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Dignity for All 

Proud to be gay, and proud to be American

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Getting married really wasn't on my list, and I didn't think it needed to be a priority in the LGBT civil rights movement. Neither was the idea of serving my country in wars that didn't seem to make sense and that just wasted more young lives, especially in a country that didn't recognize my rights as a full citizen. There were more pressing priorities that need addressing, such as employment, housing and public-accommodation non-discrimination laws.

But after witnessing the extreme backlash to serving openly in the military (unit cohesiveness, sharing bunks, foxholes), the extreme backlash to marriage equality (much of it based on religion, which should have nothing to do with civil marriages or our laws), and after learning about a young LGBT man committing suicide in Sonoma recently, I have seen how monumental achieving marriage equality nationwide really is.

It means America is now on the right side of history. The American dream of equality for all is one step closer to reality. America has grown up, and we're catching up with our neighbors. Our country is now more united. We are taking down Confederate flags, we are moving forward toward understanding and compassion, rather than retreating into ignorance and hate.

On a personal level, it means my marriage will now be recognized everywhere in the country. Getting married at San Francisco City Hall in 2008 was of course a moment I will never forget. I'm so proud of where we live and what we stand for, and so proud, finally, that we have brought these values to the rest of the country, our country, my country.

I know other countries do things better, and some do things much worse. We aren't perfect, but we are getting better. But today, I'm proud to be an American. Proud that the actions taken recently will heal many wounds and will improve the lives of many in our LGBT community, including our youth.

In the Supreme Court's ruling on marriage equality, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, "They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that."

That's all we wanted.

Chuck Ramsey is the president of Sonoma County Pride.

Open Mic is a weekly feature in the 'Bohemian.' We welcome your contribution. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write

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