Maryland is on the verge of becoming the sixth state in the country to grant same-sex marriage licenses and the Obama administration shared on Feb. 23 that it would no longer fight to defend the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act, which outlaws federal recognition of same-sex marriages.
When Watermark Online editor Jamie Hyman told me about the breaking news surrounding DOMA, I was quick to get excited. What does this mean? I wondered. Is this the beginning of marriage equality in the United States?
Of course, the announcement does not mean that gay marriage is suddenly legal in the U.S. Watermark publisher Tom Dyer, who is also an attorney, explains what Obama’s decision means in his Publisher’s Perspective column in this issue.
But it does mean that another small flake has been chiseled away from the boulder blocking gays and lesbians from enjoying full marriage rights.
In the coming months, expect a flood of anti-gay rhetoric to resurface from talk show hosts, right-wing politicians and religious conservatives we are, after all, only nine months from a presidential election year.
But as the country’s population ages, minds are evolving. Each newer generation is more accepting of same-sex relationships and views the economy, jobs and national security as bigger issues than who chooses to marry whom.
It’s a battle won in a long, ongoing culture war that’s a long way from finishing. But it’s a step in the right direction and it has people talking.
Most people are surprised to learn that my favorite subject in school wasn’t Literature or English. The class I looked forward to most was always History or as we used to call it back when we had junior highs instead of middle schools Social Studies.
Even to this day I’m fascinated by placing people and events in a timeline.
Imagine hiding Jews in your attic during the Holocaust! What did it feel like to see Abraham Lincoln speaking to the masses off the back of that train depicted in so many books? Are the descriptions told to us as students really that accurate?
No matter the setting, the people in history are mostly whittled down to two camps the good guys and the bad guys.
Lincoln and the Northern progressives were good. Plantation slave owners were bad.
Jewish refugees: good. Nazis: bad.
Hindsight is 20/20, so they say, and it applies when looking at history. There was a time when people actually believed they were right to defend slavery. People just knew they were on the right side of the issue when women weren’t given voting rights.
Unfortunately, there are people today who truly think that denying gays and lesbians the right to marry their same-sex partners is the right thing to do.
Those are the people who will fill the opinion pages of major newspapers, voice their opinions on cable news programs and gather like-minded believers for rallies outside government buildings.
But inevitably, it will be those on the side of marriage equality who will triumph on the right side of history.
The long-term couple who shares their story of multiple weddings in several states to gain as much legal standing as possible will change the hearts and minds of many. The young men raised by same-gender parents who are not afraid to speak out against anti-LGBT laws will convince a few more people that marriage is a right for everyone not just those who fit into a tradition.
As we look back at the gains we’ve made in marriage equality in just a few short years (remember, gay marriage wasn’t legal anywhere in the U.S. before 2003), it’s important to remember that history is watching us, even as current events unfold.
How will future generations perceive the ongoing fights and struggles facing us as a community and as a nation in 2011? Will students sitting in a 2050 elementary school classroom learn about the fight for Marriage Equality with the understanding that those opposing it were the bad guys and those for it were the good guys? Will they react in awe and disgust that anyone would have denied two people the right to form a family unit?
Yes, I’d like to think so.