I have been giving thought to former U.S. Senator Harris Wofford's op-ed in the Sunday New York Times before sharing my thoughts. Having been married to a woman for 24 years in a marriage that had its share of love notwithstanding my own self-hate and denial of my own sexual orientation and now having been married to a man for over two years, a couple of things struck me. The first is that Woffard is right: one falls in love with the person - the soul, if you will. The second is that physical sex takes a back seat to the love and attraction to the other person as a whole - something seemingly lost on Christofascists who focus solely on the physical aspects of gay sex with no thought of the emotional, soul to soul connection. I love my husband not simply because of some physical activity, but instead because of his being a sweet, thoughtful, kind, genuine and loving person. Here are excerpts from Harris Wofford's op-ed:
AT age 70, I did not imagine that I would fall in love again and remarry. But the past 20 years have made my life a story of two great loves.
On Jan. 3, 1996, the telephone rang just before midnight, interrupting the silence of the hospital room. From the bedside of my wife, Clare, I lifted the receiver. “Please hold for the president.” Bill Clinton had heard that Clare, struck by acute leukemia, was fading. She listened and smiled but was too weak to speak. Some hours later, I held her hands in mine as she died.
During 48 years of marriage, we had spent a lifetime together. Clare and I fell in love trying to save the world during World War II. . . . Our romance and adventure continued for five decades. . . . . We spent a happy half-century together with different perspectives on life.
For our three children and me, Clare was at the heart of our family. When I told her, “You’re my best friend,” she would reply, “and your best critic.” And when I said, “You’re my best critic,” she responded, “and your best friend.”
We were both about to turn 70 when she died. I assumed that I was too old to seek or expect another romance. But five years later, standing on a beach in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., I sensed a creative hour and did not want to miss it.
I swam alone in the water, attracting the attention of two bystanders near the shore. They came over to say hello, which is how I met Matthew Charlton. As we talked, I was struck by Matthew’s inquisitive and thoughtful manner and his charm. I knew he was somebody I would enjoy getting to know. We were decades apart in age with far different professional interests, yet we clicked. I admired Matthew’s adventurous 25-year-old spirit.
When he told me that I was “young at heart,” I liked the idea, until I saw a picture of him on a snowboard upside down executing a daring back flip. The Jackson Hole newspaper carried the caption, “Charlton landed the jump without mishap.
We took trips around the country and later to Europe together, becoming great friends. We both felt the immediate spark, and as time went on, we realized that our bond had grown into love.
Other than with Clare, I had never felt love blossom this way before. It was three years before I got the nerve to tell my sons and daughter about Matthew. Yet over time my children have welcomed Matthew as a member of the family, while Matthew’s parents have accepted me warmly.
To some, our bond is entirely natural, to others it comes as a strange surprise, but most soon see the strength of our feelings and our devotion to each other. We have now been together for 15 years.
Too often, our society seeks to label people by pinning them on the wall — straight, gay or in between. I don’t categorize myself based on the gender of those I love. I had a half-century of marriage with a wonderful woman, and now am lucky for a second time to have found happiness.
For a long time, I did not suspect that idea and fate might meet in my lifetime to produce same-sex marriage equality. My focus was on other issues facing our nation, especially advancing national service for all. Seeking to change something as deeply ingrained in law and public opinion as the definition of marriage seemed impossible. I was wrong, and should not have been so pessimistic. . . . . It is right to expand our conception of marriage to include all Americans who love each other.
Matthew is very different from Clare. The political causes that continue to move me do not preoccupy him, nor have I turned my priorities to design, the focus of his driving talent. Still, the same force of love is at work bringing two people together. Twice in my life, I’ve felt the pull of such passionate preference.
At age 90, I am lucky to be in an era where the Supreme Court has strengthened what President Obama calls “the dignity of marriage” by recognizing that matrimony is not based on anyone’s sexual nature, choices or dreams. It is based on love.
All this is on my mind as Matthew and I prepare for our marriage ceremony. On April 30, at ages 90 and 40, we will join hands, vowing to be bound together: to have and to hold, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, until death do us part.
My last thought is this: do fundamentalist Christians see their own marriages and loves based solely on physical lust and sex, or do they believe it is based on more. If it is based on more, then why can't these people see that for gays the situation is no different. It is in the end all about love.