Let Freedom Ring!!

Wedding bells are ringing!  Since Oregon overturned the same sex marriage ban last month, two couples I know have set wedding plans.  Last Saturday, in a lovely intimate setting in a beautiful wooded garden area, my friends stood before friends and family and pledged their ongoing love and commitment.

These two women have been together for 27 years, so I had to stifle a giggle when the minister mentioned the enormous commitment it takes to enter into a marriage.  I’m pretty sure they’ve had some time to think it through.  The wedding was beautiful, with a sing-along, accompanied by guitar and recorder, and even a kazoo (you had to be there!).  Even some tinkling wind chimes in a nearby tree contributed as if on cue.  It was magical.


As I sat listening to their vows, watching their glowing faces, I thought of the struggles that people have had throughout American history with such issues, back to the time when only white, male, landowners were allowed to vote. 

The same people who would deny these two women the right to marry appear to have the same mindset (and arguments) as the group that opposed interracial marriage in this country back before the 1967 Supreme Court decision lifting that ban.  The same people who would be horrified at the idea of arranged marriages often seem to have no qualms about thinking that two consenting adults in this country can’t make their own decision about marrying one another. How stupid this same-sex marriage ban will look to future generations!  The “fabric of society” will not be compromised one tiny bit by same-sex marriage any more than it was by abolition of slavery, blacks and women voting, or interracial marriage.  I even feel silly pointing that out.  For some people, progress provokes great and unreasonable fear.

So these were my thoughts as I sat there, and I got a little irritated with myself for focusing out on this and not just enjoying this beautiful, historical moment.  Here I was, a part of something sacred, a moment to savor and celebrate!  Here was a reminder of all that is right in this world, and that’s why I feel that in some ways, the world is getting better, not worse as some would believe. 

It’s taken huge sacrifice, and many people have put jobs, reputations, even lives on the line for the right to marry who they want, and here I was watching this huge victory, in a way a culmination of all that struggle.  I’m honored to be a witness to this, and grateful for all the people who spoke out, knowing laws don’t change unless people MAKE them change.  The tipping point seems to take place when people run out of justifications for their bigotry.  It also makes a difference when it affects your neighbors, your friends, your family members, someone you care about.  The scales of justice have finally tipped in the right direction, and it’s a sweet, long-deserved victory.

What hurts one of us ultimately hurts us all, and I’m committed to helping to create a world where people aren’t being hurt.  It’s a tall order, but one step at a time, things are getting better.  By taking a stand, win or lose, we can embolden people to safely be themselves, knowing there are people who have their back.

My friends who married last Saturday have spent decades in the trenches, as activists for marriage equality.  Their victory is about even more than marriage equality; it’s about promotion of the idea of equal rights for all. 

So what’s next?  Well, the Senate passed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) for the first time ever.  President Obama recently announced he’s moving ahead on an executive order that will ban anti-LGBT discrimination among federal contractors.  Now we need passage of ENDA in the House of Representatives to get it signed into law.

June is LGBT Pride Month.  For so many Oregonians, this particular June will be the sweetest one of all.  Let’s relish this moment in history and keep fighting the good fight!

Happy Pride Month!

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Father's Day

I spent this last Father’s Day in silent, burning rage at my dad, and it’s taken me three months to sort it out enough to write.