Five years ago tonight, this blog didn't exist, and same-sex marriage was available in only two states - Massachusetts (which had just revoked its 1913 law barring foreign couples from getting married if the marriage was illegal in their home state) and California, which had started marrying gay couples just six weeks before. A bare handful of other states offered civil unions or domestic partnerships. Gay couples in many places were still going off to Canada to get married, like Edie Windsor and Thea Speyer did.
I think too of all the quiet little commitment ceremonies - already now a dated phrase - that have taken place over the last forty years, all across the nation; usually in some private, secluded spot like a meadow, a beach, or a rented cabin in the woods, with a small group of friends to witness and celebrate. And I think of the many other couples, differently situated, for whom unwitnessed vows and private embraces had to suffice - like my late husband and I.
But what a stunning change in just five years: at midnight tonight, Delaware's new marriage equality law will come into effect, making a total of 12 states and the District of Columbia where gays can tie the knot - totally legal, just like the straights can, plus six more states that offer some kind of civil unions. On August 1st, Rhode Island and Minnesota will also become marriage-equality states, raising the total to 14, containing 30 percent of the U. S. population.
That's Change at a breathtaking speed. This is an historic period we're living through, folks, just like the late 60's/early 70's - as I well recall - when schools were integrating all across the South, and the "White" and "Colored" signs started to disappear. And suddenly, startlingly, there were black news anchors on TV, and female disk jockeys on the radio (that's right, children - there were no women DJ's before about 1972, not in my part of the world - radio was totally a man's business; and TV too, but they at least had the weather girls on some stations).
Of course we get frustrated now, as I'm sure progressive people were frustrated then, living with the day-to-day delays and surmounting the obstacles that remain - but it's all good. The tide is flowing in our direction now, and as Justice Scalia (who, make no mistake, has a brilliant legal mind, even if he is a bigot) said in his dissent this week, given the majority's ruling that marriage discrimination violates the Fifth Amendment, it's only a matter of time before we have marriage rights all across these United States.
For all this I thank, among others, our President, who despite some needless, equivocating foot-dragging, has delivered on DADT and is now making the federal government implement the post-DOMA changes as quickly as possible. Getting ENDA passed would be a great triple-play to cement his legacy as the Equality President, if he and our allies in Congress can get that done before his term ends. But just think, guys - how much of the last five years would have happened if McCain was president? Or Romney? Or, God help us all, Palin? What a chilling thought.
I still think it could be 2030 before the Deep South accepts the change - and here I mean the great red swath from Texas to South Carolina, which is the most conservative and most religious and most hell-no region in the country. The struggles will be fierce; there could even be scattered acts of violence and open rebellion. But in the next twenty years Change will come to my homeland too - if for no other reason than that the demographics make it certain. For example, whites in Texas are already only 48% of the population; in twenty years, Latinos will be over 50% and whites only 35%. Then too, the diehard, anti-gay, over-60 Bible-thumpers will be dying off.
Well I'm glad I have lived to see this much change in my lifetime. For me personally, nothing much actually changes out here on the prairie, but I do rejoice at the thought of the wonderful difference it all makes in the lives of others, whose pictures I've posted here on the Blue Truck, and for the generations yet unborn, who will take their freedom and equality for granted - and yawn over the history books, and wonder what was all the fuss about?
And won't that be fabulous.
|Change you can believe in:|
Edie Windsor as Grand Marshall in today's NYC Pride Parade.
When her car turned onto Christopher Street, the crowds roared,
"EDIE! EDIE! EDIE!"