FYI, I’ll be on Lansing Online News tonight at 7, talking about Fable: Blood of Heroes, writing, and whatever else comes up. You can check the Ustream broadcast, or if you’re local, you can listen on 89.7 FM.
I’m 41 years old. When I was in elementary school, we played a game called Smear the Queer. I had no idea what “queer” actually meant. I just thought of it as another fun roughhousing game, basically like tag with the added bonus of getting to tackle someone at the end.
The movie Teen Wolf came out in 1985, when I was eleven. It included Michael J. Fox having the following exchange with a friend:
“You aren’t gonna tell me you’re a fag are you? Because I don’t think I can handle that.”
“No, no…I’m not a fag. I’m a werewolf.”
As recently as 2003, laws against sodomy were still on the books in fourteen states (including my own state of Michigan).
In 2005, my home state of Michigan passed a Constitutional Amendment stating:
To secure and preserve the benefits of marriage for our society and for future generations of children, the union of one man and one woman in marriage shall be the only agreement recognized as a marriage or similar union for any purpose.
On Friday June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned that Constitutional Amendment and others, ruling that same-sex marriage was legal throughout the United States.
This feels monumental.
I know the U.S. and humanity as a whole still has a great deal of work to do when it comes to addressing social inequities and discrimination, but this was huge. I think about the treatment and awareness of LGBT people during my childhood and look at how much that’s changed over the course of a generation…the fact that the White House was lit up in rainbow colors to celebrate the legalization of same-sex marriage… It’s joyful.
I’ve seen people say that, because they’re straight, this ruling doesn’t directly affect them. And I think I understand what they mean. Friday doesn’t affect my 12-year marriage to a woman in any way. It doesn’t change my family or financial situation or legal security in all the ways it can for people in same-sex relationships.
The impact isn’t the same, but it does affect me. It fills me with joy and pride. It brings a sense of relief for friends and loved ones. It rekindles hope that my country can become better, and that we can overcome discrimination.
(It also screwed up my productivity on Friday, because instead of working on my book, I was scrolling through social media to see all of the celebration and happiness. I’ve decided that I’m okay with that.)
I recognize that this was a long, hard-fought battle, and this victory doesn’t end people’s struggles. The United States is one country, not the world. Friday didn’t magically erase hate and bigotry. And it will likely lead to more of the pushback we’ve been seeing against inclusiveness, diversity, and acceptance.
But it’s still a joyful thing, one I choose to celebrate. When I listened to a friend and coworker fighting back tears as she talks to Human Resources about adding her wife to her benefits…when I think of friends who left Michigan after we passed that amendment in 2005, whose legal status will now be recognized if they choose to return…when I see my friends online celebrating their relationships, and I can’t even tell who’s updating and commenting on Facebook because so many people have rainbowized their icons…I can’t understand how anyone could fail to be moved by such an outpouring of shared joy and love.
I look at the hate crimes and racially motivated terrorism we’ve seen in recent weeks, the bile and bigotry coming out in the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the narrow-mindedness and the utter lack of empathy, the blinding fanaticism and extremism and hate. The victory of June 26, 2015 reminds me why we fight against these things: because change for the better is possible.
I am so happy for everyone whose lives will be better as a result of this ruling, and I’m happy for my country for taking a step toward fairness and equality.