Look what one of my Massachusetts friends found from back in the day:
Oh hey, remember when Romney was just that moderate Republican that Massachusetts voters elected to Governor?
On the other side of the aisle, as everyone in the world knows, President Obama gave the big thumbs up marriage equality. I’ve since “evolved” in my own views, but my initial instinct was not the cheering/applauding/hooraying of many of my friends and the internet.
My initial reaction was one part skepticism, one part “not enough, Sir,” and one part “too little too late.” It’s hard for me to believe that a black lawyer could ever be on board with a separate but equal policy, which is what we mean when we say we think civil unions are good enough. I felt like the timing, after the crushing blow of North Carolina, was infuriating. And then I got a campaign email and I felt pandered to. The email included this:
I respect the beliefs of others, and the right of religious institutions to act in accordance with their own doctrines. But I believe that in the eyes of the law, all Americans should be treated equally. And where states enact same-sex marriage, no federal act should invalidate them.
This is what would make me a terrible politician, and possibly a dictator handing down mandates from on high, but this is how I feel: I do NOT respect discriminating beliefs of others. I do NOT believe civil rights should be a state-to-state issue. I do NOT believe that the federal government should condone states removing the civil rights of a particular group just because the people in that state feel like it. Obviously, this is not how our government works, and I’m pretty sure there are really good reasons for that. But then I watched this speech by NC’s Reverand Barber (skip to 3:10), and I got all fired up again:
“The question should have been, do you believe that the majority, by popular vote, should get to decide the rights of the minority. That’s a dangerous precedent, because that means that the rights of people are determined by who’s in the majority at a particular time.”
All of the above happened in the first five minutes after I saw the President’s announcement, but I mentioned my views have evolved, so what happened? Well, you internet people happened. I started reading Facebook posts, blog posts, Tweets and the like from some of my LGBTQ friends, and I was reminded of a few things.
My friend Helen, at Bettencourt Chase, wrote this: Today feels momentous and magical and full of hope. Will this change everything? Perhaps not in a big immediate way. Equal marriage is not going to be legalized across the country tomorrow. But things are changing, and they are changing with greater and greater momentum. I am so proud of President Obama…Things are changing. I have so much hope. I feel so lucky to be alive right now, watching this unfold.
My friend Jon, at The Daily Quinn, wrote this: Nothing the President said yesterday will change any law. It will not erase the passage of North Carolina’s anti-equality amendment. But if you believe that politics still matters, that words have meaning and make a difference, that symbols are an important part of our culture, yesterday was a big day. Because the leader of your country was willing to talk about you on TV and say that he supports you. Supports you in spite of the voices that hound you and the laws that deny you. The President is the only person who represents the whole country, and so the voice with which he speaks is the vessel of our collected voices. And so it is the word of the land, going forth to say: Your lifestyle has value. Your love has value. And instantly you are a confused teenager again, and that man on the screen, that symbol of your country, is saying the words you so longed to hear at that young and impressionable age.
And I was reminded by Helen and Jon, and so many others, that this really is a monumental moment in our history. What’s more, it’s not really my monumental moment to judge and politically dissect. I was never a confused teenager who wondered if what I wanted was good and right and allowed. I never had an authority figure tell me my lifestyle was “wrong” and I never had to worry that my relationships wouldn’t be validated in the way, however flawed, that we in this society validate them. I was reminded that it took Reagan years to acknowledge AIDS. I was reminded that Clinton put into to place DOMA and DADT. I was reminded that I will get to be there for the weddings of my LGBTQ friends, a pleasure denied my parents.
So perhaps maybe I should step off.
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