• author
    • Maya Stiles Parsons Spier

      Columnist, Editor-in-Chief
    • June 30, 2013 in Columnists

    The self-evidence of love: when SCOTUS got it right

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
    The second section of the Declaration of Independence

    My brother, Stephen Leslie Spier, missed out on way too many cool things.  He missed out on the millenium.  He missed out on Smartphones and tablets and three people becoming parents to one baby,  climate change, my granddaughter’s birth and watching my daughter be an amazing mother. He didn’t see me pass through middle-age on my way to being an elder.

    He also missed out on the drugs that have made AIDS a chronic illness for so many, rather than the death sentence he fought so valiantly for 12 years in a time when a two-year survival rate was the best one could hope for.  He contracted the virus some two months before the cause was known and died, four days after his 35th birthday, six months almost to the day before they made the announcement.

    He also missed the momentous occasion on June 26, 2013, my daughter’s birthday and my parents’ anniversary, when SCOTUS, amazingly, did the right thing and shot down Prop 8 in California and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), paving the way for legalizing gay marriage all over this country.

    Mind you, we in Washington State had already done the right thing by being the first state to vote in gay marriage as the will of the people.  We do, apparently, rock up here in the drenched Pacific Northwest.

    My brother was gone long before all of this.  He died at age 35 in 1994.  He would have turned 54 on March 6 of this year, and boy, was he cheated.  Not only was he cheated, his beloved, Rick, was cheated, too.  My brother had found his love, a gentle, civilized, beautiful man, graceful as a gazelle.  Sometimes they stood together, two tall, gorgeous, slender men entwined like two vines wrapped around each other, looking out at the world like a pair of beautiful deer, curious but none too certain of their safety.

    When I was weeping with giddy joy over the SCOTUS decision, I was also raging that it had ever been an issue at all, that it had cheated my brother and his soulmate of the right to be as married as I am to my husband.  Steve and Rick should have had their wedding, looking into each other’s eyes and weeping as rings were exchanged and handkerchiefs daubed at overflowing maternal eyes, music swelled and the rosebuds glowed in joy overhead.  They would have worn tuxedos with carnation boutonniers and their shoes would have been polished to a mirror shine.

    They should have been able to create a new name together, some amalgam of each other’s, or a hyphenation, or even something entirely new.  They should have been able to go to the Social Security people and registered as husband and husband. They should have been able to adopt children as a married couple, with no question about it at all.  And when my brother’s ill health finally pulled him down for the last time, there should have been no question that my brother’s angel would be at his side (although my parents gave total permission, they having come through in ways I honestly never expected, it was still their permission to give, and it shouldn’t have been).

    And when my brother died, it should not have been by my parents’ grace that Rick was treated as a spouse.  He should have simply been my brother’s widower, his bereaved spouse not only emotionally, but legally as well.

    So it was with a heart full of old grief and anguish as well as swelling joy that I welcomed in stark surprise and even shock the occasion of SCOTUS, for once, doing the right thing.  I only wish my brother had been here to see it, too, safe in the arms of his love.

    This is dedicated to all my angels who love where their hearts will.  I am hoping for some wedding invitations in the near future.



    • Wow, Maya. If there is a reading room in heaven, I hope Rick sees your tribute. This was as beautiful as SCOTUS. We can hope as a nation that this is the final decision, but we know we always have to “guard” against those who would make it otherwise. They seem to never give up. My favorite image was the slender deer looking out, uncertain of their safety. Beautiful post.


        • Maya North

        • June 30, 2013 at 12:42 pm
        • Reply

        Thank you so much. ♡♥♡♥♡



    • Lovely and heartfelt story that I wish your brother had seen in his lifetime.But he knew in his heart I am sure that it would be told.


        • Maya North

        • June 30, 2013 at 12:43 pm
        • Reply

        Bless you… ♡♥♡♥♡


      • Kelvin

      • June 30, 2013 at 2:25 pm
      • Reply

      Beautiful, Maya. This is not only a bittersweet tribute to your brother but to millions who’ve not only had to live as second class citizens but have had to love in secret lest they be ruined financially, disowned or brutalized. This week has been an epic moment in our evolution as a nation and you captured what it’s meant beautifully.


        • Maya North

        • July 5, 2013 at 9:26 pm
        • Reply

        Oh, thank you, Kelvin. None of it has ever made sense to me, whatever the reason the majority has used to make ‘others’ of so many.


      • Norbie Kumagai

      • June 30, 2013 at 2:52 pm
      • Reply

      Maya, I lost a close friend of mine to AIDS about the same time. Your column reminded me of our longtime friendship. We became close friends from our local faith community (Presbyterian Church USA) even though we were political opposites in high school (Stuart was supporting Richard Nixon; I was a diehard George McGovern supporter).

      One of the last conversations I had with Stuart was at a friend’s wedding where he informed me that he had “Seen The Light” and reregistered as a Democrat after working in San Francisco’s financial district. “Lord, Hear Our Prayers” was my response that day.

      Love Your Column!!! xoxoxo & “nose smoochies”. Norbie


        • Maya North

        • July 5, 2013 at 9:28 pm
        • Reply

        So many lost were at that sweet, delicious time of life when mortality was only a theory and the future stretched on beautiful and infinitely possible. It was such a huge blow to an entire generation to have this cut into pieces — the hubris that is the right of the young amputated without justice. We simply cannot forget… XXXOOO and nose smoochies right back.



    • Maya, thank you for sharing your story with us, it reminded me of some friends i have lost a few years ago and almost forget about them in this fast moving life with lots of obligations. So i took time and called up some friends and we remembered our lost friends ,talked about them,took them flowers,and payed some respect.
      Now i work for a wedding invitations company so i deliver happines to young couples and tell each of them to enjoy life,love each other and smile!!
      Thank you for this post Maya!


        • Maya North

        • July 5, 2013 at 9:29 pm
        • Reply

        I can think of few more wonderful ways to heal and celebrate than what you are doing! Thank you for sharing this joyfulness! <3



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