Marriage Equality Declared a Fundamental, Constitutional Right: My Personal Reaction to Obergefell v. Hodges

It’s been almost a week since the Supreme Court handed down its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges declaring marriage equality a fundamental right under both the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution. I’ve had some time to reflect on my thoughts and feelings, both in the personal sense, given how much this affects Aaron and me, and in the broader, intellectual and political sense.

Before we get into the latter, which I’d like to reserve for another post, I think it’s only fair to provide some insight into my personal history; context to help you understand what makes me who I am and the experiences that shaped me; context that, I hope, will let you get a clearer picture of why this matters so much and my own bias, which limits the degree to which I can be objective about it.

A Lesson from My Parents: Marriage Matters

One of the greatest gifts I was given in life is a set of parents who love each other deeply and unconditionally. Within a few months of meeting, they were engaged; the question popped in an orange pickup truck outside of a movie theater as if it were the most natural thing in the world, no ring in sight. The first time my mom walked into the sporting goods store my dad ran, he turned to the person next to him and said, “That’s the girl I’m going to marry.” When my mom brought my dad home to meet her mother, even my grandma said she knew in that moment, “He’s the one for her.”

When they walked down the aisle and said, “I do”, my dad was 22 and my mom 19.

Almost a year after the vows were taken, I was born. Two years thereafter, a set of twins arrived, my brother, Caleb, and sister, Kelsey; the following decade, my youngest sister, Harley.

The great American composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim wrote in one of his more famous works, “Be careful the things you say, children will listen. Be careful the things you do, children will see.” In the case of my siblings and myself, as it pertained to finding our proverbial other half, being born into the family we were was like winning the lottery. From my earliest memories, mom and dad armed us with tools and strategies that would pay dividends for a lifetime, passing on wisdom that, somehow, they had come to possess.

Reading with us, driving to piano lessons, volunteering to run sports teams … in all of those countless, small, intimate moments that build a relationship, they transferred knowledge to each of us about how to find our husband or wife and establish a marriage. “Never date someone you wouldn’t want to marry. Dating is an interview process to find the person with whom you want to build a life. If a person isn’t right, but you open yourself to developing feelings, it’s too late. Don’t stack the deck against yourself.” “Never embarrass your husband or wife in public. If you disagree, tell them in private so they know that no matter what, regardless of the circumstance, you have their back.” “When you get married, you have to put your spouse above us.  They have to become your primary loyalty.”  “When you commit to someone, even if you ever fall out of love, for the sake of respect for the love you once had, give them the courtesy of a divorce before you begin a relationship with someone else. Let them know that no matter how bad things are, or what the temptation, as long as you’re married, he or she will never have to worry about you opening your heart to someone else. Give them that security.” “Don’t go to bed angry.” “When you sleep with someone, you give away a part of your heart. You create a memory, and an intimacy, that will always exist; that you can’t take back and that should, if possible, belong solely to your spouse. Be careful before you hand out something that valuable because you are valuable. You deserve to be loved not just for your body, but your entire self. Making love is an extension of that; a gift, not just an act. Never be pressured into anything. Listen to your heart.” “Don’t allow your children or a situation to divide you. If you have a disagreement about something, work it out together and be united. You’re a team.” “Be the type of person that you, yourself, would want to date. You have as give as much to a relationship as you take from it.” “Never be afraid to express your feelings. Be vulnerable. Tell the people you love that you love them everyday.”

They weren’t just words, we saw them live these values, witnessing first hand how they bore fruit. Intentionally or unintentionally, mom and dad handed us a skill set that was every bit as priceless as it was rare; an education for which my siblings and I paid no tuition. They taught us that the foundation of a great marriage is love, but that love alone isn’t enough. You have to choose, every day, and with every action, to honor the covenant you made; to build each other up; to hold each other accountable; to allow the other person to be completely, and unapologetically, themselves; to stand alongside them, hand in hand, no matter the challenges or obstacles, in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, for better or worse.

With religion playing such a fundamental role in our lives, the importance of marriage was reiterated at night, when dad would come into our bedrooms to read the Bible to us. As he prayed with and over my siblings and me, he would ask God to protect our future husbands and wives. Years later, it was communicated to us when, driving away from family visitation at basic training after seeing my brother at military boot camp, my mom broke down in tears about leaving him behind, alone. “I just want him to have somebody. My baby is out there by himself.” There was no doubt that they loved us, that we were worthy of love, and that, someday, we’d find someone with whom we wanted to spend the rest of our lives, too.

Dealing with an Unexpected Curveball

When I was 10 or 11 years old, my world changed in a way that I never could have anticipated; something that wasn’t even on my radar of possibilities as we had no exposure to it or examples of it given the insular, religious environment in which we were raised, our daily experience confined to a town of no more than 3,500 people at a time when the Internet barely existed. Unlike everyone else around me – my friends, family, community members – I woke up to find that not only had I not developed the emotional and physical interest in girls that had been promised by every Bible story, fairy tale, Disney movie, book, and couple I saw, but worse, every fibre of my being had begun reacting like electricity around the attractive older boys. The way their hair fell across their forehead. Their smiles. How their legs looked when they ran. Heart fluttering. Breath quickening. Eyes averted. Panic.

This was not the deal I had been promised. I somehow knew, instinctively, that I could never mention it. No one could ever find out if I wanted to survive. I did everything I could to ignore the feelings; to push them away. “It’s just a phase. It has to be. Everybody said you start liking girls so it will happen. I just have to try harder.” And so try I did. Every day, without exception.

When I entered middle school in 6th grade, we lived fairly close so my parents would let me walk some mornings as my dad dropped my younger siblings off at the elementary school across town on his way to work, my mom at home, pregnant with my youngest sister. My memories of that time in my life are cold, crisp, winter mornings when I could see my breath in front of me; the sun coming up, frost on the ground. Each step, 11 and 12 years old, pleading with God to fix whatever was wrong with me; bargaining, begging for this be the day when it happened; asking for forgiveness for being so deficient that I caused whatever this was.

That same year, a teacher responding to a question from another student remarked that some boys liked other boys; that they were called gay, or the more common term in those days, “homosexual”. I froze, scared to move in case it drew attention to me. The idea there could be others experiencing what I was going through seemed impossible. Where were they all? Why had I never seen or heard about any of them? I kept repeating it over and over in my head, fearful to write it down in case someone found evidence of my brokenness.

When I gathered the courage to try and learn more using the only tools I had at my disposal – the public library and bookstores – it made things worse because I found the world I briefly described.  Nearly every resource on the topic shared the sentiments of New York Times bestselling author Tim LaHaye, who wrote in one of his books, “Many … parents would prefer the death of their child to his adopting the unhappy wretchedness of homosexuality”.  “God would never have commanded the death penalty for homosexuality if a person was really “born that way.” All capital punishment was for crimes a person committed voluntarily. Homosexuality is no exception (Leviticus 20).”  “No doubt some homosexuals are indeed demon possessed.” “Even after a demon is cast out, if indeed that is necessary, the individual still has to overcome the homosexuality that caused him to become so rebellious toward God that he made himself vulnerable to the demons in the first place.”

And out of nowhere, President Bill Clinton happened.  He tried to change the law so gay people could serve in the military without being fired.  Suddenly, the sleepy, insular world around me, which had been completely devoid of any reference to the hint of possibility there were others like me, talked about nothing else.  The culture wars had arrived full force.  I heard men and women with whom I had grown up – good people I’d never known to utter an unkind word about anyone – assert, with completely sincerity, that being gay caused AIDs, not a virus; that it spontaneously formed as a righteous judgment from God to kill “them” off for their perversion not realizing the little boy listening to every word they said was dealing with this.  (You can imagine the kind of destruction that does to a kid’s mind.)  Certain music was banned because there was a fear that “demons of homosexuality” could infect us through it.  The stereotypes and lies that were repeated seem ridiculous today but everyone just accepted them; lies like gays were wildly promiscuous and had hundreds of sexual partners a night; that their relationships were inherently unstable; that they were prone to violence; that they were created as a result of being raped by pedophiles and/or having an absent father (that last one confused me since neither was applicable in my case – my dad loved us so much he made a point to tell us at least once a day and I certainly wasn’t abused by anyone – but it came from no less an authority than hugely influential child psychologist Dr. James Dobson, who had served in advisory capacities to both the White House and the Attorney General; who had sold millions upon millions of books; who had a nationally syndicated radio program and was held up as an authority in nearly every evangelical circle in the country).

