps which led into Big Spring Park. In the park, many people were gathered around at various stations. Cupcakes and pastries were donated by local shops, flowers were handed out, pictures were taken, and beautiful music played in the background. I became emotional when?a local artist sang “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” (a song I’m personally attached to).
With tears in my eyes, I watched Yashinari Effinger and Adrian Thomas become the first same-sex couple to get married in Madison County. It was a beautiful moment seeing people surround the happy couple. All around me, I noticed people with smiles on their faces and tears in their eyes. The joy and happiness that I experienced in that moment will be something that I never forget for the rest of my life. Having lived in in this state?for my entire life and experienced homophobia and bigotry first hand, I simply cannot put into words how much this moment meant to me.
Even though the road to equality is far from over, this day is a reminder that activism is worthwhile. Never stop fighting for your rights. Never give up. Love always wins in the end. Marriage is not between a man and a woman. Marriage isn’t even between a man and man or a woman and woman. Marriage is between love and love. Love breaks down barriers and labels. Love conquers all.