Saturday, June 27, 2015

Our Marriage is Now Equal and The Whole World Knows It!

By Robert Hudson Westover

My husband and I knew something incredibly unusual for us was unfolding after the Marriage Equality ruling was handed down last Friday by the Supreme Court. We were there, outside the imposing white marble facade of America's most iconic building of Justice with the words carved in marble above it's giant bronze doors: Equal Justice Under Law.

The general consensus was that a ruling wasn't supposed to be handed down until Monday, June 29, or the high court's last day in session for the year. This is how the other landmark Gay Rights rulings had been handled in the past (see my previous blog post on the End of DOMA ruling in 2013).

Tom and I ten minutes before the Marriage Equality Ruling.
But I had a premonition that it would happen on Friday and told Tom we needed to get to the Court in the morning, before 10 AM (the time that rulings for the day are handed down). Fortunately, we both work walking distance from the Supreme Court, so we rendezvoused at about 15 minutes before the rulings of the day would be announced. 

Would I be right?

Our hearts beat rapidly in anticipation as we hoped and prayed that for the first time in our lives, the statement Equal Justice would be met out in its totality. Would this day bring us unfathomable joy by changing our lives forever and making our marriage, our love, truly equal under the law? Or would it be yet another half measure of dignity handed out to us like ravaged prisoners hoping for the full pardon that would someday open our cell doors and free us--forever--from the jail house of second class citizenship? 

We knew this ruling was going to change the lives of millions...Tom and I just two of those millions.

And when that crowd shouted out LOVE HAS WON! we jumped for joy, broke into tears and just held each other.

A picture taken of US by CBS News moments after the ruling.


It took 15 years to get Equal Justice in our marriage.

Many, many more years for many others.

"What do you think of the swiftness of the change?" One reporter asked us. Tom replied "Swiftness? It's been over 50 years since WE started our fight for equality. It hasn't come fast enough... We love you Justice Kennedy!"

"Kiss your husband!" a reporter asked, so I did!


And then many other reporters started asking us questions, taking our picture and filming us. This had happened the last time a great barrier of bigotry had fallen: DOMA. In fact, the reporters were asking lots of us, lots of questions. We were more than thrilled to respond. Maybe some young person, struggling under the weight of oppression might hear our story and be inspired to love themselves, feel sorry for their persecutors and look forward to a life in a community of kindred hearts.

But, to our amazement, that day, our ripple in the pond of outreach was beyond anything we could have imagined. We knew this when a text arrived from a friend we hadn't heard from in ages telling us to look at CBS New's Twitter page. There we were, in full embrace--our devotion and love--for all the world to see.

And the world did see, read and hear from us! On six continents! 

As the day unfolded, and into the night, the texts and Facebook messages kept coming: Saw you in the Huffington Post! One friend wrote from LA. Then the PBS News Hour reporter who had interview us texted to tell us we'd be featured at the top of the hour as the Network's lead story.

Three days later and we're still blown away. Think of how many millions of LGBTQ folks have seen that, "Yes, it does get better." 

Tom and I are so very humbled and grateful to have been able to speak for the LGBTQ Community that historic day. There were so many of us, the quiet foot soldiers there that day, and many of our voices were not broadcast to the world. That's the price we pay for loyalty to our cause, to our community.

From the Huffington Post. 


But, sometimes, like what happened for us, the spotlight turns and there you are. As Christians we believe that God does work in mysterious ways. We don't always understand it, but all things can (and often do) work together for those who have faith. So many words and expressions are timeless and this quote from Psalms really says it for us--for what happened on that momentous day "This is the Lord's work and it is marvelous in our eyes..."

                                                                             ***

Below are links to some of the worldwide media coverage our voice received.

North America:
Lead story PBS News Hour

Yahoo News

The Huffington Post

CBS News Twitter

International Pick Up

South America:

Africa:

Australia:

Asia:

Middle East:

Europe:
http://www.newsjs.com/us/its-reason-to-live-here/


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Last Knight of JFK’s Camelot has Died

A tribute to Hugh D. "Yusha" Auchincloss III

By Robert Hudson Westover

I believe the course of history changed one summer evening over steak and daiquiris at the Auchincloss family estate, Merrywood, in northern Virginia. That was the night Hugh D. “Yusha” Auchincloss III entertained, with his stepsister, a young Congressman from Massachusetts.

Despite some confusion by biographers and journalists, the dinner party was Yusha’s idea (or so he told me). His stepsister, Jackie, was attempting to win over the heart of a man she had met a few months prior but was getting nowhere with him romantically. 

His name was John F. Kennedy. 

After that fateful dinner party a match was made and shortly thereafter Jaqueline Bouvier would become Mrs. John F. Kennedy and play a role in history that would put both her and her husband in the pantheon of the unforgettable personages of recorded civilization.


Yusha Auchincloss (left) with Robert H. Westover
Hammersmith Farm, Newport, RI 2013
Years later, at another dinner party, at yet another Auchincloss estate, Hammersmith Farm, in Newport, Rhode Island, Yusha had this to say about the couple he’d helped to match make,  “First, Mr. President, I want to congratulate you. You’ve been a very good president. I’m glad you had your wedding here in Newport. I’m glad you’re celebrating your wedding anniversary here with Jackie. But I have to remind you: if you hadn’t gotten engaged to Jackie, my stepsister, neither one of you would have been in the White House. And I wouldn’t have had a chance to stay in the White House. So I have to thank you for that!”

What Yusha left out in his now famous toast was that without him, JFK’s Camelot would possibly have never existed.

I call Yusha a knight of Camelot because he not only facilitated that decisive evening at Merrywood, he also became an important adviser to the future President on Middle Eastern issues right up until JFK’s assassination.

But most importantly he was a man both JFK and Jackie could confide in and never worry about a tell-all-book-deal. The First couple was not mistaken in relying on this thoughtful, gentle man. He never betrayed them. He never revealed to the press so many of their secrets. Because of this, few know that Yusha spent many an hour at a sickly John Kennedy’s bedside reading or watching TV with the future President. And, few know that it was Yusha who Jackie considered her dearest friend until her dying day. “You know how much I love you…” she wrote to him just before her death in 1994.





My relationship with Yusha developed in the twilight years of his life. His beloved aunt, a former Russian countess, Olga C. Morgan, was a dear friend of mine and someone I was so close to that I referred to her as my “honorary godmother”. Yusha and I would sit and listen to tapes that I had recorded of Olga, who had passed away in 1991(to read more about my relationship with Olga see previous blog postings below). We became instant “family” and he let me call him “uncle” because “a lot of people call me that…” he jovially commented in his charming wit that only those who knew him could understand.


My husband, Tom Fulton (left), chats with Uncle Yusha about middle east politics. The cane Yusha is holding
was given to him by President John F. Kennedy on one of his visits to Hammersmith Farm in Newport, RI

I will greatly miss my uncle Yusha and only regret I had not spent more time with him. He was the embodiment of a true Noble spirit. If the world were full of Yusha Auchincloss’ we’d have a much better place to live and, now without him, the world has one less living example of honesty and kindness.


The aspect of his passing I'm comforted by is knowing that he died peacefully at his beloved home on Hammersmith Farm—the home of his ancestors. “Behold the upright man, for the end of that man is peace.”

Hugh D. "Yusha" Auchincloss III with Robert H. Westover at
Hammersmith Farm, June, 2014