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Same-sex marriage is legal in nine of the 50 United States and recognized in two more; civil unions are legal in eight states. None of them is Colorado. The Centennial State does acknowledge domestic partnerships in a limited framework, but not the right of same-sex partners to fully, officially and legally participate in married life.
Colorado is where Kenneth Faried plies his trade as a double-double machine for the 26-18 Denver Nuggets, and as you can see in the video above — produced by One Colorado, an advocacy organization that works to achieve and protect equality and opportunity for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Colorado residents and their families — the state's present position on civil union strikes the 23-year-old power forward as kind of odd. See, he's long since made his peace with the notion of the LGBT community having the same rights as heterosexuals because he's come of age in a loving environment with two mothers. It's clearly worked out pretty well for him; he's not sure why other folks mind it so much.
Faried's upbringing became national news in February 2011, when — as a senior in college about to break Tim Duncan's career NCAA Division I rebounding record and lead Morehead State into the NCAA Tournament — he became the subject of stories like this profile by ESPN's Dana O'Neil:
Before [Faried] was born, his grandmother died from complications of lupus and since he was in the fourth grade, his mother, Waudda (pronounced Wa-dee-uh), has battled the crippling disease that attacks the body without discretion.
And then 10 years ago, his mother introduced Faried to Manasin Copeland, the woman that would become her wife.
"I think people have an aura about them and the first time I met her, I thought, 'I like this lady," Faried said. "And when they got married, that showed me what commitment is all about, that there are people out there that can commit, even though for them it really has been the worst of times. I look at them, what they've been through and I think, 'Wow. That's amazing.' They're amazing to me." [...]
Together for in the neighborhood of a decade -- 10 years, according to Waudda and nine, says Copeland -- the two made their bond legal on April 5, 2007 in the Newark City Hall municipal court.
"Some people just say for better or worse and some people mean it," said Waudda, who was in another relationship prior to meeting Copeland but discovered quickly that the other woman couldn't handle her disease. "I know she's in it for the long haul."
Faried calls Copeland "Oomie," the Arabic word for mother, because that's the way he views her — not only as his mother's wife or partner, but as a second guiding, loving, maternal force in his own life. As he says in the video above, there's nobody on this planet who can tell him he doesn't have two mothers, and that their love isn't real or valid, and that they and others shouldn't have the same opportunity and means to express that love as heterosexual couples. If you'd like to try dissuading the 6-foot-8, 230-pound, carved-from-granite perpetual motion machine of that belief, by all means, go for it; I'd much rather agree with him and applaud his willingness to publicly speak out in favor of equal rights for all people. Seems like a way better way to live, and a much better thing to do.
Faried's family's advocacy video comes at a time of change in Colorado. A state Senate committee this week passed a bill that would legalize civil unions; that bill must now go before the Senate's Appropriations Committee, which is expected to approve it as one of a number of steps in the process of the legislation becoming law. According to the Denver Post, the bill's expected to get to Gov. John Hickenlooper's desk in March, and he's expected to sign it into law effective May 1, allowing Colorado LGBT couples to begin pursuing legal civil unions.
On Thursday, at a celebration of the bill's committee passage, Faried said he was pleased with the progress being made, but wants it to go further, according to KDVR:
“I’m happy for every gay and lesbian couple out there who want to take that next step and elope,” Faried says. [...]
“A lot of people [are] saying civil union,” Faried said. “I don’t like it being called that because I can get married to a female and it can be called a marriage. Why can’t a female be married to a female and male be married to a male and it be called a marriage? You still have the same thing, same love and happiness.”
Seems like a pretty good question to me.
As I wrote when Hall of Famer and former NBA executive and head coach Isiah Thomas participated in an ad campaign opposing same-sex marriage bans a couple of years back, plenty of people from plenty of different backgrounds might have plenty of different opinions on the issues of same-sex marriage in particular and homosexuality in general. (I'd kind of hope we wouldn't, and that we'd all fall on the side of loving everybody all the time, but I understand that's not the way things work.)
Irrespective of your personal take, though, I think Faried's to be commended for using his platform to make a public statement about a social issue that matters to him, especially when making this particular statement could prove to be unpopular with many people and potentially subject him to awful ridicule on and off the court. That he's showing intellectual and emotional maturity about an issue that too often elicits "pause" and "no homo" comments from the likes of his peers just makes it all that much better.
Hat-tip to our man Myles Brown.