Taiwan's Same-Sex Marriage Decision: A Personal Reflection

Taiwan's Same-Sex Marriage Decision: A Personal Reflection
Photo Credit: The News Lens/Olivia Yang

What you need to know

A Taiwan LGBT activist and same-sex marriage campaigner reflects on a day he will never forget.

It was a Wednesday that started like any other: send the kids to infant daycare and then head to work. I had instinctively blocked the significance of this day out of my thoughts. It was too important to obsess over it, and it would be too devastating if my hopes were ruthlessly dashed.

I arrived at the rally around 3:15 p.m. to meet up with my colleagues who were there earlier to register people for our LightUp project. I immediately met some friends who were all walking in the same direction toward the rally. Everyone had "eager anticipation" written on their nervous, smiley faces. We understood that the live broadcast by the Grand Justices would either turn these smiles even bigger or into frowns.

A colleague came to tell me that a local television station wanted to interview me. I obliged. My response to the interviewer was competing with the energetic speeches on stage by the hosts of the rally. Suddenly, their voices disappeared and I could hear an officious voice, indicating immediately that the Opinion from the Court was being announced.

I was so far back that I could neither see the stage nor read the text on the big screen clearly, but I could hear the crowd erupt in cheers, and I could definitely see the people in the many rows in front of me hugging each other. The cheers and hugging would end abruptly as they returned their attention to the next statements by the Spokesperson of the Court. Eventually, I was able to hear for myself what was being announced: the censure of the Legislature for failing to perform its duties, the need to provide marriage equality and equal protection for everyone, and the two-year timeframe for the legislators to amend the Civil Code to comply with Republic of China's Constitution, the failure of which will automatically result in same-sex couples being allowed to go to city halls across Taiwan to get legally married.

The cheers and hugging then became continuous and uninterrupted.

Suddenly I became an active participant, no longer just an observer. I hugged everyone I recognized, and there were quite a few familiar faces I know from over the years of doing LGBT activism; we were all present as friends and allies who have worked together in our various capacities and now exhaling, savoring and soaking in this result.

I saw many eyes shedding tears, and I encouraged and even demanded coupled friends to just let loose and kiss, not just hug. I was caught up in the moment and was thinking of my partner and my twins at the same time.

The five co-organizers of the Marriage Equality Coalition, including myself, then gathered at the front of the stage to hold a press conference. I remember many microphones, cameras, and questions. A journalist asked what we would say to those people who were against same-sex marriage and were dismayed about the result of the Opinion from the Justices. I told him that I hope everyone who is gathered here at the rally and everyone who supports marriage equality will eventually go home and start a much-needed dialogue with our family members, neighbors, classmates and anyone who is disappointed or frightened by the results. We should not dismiss their reactions because maybe they need to understand LGBT people a bit more. We should initiate these discussions to decrease tension and minimize conflict because we all live here on this island-nation and because nobody should be opposed to love.

Other fellow organizers also shared their views and beseeched the legislators to act fast and not wait for two years.

Yes, this is a landmark victory for the LGBT community and human rights, and I believe its positive implications will spread beyond the shores of Taiwan in a time where the world needs more optimism to counter the darkness.

I am grateful for the progress in Taiwan and humbled that I was able to play a small role in this massive movement involving people from across Taiwan and around the world.

I knew I would always remember this day, but I was also looking forward to the night so I could go home and kiss my partner and babies, for today, goodness and humanity won.

Just as the press conference was about to end, the sky started raining hard. The heavens had witnessed what had just happened in Taiwan and, just like all of us, they were gushing tears of joy.

Someone offered me an umbrella; I just let the rain cover me.

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Photo Credit: Jay Lin
Jay Lin and his twins.

Editor: Edward White


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