Thursday, May 15, 2008

love, honor and obey

By a vote of four to three, the supreme court of California overturned the ban on same-sex marriage today saying that "the language limiting the designation of marriage to a union “between a man and a woman” is unconstitutional and must be stricken from the statute, and that the remaining statutory language must be understood as making the designation of marriage available both to opposite-sex and same-sex couples."

They went on to say,

“Plaintiffs are entitled to the issuance of a writ of mandate directing the appropriate state officials to take all actions necessary to effectuate our ruling in this case so as to ensure that county clerks and other local officials throughout the state, in performing their duty to enforce the marriage statutes in their jurisdictions, apply those provisions in a manner consistent with the decision of this court.”

It is official, California is now the second state in the country to recognize, not only the legal union of a couple of the same sex but actual marriage. Before today Massachusetts was the only state to allow gay marriage.

This is a great day for United States civil rights. This is a day, even a few years ago, I couldn't have imagined happening in my lifetime. I am that much closer to not being considered a second class citizen.

And yet there is an overwhelming sadness, for me, about this moment. A feeling that no matter what legislature says I still, somehow, drew the physiological short straw. Not because I am sexually attracted to and long for romantic intimacy with a
member of my own gender, a fact that doesn't make me feel any less a man, but because I can't imagine my extended family traveling from distances to celebrate my love for another man. Not in my wildest dreams do I see family members asking if we're registered at Willams Sonoma or if we need a food processor. Though I don't believe they would begrudge me a loving relationship I also don't think that they would find, in my legal union with another man, the same reason for celebration as they would a heterosexual holy matrimony.

A very good start has been made. It is one thing, however, to change legislature - it is something quite different to change and open the hearts and minds of many who believe that those who are different are wrong or bad. Let us not forget how recently we have witnessed atrocities like the brutal death of
Matthew Shepard and the blatant hate mongering of Fred Phelps. Just earlier this year there was the E.O. Green School shooting of fifteen year old junior high school student Lawrence King of Oxnard California. King publicly said that he was gay only to be harassed by a group of schoolmates and ultimately shot dead by a fourteen year old classmate who he had asked to be his valentine. Do an Internet search on any of these three incidents I've mentioned and see for yourself the ignorance and hatred that masquerade as religious righteousness and patriotism.

I don't mean to be the pooper at this party, I just know that already the closed minded and fearful are rallying together to fight this brave legislative move in the name of God and our great nation. I find it interesting that Governor Schwartzenegger now says he opposes any move to overturn today's Supreme court ruling, keeping in mind Schwartenegger vetoed a same sex-marriage bill twice in the last three years.
Think back to the year 2000 when same-sex marriage was making big news in California courts. It became a divisive issue in the presidential race then and I suspect we can plan to see it bandied about in that arena again in the days to come. The timing of this monumental step forward in civil rights may be unfortunate and perhaps even suspicious. What happens this November will effect civil rights in this country, and ultimately the world, for years to come.

Who could have imagined that in our lifetimes we would see an African-American presidential candidate as well as legal same-sex marriage protected under the Constitution of the United States of America? We may, at last, be on our way to realizing the dream.

I look forward confidently to the day when all who work for a living will be one with no thought to their separateness as Negroes, Jews, Italians or any other distinctions. This will be the day when we bring into full realization the American dream -- a dream yet unfulfilled. A dream of equality of opportunity, of privilege and property widely distributed; a dream of a land where men will not take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few; a dream of a land where men will not argue that the color of a man's skin determines the content of his character; a dream of a nation where all our gifts and resources are held not for ourselves alone, but as instruments of service for the rest of humanity; the dream of a country where every man will respect the dignity and worth of the human personality."
- Martin Luther King Jr.

1 comment:

Flick said...

There's a part of me that is angry: Angry that I have 4 months to put together a wedding (how many straight couples do you know that have to race to get married before the next election?), angry that this is even an ARGUMENT on the national level, angry that my country does not recognize a basic human right.

But I'm truly blessed. I hate the way this will sound, and don't want to add any pain, but ... but my whole family is flying in for my wedding. My cousins - even the Republican-Former-US-Attorney-appointed-by-Reagan - are coming, and we're having trouble keeping the list DOWN to a reasonable size.

I've asked my father to say the traditional Jewish "priestly blessing" over us at the service. He cried.

I am truly blessed.