The Solid Northeast

May 20th, 2014

You know, K and I aren’t really “pride people.” We’re just not that kind of gay. You won’t find us carrying the sea-to-sea Key West pride flag, or attending the Philly Pride parade, or dancing on a float, or anything like that. We’re totally proud of who we are, and we’re glad that we were “born this way” and quite content with it all, but pride just isn’t our thing. On days like this, though, there is a great deal of pride to be had and plenty of reason to celebrate.

After the anti-DOMA ruling was issued by the Supreme Court last year, gay rights advocates in Pennsylvania immediately went to work. In less than a year since that ruling, no fewer than seven lawsuits have been launched against the state at various levels, for various reasons, contesting some or all of various anti-gay laws. So far, all but one of those is pending. Today, Whitewood v. Wolf, a case lodged in federal court that sought regonition of out-of-state gay marriages and marriage equality for Pennsylvania’s LGBT community, was decided.

The judge, who notably was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2002 and recommended by our then-Republican senator (who we later voted out by a record-setting margin just four years later), sided with the gay community and stood for equality. In his ruling, Judge John Jones III writes:

Some of our citizens are made deeply uncomfortable by the notion of same-sex marriage. However, that same-sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. […] Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection. Were that not so, ours would still be a racially segregated nation according to the now rightfully discarded doctrine of ‘separate but equal.’

In future generations the label ‘same-sex marriage’ will be abandoned, to be replaced simply by ‘marriage.’ We are a better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history.

Clearly, I could not agree more. It’s slightly less embarrassing to live in Pennsylvania today, which has long been more progressive than this law would indicate. There’s always a chance of appeal, but I hope that calmer, more rational, more egalitarian heads will prevail. I await eagerly the day that K and I’s marriage license, which will be obtained from neighboring New Jersey in 2016, is fully and equally recognized under the law in Pennsylvania. I imagine — parade or not — that there will be no bigger feeling of (gay) pride than that.

UPDATE: Governor Corbett has declined to petition for a stay or appeal of the ruling, making Pennsylvania officially the 19th state in the USA with marriage equality. This, in turn, creates a “solid northeast” where no state in the region outlaws same-sex marriage — just ten years after Massachusetts led the nation and become the first state to permit it. Incredible.

Talent is Talent

May 11th, 2014

A couple months ago, when Michael Sam publicly came out, there were all kinds of theories about how this would affect his future. The consensus was this: Coming out was “controversial,” and it clearly indicated that Sam was desperate for publicity. It showed that he was selfish, determined to break a barrier just for the sake of doing so, and may have “conveniently” waited to make such an announcement at the last minute before the NFL Draft.

Those sentiments were offensive and ridiculous then, and they’re ever more ridiculous now. Though Michael Sam wasn’t anyone’s first-round draft pick, he did get selected in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams. The team’s coach had nothing much to say on the matter, other than how happy he was to add Sam’s talent and commitment to hard work to the organization.

And that’s how it should be. No one questions whether or not the heterosexuality of professional sports players will negatively or positively impact their talents on the field or the nature of their presence in the locker room. It should be the same with openly gay players. They’re equally talented, if not more so. And no one really thinks that their presence in a locker room is going to be awkward, predatory, or offensive. I mean, really.

And so, I think it was a proud moment for America when Michael Sam received his draft selection phone call as the first openly gay player in the NFL, kissed his boyfriend, and celebrated the news as anyone else in the world would have. Progress is accelerating so quickly on this issue — and I’m proud of my “Millennial” generation for persistently stepping on the gas pedal.

Days Like Today

April 15th, 2013

There is a certain naive hope among Americans, or probably among the larger human species, that days like today just stop happening. That bombs stop going off, that innocent people stop losing their lives for causes and derangements that are foreign both in spirit and in nature. As it seems to go with life, though, there is always another bombing. There is always another act of terror. And today, it was once again our country’s turn to bear the brunt of that reality.

People are apt to talk about how “tough” people in Boston are, how the Irish nature of that city and its historic inclination toward battle and resistance have prepared it for just such a moment. I’d wager that no one is ever ready for a bomb to go off in the place they call home.

But we are tough. The human spirit is tough. Northeastern urbanites, by our nature, have been trained to be tough. We’re also very kind. Pictures abound of the scene after today’s bombing, with more people running toward the calamity than running away from it. The sensible side of the human spirit understands that we’re all in this together and that a stranger’s suffering is also our own.

That’s the great thing that we can take away from today. The terror, the injuries, and the fatalities are absolutely tragic. But the uncompromising community and purity of spirit seen in the wake of those things today in Boston is absolutely inspiring. Let’s be resolute when pursuing whoever is responsible, but let’s also remember that we’re in this together and that, with arms locked, terrorism itself is a failed ideology.