Time passed. I stuck to the script, hoping each morning that it would be the day I’d wake up to find girls – any girl, in any capacity, no matter how tiny, just once, even if for a moment so I knew change was possible – attractive; that seeing certain guys wouldn’t cause my chest to tighten or my throat to catch. That, I could find my mind wandering when I thought about them rather than their boyfriends whom I found far more interesting.

The trouble?  Deep down, I’m a hopeless romantic. You probably would be, too, if you grew up like I did, seeing your parents unapologetically in love, witnessing every day how two people really can become more than either of them are individually. To compensate, I began to put walls around my heart to protect myself. The more open I was, the greater the danger people would find out my secret; to see how there was this evil inside of me that would make them stop loving me. It was constant fear of discovery. The cost, even in the small things, was incalculable. Moments and memories were stolen in ways I can never have restored; things others take for granted as rites of passage. I distanced myself from everyone, even my little brother, shutting down any conversation about the girls he liked for worry the topic would turn back on me. I couldn’t share my first crush; ask someone to a dance; be open about the anxieties that come with being a teenager. It felt like being on the ocean, in a wooden rowboat, during a storm. Hunker down, hang on as tightly as you can, and pray for survival.

The Night I Broke

Most of the time, I did reasonably well, all things considered. Only once did I break; a couple of years later when I thought about the possibility of marrying a boy for the first time. My parents had decided the six of us needed one of our regular family movie marathons. One of the films we saw was a typical romantic drama called Bed of Roses. The story was about a widower in New York City; a florist who loved his wife so deeply that when she died, he withdrew from his friends and family. He was unable to sleep at night so he’d walk the streets, trying to find peace. During one of these evening escapes, he spotted a woman in her window and was instantly drawn to her. She turns out to be an investment banker who has put her career ahead of everything; who has no time for love. He pursues her, she decides love is more important than money, and they live happily ever after. It wasn’t some great piece of cinema but in that moment, it cut right through the 13 year old kid who had been trying to hold it together.

Later that evening, after everyone had fallen asleep, I lay in the dark in the small bedroom I shared with my brother. All of the walls I had put up, all of the reinforcements I had built around my heart, cracked. Like water flooding over a dam finally giving way, I shattered. Grief like nothing I’ve felt in my life, before or since, escaped as I buried my head in my pillow. I sobbed uncontrollably, unable to breathe, stifling the sound in the sheets so no one would hear me. I wanted to love someone like that. I didn’t understand why I couldn’t; why something everybody else got to celebrate had to be hidden. I didn’t understand why all of the other stupid rules we ignored, like stoning women and kicking children born out of wedlock out of society, were discarded but I couldn’t find a boy with whom I wanted to grow old and build a life. I didn’t understand why I felt the way I did or what I had done to deserve it. I didn’t understand why it was wrong in the first place since nobody was harmed (it wasn’t like alcoholism or adultery) or how people ignorantly believed it was a choice. I didn’t understand how I was going to someday pull up to a house, sit in the driveway, and gather the strength to walk into greet a woman I didn’t want to see because everyone expected me to get married. I thought about having to stand in front of my friends and family and say to some girl, “I do”, but wishing she were someone else, dreading the words coming out of my mouth. And for a brief moment, I thought about something I had never even considered: I allowed myself to picture what it would be like to stand across from not a bride, but a groom, and be treated exactly like my parents, my siblings, and the people in the community.

In the majority opinion, Justice Kennedy writes: “Marriage responds to the universal fear that a lonely person might call out only to find no one there. It offers the hope of companionship and understanding and assurance that while both still live there will be someone to care for the other.” Those words are my lived experience. Those words reflect what that 13 year old kid was feeling in a moment of complete despair when a pain and longing caused by a culture that lied to him reached a breaking point; a culture that told him the very best parts of who he was, the things to which he aspired in life and that made him human, were intrinsically disordered based on nothing but the same irrational, illegitimate, and wholly unfounded prejudice and bigotry it had wielded towards other groups in the past.

It Gets Better … It Really Does

Love is a funny thing though. It doesn’t much care about public opinion. It shows up in the most unexpected of places at the most unexpected of times. It cuts through where the strongest weapons can’t and overcomes obstacles that would otherwise seem insurmountable.

It wasn’t many years after that night that I met Aaron. Like most people who are blessed to have encountered their husband or wife early, he is the great dividing line by which everything else is referenced. He healed me in ways you cannot imagine, and thawed the part of me that had grown cold to the world by wearing me down with this unrelenting, selfless kindness.

From the time we were teenagers until today, we have fallen asleep next to each other, thousands upon thousands of evenings making one another laugh, talking about our day, planning for the future. He has been at my side for practically every major life milestone. He is the person I want to call when I have good news and the person I want to wrap in my arms when something goes wrong. His opinion is the only one that counts. The entire world could hate me and as long as he still looked at me the way he has since we were kids, I could deal with it. He makes me braver than I am because I know no matter how badly I fail, he will never love me any less. If we lost everything tomorrow and needed to go work in coal mines to survive, he’d put on a hat, grab my hand, and never complain.

Being married to Aaron has given my life a meaning that I felt I had no right to expect. I see how incredible he is with our nieces and nephews and can’t wait to be a dad with him. This is the man with whom I want to watch our sons and daughters grow older; to take them to Disney World, dance recitals, baseball games, and school plays; to console them when their heart is broken for the first time. He’s the one I want to be sitting next to on the porch when our grandkids are running around the yard.

What the Obergefell decision does is guarantee our ability to do that as full and equal citizens of the United States. It declares, as the highest law of the land, that it is a matter of basic liberty we, and not the government, have the power to decide how to live our lives and with whom we want to share it. It acknowledges and confirms what the dozens of lower courts found during exhaustive trials in which the best experts on both sides were called: That there is no rational justification for excluding us from the rights that our parents, siblings, and friends enjoy; that the bans exist solely to express moral disapproval based upon a hateful, ugly bigotry that has been handed down through tradition the same way interracial marriage bans were once defended by well-meaning people acting in good faith; that, despite protestations to the contrary, these inexcusable beliefs inflict “grave and continuing harm, serving to disrespect and subordinate” our family.

The ruling is as sweeping as Loving v. Virginia, forever expanding the freedom each and every individual American citizen enjoys (though I imagine it has as much interest as a teetotaler being told there is an open bar, even if you’re straight you, too, now have the right to marry someone of the same gender; a freedom you didn’t have last week). It brooks no discourse, tolerating no exceptions when it demands same-sex couples be given marriage “on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples”, recognizing that science, the courts, and millions of Americans have known for decades: It’s immutable, as much a part of someone as the color of their eyes. As far as the government is concerned, it is now a constitutional principal that a marriage is a marriage is a marriage.  It will be all but impossible for the government to support or subsidize any practice, institution, or organization, directly or indirectly, that conflicts with these values.

I’ll address my thoughts on the constitutional issues and the expected conflicts that are inevitably going to arise at some point in the future. In the meantime: We won. As landmarks across the country and even the world, ranging from the White House and The Empire State Building to Cinderella’s Castle and Niagara Falls, light up in celebration, I have a hard time believing it’s real.  I wish I could go back and tell myself, “It gets better”.  Some who oppose the court’s expansion of personal freedom have called for changing Facebook profile pictures to the American flag.  I hope they do because that flag has never looked more beautiful, or more true, to us, and millions of people like us, than it does right now.  It is a symbol of hope; of promises fulfilled.

As weird as it sounds, and as painful as the experience has been including losing many members of my own family following decision to get legally married years ago, I’m grateful.

I’m grateful for those who demonstrated unconditional love beyond what I ever could have expected.

I’m grateful for allies who stood up for us, refusing to tolerate even soft bigotry in polite conversation and served with a smile as if politeness somehow excuses discrimination.

I’m grateful those who refuse to change their mind, acting with the same obstinance and ignorance as their forefathers who insisted blacks, Asians, Jews, women, Native Americans, and other groups were inferior, have the courtesy to identify themselves in person, on social media, and by their associations.  One of my own grandmothers, who has known and loved Aaron for a majority of his life and tried at one point to get him to marry one of my sisters so he’d be part of the family, wrote about how the decision to allow the freedom to marry is a “dark day” for America; that she needed to pray God spare the judges who plunged us into these final days of evil before the world ends.  She will never know her great grandchildren.  She has forfeited the right to be a part of our lives and will be viewed with the same disdain men like George Wallace were (for the 35-and-younger crowd, she largely already is).

I’m grateful for the fact that I don’t take anything for granted. Fourteen years after I first held him in my arms, there are nights I come to bed late and end up watching Aaron sleep, hardly able to believe he’s real. That we have a house together; businesses together; a life. Last week, I was working from home and he started making dinner so I didn’t have to worry about it, freeing me to focus on my task list. I went into the kitchen to get a cup of coffee. We were talking, him over the stove, me nearby, and as I turned to look at him, the sunlight from the window revealed a tiny smile line next to his eye from when he laughs.  I realized not only were we now old enough to get wrinkles, but that I was the one to have put it there. I’m more proud of that accomplishment than anything else I’ve ever done; to have played a role in making him happy so many times over so many years that the legacy of those moments is now and forever etched into his face, a part of him. Someday, if we’re lucky, I’ll hold that same face in my hands when it’s covered with so many wrinkles he’s unrecognizable to the world. I won’t see an old man. I’ll see the young boy with whom I fell in love so many decades ago; who loved me back in a way that I once wouldn’t even allow myself to dream possible and healed me from wounds so deep that even in this moment, writing these words, I have to be careful not to get too close to the door in my heart behind which I’ve stored them because I’ve chosen to forgive what was done to me in ignorance by those who realize how misguided they were.

Thank you all for your messages and comments of support over the years. We’ve read, and appreciate, every one of them. It has been an incredible journey and both of us are glad you got to walk some of the road with us.

  • Couldn’t be happier for the two of you. That may be the most eloquent post you’ve ever written.
    While I’m heterosexual, I’m also Southern and can identify with every relative you mention, both good and bad.

    • harrietfordypa

      $$$$&*#$%#$

      s.hort.me/JPTjy

  • Gilvus

    Thanks for rubbing onions in my eyeballs.

    I still remember that for the first four years I hung around here, you occasionally mentioned a mysterious “spouse” while Aaron was a “business partner.” I took it at face value for a while because my gaydar is utterly, hilariously miscalibrated. It’s only after your Throwback Thursday post last October that you started openly referring to Aaron as “my husband” rather than some vague entity as “my spouse.”

    No more hiding. One day we’ll teach kids, “Did you know that once upon a time, people in the United States owned slaves, used children as expendable labor in coal mines, didn’t have women suffrage, maintained “separate-but-equal” facilities for different racial groups, and didn’t allow same-sex marriages? We were barbarians back then.”

    • Scott McCarthy

      Yeah, I’ve got to be honest: while I couldn’t care one lick about Joshua’s sexual preferences, I was slightly disappointed to learn that the oblique and obtuse references were (to at least some extent) accidental, rather than an intentional (and massive!) social experiment, where he diligently tallied every mention of his “wife” in the comments section, cataloged every misconception that he was able to induce, and just generally treated the lot of us like lab rats.

      Whereas I had always expected some big eventual reveal with pie charts and maniacal laughter, it was kind of a let down finding out that this site is not run by the great and powerful Oz.

      • Gilvus

        I never thought it was accidental; I thought it was intentional misdirection arising from the need to pick your battles. 5-10 years ago, revealing your sexual orientation (irrelevant to most topics anyway) would have automatically and irreversibly alienated a large portion of your audience. Misdirection was the definite lesser of two evils in that case, and perfectly justified in my eyes. I would’ve unapologetically done the same thing if I was in Joshua’s shoes.

        That said, even if the misdirection was 100% intentional, I don’t think Joshua would deign to meticulously track the progress given everything else he could do with his time. I can imagine it going something like this: “Has my site been invaded by bigots bashing me for my sexual orientation? Nope. Check. Moving on.”

        Meanwhile, at Kennon & Green Headquarters…

        • Mike

          Joshua, can you tell me if you think that I’m correct in thinking that this changes nothing factually, and that the 9th Amendment of the Constitution has always prohibited the government from having any say in this matter? I’m interested to hear your viewpoint about this …am I accurate or inaccurate? Thanks, Mike.

          https://www.law.cornell.edu/constitution/ninth_amendment

        • That’s my belief. Madison, the effective architect of the constitution, fought hard to avoid a Bill of Rights because he knew that someday, well-meaning but shortsighted citizens would come along and say, “If it’s not in the constitution, it’s not a right …”; that it would take only a few generations for people to mistakenly believe that something like freedom to speech, which is specifically enumerated, was somehow more important than other, non-listed constitutional rights, which weren’t enumerated. The only reason he went along with it in the end was to get the votes necessary to pass it over the alternative, which he thought inferior.

          Harvard historian Bernard Bailyn, who specializes in colonial America, talks about the 9th amendment being intended as “latent rights, still to be evoked and enacted into law….a reservoir of other, unenumerated rights that the people retain, which in time may be enacted into law”. I couldn’t put it better myself. There are rights that belong to each and every human by virtue of being human. Some people believe these rights come from God, some from nature, some from personhood itself, intrinsic to the universe. Regardless, there are things that government simply cannot do without explicit permission; that are beyond its ability unless the people specifically give it that power. (For example, if the government required all newborn children to give DNA to a database that could then replicate them in clones, I’d say it’s a constitutional violation because it is taking something that is so fundamental, it cannot be confiscated and used to create new life unless granted by specific, enumerated power (contrary to existing Supreme Court precedent). A mere law cannot possibly justify an invasion that goes beyond anything imaged at the time of the revolution; to have yourself involuntarily duplicated. I put the onus on the government, not the individuals who want protection from the government.)

          It’s one of the things I want to talk about in my second, upcoming post on the intellectual/political analysis of the decision. I’m such a proponent of the 9th amendment that I think automated traffic cameras at intersections are unconstitutional for reasons that would be far too expansive to get into here. I find the arguments to the contrary – the idea that the 9th is merely a secretarial memo telling citizens how to read the document – to be beyond asinine given the extraordinary wealth of source materials still available to us that detail the founder’s intentions despite the occasional schizophrenia on the part of the revolutionary leaders (e.g., supporting “morals laws” that put adulterers in the stocks). Needless to say, I’m not a fan of John Robert’s vision of the court, which is to effectively turn it into the impotent rubber stamp of the simple majority. (It’s one of the reasons I find myself siding with the entire political spectrum in court cases, sometimes agreeing with someone like Ginsburg and other times someone like Scalia. I want maximum individual liberty and maximum personal freedom. The government must show a rational, fact-based, scientific justification for any significant attempt to restrict it.)

          Five years ago, I wrote about it briefly in this post: Some Things to Think About the 9th Amendment to the Constitution.

      • difff23

        Scott, you’re one of my favorite commenters on here. I like the great and powerful Oz part. Joshua is the best there is.
        One thing, I remember Joshua saying the spouse ,not the wife. I’m going on memory here and didn’t double check. Either way, I agree with this comment.

