COLLINS: It’s important that everyone be happy
Published 12:01 am Saturday, June 27, 2015
Tony Collins said he’s always known he was gay, but for a while, he tried to be what society wanted him to be – a heterosexual man with a family.
But in 1995, on his third marriage, Collins finally decided to make himself happy.
“I was trying to live the life that society wanted me to live,” he said. “It was the most miserable time of my life – living for someone else.”
He has three children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren and he says it’s important they see him happy.
Collins said when he came out of the closet he became peaceful.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday ruled 5-4 that the Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage.
Collins said he is excited, but that he and his partner, Gary, who have been together for 14 years, haven’t discussed marriage at this time because they didn’t want to get their hopes up.
“At least now I have that option,” he said. “After 14 years, if I decide to ask him, I can. I wanted to wait and see what the ruling was. We didn’t want to be let down.”
In February, U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. “Ginny” Granade ruled in favor of gay marriage, opening the door to legal same-sex unions in Alabama, but the February decision was stayed until Friday’s decision.
Collins said he bought rings then, but when the stay was issued, he returned them.
Collins was also grateful that now if something happens to him, Gary now can have a say in his medical treatment.
“It has always had to be my next of kin,” he said.
Collins said he was expecting a favorable ruling from SCOTUS.
“It’s legal in so many states now,” he said. “I have the right to love who I want and be with that person. I don’t ask straight people not to be with who they love.”
Collins said the Supreme Court’s ruling is not something he thought he’d see in his lifetime.
“I thought we might be recognized as a couple eventually, but not marriage,” he said. “If only the recognized there are thousands of gays in the country.”
Collin said he and Gary are very happy.
“My partner and me get along better than most straight couples,” he said. “It’s important that everyone has the right to be happy. We all have the right to a peace of mind.”
Collins, who was born and reared in the South, said a lot of people know him because of his line of work.
He said he’s had some people say they won’t use his services any more because of his lifestyle.
Covington County boasts many homosexuals, he said.
“There are a lot of gay people here,” he said “And a lot who need to come out of the closet.”
Collins said that homosexuals just want to be treated equally in all aspects.
“We’ve taken all we’re going to take,” he said. “And if (people) can’t separate church and state, then they shouldn’t be in office. This is not a matter of whose opinion counts. It’s a matter of what’s right. Everybody’s watching now.”