I was really moved by Keith Olbermann’s “Special Comment” in regards to same-sex marriage and California’s Prop. 8 earlier this week, and several straight friends wrote to tell me about it as well. Here it is, if you haven’t seen it already.
I was similarly touched by Judith Warner’s most recent New York Times column, “What It Felt Like to Be Equal.” The quotes Warner shares from gay people who were directly affected by the passage of Prop. 8, about feeling that gays are now perhaps the only group it is okay to publicly disdain and legally discriminate against, and how the otherwise historic election of Barack Obama can feel painfully hollow, capture exactly how I have been feeling since last Tuesday.
It wasn’t that she begrudged Obama his victory. It was just that his historic triumph made the insult to her community all the more painful. An awful thought came to her that night: Now we’re the designated cultural outcasts. “It’s almost like we’re the last group you can be openly bigoted about,” she told me.
“You look around and you think more than half of the people in this state voted to take this away from us? At a time when we’re celebrating the election of an African American to the White House? I don’t know how you heal from it,” she said. “It’s hard to get it out of your bones.”
And Warner’s perspective as a straight person, admitting that it’s not always easy to understand why this is important, is perhaps the most eloquent writing on the issue I’ve yet seen:
It’s easy, if you’re straight, to file away the gay marriage issue in a little folder in your mind, to render it, essentially, inessential. It can fall into the category of “bones you throw the religious right because things could be so much worse.” Or “things that would be great in a perfect world.” Or “what’s the big deal?” because you don’t actually get what a big deal it is to be able to get married when you’ve never had to consider the alternative.
Many of the gay men and lesbians I spoke or e-mailed with this week didn’t fully realize what a big deal it was to be married either. Until they were.
“I don’t think I had realized until then what it felt like to be equal,” Swanson told me….
“I don’t feel equal anymore. It was a great feeling, while it lasted.”
But we shall overcome.
Tomorrow Jeff and I will be joining tens of thousands of other Americans — gay, Lesbian, bisexual, transgender, straight, young, old, black, white, Latino, Asian — in rallies across the country to continue to protest the injustice of Prop. 8 and laws like it. We’ll be at San Francisco’s City Hall at 10:30 tomorrow morning; there will be simultaneous rallies in hundreds of cities in all 50 states. You can find your closest event at the Join the Impact site.
Artist Shepard Fairey, who created the iconic Obama “Hope” and “Progress” posters, has created a special graphic for the occasion, “Defend Equality. Love Unites.”