  • Once again, your courage in posting something so unflinchingly personal to the entire public internet is astounding. Looks like you and Aaron had the chance to do a lot of thinking and reflecting even in the last week. Happy for you, as always.

  • lauren

    This was so beautifully hearfelt, after reading it I feel like I’ve intruded into a private journal that I have no business being in.

    My heart absolutely breaks for little 10-year-old you. As a parent, thinking about my son or daughter being in so much pain about something that is a) a biological characteristic that they can’t change and b) NOT EVEN SOMETHING THAT IS BAD– it’s literally bringing tears to my eyes. I’m so sorry that you had to go through those years feeling like you were broken.

    As a kid around 7 or 8 years old, I vividly remember sitting on the front porch and telling my mom that I wanted to marry my (girl) best friend. She told me that I couldn’t; girls can’t marry other girls. I said “But what if we want to?”, completely unable to wrap my head around the concept that somebody had made a rule that only boys and girls could marry each other. All she could tell me was “They just can’t.” (I turned out straight, and probably wanted to marry my friend because I figured that if we got married and lived together, then we could play together any time we wanted to.) My point is, I couldn’t understand it 25 years ago and I still don’t today– there’s just no logical reason that you shouldn’t be able to marry anyone that you damn well please.

    Congratulations on finally being able to marry who you damn well please, anywhere in the country. It’s long overdue. You have one of the most interesting blogs I’ve read, with the juxtaposition of Spock-like logic and rationality with wholehearted things like this. All the best to you and Aaron. Be well.

    • Thank you. I truly appreciate your kind words and sentiment. The thing that makes me excited is how much better it’s going to be for the younger generation. I can’t wait until there’s a time when it is completely non-important; it doesn’t make you different, it doesn’t make you special, nobody cares about it. It will happen. I hope I see it in my lifetime.

      If you read or watched the news this morning, you might have come across the photo that blew up on social media from the Humans of New York Project – the online resource that randomly photographs people in New York City and asks them what is on their mind, so you get these beautiful, heartbreaking, mundane looks into the lives of others; everyone from janitors going to work to celebrities, first-generation Americans to senior citizens late for tea at church. It’s been one of my favorite things to follow for years (I think I put it in a Wednesday Wrap-Up a long time ago but I’d have to check). People open up to strangers about the fact they are missing their deceased father or they lost their job. It’s so personal; men, women, and children who want to be heard; to know someone is listening and that they matter.

      The photograph that had everyone talking, in part because Hillary Clinton had personally responded after seeing it, was a kid who looks about the same age I was when I was going through this. (That seems to be the usual time when it happens – the Pew Institute data says the median age of realization for boys is 10 years old, and the median age of knowing for sure is 15.) He looked like he’d been crying and when the photographer asked what he was thinking, he said, “I’m homosexual and I’m afraid about what my future will be and that people won’t like me.”

      Besides my heart breaking for him – I know exactly what he’s feeling by the look on his face – and even though it doesn’t seem like this to him in this moment, the fact he was able to say that, out loud, at his age, to a (presumably) stranger is … it’s huge. The progress is huge. I never could have done such a thing a couple of decades ago. It doesn’t make him feel any better now, but it is happening. That gives me so much joy and hope.

      Sure, it’s going to take some time because the level of ignorance is still incredible. A sizable minority of the comments on Instagram and Facebook, especially before the moderators got to them, were about how disgusting it was the photograph was posted (it was pulled at one point because so many people flagged it as inappropriate); how the kid shouldn’t have such thoughts and shame on the Humans of New York Project for not censoring it. “He can’t possibly know, he’s too young”, “He’s just confused”, “He’s just a kid! This is insane” “You’re sexualizing children” … some of these fools were parents themselves and then they wonder why it’s their kids, his age, that end up killing themselves! That ignorant minority is getting shouted down and blocked, driven from the social square by other straight parents (who see their own kid in this child), gay people (who see themselves in this child), and a host of people for whom the pain on his face resonates. It’s actually happening. Another 15 or 20 years and even this kid’s sentiments will be unthinkable to most Americans because the idea people would discriminate against him would seem too strange to contemplate.

      It’s an exciting time to be alive. We may not have the flying cars we were all promised, yet, but life is getting so much better. We’re even testing things like bionic eyes!. This kid has such a bright future even if it doesn’t seem like it from his current vantage point. And he’s in New York! That alone puts him five or seven years closer than the rest of the country.

    • Thank you for your kind words and sentiment. They mean a lot. The thing that makes me excited is how much better it’s going to be for the younger generation. I can’t wait until there’s a time when it is completely non-important; it doesn’t make you different, it doesn’t make you special, nobody cares about it. It will happen. I hope I see it in my lifetime.

      If you read or watched the news this morning, you might have come across the photo that blew up on social media from the Humans of New York Project – the online resource that randomly photographs people in New York City and asks them what is on their mind, so you get these beautiful, heartbreaking, mundane looks into the lives of others; everyone from janitors going to work to celebrities, first-generation Americans to senior citizens late for tea at church. It’s been one of my favorite things to follow for years (I think I put it in a Wednesday Wrap-Up a long time ago but I’d have to check). People open up to strangers about the fact they are missing their deceased father or they lost their job. It’s so personal; men, women, and children who want to be heard; to know someone is listening and that they matter.

      The photograph that had everyone talking, in part because Hillary Clinton had personally responded after seeing it, was a kid who looks about the same age I was when I was going through this. (That seems to be the usual time when it happens – the Pew Institute data says the median age of realization for boys is 10 years old, and the median age of knowing for sure is 15.) He looked like he’d been crying and when the photographer asked what he was thinking, he said, “I’m homosexual and I’m afraid about what my future will be and that people won’t like me.”

      Besides my heart breaking for him – I know exactly what he’s feeling by the look on his face – and even though it doesn’t seem like this to him in this moment, the fact he was able to say that, out loud, at his age, to a (presumably) stranger is … it’s huge. The progress is huge. I never could have done such a thing a couple of decades ago. It doesn’t make him feel any better now, but it is happening. That gives me so much joy and hope. His life is going to be so much better than he knows.

      Sure, it’s going to take some time because the level of ignorance is still incredible. A sizable minority of the comments on Instagram and Facebook, especially before the moderators got to them, were about how disgusting it was the photograph was posted (it was pulled at one point because so many people flagged it as inappropriate); how the kid shouldn’t have such thoughts and shame on the Humans of New York Project for not censoring it. “He can’t possibly know, he’s too young”, “He’s just confused”, “He’s just a kid! This is insane” “You’re sexualizing children” … some of these fools were parents themselves and then they wonder why it’s their kids, his age, that end up killing themselves! That ignorant minority is getting shouted down and blocked, driven from the social square by other straight parents (who see their own kid in this child), gay people (who see themselves in this child), and a host of people for whom the pain on his face resonates. It’s actually happening. Another 15 or 20 years and even this kid’s sentiments will be unthinkable to most Americans because the idea people would discriminate against him would seem too strange to contemplate.

      It’s an exciting time to be alive. We may not have the flying cars we were all promised, yet, but life is getting so much better. We’re even testing things like bionic eyes!. This kid has such a bright future even if it doesn’t seem like it from his current vantage point. And he’s in New York! That alone puts him five or seven years closer than the rest of the country.

  • Michael

    I have never posted a comment on any of the blogs that I follow on investing, yours being one of the first on my list to read, but I had to post a comment on this story. Thank you for sharing such a personal journey with us. I have shared it with my friends and as one of the other commentators said, thank you for the onions in my eyeballs 🙂 Please keep writing awesome investing ideas, but also these life stories, as they are a wonderful illustration of the ups- and downs in life!

    • Gilvus

      Uh, by “onions” I meant my eyes were leaking liquid testosterone. You know, manly tears. Yeah.

  • stegner

    Thank you for such a beautiful, heartwarming post. And for being so candid and open. It’s so hard to be open and vulnerable, but it’s ultimately the only game in town..

