My mother was 17 and my father 19 when they went to a county courthouse — along with their parents because of my mom's age — to get a marriage license in 1964.
With that important piece of government paper in hand, a minister joined them in holy matrimony in a simple, living-room ceremony in their Missouri Bootheel hometown.
When my parents celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2014, I wrote a Christian Chronicle column about their commitment to God and each other.
For the last two weeks, I've witnessed a new chapter of their "love story" at a Texas hospital. My dad is battling a severe case of pneumonia and a problem with his kidney function.
Night after night, Mom has slept (albeit not much) on a hospital couch to care for Dad. At this point, they are both beyond exhausted. And Dad is still hooked up to oxygen and having trouble breathing.
Suffice it to say that they took their marriage vows — sanctioned by their government and their faith — seriously.
But once again in 2018, some lawmakers are asking whether the government belongs in that equation at all.
In 2015, my home state of Oklahoma made headlines when it contemplated getting out of the marriage license business. A similar proposal to end government-sanctioned marriage in Missouri drew attention last year. On the flip side, some religious leaders have refused in recent years to sign government marriage licenses — saying that's not their role.
Enter Alabama, which is considering similar legislation this session in response to the U.S. Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage in 2015.