Thursday, July 2, 2015

"What Evan Wolfson and Marriage Equality Have Done For the People Who Despise Them"

At a moment when Marriage Equality has become national law, albeit by the slimmest of margins, (and, thank you Justice Kennedy),  LGBTQI folk and our allies would be moronic not to realize how harrowing this decision is for millions who don't share our belief in what is now deemed to be a Constitutionally guaranteed right. Revolted by their visualizations of what same-sex unions mean,
and haunted by unreal notions, including that we will soon agitate for the freedom to marry dogs, they spin their wheels in an effort to comprehend what has happened to a country they thought they understood as one explicitly defined by the Bible.

In fact, what "the father of marriage equality" Evan Wolfson and his colleague, Mark Solomon, (among others who worked at Freedom to Marry) have done is to make the nation stronger. Though our adversaries don't yet realize it, this transformation of consciousness will be perceived much in the same light as the 1919 law granting women the right to vote. Or the momentous Civil Rights- and Voting Rights- legislation, which LBJ passed, thereby enfranchising African Americans. Both advances were epochal; both had been met with stout resistance; in both cases,  the losing side bewailed the future of the United States, as previously received.

As previously received....

Therein lies their fallacy and the same blunder which opponents of Marriage Equality make today. For in these movements towards "a more perfect union" postulated by the Constitution, the Republic and its people make actual progress. In the process, of course, old givens are recycled; that which was known- a received wisdom, oftentimes never questioned- are subjected to new inquiry. It is the never-ending quality of regeneration at the heart of the American Experiment: our willingness to start over, to cast aside the unworthy or the unworkable and put our shoulders to the wheel in the service of a finer and more compassionate Whole. And this is the very essence of healthy democracy. 

One side doesn't have to degrade or shame the other for being tardy. As Lao Tze wrote 2500 years ago, "If one leads, another must follow."  It is the law of Nature; it's also human nature- to grow and stretch, expand and put aside the archaic in favor of what meets the reality of the Present.

This is where we are as a People: in the Present.

The gift which Evan Wolfson, Mark Solomon and their colleagues at Freedom to Marry bestowed upon the nation is to help harness a huge and still-expanding recognition of humanness. And human diversity. In its way, it is as stunning an achievement as the Emancipation Proclamation or the Supreme Court decision in Brown vs. the Board of Education. As a civil people, we have the right to expect leaders to lead; legislators to legislate; and courts to rule. This is the usually difficult, oftentimes infuriating, way in which our system plays out. That some will bridle is to be expected. But, in due course, they certainly will come to appreciate that what makes us truly strong isn't our weaponry. Our power- true power- lies in our character. Some may call it virtue. I do. But in leading us to this wider embrace of our own citizens, irrespective of superficial differences, the patriots who ushered this issue forward brought us into the moment, reminded us of whom, and what, we are and renewed our collective sense of Self.

They are heroes.