Our Story: Tale of Two Moms

It’s been nine years since my moms made history as the first same-sex couple to get a marriage license in Massachusetts. And since ours was the first state in the U.S. to allow gay couples to marry, that historic license brought us a lot of attention.

What it didn’t do, though, was make us a family — my parents had surged past that milestone long ago. By the time they married, when I was 24, my moms had been a committed couple for 27 years, and they had loved, protected, and guided me into young adulthood. They’d also supported me through nearly two decades of competitive hockey, a sport that’s demanding even without the added tension of hiding who we were as a family so that I wouldn’t be outed as “different.”

You see, when I began to compete, in the mid-’80s, sports teams were not exactly known for inclusion –— it’s telling that just a few weeks ago, NBA center Jason Collins made history by coming out as the first openly gay male athlete from a major national sport. Likewise, a grade-school hockey player didn’t simply introduce the coach to his two moms back then, so one of them became my “aunt.” And moms were definitely not allowed in the locker room, so I managed myself when other players and their dads huddled together off the ice. It was hard, but I wouldn’t have traded my two moms for the world.

In fact, as a first-stringer with the Division I Merrimack Warriors, I began to imagine dropping the “Aunt Sue” act and having both my moms out onto the ice for the senior tradition of recognizing our parents after our final game. My moms weren’t so sure about the idea, though. While they’d always prepared me for the potential for discrimination and exclusion, they also wanted to shield me from it, if they could.

In a twist of fate, the law caught up with the reality of my family before my last game, when the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled in 2003 that excluding same-sex couples from marriage was unconstitutional. The next spring, when my moms and I were in the papers and on TV across the country, my teammates and coaches were nothing but supportive at the news.

We were excited for both moms to be on the ice for senior night, and by the time it arrived, our story had caught the interest of ESPN. I’ll never forget the way both my moms were welcomed onto the ice by the rest of the players and parents, the cameras rolling and the audience roaring. Like the government-issued piece of paper from a year earlier, that public embrace didn’t suddenly make us a family, either. But it did show us that people understood that we are a family, and isn’t that what marriage does for all of us, gay or straight?

At the end of the day, that single word tells society so much about a couple: That they are committed to each other for life. That they share life’s joys and sorrows as one, no matter what. That they are a family. When my moms had the state of Massachusetts behind them instead of against them, it lifted a weight off my shoulders. No more faltering, awkward explanations to acquaintances. No more hiding behind “Aunt Sue.” They’re married, and that’s all any of us needs to say.

Looking back, I think, no family should have to go through what we went through. But we’re the lucky ones – there are still 40 states where parents like mine can’t get married. And even those who can marry aren’t recognized by the federal government. So until the day we have equality in marriage for everyone, no matter whom they love, there’s more work to do.

That day, I’m sure my moms would agree, would be the best belated wedding present of all.

Peter Hams now works as a technical services manager in the Boston area.

(Source:Boston Herald)


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Chris Caldwell

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