Strawberry Fields Forever - Nothing is real

Sunday, May 18, 2008

All you need is love?

This last week the Supreme Court of California (indirectly) took a step forward at erasing one of the last second-class citizen groups left in society by ruling that California must recognize so-called "gay marriage" if they are to recognize marriage at all. It should come as no surprise at all that I am very much in favor of this ruling.

I do recognize the argument that the voters themselves voted less than 8 years ago and resoundingly voted to deny marriage rights to homosexuals, and that this is seen by many as social engineering by the judiciary. Frankly, I don't care about either. This was also the way that schools were desegregated, among a slew of the other social progresses occurred over the last century or so. On the topic of the voters, I am very much a democrat (in this case note the small d), but I am also a big believer in the ideas and ideals behind the federal Constitution. One of its guiding principles was that to protect the minority from the "tyranny of the majority." In this case, the majority would deny rights to a minority - rights that really do not impact much, if at all on the majority. It's pretty clear that "gay marriage" in Massachusetts hasn't exactly destroyed all "heterosexual marriages" since its inception, nor is there any reason to believe it will.

However, this is a bit more personal to me than simply abstract ideas about extending freedom to minority groups. I remember a time, several years ago when I was talking to a good friend, and I commented to him that I thought he could be a good father someday. A few weeks later, he confided in me that my comments had stuck with him because he was coming to terms with his own sexual orientation, and that he was in fact gay.

At that moment a slew of thoughts dawned on me. First of all, I was touched that he would feel that he would be able to tell me this. Second of all, I was somewhat relieved to realize that I did not have a childish negative reaction - that he was still the same friend he was before regardless of his sexual orientation. Third of all, I realized how my comments must have stung a bit. He was admitting to himself that he was a member of a minority, a minority that in society had no hope of ever achieving the relatively simple goal of having a family - of getting married and having children. I have to admit, I felt really bad about what I had said earlier even if I meant it to be a positive comment when I said it.

There's still a long way to go, but it greatly encourages me today that my friend, and everyone who shares his sexual orientation may be one step closer to being able to have the opportunity to live out the dreams and aspirations that we all have.

In 1776 Thomas Jefferson wrote in our founding document: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness"

I think we are one step closer to this goal. This was a good week for California.


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