Sunday, July 7, 2013. Welcome to all of you coming over from Crooks & Liars and thanks to B. for the link. Obviously, this was posted a couple weeks ago. June 27, to be precise.
Monday the Supreme Court decided to show us what a real assault on civil rights and the Constitution looks like.
“Times have changed,” declared John Roberts as he and his fellow Right Wing justices gutted the Voting Rights Act. Then apparently he muttered under his breath, “And I’m here to change them back.”
But yesterday was a good day for civil rights and equality as the forces of joy won two when the Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and punted Proposition 8 back to the California court that’s already struck it down.
Here in New York, where we already have marriage equality, there was still much rejoicing. Here’s a nice article on local reaction by Jeremiah Horrigan of the Times Herald-Record, focusing on the village of New Paltz which achieved a brief moment of national fame ten years ago when the mayor decided he could marry any couples who asked him. Some did and he did and for a short time this part of upstate New York was way ahead of the national curve. Then it got pointed out that what the mayor was doing was breaking the law and that was that until two years ago when the New York State legislature did what it so rarely likes to do, the right thing.
For the record, I wasn’t always an advocate of marriage equality. I didn’t oppose it. I just didn’t see the point. Neither did my gay friends. I was Catholic in my thinking about marriage and thought the point was to get God’s blessing on your spouse’s and your decision to have kids and raise a family together. Since I didn’t believe anybody really needed God’s blessing to do that, I didn’t think anybody who wanted to marry and have a family together (even if the family consisted only of two) needed the license.
All right, I needed to evolve.
And I did, a process that got underway quickly around twenty years ago, when I started listening to the arguments against gay marriage and I realized that the proponents of straights-only marriage had a very cramped and joyless opinion of marriage itself. They clearly saw it as a chore and a burden imposed upon us by God simply to save Himself the trouble of making more people out of dust. It was almost as if they believed when He had Adam and Eve driven from the Garden He said, Not only will you have to earn your bread by the sweat of your brow, you’re stuck with each other for the rest of your now miserably short lives and the same goes for your children and your children’s children, they will cleave to each other, male and female, and like it or lump it till death do them part, preferably increasing and mulitplying by the litterful until every last egg is used up or the woman wears out and drops.
The actual feelings of the couple getting married didn’t figure.
That’s when I began to see that marriage equality wasn't simply a question of fairness and legal rights. It was also about defending marriage itself, gay and straight, from the enemies of joy!
It was about what it means to be human and what we’re here for. And no way did I believe or do I believe that we’re here to live out the punishments inflicted on a couple of fictional characters in an ancient fairy tale starring a vain and malicious sky demon who gets miffed when his favorite creatures don’t behave like obedient pets.
From there I realized that was being called the Culture Wars was an ongoing battle between the forces of joy and its enemies.
Look at any issue at stake in the Culture Wars and you’ll see it’s basically a debate over whether we’re here to be happy and make each other happy or here to make ourselves and each other miserable on the off-chance our misery will be compensated for in the afterlife.
Well, yesterday was a good day for the forces of joy.
And for marriage.
And for people.
Make sure you read Horrigan’s story, Gay marriage rulings stir memories of the past for locals. Not a particularly joyful headline, but there’s plenty of joy in the article.
Registration not required but suggested for regular readers of this blog.
Democratic Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney represents the next district over from here. I wish he’d find a way to push the boundaries of his district west a few miles. Our Congressman, Republican Chris Gibson, is well-meaning and in a better time would be a good Rockefeller Republican. Occasionally he’ll cross the aisle and vote the right way, which is to say, in the interests of his district and not according to the dictates of his party. But he’s scared to death of a primary challenge from the right. At any rate, even though they could have gotten married here anytime in the past two years, Maloney and his longtime partner have been putting it off until their union would be recognized by the federal government. So I guess wedding bells will soon be ringing, to the joy of their children and their families and all of us who celebrate and seek to defend marriage from its crabbed and cramp-souled enemies.
Here’s a picture of Maloney being sworn in as a member of the United States House of Representative in January. His partner Randy Florke holds the bible. John Boehner holds himself together as best he can. And Maloney and Florke’s children and other members of their family stand by and look proud.
Photo courtesy Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney.