A Letter from My Mom

No matter what happens with the Senate’s vote (or non-vote) on marriage equality, Andy and I will always have this.
Sometimes the love of a parent ~ and the unconditional support only they can offer ~ means more than anything else in the world. Once again, love trumps injustice, love conquers discrimination, and love obliterates all arguments against itself. That’s what marriage has always been about ~ love. The fact that a strict, practicing Catholic like my Mom can see that is proof that this issue is not about religion.

For me, marriage has only been about love. Isn’t that how it’s supposed to be? Granted, there are numerous laws and rights that go along with it, but I’ve always considered those beside the point. Andy and I got married because we loved one another, and wanted to make that commitment. How does this threaten the institution of marriage? How does it do anything but embolden and celebrate it?

Those who are opposed to same-sex marriage are, in essence, attacking marriage itself. They are against the whole idea that two people who love each other should be so joined. They are the ones who are turning marriage into something other than the simple union of two people who want to spend their lives together. As for Andy and myself, we’re lucky enough to be surrounded with loving and caring friends and family who fully support our marriage. No legislature, no government, and no religion will ever change that.

Here’s my Mom’s letter as published by the Times Union:

I believe marriage equality will eventually become the law of the land. New York may choose to be one of the first or one of the last states to grant this basic right. I hope we will go down in history as being a leader rather than a follower.

History rarely criticizes societies for granting human rights. On the contrary, it condemns human rights violations. Marriage is an ancient, venerable institution, due the utmost respect. Individuals are also due the utmost respect. Marriage is, in part, a public institution in the sense that it carries legal rights guaranteed by civil law. It is also private in its nature, involving only the married couple.

In 1974, I married a man of a different race. At that time, there were places right here in the United States where my marriage would have been viewed as a crime. The Alabama state Senate did not repeal the ban on interracial marriage until 1999. Yes, 1999.

The arguments against interracial marriage were similar to the arguments against gay marriage, in the sense that they were based on ignorance. My marriage of nearly 37 years has neither undermined nor damaged the institution of marriage. It has had no effect on the marriage of anyone else. Similarly, the marriage of a gay couple could not impair the marriage of any other couple. Unfortunately, these arguments die slowly.

I urge the state Senate to finally pass the Marriage Equality Act. There is no valid reason not to do so.

- Laurel Ilagan, Amsterdam, NY
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