A Word In Edgewise: A Pride Among Prides

In Lavender’s 2009 Pride edition, I wrote of the California’s earlier Proposition 8 decision. During the summer, prior to Prop 8’s passage in November, 2008, the fall, some18,000 couples had wed, though were still barred from the 1,100- something federal rights enjoyed by straight wedded citizens.

I quoted Yeats: “Things fall apart; the center cannot hold,” as well as SF Gate’s Mark Morford who predicted, “Sorry enemies of gay marriage. Prop 8 or no, you’ve already lost…Gay marriage is a foregone conclusion. It’s a done deal. It’s just a matter of time. For the next generation in particular, equal rights for gays is not even a question or a serious issue. It’s just obvious, inevitable, a given.”

And then, quicker than he or I might have imagined or dared hope, just before Pride 2013, Governor Dayton signed the bill legalizing same-sex marriage in Minnesota. Much rejoicing and preparations ensued, leading up to the August 1 legal wedding date.

And this year, on June 26, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled on Obergefell v. Hodges, striking down state bans on same-sex marriage. The vote was a narrow 5-4, but Justice Anthony Kennedy stated categorically: “The court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. President Obama welcomed the decision, calling it “justice that arrives like a thunderbolt.”

Pride, if I may say, has reached a peak and a plateau simultaneously. One can still feel pride in being able to live one’s life openly, sharing both the rights and obligations of marriage, but it would be a mistake to think that the battle is won.

Like the recent glaring evidence that the struggle for civil rights is not a done deal; the rights of same-sex citizens is far from accepted by all Americans. Garage mechanics post “No gays” signs, others announce they’ll not bake cakes or cater ba gay weddings. Some state office workers and judges have already refused to issue marriage licenses or marry gay couples. It’s not going to shake down in an instant.

Keeping what we’ve earned will require work as well as Pride parades; voting is imperative as is the simple expedient of talking with straight friends and coworkers. Familiarity breeds not contempt, but acceptance. Live with pride.

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