For marriage, our allies have shown themselves true

This month’s issue of O&AN focuses on marriage. Shortly after we went to press last month, the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges and made same-sex marriage the law of the land. Coming as it did on the day Nashville Pride began, the decision gave Tennesseans more of a reason for Pride than they’ve had in a long time. By the end of Friday, dozens of couples had already married, and the community and its allies came out in force to celebrate.

I was present for the first six weddings at the Davidson County Clerk’s Office, and the excitement was palpable. News crews from all the major stations, newspapers, and blogs in town were there, and you could tell that, even for many of them, it wasn’t just a big news day: it was something special. Crew members were smiling, tweeting, talking, and joking around. The couples, however, seemed overwhelmed.

Some came thinking the place would be lined with protestors (I saw none). Some came thinking there wouldn’t be that much news (there were dozens of people there for the first few ceremonies). Others expected there would be more couples there to tie the knot (quite a few certificates were issued, and Megan Barry stayed busy marrying people all weekend).

It wasn’t surprising how quickly the excitement died down and reality settled back. After the first third or fourth of the weddings I was the only person from a news source that remained. I stayed for a couple of more hours and when I left, I was happy I had stayed longer. I got to meet a few more couples and really talk to a few people, including Councilman Peter Westerholm, who joined Barry in standing ready to marry any couple who wanted it.

From those news people in the office to public servants like Barry and Westerholm, something important again showed itself. After decades—or millennia—of oppression, it’s really hard to shake the feeling that you stand alone, but in this fight the allies have shown themselves true. Westerholm and others, who pushed for domestic partner benefits for city workers and other LGBT-friendly measures, stood to gain nothing tangible from working on behalf of our community but risked much aligning himself with such a polarizing issue.

Westerholm’s explanation for why he supports our community on issues like this is simple: “it’s the right thing to do.” The lesbian couple Westerholm married that morning was his first wedding, and when we talked about it later he said, “the couple I just married, they’ve got a nine month old…. Knowing that they will be able to have all the rights and privileges and protections of marriage, for them and for their child, that’s critical and that’s why I’m here, to be a part of that.”

In the months to come, we at O&AN will continue to spotlight the trials and tribulations on the trail to fully realizing marriage equality, and to share the joyous events in the lives of the LGBT people of Middle Tennessee. If you, or friends living in the area, have an engagement or wedding, please contact us at





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