by Tim Bostic
My name is Tim Bostic, and I along with my husband Tony London were plaintiffs in the Virginia marriage equality case. Tony’s and my decision to pursue our rights as citizens stemmed from a very simple fact: we love each other, and after almost 25 years together, we wanted the opportunity to pledge ourselves to each other and to have our relationship recognized both legally and socially. From a practical perspective, we wanted to make sure that everything we have worked for together is protected if something were to happen to either one of us. We also wanted to make sure that any protections we can provide each other as surviving spouses were in place. From a personal perspective, we wanted the opportunity to stand up in front of our community, our families, and our friends and commit ourselves to one another—the same thing that any other couple has the right to do. As Carol Schall, one of the other plaintiffs in this case, puts it, we wanted marriage equality for the good times, but we needed marriage equality for the bad times.
For both Tony and I, the media interest was a little overwhelming. As I just said, we did this for very personal reasons, and having our lives opened up to public scrutiny is a little daunting; however, we came to understand that this issue is more important than just the two of us. There were people throughout the Commonwealth, the country, and the world, who paid attention to this case because it illustrates one of the last bastions of discrimination that still receives governmental support. Thus, while there have been professional costs for both of us, we do not regret our decision.
In fact, in speaking to twenty-somethings (gay or straight), they believe that this is the social rights issue of their generation. They understand that old maxim that “no one is free when others are oppressed.” I believe it is for this reason that we have received so much support, and it continually strengthened our resolve to see this through to victory.
Many of us LGBTQ people who came out in the last 30 years were grateful that we were able to live open lives without fear of negative physical or economic consequences. However, today, that is no longer enough. Today, we want equality on all fronts. I do understand those who oppose us. Throughout the history of modernity, we have been made to feel ashamed for who we love.
Even more insidious is the fact that in many instances society tells us we are supposed to be ashamed of who we are. Celebrating our relationships through marriage acts as a reminder that not only will we will not be ashamed, neither for who we are, nor for whom we love, we actually take pride in it because it makes us who we are. People try to control us by making us feel ashamed of ourselves. Many of us have learned to overcome that shame, and for some, the struggle made us stronger. Each of us has intrinsic worth as human beings and no one has the right to take that from us. As someone who has spent his whole working career trying to make our world more just, the one thing I know for sure is that no one is going to give us anything unless we ask for it—respect, accolades, or our rights.
I love Tony; the person I am today is because of the love and support I have received from him over the last 26 years. Today, the fact that we have been legally married for almost two years seems unbelievable. However, the joy we felt having the opportunity to participate in this important rite of passage cannot be described. I have said this before, but my advice to anyone who is starting to think about planning a wedding is to find people who can help you and who you trust. While there were numerous vendors who participated in our special day, it was the support of our wedding planner Ivory Morgan-Burton with Storybook Events and our caterer Cathy Carter with East Beach Catering that helped keep us focused and on point. If any readers are like Tony and I, we had never thought about what we wanted our wedding to be. We were too busy fighting for the right to marry; the wedding itself was the last thing on our minds. All of that changed on October 6, 2014 when the Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear an appeal from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on the issue of gay marriage. On July 28th, the Fourth Circuit upheld Norfolk-based U.S. District Judge Arenda L. Wright Allen’s February 14th decision striking down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriages. By refusing to hear the appeal on October 6th, the U.S. Supreme Court effectively made marriage equality legal in Virginia. It was then that we found ourselves needing to get things started! To say that it was magical would be a gross understatement. It was a perfect day thanks to so many people’s hard work, and as Tony and I went to bed that night, we both shed tears of joy that we had finally had the opportunity to promise ourselves to each other in front of our families, friends, neighbors, and community. Our fight for marriage equality started for a very simply reason. We love each other, and we just wanted to get married like everyone else.