The Honor of His Presence: Holding the Peace

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This week, the U.S. Supreme Court offered their two much ballyhoo-ed decisions. My LGBT friends in California can return to their nuptial planning that was cut short the last time around. Those in politically moderate states can now move ahead with the hope and passion that is needed to achieve marriage equality. And those of us who live in the South must remind ourselves that our journey here is still uphill. We can never take for granted any pertinent electorate effort, nor can afford to gamble with our civil rights and futures.

It is certainly a given that the states that comprise the core of the old Bible Belt will most assuredly be the last to legalize same sex unions. It will, however, at some point engage the majority of states. Today’s polling suggests that 57% of adults (18+) are supportive … nationally. For the record, I believe that North Carolina and Virginia will buck the geographic trend and will indeed approve marriage equality, as long as any referendum or proposition is worded clearly spelled out. California’s Proposition 8 and NC’s marriage rights bill contained esoteric double negatives and oblique wording. They results were thus tainted by trickery, ignorance, or bigotry.

Of course, my generation views such issues quite differently than those between 18-40. Even though I was never a victim of bullying, there was always an undertone that such a declaration of sexuality would leave me vulnerable. My generation, for the most part, struggled with coming out. We had to worry about safety, job security, and maintaining opportunities. All the while, however, we lived life from the outside, noses pressed against the window pane and our bodies chilled from the isolation. The concept of marriage never seemed a possibility, especially when we realized that our civil rights were, in many instances, violated and not legally protected. In some states, it is still legal for an employer to fire someone for being gay. In others, it is illegal to sell liquor in any establishment that “caters to homosexuals” unless the business sells enough food to pass 50% of its revenue. Even in large metropolitan areas with these ordinances, only beer can be sold.

That actually introduces the last point that has been brewing, stewing, and primed for spewing all day. We still have a political system that allows civil rights and liberties to actually be voted upon. LGBT adults can adopt in some states and not in others. We are more equal in Maryland or New York than in South Carolina or Wyoming. It’s mind-boggling to think that the LGBT community works hard, pays taxes, and is an integral to the development and maintenance of the arts. Yet we are treated as second-class citizens.

Don’t get me wrong. The two decisions were thrilling and quite emotional, while the balmy breezes wafted with a delicate scent of freedom. I pray that we will have full equality before today’s children are grown. It is also heart-warming that, on this very day, more U.S. residents can secure a partnership, as well as benefits. Although my beloved and I never talk of marriage per se, we have hopes that someday we’ll have tax, insurance, health benefits, survivor benefits, and so on. We still only dream of filing joint tax returns, having survivor pension entitlements, and of being able to walk away from those sticky, fetid, and oozing family issues.

I best close now, gentle reader. My dander is in need of some pre-slumber de-ruffling … and Henry is pacing in front of my monitor.

(Image: “Wedding Bells” by Felix d’Eon, 2013.)

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