I woke up this morning and changed my Facebook profile picture and cover page. It’s not much, but at least everyone who knows me and sees me there will know and be reminded. Today is an important day. So is tomorrow. Today the Supreme Court hears the case about Prop 8 in California and tomorrow they hear the case about DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act). The world will not end if the Supreme Court upholds Prop 8 and DOMA.
I can’t even imagine the possibility that the SCOTUS will uphold one and not the other. This week we are going to get a firm affirmation of civil rights and the rule of law or…. I guess that’s just it, I don’t know what the other side of that mountain is. If the Supreme Court rules that it is lawful and constitutional to discriminate against Gay and Lesbian people when it comes to marriage, it will feel like the worst fears about our society will be confirmed.
If the Supreme Court strikes down Prop 8 and DOMA it will give me hope that our system and the rule of law is still salvageable. The entire society feels on tenuous ground in the last few years. In the wake of Occupy it is evident that a lot of people have had enough of there being two sets of rules: one for the rich, the white, the powerful, the male, the straight and one for everyone else. The reality is we are all the everyone else. There is no us and them, but that’s not how our society functions. We still function as if individualism and self-reliance are the ultimate virtues. At its roots, our culture and out people do not function as if we are all equally valuable people worthy of dignity and respect. Nor do we function as if we are truly all in this together.
One way or the other it will be a marker or a sign. If discrimination and inequality and bigotry and hatred are upheld this week, the world will not end, but it will feel that way. If I am being honest, it will feel that way. It will feel like the last shred of innocence I had held onto about we the people, and all people are created equal and freedom and liberty and the bill of rights and the pursuit of happiness has been wiped away. All of it lies. Maybe that’s not quite the reality, but it will certainly feel that way. At least a little. At least for a little while.
I think I will also be angry because I have worked so hard over the years to try and help the cause. I have knocked on too many doors, I have spoken at and attended too many rallies, I have written too much, I have been harassed and threatened in the newspapers and online and in phone calls. So I am holding out for hope and that the moral arc of the universe does indeed bend toward justice and that everything they told me growing up wasn’t a complete lie.
And I am a straight, white male. I can only imagine what the realities of inequality and struggle feel like to my GLBTQ brothers and sisters, and people of color and women. And that’s not a light phrase because I think those of us who are straight and white and male can really only imagine for the most part how it feels to lack privilege and power and access and have everyone assume about us that we too are just like everyone else. And deserve to be treated that way.
It’s a reminder once again as James Luther Adams said, “there is no immaculate conception of virtue.” If there is to be good and justice in the world it requires our involvement and action.
So today, I pray and hope. And watch and listen and wait. Because even in the midst of struggle, there come times when you stop, rest, listen, watch, measure, tally and calculate and look back over the road traveled to see how far you’ve come and what, if any, progress you have made. This week is one of those times.