Chely Blitzer-Wright Reflects on Anniversary of Supreme Court's DOMA/Prop 8 Ruling

Jeremy Blacklow
Chely and Lauren Blitzer-Wright, with their twin sons (Chely Blitzer-Wright/Karolina Wojtasik)
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Chely and Lauren Blitzer-Wright, with their twin sons (Chely Blitzer-Wright/Karolina Wojtasik)

One year ago this Thursday, the Supreme Court of the United States issued two historic rulings that changed the national conversation about gay marriage when they struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and ruled that they did not have standing to rule on the case of Proposition 8 in California (therefore upholding the lower circuit court's ruling that overturned it).
And in the past year, the floodgates have opened — marriage bans have crumbled in several other states, and lawsuits have now been filed in every one of the 30 states where gay marriage is still banned (which, after Wednesday, no longer includes Utah and Indiana).
Openly gay country music singer Chely Blitzer-Wright came out in 2010 and married her wife Lauren Blitzer-Wright in 2011. They welcomed their twins, George Samuel and Everett Joseph, in May 2013, just a month before the court's rulings.
We caught up with Chely on this historic LGBT rights anniversary to talk with her about the legacy that she believes the Supreme Court's decisions will have in the lives of millions of people for generations to come, and also, how marriage has made a difference in her and her family's own lives.
Yahoo Music: How would your life be different today if DOMA (the federal Defense of Marriage Act) and Prop 8 hadn't been turned over by the Supreme Court one year ago?
Chely Blitzer-Wright: I think the ways in which the landscape for equality would've been different would've been, quite frankly, so overwhelming that we couldn't have understood it for a while.
Had that not happened, I think it would've ground marriage equality to a halt in our country. And many states that already had marriage equality as the law of the land would've been very exposed. I can't even wrap my head around how traumatic it would've been. It would've been a very dangerous situation that I can't imagine.

Chely and Lauren on their wedding day (Karolina Wojtasik)
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Chely and Lauren on their wedding day (Karolina Wojtasik)

YM: How did you feel when the Supreme Court overturned DOMA and Prop 8 one year ago?
Our boys were in the NICU for a few weeks and we had just brought them home. That's a very emotional time for any parents, and I was  highly emotional at the time. And I was sick and as weak as a kitten at the time.
[Lauren and I] watched it all happen in front of the TV and we were holding our babies. It shocked me. It shocked me how emotional I became upon hearing the news.
It was one of those moments where you think you're prepared, but I had no idea. I knew whichever way it went, it would set a huge precedent. We each sat and held one of our babies, and I cried. Lauren even cried a bit, and she's not a big crier.
The news that there was even a discussion about it is going to boggle our sons' minds. They're going to look back someday when they're 15 years old and not understand how things ever could've once been this way.

YM: What do you remember most about your wedding day?

Well, a bit of a secret that we're just now telling people: We actually got married before our actual wedding.
Before our wedding in Connecticut [which legalized gay marriage in 2008], we had registered for a marriage license in the state of New York [where gay marriage became legal in 2011]. And there was such an overflow of people waiting to get married that they did a lottery. And a couple had to be chosen. And we received a call and were told that "It's with great pleasure that you've been chosen."
So we didn't tell anyone. We stood in line on a very hot day with hundreds of other couples that had been together all lengths of time. We all stood in line together for seven to eight hours. And by the time we got up there to get married, we had experienced something so amazing.
So that day was emotional and historical for us. And then a month later, we had our wedding day at home in Connecticut.

Another scene from the couple's Connecticut wedding day (Karolina Wojtasik)
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Another scene from the couple's Connecticut wedding day (Karolina Wojtasik)

YM: What's the best thing for you about being married?
Our marriage quickly turned into becoming moms. And our thoughts turned quickly to not just becoming wives to each other, but to being moms to our children. I think the best thing about being married to Lauren is that we're better as a couple. The first year of marriage is the hardest. We learned how to resolve things quickly together.
YM: What's the most challenging thing about being married?
I think the challenge is also the blessing. We just get through things and we figure it out. We get to the end of the problem together. We weren't 19-year-old kids getting married; we were fully developed adults. Lauren's stubborn and I'm stubborn, and that's one of the reasons that I love her.
Learning how to work together is a big challenge, and when it works it's worth it.
YM: What impact do you believe the Supreme Court's rulings will have on future generations of LGBT people?

Well, when we look back over the very historic rulings like Loving vs. Virginia [1967, which invalidated laws prohibiting inter-racial marriage], in regards to civil rights and equality movements of all time… back then there was a large national voice for that to be left up to the states. But there's a long history of states and the people not making good decisions. Our Constitution has always said that civil rights shouldn't be voted upon, they should be granted and bestowed.

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So when you look at our legal system, over the large arc of time we eventually get things right. But when you look back at 1967, you'd think that racism was over. But we know it isn't — racism still exists. So from 1967 to 2014, you have people in authoritative positions that still have very backwards ideas about people.
I firmly believe that in the next five  10, 15, or 40 years, we're going to have to get caught up with the policy as a society. The Supreme Court did a huge thing and 100 years from now, people will still know about it.
I look back at Harvey Milk and wonder if he had any idea what he was doing at the time. I wonder if he knew that he was making such a ripple in history. We have 19 states now [from the time this interview was conducted] that allow gay marriage. And I don't know that everyone in my neighborhood even approves of it still.
But now this is the law and that's a very powerful thing.

Chely Blitzer-Wright will be performing at Seattle Pride's PrideFest this Sunday, June 29, at the Seattle Center.