An edited version of this piece appeared in the July 11, 2013 edition of the SF Bay Times.
Best San Francisco Pride ever? There’s certainly a good case to be made that the answer enthusiastically is “Yes!” At a minimum, I think I can state without exaggeration that Pride in 2013, due to the momentous decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court and the Ninth Circuit that week, along with a prompt, powerful and fully supportive response to those decisions on the part of city and state officials, marked a unique and historic moment for our city, especially in regards to marriage equality.
For same-sex couples who married in California in 2008 before Prop 8 was enacted, for those legally married in other marriage equality states in the U.S., and for those marrying thereafter, Pride week marked the moment these marriages were no longer subject to a “not-recognized-by-the-federal-government” caveat, no longer just the “skim milk” marriages highlighted by Justice Ginsburg during oral arguments in Edie Windsor’s case challenging the constitutionality of DOMA.
For the estimated tens of thousands of same-sex couples where one spouse or partner is a foreign national, Pride week spelled an end to the cruel and heartbreaking choice between love and country previously forced upon them by the government.
For LGBT Californians, Pride week meant finally fully enjoying the same freedom and opportunity regarding marriage – whether to marry, whom to marry, and when to marry – already available to and often taken for granted by our siblings, friends, and colleagues.
For San Franciscans and visitors in person at City Hall and the Civic Center marriage pavilion and for millions across the globe via television and the Internet watching so many happy, loving committed couples getting married – in the only city in the state that granted licenses to and conducted marriages for same-sex couples throughout the weekend – Pride week opened a window onto a brighter tomorrow where love wins, equality triumphs, and freedom more truly rings.
And for LGBT people all across America, Pride week saw one more brick pried loose from the wall of inequality and indignity, and brought us one week closer to that wall tumbling completely into dust. It offered a ray of hope that all state marriage bans might soon be a thing of the past, albeit tempered with disappointment that the Court’s procedural punt in the Prop 8 case forestalled a sweeping decision that could have brought marriage equality to all Americans now rather than later. It demonstrated real progress for LGBT equality, however unevenly distributed it might be for now. And to many LGBT Americans and their most intimate relationships and their families, though regrettably not all, it accorded greater “dignity,” to use a word frequently repeated by Justice Kennedy in his majority opinion overturning DOMA Section 3.