Journalists stand on forefront during marriage equality

by Editor-in-Chief Anna Grace Usery

Monday, Feb. 9 was a great day to be a journalist.

To see three same-sex couples walk into a southern courthouse publicly displaying homosexual affection was gratifying, but heartbreaking.

Lauderdale County Probate Judge James Hall addressed the couples by saying the dispute between federal and state law was weighing on him and he needed to complete his research before issuing licenses.

Although every media official in the building could smell the strong odor that is bullshit, he was respectable and the entire courthouse staff was civil.

Though federal law obviously trumps state law and many judges in the state plainly broke the law, I want to commend the Lauderdale County courthouse and its employees for biting their tongue and actually being prepared.

Florence residents Beth Ridley and Rose Roysden, the first couple to be denied their civil right to marry, both dropped their heads when Hall gave his statement. However, they attained happiness upon driving to Birmingham to officially tie the knot, despite the fiasco in their hometown.

As I made my journalistic rounds, interviewing ordained clergy, couples, and representatives and lawmakers for the duration of the day, I stepped back to fully assess the situation.

Tears welled in my eyes and I envisioned a small child (girl, hopefully) tugging at my hand and asking, “Mom, do you remember the moment when two ladies or two men could get married in Alabama?”

In that moment I will be able to say, “Yes, sweetheart.”

But I will be able to say more than a simple yes. I can say I was an active part in a movement that paved the way for marriage equality.

Media officials participating in coverage during the Kennedy assassination, civil rights movement, foreign and domestic wars and political engagements did not know at the time they were in the midst of a revolution.

Thankfully, I know how important my role is in progressing civil rights, all the while people respect me for doing so. And while I refrain from bias in my journalistic articles, I can proudly say I am overwhelmingly happy for the bond of holy matrimony same-sex couples were finally able to participate in.

I will be able to tell my child I was on the forefront of groundbreaking and revolutionary gains in a seismic, governmental-shifted era. And my child will be proud. I will be able to tell her how seeing two people of the same gender unite in holy matrimony made me a better journalist and person in general.

And she will no longer judge gender roles. She will know true equality.