When I came out more than 15 years ago, gay marriage felt like merely a twinkle in the community’s eye.
The federal “Defense of Marriage Act” (DOMA) had been passed a few years before, and those radicals in Vermont hadn’t yet created the compromise of “civil unions,” a phenomenon that’s always been confusing to me both legally and linguistically. (Afterward, are couples civil unionized? Civilly unioned? Civilized unionly?)
Polls at the time showed that not even most gay people supported gay marriage, and I suspect it was because we had bigger fish to fry. Or others, like me, assumed that Americans would never, ever let us get married anyway, so why bother. I have one friend who promised to take his partner’s last name if they could ever legally get married, figuring it would never happen in their lifetimes. Hope he doesn’t have any monogrammed goodies.
Fast forward those 15 years, and the U.S. Supreme Court is spending two days hearing arguments in gay marriage cases. You can hear oral arguments in the Proposition 8 case (Hollingsworth v. Perry) here.
Arguments in the DOMA case, United States v. Windsor, will also be available on the court’s website once they’re available.
The high court’s rulings likely won’t have sweeping implications for marriage equality, but the fact that the justices are hearing the cases is historic and is leading to renewed conversations about the issue. And is turning Facebook all kinds of red.
My own personal outrage about the situation didn’t fully ignite until 2004, when California began it’s “now you’re married, now you’re not” legal hijinks with gay couples. The whole thing seemed cruel, illegal and infuriating. Not to mention ridiculous. Even now I wonder how couples navigate being legally married in some states, civilly unioned in others and flat-out denied any legal recognition of their partnership in others. How does any of this make sense?
That said, I acknowledge that not even all GLBT/queer people think this is an issue worth our time. For some of them, this fight is about money, power and privilege, not love. An eloquent Chicago writer and friend, Yasmin Nair, writes about the issue here in a series of posts entitled “Gay Marriage Hurts My Breasts.”
Another friend rotated the red marriage equality logo to express support for the issue but with caveats: “I … want LGBTQ communities to consider the many other social injustices facing us. The equal sign rotated vertically also represents for me the larger vision of a community in which two people, side by side, are equal. Including, but not limited to, our right to marry.”
But for me, this is about fulfilling the often-broken promise that all Americans will be treated equally, that the law will protect all of us, that separate, no matter how “equal” the ruling class thinks it is, just ain’t cuttin’ it. I’ll take my marriage with a capital M, thanks.
And it’s about fulfilling my dream of becoming a Bridezilla. Watch out, people.
For full coverage of the court’s arguments, etc, visit Windy City Times, a GLBT newspaper (that I used to write for).
In where’s-my-ring Rebellion,
Karen Hawkins is the Founder and Rebelle in Chief of Rebellious Magazine. She is a recovering mainstream media reporter and editor who wants to thank her former boss for naming the online magazine she's...
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