Sunday, March 31, 2013

Observations, Why Now?

Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer
The SCOTUS arguments made for an interesting week, interesting and thought provoking. I did a lot of reading, talking, and thinking about the subject because there was just so many opinions and articles out there. Everybody seems to have an opinion on same sex marriage now, it's an amazing thing to watch. One thing I know, you simply can not hear the forty year love story of Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer without tearing up. I suppose you can but than you probably don't understand what these arguments are all about. If you want to read about them this BuzzFeed article is a good place to start, "Meet The Hero Of The Marriage Equality Movement."

I have to be honest and say some of what I read has me stepping slightly back from what I said a couple days ago. While I still think Bill Clinton signing DOMA when it went against everything he stood for is political cowardice I can see where people have been evolving. One thing in particular has me saying that now and it's something I didn't realize before or I should say something I just learned. During the original 2008 Prop 8 vote the Mormon Church and it's members donated an estimated $20 million to help pass the measure. During the 'four state' campaign last year, that resulted in the first four same sex marriage wins at the ballot box, the church gave nothing. On one of its websites the church now says that homosexuality is not a choice. There is a good article on Reuters and if you dare the Mormon website is here.

The question quickly becomes why now? What suddenly changed over the past few years? The obvious first answer is demographics or, as someone said this week, everyday there are more of us and less of them. But demographics alone isn't an answer. What makes people, or a entire church, suddenly change it's mind about gays and same sex marriage?

There is another obvious answer but one I didn't think about until this week, one I didn't really hear discussed much until this week. Every day more and more gays come out of the closet. When I was in high school I sometimes felt like I was alone because I was the only out queer in my class. Not that many years later I know of a handful of others out in that very same class. Being the rebellious outsider sort I relished it at times but at other times I have to admit it did hurt so I'll always say having supportive parents made all the difference in the world. Just ten years later my sister's experiences were so very different than mine.

No matter what your moral, religious, or political thoughts on same sex marriage it's very hard to look a friend, family member, or co-worker in the eye and tell them that they shouldn't have the same rights as anybody else. That they shouldn't fall in love, shouldn't be allowed to have a family, that they shouldn't be allowed to marry. A perfect example is Republican Senator Rob Portman of Ohio who happens to be a GOP presidential hopeful and whose son is gay. On March 14 he announced that he now supported same sex marriage saying that his son was entitled to the same happiness that he and his wife share.

In 1978 Harvey Milk first gave what became known as his 'Hope Speech' at San Francisco's Gay Freedom Day Parade. "On this anniversary of Stonewall, I ask my gay sisters and brothers to make the commitment to fight. For themselves, for their freedom, for their country. We will not win our rights by staying quietly in our closets. We are coming out to fight the lies, the myths, the distortions. We are coming out to tell the truths about gays, for I am tired of the conspiracy of silence, so I'm going to talk about it. And I want you to talk about it. You must come out."

Makes so much more sense today.