Let it be so marked that on June 26, 2015, 239 years after declaring the right to be free and sovereign to pursue life’s ambitions under the law, and not some theocratic monarchy, that we have once again embraced our truest nature as a nation; that we must never deny the rights we enjoy to our fellow citizens. For that is the day the U.S. Supreme Court, echoing its own prior ruling on this measure and every lower court that has been forced to observe it, that all the citizens of these United States will be granted the opportunities of all, regardless of sexual orientation, as did their fore-runners in race, religion, and gender. Homosexuals now join every one of us not born male, white, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant, who were told we do not belong in the pantheon of Thomas Jefferson’s haughty dreams of all being equal, from his God to the compulsory halls of law, but eventually triumphed as you do.
I write these words on the eve of commemorating our nation’s day of birth, July 4, 1776, a full dozen years before its official commencement, the ratifying of a national Constitution. It sacred words of law since amended to include so many more than it defended that late June day of 1788, not unlike the one that duly reflected its power and purpose 227 years later this past week almost to the day. When tested, it has endured. And its crowning achievement exists in the millions it has freed from the tyranny of discrimination through hatred, tradition, religion, and the will of the majority, which ultimately has nothing to do with whether you are entitled to the rights of someone who is not like you, the right to breathe free. That, Jefferson said, is settled by merely being human.
And so America, its concept, its majesty, its stubbornness, its clamor and furor and foundation, gets it right…again.
Because all we have to do as Americans is look to the history of our vaunted Declaration of Independence and the bloody insurrection that lasted nearly nine long years and its ensuing half-decade of debate and rancor that helped forge a Constitution that would be insufficient to raise its ambitions to Jefferson’s promise. It is why it took 73 years to bring forth the idea that some men being more equal than others (apologies to Orwell) was something America could not abide. Of course it took five more years of the most devastating war the nation has endured and 600,000 dead before America became an actuality. The last days of slavery and the eradication of the aborted Confederate States put the legal end to the discussion on who was denied the right to exist.
But of course this took another century before everyone was on board, commencing with the signing of the Civil Rights Act, which continued what the 41st Congress did five years after the Civil War by allowing African-Americans the right to cast a vote, the most binding of our democratic rights. During that time it took America 143 years to finally recognize the full rights of more than half its citizenry with the Constitution’s 19th Amendment, providing our women the right to a vote, nearly a century and a half after Jefferson’s notion about universal equality given not by the state but by simply being.
And now our homosexual brothers and sisters join our proud ranks, cementing a right that should never be provided by a state, but only protected by the state, these United States, a republic, not a theocracy, a rule of law, not the majority of discrimination. But know this: What happened on June 26, 2015, is not merely the end of something, but just the beginning of a whole other thing.
If what you have read above is not enough of a warning, you should be aware that there will be battles ahead. Those woefully unaware of what it is to be an American already pontificate and conspire on how to subjugate this right to marry as any law-abiding, tax-paying citizen may (check that, heterosexuals in prison can marry). It is happening now as I write this and will continue for many, many years, long after you are gone from the script and will be fought by your children and your children’s children. But at least they are now assured by law that they are not “less than” but “equal to,” and that is the whole and binding and spiritual point of June 26, 2015, which is a direct and proud descendent of July 4, 1776. It is the reason there is an America. In some twisted wrench of logic, it even makes all the other crap worth it.
But if I may throw in a humble bit of personal joy; I have made it mostly my ambition here in this space for over 12 years to make known the atrocity of our denying our citizens their inalienable rights. For some, I know, it seemed like every argument forged here would find its way back to this subject. But through it all, I held the strong and unwavering belief in this abomination being unconstitutional, and for that my ecstatic relief of June 26, 2015, knows no bounds. Trust me; my first gin on July 4 will have special meaning. And for that I thank one of my heroes, Kurt Vonnegut, whose prose one day, not sure when or what passage, some 15 years ago, woke me up to the sad fact that I had not spoken up, that I had not used this minor but sometimes effective pulpit to shout from the rafters the core elements of this crucial fight.
And I thank all who appreciated the effort and came around to my words and all of the gay news outlets and magazines who reprinted my rants on this latest battle in our tumultuous history. I even thank those whose opposition, however misguided, but sometimes salient (and you know how you are) arguments seemed to put at least some measure of intellect into what was ordinarily a pathetically stupid and sadly derivative counterpoint to this journey.
We get there eventually. It is frustrating and perplexing, but when it comes, it is damn glorious.
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