Capital Joy For D.C.'s Same-Sex Couples

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Rocky Galloway (left) and Reginald Stanley get married in Washington, D.C. Jacquelyn Martin/AP

Rocky Galloway (left) and Reginald Stanley, parents of twin girls, were married in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday. Jacquelyn Martin/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Jacquelyn Martin/AP

This week, the District of Columbia started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. About 150 couples applied for the licenses, and a flurry of weddings followed — some in churches and a few in an office. Activists felt they had achieved a just outcome after a 30-year struggle.

At the headquarters of the Human Rights Campaign in downtown Washington, three couples got married. All had been together for years, and all were African-American.

Many of Washington's black residents have strong feelings about gay marriage, and polls have shown that the majority are opposed, particularly those who are older or religious.

So while I couldn't help but be moved by these couples, together for many years, in one case hoisting their adopted toddler girls, other people felt the weddings were immoral.

Many of Washington's black ministers don't turn away unmarried African-American women with children. Yet they have condemned black people who want to marry same-sex partners and raise children.

And it's not just black ministers. One D.C. council member who voted against gay marriage was none other than Marion Barry, the one-time civil rights activist and four-term mayor of Washington. Barry was recently censured by the city council for steering a contract to a girlfriend. And he was once arrested in a hotel, with a woman who was not his wife, for smoking crack cocaine.

To Barry, the one-time crusader for civil rights, the right to same-sex marriage isn't a civil right.

But it is to those ministers and friends and family of the couples who took their vows this week — couples who'd long been denied the right to marry.

One of the men — the father of those two little girls — is Reggie Stanley.

"Today, the arc of the moral universe is long and bends toward justice," he told his partner during their ceremony at the Human Rights Campaign office. "But today, and every day, the arc of my love is longer and bends toward you."

It was a joy to see photos showing the radiant looks on the faces of the newly married black men and women, their commitments legally recognized in the nation's capital, walking away from their ceremonies while a black singer crooned, "Don't go changing to try and please me. I love you just the way you are."

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