I vividly remember my first kiss. Now I’m not talking about the first kiss I had, sometimes in the late 1970s, when I stole a kiss from a girl named Lisa behind one of the airplane hangers on a Sunday afternoon. I’m talking about my first _real_ kiss, which took place in a 1982 Dodge Omni, behind Alumni Hall at SUNY Fredonia in the fall of 1986. It was quick, a parting gesture of a fantastic evening of a lovely dinner in the small college town. His name was Steve and he looked like Herbie, the one who wanted to be a dentist. Though I had kissed many times before that moment; heck, I had even copped a few feels, removed a bra or two and even tried to do it a few times before then with a lovely girl named Kristi, that kiss in the 1982 Dodge Omni behind Alumni Hall was just a confirmation of what I had known all along. I like guys. It was like the protective cover had been removed from the pane of glass and I could see ahead clearly for the first time in my life.

It was in November 1995 when I first saw the huge fireworks in my head. I had seen a sparkler or two along the way up until then, but the moment I spotted a man named Earl standing in the corner opposite of the DJ booth I was working in, I saw huge fireworks exploding in my head and I knew that I was somehow, somewhere, going to spend the rest of my life with that man. I just knew it, and I wasn’t going to accept any other answer along that path. Luckily, Earl knew it too. After a bit, the “happily ever after” came to life and we had a small, private commitment ceremony at Penn’s Landing late in 1996. Though the ceremony did not take place in a church, we opened our hearts to each other and to a “higher power”; many in this part of the world call him God. Personally, I think he’s much more than any “him” would aspire to be, so I just think of all of it as a Higher Power. I figure if man is the best that this world can do then we have fallen way behind in the curriculum.

I talk about fireworks and first kisses and the like because the New York Senate is debating whether to approve legislation for same sex marriage again today. I will be the first one to tell you that I am tired of hearing about the debates of the topic. I’m sick of reading about people doing and saying hateful things all in the name of their love, the only love that is valid. I’m weary of people saying that if it is legal for me to marry Earl, my one true love, then somewhere in the country, someone must be allowed to marry their cat because it feels right to them.

I imagine that my grandfather saw fireworks when he met my grandmother, and that applies to both sides of the family. I remember the slightly mischievous grin my grandfather got when he sat at the dining room table next to my grandmother. I remember the way my aunt’s eyes would light up when she saw my uncle, I am able to decipher the excitement my father exuded in his own unique way of expressing himself when he sees his wife (either version 1 or version 2). I see love and it is the same kind of emotion that fuels the fireworks that I saw this morning when Earl was making my lunch in the kitchen. The same fireworks I saw in 1995 but even stronger. I tell him everyday, “I fell in love with you today.” And it’s true.

I believe that the folks that protest same sex marriage have varying motivations that all share the same undercurrent: fear. I believe they fear change. I believe they fear obsolescence. Perhaps they fear that if nothing mean and nasty happens when a gay couple gets married that this must mean that there are more inaccuracies in their beliefs. I understand that this lack of vengeful response from a higher power might rock their faith. I get that; they believe out of fear, not out of love. “If I don’t do this, then something really bad is going to happen to me for eternity.” If that’s their belief then I say great, whatever gets you through the day. Just don’t impose your beliefs on me. My business is not your business. And marriage shouldn’t be a governmental business. The folks that scream for smaller government are always wanting government to intervene on gay marriage. If it weren’t for the fees for the license, the government wouldn’t care less. They just want the filing fees and the like.

We have no desire to get married in a church. We believe that the higher power is everywhere and that it is not confined to a man building full of lavish adornments. When we get married, and we definitely will, it will be a celebration of our love and a symbol of the commitment we have lived for the past 15 years. That commitment deserves the legal recognitions afforded to our heterosexual counterparts, because the government has made it their business. Our love is just a strong, if not stronger, than all the straight marriages that we know.

Living in constant fear must suck. If people lived with a motive of love, celebrating all that was around us, instead of telling the world how wrong it is for us to love someone of the same sex, when we know that we were made this way, the world would be a much better place. There has been more bloodshed in the name of religion over any other reason.

There is going to come a day when I am going to have to make decisions for Earl and/or vice versa. Luckily, we have legal paperwork in place to grant us the ability to do so, but the legalities of this only extend so far because we are not able to get legally married. (Heaven help anyone that would try to stand in my way. The only thing that will ever keep me apart from Earl is death, and if necessary, I will go to that point in a most spectacular fashion to protect the one that I love.) Can a married couple imagine what it is like to be kept apart from their hospitalized spouse? Can a mother or father imagine what it’s like to have their kids taken away because the government hasn’t sanctioned their love? I didn’t think so. Imagine how you would feel today knowing that the government was voting on your right to legally love someone. Think about that for a moment.

Today the New York Senate will most likely vote on this hot topic. Let’s hope that they vote with their heart and their conscience and not out of fear.