Happy Independence Day to everyone! And all the more so in light of the recent, historic Supreme Court ruling, this past June 26th, 2015, declaring marriage equality to be the law of the land.
Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the deciding vote in the 5-4 ruling, declaring that the freedom to marry is a fundamental right of all Americans. His ruling is based on four ideas, the basic gist of which is as follows: freedom includes being free to marry whom one chooses; marriage is vital for relationships; marriage protects families; and marriage is a cornerstone of American society. In response to this landmark decision of equality without exception, the White House lit up in rainbow colors in commemoration of this occasion, as did the Empire State Building — and the mood among gay rights supporters was nothing short of jubilant. Gay Pride, right on!
Well, how about that? After all the vehement, unreasonable, fear-driven, and just plain mean-spirited resistance of the religious right to deny same-sex couples their constitutional rights — love is now equal in the eyes of the law! (Take that dissenting Justices, Roberts, Scalia, and Thomas. Like it or not the Twenty-First Century has arrived and is well underway. )
Public opinion has shifted in the past few years, revealing the intrinsic wrong of the ban on gay marriage and paving the way for such a decision to be made. I always felt in my gut that it would be just a matter of time, combined with unflagging activism, until that changed. No doubt the disgruntled conservatives — the same good churchgoing souls laboring to reverse Roe vs Wade and deny 51% of the population the right to choose to be pregnant or not — are currently huddled together, plotting and planning the overthrow of Constitutional rights.
Speaking of gay marriage, a few years ago I wrote a five-hundred word memoir piece about being a sixteen-year-old art student, with a raging crush on Hal, a handsome, sophisticated, forty-year-old art professor — to whom I offered my virginity — and who turned out to be gay. He didn’t give that as his reason for turning me down. He said I was beautiful and desirable, but I was sixteen and it would have been wrong for him to take advantage of me. I went home crying that day, stung by rejection. But I later learned through a mutual acquaintance, that the man whom I’d lusted for was already taken by a model named Ralph. Funny, learning the true reason for my turn-down put the experience in perspective. So he likes men, I thought, shrugging, who knew? I didn’t blame Hal for not coming out to me either — it was only the 1960s, after all; Utopia was a long way away.
If by some slim chance Hal and Ralph are still alive and together all these years later, I imagine their rejoicing at finally being declared equal American citizens but the law of their land.
As Victor Hugo so wisely said, “No army can withstand the power of an idea whose time has come.” But it sure was a long time coming.
Happy Independence Day. We’ve all just taken a giant step toward creating the kinder, gentler, more humane society that we all claim to long for. @DorothyFreed1.