With Liberty and Justice for All

I seem to have lost my proverbial voice lately, at least when it comes to blogging. And I suppose nothing causes one to feel choked up, misty-eyed, and ready to “testify” about their lives more than a major civil rights victory that changes the course of their lives forever. So, let’s get on with a blog entry already, shall we?

I never thought this would be the kind of momentous event that I would see or celebrate in my lifetime, and yes, I know I’m almost embarrassingly young. I spent a lot of my youth in a very small town where the worst thing you could call someone, or be called, or in fact be, was gay. At the first chance I had, I fled for the tolerance of urban America and I have not looked back. Years after feeling shameful, and ashamed, of who I was, I began being honest with myself and living an open life. It’s a story that isn’t unique to me at all. And it’s a story that, just a generation ago, would not have ended in such a satisfying, uplifting, and encouraging way.

I remember in 2004, just before I graduated from high school, the Massachusetts Supreme Court legalized gay marriage. I wasn’t even an adult yet, but because I knew who I was, it hit me like a ton of bricks: “Those people can get married. They’re equal there. I’m not. I’ll never have that. Not here. Not in this lifetime. But good for them. Maybe I’ll move to Massachusetts.”

That feeling of being not equal, not free to be truly expressive of my identity, not eligible for the rights, benefits, and privileges that so many other Americans took for granted, drove my political actions and personal development for the next decade. I became politically involved, educated in the issues, and more confident in my personal identity. I accepted it. I celebrated it. We should all be so lucky as to be so unique.

Luckily for me, my friends and family were also accepting of who I truly was. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of loved ones, really. For all of the internal fears and media horror stories, the tales of excommunicating and bullying and harassing, I experienced nothing but love and acceptance. We cannot all be as lucky as I was, however. Not even my own fiancé was as lucky, at least initially. But this Supreme Court decision, this nationwide embrace of the fundamental rights of LGBT Americans, will certainly help.

So, a meandering post with no real conclusion other than the obvious, federal conclusion that has brought joy to so many. That has made so many LGBT Americans and their families — including those in this household and those that we know — misty-eyed just for reading the breaking news headlines.

Before I conclude, I’d like to include two influential quotes from leaders in the fight for LGBT equality. The first, from out-and-proud, assassinated San Francisco city supervisor Harvey Milk (watch this movie immediately), and the second from Justice Anthony Kennedy in today’s pro-equality Supreme court Ruling. The first passage guided me through acceptance and the fight for equality. The second passage will guide me as I enter into marriage two weeks from today.

The only thing they have to look forward to is hope. And you have to give them hope. Hope for a better world, hope for a better tomorrow, hope for a better place to come to if the pressures at home are too great. Hope that all will be all right. Without hope, not only gays, but the blacks, the seniors, the handicapped, the us’es, the us’es will give up.

And if you help elect to the central committee and other offices, more gay people, that gives a green light to all who feel disenfranchised, a green light to move forward. It means hope to a nation that has given up, because if a gay person makes it, the doors are open to everyone.

– Harvey Milk

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 once they 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 civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

– Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy