The countdown to marriage equality
Most Obama fans I know remember the day President Obama was elected as the most monumental day of their lives. A day of change. A day this country took a huge step forward. And, in many ways, it was. For me, however, November 5, 2008 was one of the most depressing, disheartening days of my life. Because on that day I was a Californian, and the news that Obama had been elected president was eclipsed by the fact that California had passed Proposition 8.
I will never understand bigotry and I have no interest in doing so. So when I lay in bed that morning wondering why the majority of voters in the progressive, blue state of California had voted to impede the rights of same-sex couples, I was not really interested in the why, what I really wanted to know was ‘how?’.
This is the same question political activists and progressives have been grappling with since before I was born. As the landmark politically progressive American musical Hair asks, “How can people be so heartless? How can people be so cruel?”
And then again, I don’t really care how people can be this way. What I really care about is change. I want to move toward a society that is all-inclusive, wherein people are open-minded and accepting (if not celebratory) of one another’s differences. It is our differences that make us unique, that make us beautiful. And in thinking about what this statement really means—to celebrate our differences—I can learn to accept the closed-minded, even the bigots, if we can all agree that none of us will try to impose our beliefs on others, inflict harm on others, or use our beliefs as a platform from which to limit human rights.
You know, what Rodney King said: “Can’t we all just get along?” Or, at the very least, can’t we all live and let live?
Life, living, is what the gay rights struggle is all about. Same-sex couples want to live, want the right to live, in the same manner as heterosexual couples. Not only to marry one another, but to make medical decisions for their partners, to have the right to be with their beloveds in hospital rooms and at the end of life, to pass on property to their spouses at death, to parent children together, to partake in family health care plans. This is about living life. Participating together in the trials and tribulations that life inevitably offers us all. The rights, but also the responsibilities. The basic ability to be there for a loved one, to support and be supported. To live life. Together. For better or worse, in sickness and in health—
My fiance interrupts my writing to read me the latest version of our vows. We are getting married this summer. I am slightly annoyed at him for interrupting me while I am trying to work, but, this is life. This is what Matt and I are signing up for: to share a home that is sometimes too crowded for the both of us. To try to navigate the waters between working together and respecting one another’s need to do our own individual work. It is a Tuesday morning. Matt is in bed. I am in my robe. We are not interested in world domination or in saving children from corruption with our heterosexual union. I just want the man to make me a cup of tea and to love me for the rest of my life, and I believe same-sex couples just want the same.
We are getting married in Connecticut, one of the ten U.S. states (including the District of Columbia) in which same-sex marriage is legal in this country today. This is important to us. We want to get married in a state where our fellow humans also have the right to wed, sexual orientation notwithstanding. Our officiant is one of our best friends, and I was a Lady of Honor at his wedding. To his husband. When my fiance and I join together as man and wife we want our union to support the unions of all loving couples. The rights and obligations. The joys and the hardships. We will need the support of our same-sex friends throughout our marriage just as they will need ours.
Today the Supreme Court is hearing arguments that will help shape the future of same-sex marriage in this country. Their decision may overturn Proposition 8, thereby righting the grievous wrong announced on November 5, 2008. The decision may declare the Defense of Marriage Act—perhaps the most bigoted piece of Federal legislation to grace the national stage in many decades—unconstitutional.
Traditionally the Supreme Court has made some of the most significant changes regarding human rights in this country. Even more conservative incarnations of the Supreme Court have often voted to implement progressive changes when those changes were reflected in our society. Think Roe v. Wade, think Loving v. Virginia. In recent election after election I have watched state after state stand up in support of marriage equality. Will this Court will make a decision that reflects the way this country is moving, overturning bigoted legislation and granting marriage equality for all? As Matt said when changing his Facebook profile picture to an equal sign today, “Let’s get some marriage equality in this MF.”