I think what has me feeling the best about the SCOTUS decision vis-a-vis gay marriage is not the meltdown they’re doubtless having about it over at Freeperville, nor how fucked the Family Research Council has to feel right now. I take joy in those moments of discomfort the forces of goodness and light may cause them, but that’s not my favorite part.
It’s this: Merita Hopkins, a city attorney in Boston, had told justices in court papers that the people who filed the suit have not shown they suffered an injury and could not bring a challenge to the Supreme Court. “Deeply felt interest in the outcome of a case does not constitute an actual injury,” she said.
Let’s reiterate that for those among us who are stupid or have been deafened by the constant cry from the right that anything they think is icky should be outlawed: Deeply felt interest in the outcome of a case does not constitute an actual injury.
Aaron Sorkin said it best in The West Wing, referring to the NEA but making essentially the same point: I don’t know where you get the idea that taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for anything of which they disapprove. Lots of ’em don’t like tanks. Even more don’t like Congress.
You don’t want to see men kissing at National League baseball games? Guess what? You have to see that whether you want to or not. You don’t get to make laws against stuff because you don’t like it. You don’t get to deny those two guys who are making out during the Astros game legal protection. This is America. You pay your taxes, and you get to see all manner of shit you don’t want to see.
Same goes for me. I continue to live here, pay my taxes, I get to see George W. Bush sworn in for a second term. I get to see killing done in my name and the name of my family. I get to see our legal rights usurped, our voices muffled, our passions muted. I get to see Wal-Mart economics, Pink Panther law enforcement, and Christmas music in September. I may even, on occasion, have to see the Packers lose.
That’s the price of living in the land of the free.
There’s a large part of me that believes the reason many voters cast their ballots against gay marriage one month ago is because they believed that this, this issue of personal behavior and private belief, was all they could control in the world. Think about it. Four years ago the more oblivious among us were hit over the head with the concept that the world was a dangerous place, that not everybody liked us, and then for the next 48 months all they heard was that there was nothing they could do about it.
In the best of times, as a citizen of this vast, vast country it’s hard to feel that you have a voice in foreign policy. In this age of disconnect between not only politicians and citizens but citizens and information critical to the operation of their democracy, it’s easy to wall yourself off, to confine yourself to doing all you believe yourself to be capable of, making your four walls, your driveway, your lawn, your job and your kids and at most your neighborhood the best you think it can be. You come to believe that all you truly can control is the personal, so you make the personal political, and you turn to hate as a weapon, because you have nothing else you can control. Nothing else you can do.
But these are people in love, and if we’ve all read our Shakespeare we know what happens to those who interfere in love. If we’ve all read our history we know what happens to those who interfere with the cause of the just over the unjust. Sometimes I find it hard to believe it’s still so unclear. Those marriages in San Francisco showed me something. I’ve never considered myself prejudiced against gay people, but I never really understood that kind of love either, as a straight girl. I always thought of it as “other,” strange. Those faces on the city hall steps, those roses, those shouts of joy and kisses, showed me in a way that was very humbling just how little I really understood love of any kind.
There’s a reason these things, these fundamental questions of humanity, these tests of civil rights, are decided in places like courts of law and family dinner tables. The ballot box would not work, and if you need further proof of that, read Backslider’s account of how one state still can’t vote down segregation.
But this is America, where the rights of the least in the court of public opinion are still protected in the courts of law. This is America, where those who fight for right are respected. This is America, where we were crushed but not conquered, bruised and battered but not, not, not bowed. This is America, the land of the free, and love still matters.
For the first time in a month, this country I live in feels like America again to me.