The hustle and bustle of closing time at a burger joint fade into an eerie silence as my initial reaction changes. I slowly look up from my phone and say “Honey, I think we are going to the White House.”
“What?” she says. And I repeat myself, “I think we are going to the White House.”
“How? Why? What?” She keeps repeating all the question words.
The next few minutes are a blur. I explain I have been invited to the White House for the Respect for Marriage Act signing ceremony. Then I tell her the invitation includes a plus one. Now I see a look of panic on her face, and she says, “What am I going to wear?”
We grab our order and head back to the hotel. The significance of the invitation hits me on the long brisk walk through the Inner Harbor. The impact of this moment in LGBTQ+ advocacy and history. The honor and privilege of attendance. And yes, even thoughts of what I would wear.
The timing of the invitation was personally overwhelming and powerful. I had been in Baltimore for my last trip as my position within state government was ending. I have had the privilege of serving the people of Florida as the Director of LGBTQ Affairs within Nikki Fried’s administration at the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Serving as Florida’s only statewide appointed LGBTQ+ official at a time when our state has been in national headlines for its attacks against the LGBTQ+ community and the remarkable response of LGBTQ+ Floridians to fight back has been both challenging and rewarding.
I am also recently engaged. My fiancé and I are both lawyers and, as you can imagine, we have been debating everything since our days in law school together. Since the Dobbs decision sparked fear of a potential overturning of Obergefell and through the fight to pass the Respect for Marriage Act, we have discussed and debated all aspects of what could pass as well as what the potential compromises could mean. In fact, I had been recently reading several Op-eds by attorneys criticizing the religious exemption included in the Act and the potential effects.