Travis Rivera: After DOMA I Stand A Bit Taller, With More Dignity

I would meet a woman, marry her, and then produce children, making my mother an abuela.

Well, at least what my mother expected me to do as I grew up. Similar to many Latin mothers, my mother imagined her only son giving her a daughter-in-law that she would later insist could not cook as well as her.

However, my mother’s dream for me and my lovely bride to be quickly faded as I told her I was gay, that yes I did not like girls, and no this wasn't just a phase. What I didn’t know then is that when my mother’s dream of my wedding died, I lost my ability to imagine ever getting married to a man.

Who knows, one day I might find the man of my dreams and give my mother the moment she always imagined, her son devoting his life to someone he truly loves regardless of the gender.

- Mark Travis

On June 25, I went to bed with my stomach in knots. As someone who advocates for equal rights for all people, I was fearful that I would wake up the next day and still be a second-class citizen — a second-class American. I went to bed that night not knowing if I would wake up in a nation that would finally recognize my right to wed as a homosexual male.

On the morning of June 26, I woke up to discover that a great deal of progress had been made; the Supreme Court of the United States struck down section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), dismissing the definition that marriage is between a man and a woman. Suddenly I felt like a burden had just been taken off my back, I could stand a bit taller, with more dignity. I was proud.

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Though I am happy about the verdict, don't get me wrong; marriage is still not for me. However, there is a certain solace I find in knowing that if one day I decided to, I would be recognized for doing so. I am overjoyed by the fact that now my friends who are in loving and committed relationships will be able to get their marriage federally recognized. That now an immigrant in a same-sex marriage will have the same opportunities for a green card as their heterosexual counterparts.

In an article published on the Huffington Post, “Hours after the ruling found the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, the federal government announced it would start extending immigration benefits to gay married couples.”

While I recognize the classism centered in the same-sex marriage movement, I also recognize the advantages that stem from the SCOTUS decision. It helps to prevent lesbian and gay Latinos from being deported due to their immigration status.

LGBTQA Latinos will finally be able to have the kind of relationship we have seen growing up within our families. When I think of marriage, I think of my grandparents who have been together for 26 years. Growing up in a Puerto Rican household the importance of family was instilled in me from an early age.

So who knows, one day I might find the man of my dreams and give my mother the moment she always imagined, her son devoting his life to someone he truly loves regardless of the gender. She would know that her son would have found happiness and someone to share in his life with, that he would experience the same kind of aging with love that his grandparents experienced.

At the end of the day, love is love.

Mark Travis Rivera is a LGBTQA activist and was recently named one of the 2013 Voice & Action Award recipients by Campus Pride, the nation's leading LGBTQA organization for college students. You can contact him on Twitter @MarkTravRivera.

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