The state of California began granting marriage licenses at 5:01 pm PST today. Robin Tyler and Diane Olson, two of the plaintiffs in the California Supreme Court case that overturned the ban on same sex marriage in California were among the first to apply – at the Beverly Hills County Courthouse reports Google News.
There’s still a long way to go in this civil rights struggle, until we the people means we, as in everybody, everywhere. Yet each step forward should be celebrated as a grand achievement. Separate is not equal and domestic partnerships and civil unions are not marriage. One day in the not too distant future people will look back on our time scratching their heads as to how anyone could have thought GLBT folk were any lesser human beings, much in the same way we look back in wonder and disgust that we actually made people ride in the back of the bus, made people use separate drinking fountains, killed people for the color of their skin. Homophobia will still linger, it will never completely disappear, just as racism is still with us. Yet we are starting to close in on the day when the open, blatant dehumanization is no longer acceptable. That is a major beginning.
“If there is no struggle there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without demand. It never did and it never will.” – Frederick Douglas (for a great history of this powerful quote see: http://www.buildingequality.us/Quotes/Frederick_Douglass.htm)
The demand of this struggle for marriage equality is the simple, quiet demand of every civil rights struggle – “I am a human being.” No more, no less. To refuse to be treated as a lesser person in any aspect. This is the demand that must be heeded. It is a demand made in the most sublime and profound way in this case – by loving someone so much you are willing to commit your life to them. Justice demands equal access to that outpouring of affection.
Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. – MLK
No doubt the voices of hate, born of ignorance and fear will try to stop the progress of tolerance and equality in California just as they did in Massachusetts. I hope those efforts will fail in California as they did in Massachusetts. To keep spirits up for the struggle that surely take place in CA come November, and quite possibly following, here’s a video of the reaction in the overflow gallery of the announcement of the vote when the Massachusetts legislature shot down (for the second time) a Constitutional Amendment that would have banned gay marriage and reversed the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision declaring such a ban unconstitutional: