As you may know, I haven’t written in this blog in a long time. Too long. There was the novelty of work, the effort to ‘get up to speed’ and then the drowsiness of routine. For many weeks, I didn’t have time to write. Then I didn’t know what to write. Finally, I became too sheepish to write.
But in the intervening time, there have been moments of tremendous beauty and inspiration. So why not start with yesterday?
Mounted in our kitchen, our whiteboard is a space for the shared aspirations of our household. Some are lofty, ‘the realization of civil rights for all Americans’, others less so, ‘bake cookies!’ Keeping things light lends an air of possibility and hope to our lists. Last weekend, my newest roommate made his first contribution: ‘baby steps’.
Seventeen years ago, I wrote a speech for my grade twelve English class. It was about why gay marriage should be legalized. I went to a Catholic high school, and news of my speech wasn’t welcomed by everyone. A classmate wrote a ‘counter- speech’, bankrupt in both content and morality. A guidance counselor overtly warned it would ruin my chances of delivering an address at graduation. This, of course, only strengthened my resolve!
The exact words of my speech have long faded from my memory, but the sentiment has never drifted. There is no higher calling in our shared existence than to love and be loved. And no group has exclusive purview over this. If we as societies have chosen to celebrate, distinguish and allot rights and privileges to acknowledge a form of love – equality, and indeed love itself, demands access for all.
As a teenager, I’m sure that writing words like these filled me with the heat of indignation, but reviewing this paragraph, I can’t help but think: obviously!!! Because, while there are many battles still to be won, a huge one has been. Today my throat burns with emotion for the people who worked tirelessly for this right, for those who didn’t live to see this dream realized, for those who feel freer to be their truest selves and for all of us who met the news of yesterday’s decision with a long awaited sigh of relief.
So many things seem intractable, but every now and then we get to live through moments that remind us that they are not. Baby steps eventually lead us across thresholds.
I cannot be more eloquent than the words of the Supreme Court decision, and so I leave you with them:
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of the civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.
The judgement of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.
It is so ordered.