Reclaiming Wife, Legally

by Emily Keenan

So much happened on June 26, 2013. So much. I can barely even put my thoughts and feelings into words. I became a wife. Again. Federally. Recognized by my country, as well as my state. The day that I can file “married” on my federal taxes. This is what I remember. What I don’t want to forget:

I barely slept last night, tossing and turning, anticipating the rulings of today. In my dreams, DOMA was overturned. I woke up hopeful but anxious. I got ready, packed my daughter’s lunch, got her ready for school, kissed my wife good-bye, and went to work. While on the shuttle bus from the parking lot, I read Casey’s post from Life with Roozle:

It is quickly becoming a world in which it’s no longer acceptable for you to freely discriminate against me and my family. […] And so we wait this morning. We wait online with hundreds of our friends showing support through their red profile pictures. We wait with more allies than we ever imagined we would have. We wait for the discrimination to end. We wait for our family to be supported by the state and separated from the church. We wait to see what will happen.

I shared it, along with my own words of waiting.

I walked into work full of emotion. Checking in on Twitter, Facebook, news outlets. Reading everyone’s anticipatory thoughts online. No one talked about it at work. All was quiet. All was business as usual, which is the way things usually are there—and that’s okay. That’s our job. To remain focused on the task at hand.

But today, yes, I did let my mind wander. 9:30am came, and I loaded up SCOTUSblog. I had my Twitter open. I nervously fidgeted in my seat. I watched the clock. At 9:55, I excused myself from the room. I hit play on the live blog and waited.

“DOMA overturned.”

A few text messages. Frantic double-checking on Twitter. Is it true? Is it really true? Maybe I just don’t understand the legal-speak. Even though I had read blog after blog explaining the variety of outcomes and what they all meant. My dad texted, and then I knew it was true. He knows news. I started crying. In the cafeteria at work. I started pacing, walking around. What do I do? Where do I go? I’m crying and emotional and jittery and overcome with emotion and no one here knows what is going on (or no one that I could immediately identify and celebrate with). I called my wife. She wasn’t in her office. Well, now what do I do?! DOMA was overturned and I can’t get in touch with my federally married wife!

I shared that on Facebook. People! I am about to explode!

I paced a bit more. I hid in a bathroom. She called. I said, “So! Did you hear?” She said, “What?” and I told her. (Her job keeps her quite busy, with little access to news outlets.) We cried together. We made plans to celebrate tonight.

I read a few more Twitter posts.

Then, Prop 8. We won.

I wiped my eyes and tried to cool down my red, hot face. I walked back into the room. My coworker (who was also following) smiled and rubbed my back. I smiled and fought back more tears.

The rest of the day flipped between work and the news. Work and social media (sometimes better than the news). So much stuff to read. So many pictures. So many retweets and favorites and hashtags. So many likes and shares. Social media, at least mine, exploded with rainbows. My heart exploded with rainbows.

Links to articles explaining the details, my friends re-sharing their weddings photos, cheers, and amazing, overwhelming support. I could barely keep up. My mind was racing. All I wanted to do was be with the people most important to me and celebrate! I wanted to toast champagne at 10:30am! But I powered through the day. I felt incredible. Even though I was mostly celebrating on the inside, I felt incredible.

I finally left work at 7:30. I called my dad on the way home and we discussed the case. I was proud of myself for actually being able to keep up with the conversation. I had done my research. I knew the news today, too.

When I walked in the door around 8:30, I kissed my wife and hugged my mom (who was visiting for the week). We popped a bottle of bubbly. We celebrated and then we settled into our regular old married evening routine. Because while so much changed outside of this home, inside, we’re still the same. We’re still wife and wife, and Mommy and Mama. We’re still a family. Just one that’s now recognized by our country, and that’s amazing. I am reclaiming my wife status. Federally.

Personal photo by Thea Dodds of Authentic Eye Photography

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  • Jess

    So many tears. This was just beautiful. Congrats on reclaiming wife. :)

  • Karen

    It was a truly amazing day. There is still much work to be done since only section 3 of DOMA was overturned but it was still an amazing day. I couldn’t be wild and crazy in my celebrations either (why oh why are these things announced on a week day!). It feels incredible to know that I am a few years closer to being considered a full citizen under the law (I live in a state with a discriminatory amendment). I didn’t think it would happen in my lifetime. I’m so glad I was wrong.

  • one more sara

    I’m crying All The Tears. EQUALITY FISTBUMP!!!!!

  • Carbon Girl

    Every single story personal story about gay marriage this last week has brought me to tears. I am just overwhelmed with the happiness and relief all these couples are feeling. Love is just a beautiful thing!

  • Claire

    Whoo hoo!

  • Amanda

    I wish all the haters could read this.

    Because it’s really just about ordinary people who want to be married (in every sense of the word!) to the one they love.

    • The Family Jules

      I wish I could exactly that statement a thousand times.

  • Paranoid Libra

    Thank God I am working from home today. Tears of touched joy streaming down my cheeks. Every family deserves this same level of happiness.

  • Jenny

    This is so beautiful. Your joy made me tear up. This “Because while so much changed outside of this home, inside, we’re still the same.” is what I loved most. Because my soon to be wife and I – are still the same. But maybe now our families will feel that our August nuptials are a little more legit (though we live in a state that already recognizes us), now I can maybe stop explaining that it is a legal marriage, and yes we’ll be actually married, for real.

    I had an instant glow that day, as soon as my facebook started to explode, and had to hide my joy at work too – since I shouldn’t have been lurking social media ;) The only feeling I could describe it was a weight was lifted. I immediately felt this relief that my country no longer could outwardly discriminate against my wedding as some taboo half-marriage. That when I’m married – I will be fully, federally, married.

    • yes! “now I can maybe stop explaining that it is a legal marriage, and yes we’ll be actually married, for real” for those of us in states where same-sex marriage is legal, there will be no confusion, no questioning. we’re just married. not gay married, whatever that means.

      now let’s hope it quickly spreads to ALL states and there’s no confusion anywhere!

  • Stalking Sarah


  • This was a joy to read :) I’m tearing up for you. And I rarely tear up!

  • Parsley

    I so relate to this post, because I, too, had trouble reaching my wife once I found out, and then had to get through an ordinary work day focused on other things. It felt weird all day that something so momentous had happened, and yet my life was going on, just as before.

  • LZ

    First APW post that made me almost cry at work — So happy for all the amazingly deserving couples out there who finally got news that they have deserved for so long!!!


  • Lana

    What a lovely post!! Loved reading it, love that DOMA was overturned, love that love is love! We have a long way to go in this country but this is a huge step forward for equality.

  • Rachel

    Chills at that last line!

  • Very emotional and inspirational! Thanks for sharing :)

  • Jules

    teared up. Congratulations. It is an awesome moment for anyone who is growing up questioning, to know that “I want to get married and have a family” will not be one of the dreams they will feel they need to give up in order to fully accept their sexuality, like my generation did.

  • Congratulations! All at are so pleased for you! Thank you for sharing your story.

  • Jen AB

    Just now catching up on a week of APW. This post has me all teary. Congratulations!