    As someone who didn’t have the sort of parents you had, thank you for letting me in to that world. It’s so heartening and (this is going to sound strange) educational. Congratulations to both of you.

    Your kids are gonna kick arse!

  • BenSite5

    Absolutely beautiful post Josh, thanks for sharing!

  • Ang

    Aw that is so sweet! You guys are such a wonderful couple. I didnt expect such a personal outpouring of your personal history, I know you are always trying to find a balance between keeping your distance and opening up to your readers, and i just want you to know how much we all appreciate your continued lessons.

    I hope the act of writing this was carthartic and I’m very glad that you were saved early on (as a teenager instead of having to wait until college or something). I think we all know what it’s like to be lonely, but love heals all, and I’m tremendously happy for you and Aaron

  • Steven

    I’ve been looking forward all week to your response to this decision. Your post was well worth the wait! Congrats guys!

  • I am glad for you two. Thanks for sharing your history! It is very courageous of you. As a straight, shy, geeky guy, I already found going through puberty and later dating awkward, and frequently painful. It is hard for me to imagine the experience of growing up closeted in a small religious town.

    I am a little surprised that your experience with religion was not more tainted by this process.

  • sarah

    Thank you.

    The SCOTUS allows the U.S. to be legally accepting of gay marriage; I was–naively–shocked at how many of my friends and family came out opposed to this decision. I hope that the day comes quickly when the U.S. is more than simply legally accepting.

  • Zaphod

    I have been anxiously awaiting your take, but this wonderful piece was much more than I could have imagined. Though you’ve always been brave and open, this was over the top in those categories. Such a milestone I can hardly believe it really happened.

    I think this would be appreciated by a larger audience than us typical readers as its so well done and more broadly applicable/important.

  • vince

    “a bell’s not a bell ’till you ring it
    a song’s not a song ’till you sing it
    love in your heart wasn’t put there to stay
    love isn’t love ’til you give it away”…oscar hammerstein
    thank you for being so gracious in sharing with us your readers…best to you both.

  • Patrick

    Joshua, usually I read your posts for your financial wisdom, and even though your post this time is not finance-related, it is equally brilliant. And even if you think you are writing about gay rights, as a straight male this post resonates with me. For me, this is not just about being gay or straight, this post is about one’s inner core values, it’s about what is truly right, that all people have the freedom and right to be who they are as is, as long as they are bringing harm to no one else. I support you fully in your values and lifestyle, and I thank you for your post. I have been struggling with an issue in my personal life and your post just clarified things for me. It’s really about living my values and being okay with them, because they are legal and do not violate the rights of other people, and anyone who criticizes do not have a seat at my table. Thank you for this Joshua, you just helped me solve a problem that is more important than finances. I have been a reader of yours for a long time and look forward to reading more from you in the future.

  • FratMan

    I would argue the most important takeaway of Shakespeare’s writings is the “fair is foul, and foul is fair” tendency. It was probably the prototype of what Charlie Munger would come to call mental models, and a notion heavily explored on your site when you highlight the difference between stealth wealth and high earners with negligible savings rates.

    This Shakespearean trend endures in that many of the people who act virtuous and preach about the integrity of marriage come with their own baggage–adultery, abuse, and other selfish character traits that fray the marital bond until the breaking point. Meanwhile, people like you and Aaron are merely seeking participation in an elemental (even natural) right without demanding the approval of others, and could almost assuredly serve as better ambassadors to the long-term benefits of marriage.

    It’s something I notice way too often: The people being preached at would be better examples of the underlying virtue than the ones currently doing the talking. You and Aaron’s story would have provided better commentary on marriage than the stories of many who have lectured you over the years.

    In terms of tactics, I find it also noteworthy that you and Aaron have received 100% support in the comments section even though America still does not enjoy universal agreement on the issue. Last I checked, December 2011 was the tipping point at which opponents of gay marriage lost their majority. As it stands now, about 3.7 out of 10 Americans still oppose gay marriage.

    Almost every pro-gay marriage post in the blogosphere over the past week has received some backlash. What is it about the telling of you and Aaron’s journey that leads to such universal approval? Certainly, the audience helps–www.joshuakennon.com will have younger, more socially liberal, and perhaps even libertarian readers than the typical online site. It is also a personal blog rather than a purported news site. But I don’t think that explains the totality of the support. It is also immensely helpful that: (1) You tell the story of your journey in emotionally persuasive language that simultaneously highlighted the hurtful irrationality of others in your social network; and (2) you and Aaron display quiet grace in your victory.

    That second element is important for promoting peace in the aftermath of this landmark Supreme Court ruling, and you and Aaron deserve as much praise for the dignity of how you handle victory as you deserve for persevering through the dark years until victory.

    • Gilvus

      That’s a very interesting observation. Are we, as a collective group, simply different from the average internet denizen? Or are we brainwashed zealots of the Cult of Kennon?

      If Buffett has his Buffetteers and Bogle has his Bogleheads, does that make us Kennonites?

      • Steven

        I think its a combination of factors. The intolerant aren’t likely to visit this blog day in/day out like many of us do. I believe most of us here consider Joshua to be someone admirable.

        If someone is engaged enough to read Joshua’s musings on an ongoing basis they would to have be a real turkey to turn on him and diss his moving story.

      • Joe

        I agree Gilvus and always enjoy your comments, but I worry “Kennonites” might leave out Aaron who has undoubtedly had an influence on Joshua and his legion of loyal readers. “Kengreeintes” sounds a little like a science experiment, so perhaps “Keneenites” is more appropriate? I hope others will chime in with creativity better than mine (sampling Brown Forman products on the 4th will not help), but I am thankful to Joshua and Aaron for sharing their journey with all of us.

        • Gilvus

          Thanks, Joe. It seems like I’ve somehow carved a niche as the “resident troll” of this site over the past couple of years. Regarding the inclusion of Aaron: I thought about it because it’s clear that he’s done a huge amount of behind-the-scenes work to make everything run smoothly. But from how Joshua describes him (and from the few times I’ve seen him interacting on the site), he seems humble to a fault and more likely to rebuff the limelight than bask in it.

          And while Aaron is undoubtedly the single biggest influence on what makes Joshua Joshua, what about Joshua’s parents? His childhood tutor? Scrooge McDuck? All of them deserve some measure of credit, but it’s impossible to quantify, let alone include all of them. Therefore, “Kennonite” works as a short, snazzy synecdoche at the cost of not crediting Aaron and everyone else who played a part in making Joshua a venerable figure. The “Buffetteer” is a case-in-point: Warren Buffett is idolized all over the world, but in reality he co-pilots Berkshire with Charlie Munger. And beyond the two of them, Jain, Abel, Coombs, and Weschler are huge contributors to the company and Buffett makes sure to lavish praise on them every chance he gets. Although Buffett would’ve been great no matter what, the team he gathered around him is what makes him legendary.

          An old metaphor comes to mind: “standing on the shoulders of giants.” From far away, you’ll only see the person standing on top. Only on closer examination do you notice that this person is supported atop many unsung heroes. As long as Aaron’s okay with it, I think “Kennonite” serves as a reasonable label for the far-away view.

  • Kev

    Genuinely happy for both of you. And of course, it’s great to see the US take a leap in the right direction. I have to say though, perhaps this is just because I’m in the UK, but this seemed to come out of nowhere! In most of Western Europe, it seems like there was a bit of build up – a political party making it a campaign pledge, a referendum, things like that. The buildup to the Irish referendum recently was all over the news, for example. But this, I just looked at the news one morning and… Supreme Court says gay marriage is a constitutional right. Done, finished, just like that. First and last I’d heard about it! Well, regardless, it’s good to see more countries take this step in a more civilised direction.

    And what a moving post. I can’t understand anyone who could read that and still be opposed… Hope there are many more happy years for you guys, and I’m sure you’ll make awesome parents one day too 🙂

  • Pablo

    I teared up reading this post. . . so heart-felt and so personal. Welcome to the club, America! Better 10 years later than Canada than never!

