So yesterday, the Supreme Court (aka RBG and the Supremes) declared that a ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, countrywide, fuck whatcha heard.
This is a big fucking deal.
I spent a good part of my day yesterday crying. Some happy tears, some sad, all for my own reasons. Watching photos come in of couples that have been together for decades before I was even born, who never thought marriage would be possible for them, who had long ago resigned to a life of separate, of less than, of “we know what we mean to each other and that’s enough”.
Those photos though.
I cried for them. I thought of my grandparents, Of my grandfathers on my grandmothers’ deathbeds, of their lives together, lives without their love and commitments ever being questioned. I thought of the worst days of those lives, and how those days weren’t made harder by legal technicality. I thought of that technicality. Of what it means.
My dears, I truly believe we are too complacent and too discontent all at once.
It’s so easy to see marriage as the be-all end-all. It’s been our fight. The Fight. For so long. And for good reason. There’s more to this than just a legal declaration. It’s not just a tax write-off; it’s not just a status symbol. The protections afforded to legally married couples are vast, and have been written about extensively enough that I’m not going to bother here. It’s real though.
It’s also easy to have tunnel vision about this. While the societal response to same-sex marriage over the past few years has shifted to a resounding ‘Yeah obviously,” that wasn’t even remotely the case until recently. This is something that I’m surprised to be seeing now. Not because I thought there was a question of justification, but because I just didn’t think it would happen this quickly or completely.
And that’s something that I don’t think we’re all remembering. While legalizing marriage for all might seem like a no-brainer, and like something that’s happening ‘finally”, this still counts as quickly. But it didn’t happen quickly by chance, or by accident.
It happened because people fought, and came out of the closet to their friends and family and coworkers. It happened because one by one, people who were against legalizing equal love realized that The Gays weren’t some foreign, faraway group of people. They were their neighbors. Their friends. Their brothers, and sisters. Sons. Daughters. Someone might be able to easily deny the rights of a group they feel no connection to, but could they deny those same rights to their children? Homosexuality was humanized on a scale we’ve never seen before.
Now, I hear you. I really, really do. Human rights should not be subject to popular opinion. I agree with you. But no one is saying they should. It took popular opinion to tip the scales. To put pressure on the lawmakers of our country to recognize something we all already saw as true. Whether it should have taken that or not isn’t really relevant. What matters is that it did, and it happened, and we’re here now.
Speaking of here, I’ve been seeing a lot of talk of how far we have to go, and that’s true too. Marriage isn’t it. Not by a long shot. But guys, it’s still a fucking win. Please don’t diminish that win by making it all about what else we have to do. No one thinks the work is done. We know it isn’t. But celebrating this win isn’t about sitting back on our laurels and thinking we did it.
Celebrating this win is celebrating, and honoring, the people who fought and died in the name of this win. The people who didn’t live to see this outcome. Who dreamed of being able to marry the person they loved, and were never able to. Do not take this win for granted. Do not minimize what this means, for us, or those who didn’t get to see this day.
There’s just something about this that bothers me on a really basic level. We need to be able to hold these truths together. Celebrating a victory doesn’t mean that we’re sitting back with nothing to do, and continuing the fight doesn’t have to mean refusing to enjoy the moment.
We can do both. We should be doing both. Take your fucking moment. Revel in it. Kiss someone at midnight. Marry if you want to. Bitch about all the wedding invitations you’re about to get. But whatever you do, do it with a smile on your face and a fire under your ass. We’re far from done, but we’ve come too far to pretend we haven’t come at all.
Give yourself permission to be happy, just for a minute. Give the people around you permission. Don’t take that away from them by making them feel guilty. There’s nothing wrong with being happy about this. With taking a day to celebrate and reflect on what this fight has looked like. With letting a day of victory also be a day of rest.
And also, don’t burn yourself out. There will always be a next fight. Another issue. And they will all be valid and imperative and crucial. And we will fight. You’re all right, we do have a long way to go, but we’ll never make it if we don’t let the sun shine on our faces when the clouds part.