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Mara McWilliams

Feelings of the Null and Voided

by Mara McWilliams
August 16, 2004

The California Supreme Court has spoken, finding our beloved Mayor Newsom to have exceeded his authority when granting same-sex marriage licenses.  Our marriages have been found to be void and of no legal effect.  Has the United States ever stepped in before and annulled a mass number of consensual weddings?

This life changing decision came via the impersonality of a television during a newsbreak at 10:00 AM on Thursday August 12th. As the android-like reporter rambled on emotionless about the voiding of our marriages, I leaned back in bed, trying to steady myself.  Although I had been preparing myself for the decision since the day before, tears ran down my cheeks as I looked at my wife.

Although it apparently was important and vital NEWS, that needed to be conveyed to the general public, did anyone stop and think how the NULLIFIED and VOIDED would feel; hearing about the extermination of their marriage over the television? Doubtful.

It seems incredulous that our government would interfere with the solidifying of loving couples into families.  Instead of applauding our commitment to our family despite the pressure to conform to societal norms, we have been told our families do not fit into the current legal definition of a family.  As a country that is supposedly family and child centered, it appears that no one stopped to consider the effect this decision would have on our children. Someone, please tell me my daughter is not a second class citizen.  Do only the children of straight couples matter?

Perhaps our fellow citizens really don't comprehend how WE THE PEOPLE, the null and voided, FEEL. Why have we, as a country of the free, decided to divide and classify people into categories? When did life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness become a fallacy on which our country shakily stands as its foundation? Shouting democracy yet limiting our ability to choose who we want to marry.  To the extent that the government has come into our homes and essentially shredded our marriage certificates.  Is this not the USA?

It was this thought that motivated us to attend the San Francisco Protest at City Hall on Friday, February 13th, with SECOND CLASS CITIZEN written on our faces. Elegantly dressed in my wedding veil, gloves, and the United States Flag, I was determined to be seen so I could be heard.  Our strategy worked and our family was interviewed by a documentary film-maker and photographed by Noah Berger of the Associated Press.

Second Class Citizen - AP Photo/Noah Berger
(AP Photo/Noah Berger)

On Monday, Renee and I went to San Jose City Hall and applied for a marriage license.  While I was filling out the application, a girl of about 5, looked at me and pointed to my wedding veil, "Mama, she is going to get married."  Tears welled in my eyes as I knew that would not be the case.  I smiled at the girl, appreciating her innocence and acceptance.

When we approached the window, we were told that only marriages between a man and a woman were legal in Santa Clara County.  I asked to speak to the supervisor.  She told us that we needed to discuss our "issue" with the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors.  We presented her with our certificate of engagement from MECA and she refused to accept the paperwork.  She informed us that there currently was not a system in place to accept and process the certificates.

Feeling defeated, but not allowing our feelings to be seen, we exited the building with joined hands and head's held high.  It is my belief that we must continue to put a real face on this equality issue.

While the constitutionality of the California Constitution is being fought in the CA Supreme court, committed, formerly married couples are literally being TORN apart due to immigration issues. Unnecessary suffering is being caused as loving families are being told, "no you are not a family because we refuse to see you that way."  How does the government think that will affect OUR children? Does no one care?

To our straight allies, I humbly thank you for your continued nonjudgmental support.  Acting in love is the way of God.

To our straight "foes", I humbly ask you, do you know a gay or lesbian couple?  If not, perhaps you should withhold your judgment of our "lifestyle" until you have taken the time to truly educate yourselves about the subject matter by acquainting yourself with LGBT families.

We cannot evolve as a society without love and compassion.  Please, get to know my family before you judge us.

Mara McWilliams resides peacefully in Northern California with her daughter and her wife, Renee. She has dedicated her life to raising her daughter; volunteering, preserving her mental health, and helping others improve themselves whenever she can. She expresses herself through painting, drawing, and writing.

Mara is the author of Outta My Head and In Your Face. The poetry and artwork of Mara McWilliams reflects a journey that led her through the darkest depths of mental illness, to a place where she more often experiences a peace that is the result of tremendous hard work and dedication to a better, balanced, life. This book of selected poems and paintings by Mara McWilliams chronicles that journey. She hopes to give the reader a view into the tortured mind of the undiagnosed mentally ill, as well as to give hope to those whose lives have been touched by mental illness, that a full and beautiful life is possible.

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