  • Bill Larson

    Awesome stuff as usual. As soon as the decision came down I was looking forward to reading your response here.

  • Derek

    I’ve been reading your blog for about the last year and have enjoyed the posts on investing, economics, philosophy, and mental models immensely. Today I feel compelled to join so I can thank you for this wonderful post. It is simply stunning.

    Courageous, moving, brilliant. None of those adjectives seem adequate. Thank you so much for sharing it with this community.

  • disqus_W2tcsViAlX

    Love is an illusion…

  • JK

    Thank you for sharing your story with us. I’m not one that typically gets sentimental about stories of love, but the story about your life journey has tugged at a number of my heartstrings.

    You and Aaron share a stronger love than almost every couple I know (myself included). Congratulations on your marriage and I wish the two of you a lifetime of happiness.

  • Anthony

    Joshua,

    Well done, sir. Well done.:)

    Now about that book you’ve been working on…where it at!?:)

  • Steven A.

    Love is an illusion…

  • Felipe

    Congratulations Joshua and Aaron!

  • Paul

    I wish I felt about someone the way you feel about Aaron

    • Gilvus

      Hey, this might help a bit.

      The “figured it all out staircase” shows you’re not as far off as you might think. Part 2 of that post introduces wonderful concepts as well (the 20,000 Mundane Wednesdays and the Traffic Test).

  • Phil J.

    Thank you for sharing it had me a little teary at the end. I know it was tough for you growing up thinking that the world was against you, but look at yourself now. All that you and Aaron have attained over these years and you realize it was all worth it in the end. As young gay man myself, I felt the same way you did when I was that age. I too that it was a phase, but in the end I realize this is who I am and I am happy with that realization. I am 26 years old, and life has gotten better for me. In the past six months I became a Navy Officer, have the opportunity to travel around the New England area, and to begin looking for a potential spouse knowing that I have the right to one day marrying him. Thank you guys for reminding me that it does get better in time, and that I should be patient when it comes to finding “Mr. Right”.

    I wish you guys a fun filled 4th of July, and I hope to one day meet you guys in person so I can say thanking you both face to face for all the advice you share with me over the last 4 years I have been reading this blog.

    With great respect and sincerity,

    Phillip Johnson

    • Congratulations on becoming an officer! That’s awesome!

      (Completely unrelated but I can’t help myself, it’s in my nature: You signed up for the Roth TSP, right? You can stack it with the Roth IRA, giving you a huge advantage over many civilians, who don’t have access to a Roth 401(k) at work. It’s a platinum standard of tax shelters. Besides never having to pay taxes on any of the money as it compounds, and being able to put aside tens of thousands of dollars per year, it even has all of these bankruptcy protections later on so if something were to ever go wrong, you can shield millions of dollars from creditors as long as it’s still within the protective confines of the account itself, allowing it to effectively serve as an asset protection trust. The expense ratios on the offerings are incredible, too. They make Vanguard look expensive. The “C” fund that tracks the S&P 500 has a running cost of something like 3 basis points per annum. Between that, and the low-cost capital you can access through places like Navy Federal, if you play your cards right, starting as young as you are, there is no reason you don’t reach a normal retirement age (65 or so) a multi, multi-millionaire pulling down at least six-figures a year in tax-free income.)

      Even though we haven’t met, yet, in real life, I mean it wholeheartedly when I say that I hope you get everything you want, including someday finding your husband. I’m not sure it will be helpful – and it’s completely pretentious for me to even bother writing this given that you might not care at all – but here are some other lessons my parents and family passed on to us over the years that you can adapt, disregard, or take for your own use (think of it like an intellectual candy dish; pick out what works for you):

      1. Don’t be in a relationship just to be in a relationship. Dating isn’t a hobby. It’s not a way to pass the time.

      2. You, alone, are enough. Nobody can complete you. If you’re unhappy by yourself, you’ll be unhappy with someone else so figure out what is causing you discontentment and fix it internally before you add another person to the mix. The right match is not a case of 1/2+1/2=1. It’s 1+1=3. Your other half doesn’t complete you so much as they should augment you. You should each become better versions of yourself.

      3. Past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior. Be aware of this. If someone has a history of doing things you don’t like, realize it’s probably something you’re going to have to confront at some point. A person who has habitually cheated is going to cheat on you. A person who habitually falls off the wagon is probably going to struggle with relapse when they’re with you. Are you okay with that? Make an informed, aware, conscious decision so you go in with your eyes wide open and aren’t surprised. If you can’t live with something, be honest about it because it’s unfair for the other person to think you’re okay with it when you’re not.

      4. Exploit probabilities. When searching for any type of relationship, romantic or other, venue matters due to self-selection (it’s like investing – certain industries have certain characteristics so save time by sticking to those industries). On the whole, the type of person you tend to find at a rave party in a warehouse down by the river is not the type of person you tend to run into on a hiking trip or reading by himself in a corner of a library. Which do you want? Romance is not immune from statistics so don’t throw loaded dice then be disappointed if they keep coming up against the numbers you desire. (And be honest about what you want – don’t marry or date someone that has characteristics you think they “should” have. Love is to some degree irrational. You’re not looking for a resume or checklist, you’re looking for compatibility.)

      5. You should never have to convince someone to love you. That doesn’t mean it will always be easy, it means you know, all else equal, they care as much about your needs as they do their own. If they don’t, don’t waste your time. On the flip side, don’t try to talk yourself into loving someone out of a fear of being lonely. When you love someone … you almost can’t articulate why you love them. You don’t have to convince yourself you love them. It’s not a list of pros/cons.

      6. Nobody can read your mind, nor should they have to try. Say what you want and be honest about how you feel. Many, if not most, problems in life are because of poor communication skills. This only works if 1.) you both promise you will never, under any condition, lie to each other, even through omission and 2.) you promise you will never get upset when the other person is honest about something, no matter how it makes you feel in that moment so they won’t fear telling you.

      7. When dating, do not mistake charm for sincerely. The kindest romantic that will love you until the end of time may appear gruff on the outside and the sweet, most puppy-dog like guy can be a sociopath who will cut you for entertainment. Watch carefully. Watch how a person is when they think nobody is looking. Watch how they treat others when they think the person doesn’t matter. Watch how animals react to them. It will reveal more about who they are than a thousand conversations. Trust that still, small voice inside.

      8. Learn to fight or disagree, even if you only do it once every five years, because there are some bells that cannot be unrung. Never say something you can’t take back no matter how angry, hurt, or exhausted you are.

      9. Have enough self awareness to know the real reason you’re fighting. Don’t get upset about the garbage not being put out for garbage day if you’re really angry about a forgotten anniversary. Don’t get upset about forgetting to pay a bill if you’re really angry someone was flirting with him. Know yourself and be upfront and honest so you can get right to the heart of the matter, directly. (On that note, if it’s important enough to get upset about – like the dishes not being done – it’s important enough to deal with yourself or hire it done. No small task is worth marital happiness. Screw this whole “it’s not about the dishes” … fix it and be happy. Hire a house keeper, switch to plastic plates, whatever it takes. Remove the habitual conflict from your life so you can enjoy your time together.)

      10. Never, ever, under any condition, under any set of circumstances, unless you are absolutely, truly, 100% willing to go through with it in that moment, make an idle threat or give an ultimatum. This includes mentioning the word “divorce”. Do not joke about these things. It puts them in your psyche as being on the list of possibilities, which is dangerous. Marital disagreement is not a place for empty words. If it comes out of your mouth, mean it; treat it with the respect it deserves.

      11. Having a kid won’t fix a marriage. It will make it worse if it’s already bad.

      12. Don’t stay married for the sake of the kids. Parents fighting constantly and tearing a home apart is worse than living apart in peace.

