One reason I haven’t so far commented on the other big election night story (that would be the passage of Proposition 8 in California) is because I don’t quite think I have the eloquence chops to describe the mix of sadness and hopefulness it stirs in me.
I think it goes without saying, at least to most readers of this blog, that I am a fervent supporter of gay marriage. In fact, the right of gay people to marry is such a given for me that there are times when I’ll think about it and really be amazed that there exists a contingent of people who have devoted their lives to preventing such a simple right.
Perhaps the issue has become more real to me, too, as I now live with someone who I love very deeply, but to whom I am not married. We are, in almost every way, dependent on one another for our livelihoods, we are a family — and intend to marry when the time is right — but we consistently face the stigma of the past. Millions of people live just like we do, and yet we are denied the benefits of health insurance coverage, tax breaks, and tuition help because we haven’t taken the plunge yet, so to speak. But, for us, there is a light at the end of the tunnel.
For many, many gay couples, there is no light. They are unmarried because they are forced to remain that way. Because close minded people believe their love isn’t enough to qualify them for the same rite of passage afforded to billions of people, throughout history and throughout the world. And even when the light has become distant and real, something like Proposition 8 slams the door on that prospect.
I feel hopefulness, though, because it seems that there is a coalescesing around the issue of gay marriage that has not existed before. Protests along the west coast may only be the beginning — we may have begun on the long, fraught road to full equality for gay people in this country. Those who oppose gay marriage are on the losing side of history; it might take decades, but we will eventually see the day in which all citizens are allowed to exercise the basic rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
There are so many well-said articles, blogs, and chats about this issue that it would be impossible to name them. For full coverage, I suggest checking out Andrew Sullivan’s The Daily Dish. Also see this Slate article on the legal status of gay marriage in California, including for those 16,000 couples married in the state between June and November.