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Unions of Love
by Dr. Dale V. Atkins, October 2012

For more than a dozen years, I have written about weddings. Usually the theme has to do with maintaining your well-being while preparing for marriage; whether it is getting along with the "cast of characters," remembering WHY you are actually marrying THIS person, or suggesting ideas for how to avoid becoming Bridezilla.

I have written advice columns (Sanity Savers began as a wedding advice column), a book about weddings, articles, been interviewed on radio and TV about the topic, and have counseled couples, young and old. And, oh yes, in my lifetime, I have attended a whole lot of weddings.

Sharing in the joy of a marriage of two people who deeply love each other and are committed to creating a life together is something that most of us take for granted. Recently, I had the occasion to witness a glorious, historic union.

I was privileged and proud to be among family and friends who surrounded a couple who have tirelessly dedicated themselves to marriage equality. Finally, they were able to marry in the state where they live. At the wedding, I "took it all in", staying present in the moment, feeling the magnificence of this couple's caring, respect, and appreciation for each other. They recited their vows in front of their two loving families.

At the same time, I was also conscious of the men and women who were (and still are) unable to fully express their love and commitment without fear. I was aware of the men and women who suffered intolerance, indignities and prejudice during their lifetimes, and I wondered what they must feel at this moment in time. Something they had dared to dream for themselves was now possible, but only in some families, in some communities, in some states, in some countries.

Gay men and women have walked a difficult, challenging, and often dangerous path for so long and that path, in some places, is still a minefield. As my heart was open wide for the couple, it was also painfully aware of the many people who did not live to realize their own potential as they fell ill with AIDS. Because of the severe homophobia that prevented early research and much needed funds to stop the AIDS virus from becoming the worldwide killer epidemic that it became, millions of people were prevented from living -- let alone loving.

To love. To marry if you choose. To rejoice. To be safe. Is this not what we all want and need?

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