By now, we’ve all heard and rejoiced about Wednesday’s delicious ruling – by a judge with the last name Walker*, no less – that Proposition Hate (people do call it that, right?) is unconstitutional. The shame, the misery, and perhaps most of all the pure embarrassment of Prop 8 passing is now a silly, yucky memory. There’s a long fight ahead, to be sure; but this time, the battle feels different. For as vindicating and thrilling it is to hear all the holes blasted in the Pro-8 arguments, it still felt wrong – we had to argue why the bigots were wrong, not why the good people were right. Now, we get to defend rather than attack.
*Jessica’s last name.
In my life I’ve frequently felt proud to be a Californian. It’s a state that has done some great things, despite currently having a celebrity governor, and having no money and a floundering school system that laughs in the face of me and Jessica wanting to be teachers. I was incredibly proud when Gavin Newsom allowed gays to marry in San Francisco a few years ago, and incredibly proud when gays were given the right to marry across the whole state not long after. In November of 2008, when all that was taken away, clouding the joy I felt at Obama being crowned King of America, it felt like a betrayal. Like my state had kicked me in the balls while punching me in the face and thrown my guitars into a well for good measure. And of course, what I felt paled in comparison to how gay people must have felt – and still feel – at the voting results. I felt that my fellow Californians had betrayed me and had jerked around our gay population, and it was frankly embarrassing. “Dear gay people: you can get married. Now you can’t. Now you can. Now you can’t.”
But social change and civil rights battles are never easy – that’s always going to be inherently true. I have no illusions that I have ever experienced, nor that I ever will experience, real discrimination; I’m a straight white guy from a middle class background and I have luxuries in my life that most of the world doesn’t. But I can still care about these fights, and I do. Reading and hearing and seeing the vitriol spouted by the anti-gay crowd is nauseating, physically repulsive, and nonsensical. I won’t even get into the anti-gay-marriage arguments – we’ve heard them enough. They are illogical, ignorant, rooted in a deep hatred and a severe misunderstanding of religious ideals, and do not deserve any more of our time.
This decision is wonderful, it’s pivotal, and to get all sports-announcery on you, it feels like a huge momentum-changer. It’s one thing to believe, to truly believe, in the things that we care about; but when those beliefs are systematically upheld by a legal system, using smart and incisive arguments, it feels even better. Because just as basic freedoms being declared illegal feels terrible, having them defended feels great.
When Phyllis Lyon married Del Martin in San Francisco 2004, lovers for over 50 years, activists and pioneers, this is what we got to see:
If that’s something other than love, I want to experience it.
When the California Supreme Court voided their marriage, Lyon had this to say:
Del is 83 years old and I am 79. After being together for more than 50 years, it is a terrible blow to have the rights and protections of marriage taken away from us. At our age, we do not have the luxury of time.
But a couple months before Martin passed away in 2008, they were married again. And now, the bigots are slowly but surely being left behind, on the wrong side of history, in the shadows of fairness.
If, God willing, gays are allowed to marry each other next summer, and this yo-yo of legality finally ceases in California, I’ll feel just a little bit better about getting married myself. Because why do I deserve to marry my true love more than anyone else?
I don’t. I never have.