I never quit understand the phrase, “Proud to be an American.” I can remember singing the song, and often claiming as a child that I was “Proud to be an American”, but I never had any sense of why I was saying it. As I got older, I became less and and less enchanted by our country. For me there was something missing, there wasn’t a sense of pride. I often found myself questioning of why many Americans felt the need to shout from their rooftops their love of the United States. There is one simple reason for that…they had the undeniable right of Freedom in Equality. There were no limitations to their lives in the eyes of their state, government, or neighbors. I had never felt this sense of pride, because I simply didn’t have the right to it. The more I realized that I was gay, and was going to start living as the person I truly was, the more I realized that I was often thought of as lesser than. There is a unique injustice in not allowing members of one community the right to marry based on sexual preference. It deeply humiliates and belittles millions of people, and because of that humiliation I had many reservations on why I should be proud of my country. This morning, I awoke to the news that I was to be allowed the same benefits and privileges that all other Americans are allowed….the Freedom to Marry. I sat at my desk shocked at the news I was hearing. The Supreme Court of the United States had decided not to take up the cases presented before them. In one decision, my future was changed. Thirty states plus the District of Columbia will now be the homes of Marriage Equality. That is monumental, despite your personal beliefs, history was made today. I took my lunch break this afternoon, and felt the need to walk up to the Utah State Capital. I was interested to see if I would run into supporters of same sex marriage, or in turn, supporters of “Traditional Marriage.” The truth was….there wasn’t anything going on. A few runners on the capital paths, a TV crew loading out their equipment….but it was silent. That’s when it truly hit me. Equality had reached Utah. It was a sense of peace and an wave of humility washed over me. I had done little in the fight against the Same Sex Marriage Ban. I made it a point to share news that pertained to the debate on social media. I was honest with those who questioned my beliefs, and shared my story of why I believed in equality. It was simple, but I feel proud of that work and for the first time as I sat in front of the Capital Building I was proud of my Country and of my State. It was the first time that I realized that being proud of your country didn’t mean that you were proud of all of the policies of your government, but you were simply proud of the people of this country. Today I am proud to be a citizen of the United States of America and of the State of Utah.
There is still much work to be done in terms of Equality for the LGBT community. Thirty states now have the privilege of Marriage Equality, but twenty do not. Numerous inequalities in the work place, schools, and the like are still to be resolved. Our country also has a long way to go in order to obtain equality for all, but today’s Supreme Court Decision has paved way for the future. A very bright and equality friendly future.