Well, would you look at that…? Gay marriage is now legal and the world didn't end in a fiery cataclysm of God’s wrath. No one set themselves ablaze, despite promises to the contrary (and to the disappointment of many). No one is having gay sex on your doorsteps or in the pews of your churches. The value and integrity of your marriages didn’t disintegrate. Nothing more catastrophic than an explosion of rainbows in your Facebook feed has occurred. Oh, the horror!
It was an exciting day for so many—a day that reaffirmed my faith in this country and made me incredibly proud to be an American. It feels historic and like justice was served. I imagine 6/26/2015 as a day somewhat comparable to 8/2/1965 when the Voting Rights Act prohibited racial discrimination in voting. Of course, today we have the Internet and social media, and so it seems like we’ve all been personally invited to an epic, nationwide party of gaiety—and I mean that in both (and the best) senses of the word.
I’d like to believe we’ve turned a corner, and perhaps we have, but there are still those out there bouncing around between intolerance, ignorance, bigotry, or an irrational fear of rainbows. Some have said they’re moving to Canada, or making a run for the southern border (boy, won’t they be surprised). Politicians are railing against the ruling, in some cases calling for changes to our entire system of government (because if you can’t win by the rules of the game, then the rules themselves must need to be changed). I was disgusted (though hardly surprised) to learn that a pro football player posted a tweet comparing gay marriage to pedophilia and incest. Of course, in his incomprehensible ignorance, he failed to take into account the one rather important distinction between them—a victim. In both of his examples, a child had been sexually abused. Sure, raping a kid is precisely the same as allowing two committed people in love to make a lifelong commitment to one another. To quote Mark Twain, “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.” Someone then leapt to this idiot’s defense, stating that he wished we could have had an “open debate” about this before the courts became involved. Where have you been, bro? Just because no one asked for your opinion, or put it to a referendum vote doesn’t mean that this wasn’t part of the national conversation for decades. You just weren’t paying attention while the world turned on. You’re living in a past that no longer exists, because nearly two-thirds of the population now supports gay marriage. How exhausting it must be to continue to harbor such hate for those different from you.
And that is precisely where I believe we miss the point. We still insist upon seeing others as those things that make them different from ourselves. Gay and not straight. Black and not white. Muslim and not Christian. Female and not male. Poor and not prosperous. The list of our differences is endless, and as long as we remain focused on them there will continue to be racism, discrimination, fear, hatred, and bigotry. Though our diversity is beautiful and cause to celebrate one another, that won’t (and can’t) happen until we accept the thing that makes us the same first—we are all human beings. At our core we are flesh and bone and blood and strings of DNA. We are not multiple races; we are one race—the human race. And we decided long ago that people in this country have certain civil rights. These rights grant our citizens political and social freedom and equality. And these rights apply to all people. Not certain humans of a particular color or gender or identity. You can’t grant civil rights to some and not to others. We all have the right to be treated with dignity and respect. We all deserve to be able to share in the rights afforded to the majority, because if we are all one people, there is no majority.
I consider myself to be incredibly lucky to have LGBTQ friends and family in my life. They are some of the most caring and generous people I’ve ever encountered—and among the most courageous. They’ve stood against and despite great adversity, ridicule and bigotry to be counted as equals. They’ve earned their civil liberties, when most of the rest of us were merely granted them by fortune of our birth. They did so with remarkable restraint and without violence. They did so without returning the hate heaped upon them. They did so merely by holding true to who they were and whom they loved and by changing millions of hearts and minds along the way. It is because of them that (though late to the game) we’ve become a more accepting and enlightened nation.
So today, I say not only, "Congratulations!", but also, "Thank you." Thank you for helping us to understand what love really is—not necessarily between one man and one woman, but between two people who would endure the animosity and disgust of much of a nation for one another. That is a brave and heroic love. May your lives together be just as fulfilling as the victory you have achieved, and may your days be filled with all of the joy that we have failed to afford you during your struggles.
You deserve at least that much.