      13. Never fight in front of your kids or use them as pawns. They should be as certain that their parents are going to be together for their entire lives as the sun is going to rise in the East. It’s unfair to them. They should never have to divide their loyalties.

      14. The best you can probably hope for in a perfect world is a 90/100 match of your ideal mate. There’s probably always going to be something that you’d change. Don’t ruin a marriage because you’re temporarily seduced by someone who has that other 10/100. It’s short-sighted. Accept it all. Embrace it all. Allow them to do the same for you.

      15. This next one is going to make it sound like we were in some weird Duggar courting cult or something but really it was like a 1950’s television show that was completely innocent and PG-rated cast through the prism of “making love is a wonderful gift from God meant to bring you together” … it’s also an important enough topic The Wall Street Journal writes about it to a nationwide audience so I’ll just say it outright as it was communicated to us (forgive the awkwardness – it’s germane to the conversation of finding someone with whom you want to spend the rest of your life so screw it, literally in this case):

      Study after study has shown marital stability and fidelity rates are directly correlated with sexual satisfaction in a marriage. You have an obligation to make sure your spouse is fulfilled. The physical part of a relationship is not optional. The typical marriage involves intimacy in some form or another a few times a week so it’s a warning sign – at least pay attention – if you fall below that frequency prior to your 60’s. It’s a way to connect, to shut out the world, to be completely exposed emotionally, to relieve stress. It doesn’t matter how much laundry is piled up, how much overtime you have to put in at the office, how many errands you need to get done … you don’t get to decide to withdraw from a marriage physically unless you’re willing to end it. Your spouse did not sign up for a roommate. They did not sign up for a friend. They signed up for you; all of you. To change the terms of the covenant without his or her consent is unfair.

      Don’t ever use sex as a weapon. Don’t withhold it to get what you want. Don’t dole it out as a reward to try and manipulate your way into something. It’s about intimacy. Just the two of you. Work to give each other exactly what the other wants because not only will life be a heck of a lot more enjoyable, it’s hard to stay angry if you make each other swing from the chandeliers or you perpetually feel like you’re teenagers sneaking around to get it on.

      (Anecdotal but I get the feeling this is far less of an issue in monogamous marriages between two guys than it is in other monogamous marital configurations. As that Wall Street Journal article notes, there’s evidence men are neurologically wired to equate acts of physical intimacy, in all of their derivations, with love itself; that no matter how good a relationship is, if there isn’t frequent physical contact, they don’t feel appreciated, desired, wanted, or valued the same way a woman would feel if her husband never spoke to her or listened to her feelings. Justin Lehmiller, a social psychologist at Harvard said in that piece, “For some men, sex may be their primary way of communicating and expressing intimacy … [taking it away] takes away their primary emotional outlet”. It’s an interesting field of research, especially from a pharmaceutical perspective. If a female version of Viagra is ever developed, it could radically alter the behavior patterns and relationships of elderly Americans in a way that would be as transformative as birth control was. This is … you don’t care about pharmaceutical stocks I’d imagine. I’m getting distracted. Spouse. We’re talking about finding a spouse.)

      16. Never make a major financial decision that has ramifications for the family without discussing it first. No matter who makes the money, you are equal partners.

      17. A lot of marital bliss can be found by keeping incredible food on the table. Almost nobody dislikes coming home to find some mouthwatering dish waiting for them.

      18. If you forgive something, move on and don’t bring it up again. You don’t get to hang on to old wounds to bring them out like a knife in a drawer whenever it’s convenient for you. Life is too short to relive a disagreement. Accept it. Don’t accept it. Decide and move on.

      19. Set boundaries with everyone else. Create rituals for just the two of you; spaces that others cannot go or even know exist. There were times in college Aaron and I would get up in the middle of the night, drive several states away, go do something cool, then come back and nobody would have a clue when we were having brunch in the dining commons. Make it an adventure.

      20. Permanency is built on small things, not grand gestures. You can’t go weeks, months, or years neglecting each other than expect to fix it over a vacation. Do not grow apart. The world, and circumstances, will conspire to try to make it happen. Choose not to permit it. Choose each other every single day.

      21. Give each other room to grow. Do not confine the other person to a box because it makes you comfortable. Push each other to become better.

      22. People often fall in love with the idea of a person, projecting things onto others like a blank movie screen. Avoid it. See them for who they are. Love them for who they are. Accept them for who they are.

      If you’re still reading, and I haven’t bored you to sleep, welcome to the site! (And seriously … if you haven’t, go look into the Roth TSP.)

      • Phil J.

        Let me start by saying thank you for taking your time to advise me on this personal matter. I’ll admit, when I saw it, I was a little surprised at the length of the message. However, I thoroughly enjoy and even chuckled a bit at some parts of your message because I know you are just doing your best to help me succeed in my life. To answer your question, I have both a Roth IRA and TSP account which I plan to keep funding for as long as I live. I do have some debt, but within two years, it will all be paid. After that, I plan to create an emergency fund and to continue finding ways to put my money to good use. As far as the advice you gave on love and marriage, I find it to be incredibly helpful and will use it in helping me find the right guy and keep him for the rest of our lives. In all honesty, I want to be with someone who wants to be with me, to always be upfront and truthful even if hurts to do so, to be interdependent, and most importantly, intimately loving smart and kind. Again, thank you for the advice and words of wisdom. It is the kind of advice that you would get from older sibling, and I found this post to be entertaining and quite a pleasantly surprise. Not a bore at all!

        Have a wonderful and prosperous day.

        Very Respectfully,

        ENS Phillip Johnson

      • This comment is so good.

        Would you please consider turning similar thoughts on marriage and relationships(and the other good stuff 🙂 ) into a page just like Thoughts and Observations (with possibly including recommendable books and links updated to it via pintrest or other copy paste sources) as
        It serves the second major purpose of this site (betterment of life of readers) and serves the most important of the tool of achieving this (choice of spouse)
        potential problems: as narrative is personal almost always, you might or might not want to share it… or maybe your writing style have already incorporated the way people should receive this information reaching such way of now-and-then approach (just speculating).
        or it is not a good way to manage site considering revenue and other technical things.

        One more thing.. as a frequent user a thought always occurred .. “gee… what is the thing i have not read yet” ….
        i read that dell.com had personal pages for bulk buyers.. so can we generate personal pages (low quality… general HTML.. so as not to put too heavy a load on data) so that when they pass a given predetermined threshold of being on site… can get to see what they have not seen yet. in a list. using server data. identity. and search/browsing patterns. a little personalized (i had this problem … others may not feel the need)(http://www.berkshirehathaway.com/ when you have clicked on a link before .. it changes in color)

        the post asking for suggestion for site was take down so posting it here anyway … mods may delete it too …. with many thanks for your generosity with time and wholehearted efforts. regards.

        many thanks 🙂

      • Bri Olewale

        You are so generous….thank you for these gems

  • dave (nestle)

    After re-re-re reading this post I just want to wish Joshua and Aaron my heartfelt congratulations on the book finally being closed on this issue in America!!

    I didn’t know how or exactly when it would be, just that it would someday, be. It has never been clearer to me that we have reached the correct outcome. (and forgive me people because I am not a constitutional scholar)(just an every day average idiot, some might say) It’s time to move forward as a country now and leave this issue behind us. Maybe use all the foolish energy of many people to fix other great problems we face as a nation.

    With that said, reading the personal history above leaves me a bit breathless. As a person, father, husband, former teenager, citizen… My god, the love and devotion!! Those feelings of perfect partnership should be experienced by everyone in this country! Hearts of all people, on both sides of this marriage issue, should BE SO LUCKY as to crave and locate and accept such feelings inside them. Think of the prospects!

    Although it seems that the probabilities are largely against talking face to face with Joshua (well maybe on the off chance we are in line together at Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie, or something) more deeply about life and other matters, I am again very thankful for his very personal blog during these years of my life!

    Joshua and Aaron, you guys hit all the high notes in life, and that you should be very proud of.

