In marriage, my two sons now have equal footing

     Brothers Jacob and Rick Henry (Image courtesy of Don Henry)

    Brothers Jacob and Rick Henry (Image courtesy of Don Henry)

    A future once imagined for two sons, unequal in marriage, has now changed with Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision.

    One night earlier this week I happily went up to bed while my two college-aged sons played gin-rummy in the living room.

    I remember hearing them discuss how the U.S. Supreme Court might rule on marriage equality. Jacob, an avid SCOTUS watcher, explained all the possible scenarios while his older brother, Rick, provided the excessive sarcasm and hyperbole mandated by membership in the Henry family.

    In my room, I readied myself for sleep, slipping on my ridiculous apnea mask and turning on the compressor. As it whirred its mechanical lullaby, my mind wandered into the future, imagining my boys at my age, still playing cards with each other, still discussing the issues of the day, in 2045.

    What would their lives be like? What would their families be like? For one of them, a silly paternal fantasy came easily into focus: A happy marriage lived out inside a tidy little house with a couple of kids who, of course, adored their grandpa.

    Yet even as I dozed, I had to acknowledge that the simple right of legally sanctioned union was not guaranteed to both of my sons.

    Even the question of my grandfatherly status might be needless complex if my son and his future husband chose to have children in a state that did not recognize their marriage and its incumbent parental rights.

    That all changed for me today as I rode to work on a shiny refurbished PATCO train. On the downside of the Ben Franklin Bridge about 10 a.m., I found myself frantically refreshing the @scotusblog Twitter feed. Stunned, I stared at these words:

    “There is a right to marriage equality.”

    Suddenly I could picture my handsome sons standing next to each other on both their wedding days. They could both have all the rights that flow effortlessly from a marriage license: custody rights, adoption rights, inheritance rights, hospital visitation rights, medical rights, and on and on.

    I wanted desperately to hug the guy across the aisle, who was busily pointing out the tall ships in the Delaware River.

    Most of all I wanted to tell the mother of the grooms, who is traveling and won’t be reachable for a while. I made do with imagining the smile on her face when she gets the news. Then I started to cry.

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