Monday, June 29, 2015

A More Perfect Union

Lest you forget, sometimes the world really does get better. Friday’s historic Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage – or just marriage as it’s now called in all 50 states – has finalized the case for enshrining June 26 as a national gay holiday. The date is the anniversary of Lawrence vs. Texas (2003), which decriminalized gay sex; Hollingsworth v. Perry (2013), which overturned Proposition 8; and United States v. Windsor (2013), which ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. Now with this year’s Obergefell v. Hodges creating a constitutional right to marriage equality, June 26 truly has become the gayest day of the year.

Progress on this journey has been slow, but also stunning. From 2004, when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, to 11 years later, where it is the law across the union, it has been an incredible journey. We have the tireless work and fierce devotion of countless advocates to thank for this achievement. But it’s also proof that people can change, that the hearts and minds of everyday Americans can change when our shared humanity is realized.

The thing about civil rights is that our collective advancement isn’t really about the minority group in question. Granted, each community pushes for its own progress. It’s not as if in 1964 all of a sudden African-Americans become enlightened and therefore worthy of discrimination protection. It’s that the majority – white Americans – become enlightened and realized we’re all just humans imbued with the same inalienable rights. (Granted, there’s a still a long way to go on that regards, a long damn way.) The same goes for gay rights. It’s not that LGBT people finally deserved the right to marry, it’s that the majority – straight America – finally realized love is love. (And, of course, we still have a way to go for employment, housing and other full protections.)

But therein again is why days like June 26 matter so much. It’s hard work fighting for equal rights. It’s exhausting and draining and often thankless. So when the Obergefell v. Hodges days happen, we must celebrate them as, to coin a term from President Obama, the thunderbolt of justice that it is. Days like that are the jolts we need to keep going. They are the sparks to keep the struggle alive for all groups who deserve full and equal protection under the law.

June 26 is a day to celebrate and a day to inspire us to continue our journey toward that more perfect union. Now, let’s all go get married, you big beautiful country.

p.s. I’m not the kind to normally chant this, but “USA! USA! USA!”

1 comment:

Anna said...

We got marriage equality 14 years ago in my country. While I'm certainly old enough to be able to remember that year, I have no memory of the day that law was enacted. It was before Twitter and Facebook and while there must have been a public celebration, neither I nor my family remember it. It's great to see how the whole world celebrates these national milestones now, first on 22 May and then on 26 June. Welcome to the club, USA!