  • Emma

    I too looked forward to your thoughts on this ruling & your post doesn’t disappoint – it’s so heartfelt. Joshua, you have a beautiful soul and the one you love so deeply has got to be just as awesome a human being as you! Congratulations! I am so THRILLED for you! Although it has been a difficult journey, consider yourself extremely fortunate to have found your soul mate and so early in life, too! Look at our society with 50%+ divorce rates. I would venture to guess that even among those who are married/stay married, those who have such a deep love and commitment to one another may be a minority. Certainly if you look at marriages world wide, that would be the case. You have found what is more priceless than even the legality of marriage. Congratulations for that too !!!!

  • Absolutely made my day reading this…

    If this article doesn’t provide the clearest support for why our Supreme Court FINALLY MADE THE RIGHT DECISION 🙂
    then I don’t know what does.

    I think it’s really nice how you share this side of your lives to us readers. Many blogs on investing, business and all the other goodness you have here don’t have that “personality” to really get to know the author. I think you do a stellar job of this in general but you really took it up a notch here.

    Your writing ability is incredible and I could “feel” your pain as a child feeling lost. I’ve long suspected that these feelings of loneliness, heartache, being “broken,” etc were how children felt but I never could confirm this because quite honestly…I was afraid to ask and hurt someone’s feelings by bringing it up.

    Also, this has inspired me to be even kinder to all people in general because I feel like as a leader by just acknowledging everyone that it might be enough to prevent someone else from feeling how you did as a kid in that way.

    Anyhow…really appreciate your candidness and sharing your feelings…brought tears of happiness to my eyes as I start my day…the love and caringness that you guys have for each other should be a model of what a positive marriage should be like.

    *Raises My Coffee Mug*- here’s to spreading the word on this article…this is the positive reading we need more of in the world!

    Thanks for all that you do my friend…and proud of you for not giving in to the brokenness and closed off heart of years ago 🙂

    Cheers!

    Brad Spencer

  • David Wang

    This is the most touching post I have ever read! I’m so happy for the both of you!! Love is such a beautiful thing. I hope I can find someone in the future and feel the same way that you feel about Aaron.

  • For reasons I know (and yet still probing to completely understand), I have an emotional valve I can turn off much more easily than most. Sometimes I hinder myself from fully immersing myself in… I don’t know. I’ve deleted and re-written several times but can’t fully verbalize coherently what I wanted to say.

    Anyways, it was all to relate back to a simple thank you. You and Aaron have been among the best teachers I have ever had in life – in my pantheon of great teachers. And not just for the finance, but in all aspects of life.

    Reading this made my heart flood with emotion. I am truly so very happy for you two. I am going to go add a smile wrinkle to the love of my life.

  • AK

    I don’t know you in person, and I doubt I ever will. But I’m incredibly happy for you and Aaron, and for the hope this country represents. Congrats again! And thanks for being an inspiration with your own life.

  • Mac

    A heartfelt thank you for sharing your pain, your truth, and your well-earned marriage.

  • AJ

    I’ve been reading your blog sporadically for years and please don’t laugh but for some reason I always thought that Aaron was your best friend/ business partner and that you were married to a woman with kids! I really don’t know how I thought that but I obviously must have missed a lot of the details in your posts.

    Anyways, this is a great story and I’m really happy for you, you are a hot couple!

    It’s funny how things have changed so much that the natural variety of life is finally becoming accepted as “normal”. I too grew up in a very religious household and had many learned beliefs against gays. I’m happy that I was able to have a good enough education that taught me how to think critically enough to undo many of these false teachings.

    A few months ago I was talking to a lady who was getting married and I asked her about her “husband”. She laughed and corrected me that she was marrying a woman and I felt so dumb for assuming she was marrying a man. Anyways, we laughed it off but now I’m always mindful to use the word “partner” when asking about someone’s significant other and it’s just normal to me now which I think is cool because not that long ago it wouldn’t be so.

    Some time ago, you had posted about how you would withdraw charitable support to countries in Africa that had passed laws against homosexuality and I had spoken against you in the comments, however, your stance makes a lot more sense now because this issue is so personal to you.

    Thanks again for sharing your story and all your wisdom.

  • AK

    @joshuakennon:disqus I sent you a contact form!! I think for only the second or third time ever. I really hope you see it!

  • Joshua,

    This is one of my favorite articles on the internet. I read this months ago and just re-read it. Thank you for sharing something so personal and for being so vulnerable. Your writing is beautiful and inspires me. It is a gift to us all. Please don’t stop.

    Love,
    The Happy Philosopher

  • Anittha Gowra

    you made me cry josh……..
    hai josh,that was really heart warming ,all that pain you had to undergo ho no…..I;’m so happy that you met Aaron…. ha! what a relief…. it was so sweet of Aaron, to help u heal, and make you whole again … you are lucky to meet Aaron, your wonderful parents and what they taught u by their living,their value system,and what u learnt from them,your values that u expressed,which are natures own , there are no words in which i can explain how i felt reading all this……by the by josh you’d b wondering who this anonymous writer is? this is anittha, from india i hail from a city called visakhapatnam which is on the south east coast of the indian sub continent,there is this beautiful beach right in front of me now with its humongous waves hitting the shore all of them say hai to you both….well, josh i’m working on, the socio economic backwardness of transgenders in india (a human rights perspective)for my phd from the dept of human rights andhra university ,its only been 3 months that i got acquainted with the transgender umbrella (LGBTQ).and slowly im getting to know more and more about them.anyway josh i’m six months behind schedule in reading this article i got to read it only now. i wish u both a wonderful togetherness and a graceful life ahead.. talk to u later,.bye for now..chow ……..natureslovely@gmail.com

  • Anittha Gowra

    hey josh i fogot to tell you that i went through your article” the six most common biological sexes in humans” it was so ..so ..informative for a lay person like me ..keep writing josh ..keep writing..i like the way you put your thought in words…ha of course

  • Anittha Gowra

    your article is very useful for my phd work

  • Brandon Petruska

    Read your article and just wanted to say I had a similar experience. I met my husband when I was 19 (he was 18). We live in Texas. The day Obergefell was announced, everything changed. We finally got married, and got to spend our ten year anniversary this month as husbands. People don’t realize how big that is because they’ve never been told they couldn’t have it or weren’t worthy of it. Marriage is marriage is marriage.

  • Tracy Oguni

    Thank you for such a touching post. You and Aaron have something that some would sell their souls for. The importance of a partner in life (and in any pursuit, really) can hardly be overstated. Though I’m one of those with far stricter views on sex than you seem to have (it comes from having different philosophical starting points, I imagine) I want to point out that you should never ever forget the value of what you have. I’m a half glass full kind of person so believe me when I say that it could be much much worse.

    I also want to express my sorrow at the rift with your family members. While I understand your decision to cut them out of your life, I want to point out where your understanding of them and your other opponents is incomplete. There are people who have never met you who would give everything they own (and their right arm) if it meant that you would have every good thing. There are people who love you – not in the meaningless and ridiculous cookie-cutter way some claim, but in ways that make your hair stand on end of you truly understood it. They would jettison their convictions in a heartbeat if they thought it was in your best interest. You want those people in your life however fundamentally they disagree with you. If you need a self-serving reason to accept them, this is it: they will always work for you and never against you. It might not be in the way you want, but when you know their standing you will know where their methods will differ from yours.

    When they express their disagreement politely it is not to hurt you but because remaining silent would be a betrayal of the love the profess to bear you. They will not be swayed from their love because their position is unpopular or not in keeping with the day’s trends – that would be disloyal, dishonest, and reprehensible. If your relatives are those kind of people – those who really love you – then it is to your benefit to bear with them if they are willing to bear with you. If you force them to then they will love you quietly and in secret, but they will do so all the same. Your experience might not have taught you so, but there are such people and they really do love you.

    I will definitely follow your blog. I appreciate the depth of your political and financial/economic knowledge.