Saturday, June 25, 2011

Let Freedom Ring

I really wish I had time to do a detailed write-up on the fantastic news that the state of New York has voted to allow gay marriage, since it deserves as much attention as it can get. The best I can do at the moment is bring back a quick excerpt from a piece I wrote in late 2008 when the forces aligned against equality for all won a somewhat reprehensible and underhanded -- and I believed at the time, short-lived -- victory by passing Prop 8 in California, essentially overturning the legalization of gay marriage in that state. At the time, I wrote about a very good friend of mine named Omar, and how he, like everyone else in this country, deserved to be able to marry whomever he choses -- this, despite the fact that he's gay.

Here's what I said:

"There should be no doubt that eventually we'll look back on this disgraceful moment in our history the way we now regard segregation, pre-suffrage, or the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II: with shame, sadness, and a host of unanswerable questions as to what we might possibly have been thinking. We know this because, as much as those who stand against it will hate to hear this, legal gay marriage in the United States is an inevitability. We know this because of the basic nature of freedom: it expands.

Freedom expands.

It will not be contained -- and it most certainly will not be restricted once it's already been allowed to flourish. Isn't this the very principle that's guided our occasionally awkward foreign policy for years? Are we so blind or so unforgivably hypocritical that we can't recognize when the truth of that ideal is staring us right in the face?

The genie is out of the bottle.

There's no putting it back in, and it was inexcusable that we sought to restrain it in the first place. That's not what this country is about.

My friend Omar, like all Americans, should have the right to marry anyone he wants -- to live his life however he chooses.

And not you, nor I, nor anyone else has the right to take those rights away from him."

Make no mistake: New York is likely the largest domino yet to fall when it comes to the inevitable legalization of gay marriage nationwide. And that's a very, very good thing.


Alanna said...

I wish Omar was going to be in town tomorrow. This parade will be, if nothing short of, epic.

John Foley said...

This is a great victory, to be sure. But the true test will be when a hardcore Southern state passes Gay Marriage. New York is already Queer Central in the eyes of a lot of Southerners, so this bold step comes as no surprise to them. We should all be grateful and proud that the de facto capital of the world now recognizes marriage equality, but get back to me when they make it legal in Alabama.

Chez said...

You know, Alanna, I'm all for being who you are and certainly like every other large group there are all kinds in the gay community -- but I'm really hoping that the parade doesn't turn into your average Parade of Bad Stereotypes, if you get my drift. That'll be nothing but typical news from the front for all those people in the southern states John is talking about. I can already see Fox's coverage, which despite their protestations of how Tea Party rallies on other networks' air tend to consist of three really racist signs, will be nothing but a continuous loop of a half-dozen dancing Freddie Mercury look-alikes in assless chaps making out. The message will be clear: Sodom and Gamorrah is here and it's coming for your children. Not to play up another cliche, but Cletus and Merle White will be sitting there in Ocala, Florida nodding at each other about how it's only going to be a few days now before the Lord comes and wipes New York City off the map.

Alexander said...

I know every other gay person is excited about this news, but I've been fairly blah about it. After California and Maine and then Prop 2 in Florida (where I live), my inner will has just been sapped. I've stopped getting excited. I want to be, but it is too emotionally exhausting having my hopes trampled on. I know that this is important and good and reason for celebration but I can't shake the feeling that a year from now something will happen and gay marriage will be gone again. When I read the news about New York I barely registered anything. I wish I wasn't like this but I hate having an entire part of my life at the whim of voters and politicians, because it never turns out good and I end up having my heart broken all over again. Marriage is something romanticized by Hollywood. I am told every day that it is the building block of society. Every day I see people wearing wedding rings, pushing strollers around, talking about their marriage, etc. Marriage is everywhere.

Then to have the possibility waved in front of me yet again - being told that I, too, can be part of this institution which is valued so highly, which everyone keeps raving about and putting on a pedestal - just to have it pulled away and be called a faggot again...

Like I said, exhausting. And I just know its going to keep happening.

Chances are that I actually know the Cletus and Merle White you mentioned...because I actually live in Ocala, Florida.

And let the record show that I said the following regarding Florida:

Fuck this place.

Fuck this place hard.

Tom Mullen said...

Chez, we tend to shoot ourselves in the foot in our exuberance - because we ought to be seeing this not only as a social movement but a political one in the way we conduct ourselves. Too often we hear from the political wing within my movement to live and let be during these pride parades, yet we ignore the realities and fuel the undecides on the Right in the legislature

But thank YOU for your brilliant writing and words of support

L. said...

I was glad to read this news the other day.

I just can't believe anyone is against giving gay citizens the right to marry. You can't deny a gay individual a fishing license due to their sexuality, so how is it fair to deny them a marriage license based on it?

Marriage licenses are not issued in churches; they're issued in government buildings. I don't care what the Bible (allegedly) says, it doesn't enter into it.

Hey guys, we want you to obey the law and pay your taxes but don't expect the rights granted to every other US citizen.