This year’s 4th of July was one of the best in recent memory. We spent it with family up on Lake St. Clair, so it was filled with boating, kayaking, and eating freshly caught fish.
More than just a good, relaxing time, this year’s 4th was especially significant given the recent landmark Supreme Court decision on marriage equality. Although I’m generally not very political on this blog, I have been an advocate for marriage equality for years. Katie and I even discussed not getting married ourselves because it didn’t seem fair that we should be able to do so while some people were not.
The news of the Supreme Court decision came in while I was in the security line at the airport. The couple behind me was reading the headlines from their mobile phones out loud and I was floored. I hadn’t even realized that such a big decision was due so, it completely surprised me. I couldn’t help it; I actually wept a little right there in line.
I’m not sure why this issue has moved me so much. I’m not gay myself. I don’t have that many openly gay friends or family. So it doesn’t affect me in a deeply personal way. Rather, it just seems fair and right.
I get that some people don’t agree with it for religious reasons, but our country is not a theocracy. If we’re going to afford legal and tax benefits to one set of couples, we need to afford them equally to all. Otherwise it seems not only legally discriminatory but, worse, psychologically abusive: “These people over here are OK. You are not.” This decision sends a message of compassion and openness – rather than judgment and governmental control – which are values I hold.
I feel more patriotic than I have in years not because I agree with the decision, but because I feel like our system of government really did something right. In recent years I’ve found myself more and more apathetic about politics as I have become increasingly cynical that our political leaders do anything more than posturing. This court ruling has really re-energized me into believing that our country is able to progress with the times.
Moreover, I’m really happy that our country is asking – and trying to answer – hard questions. Clearly we are a country that is still trying to figure out where it stands on such issues. We have just allowed for one man to marry another man (by a very slim 5-4 margin, hardly unanimous), claiming that, “Love is love.” But, if a man wants to marry his cousin, for example, that is not allowed. “Love is love” isn’t quite so simple. We (at least in media) rapidly accepted Caitlyn Jenner when she identified with a different gender, but we are much less accepting of trans athletes in current competitive constructs..
Where do we stand? Where are our boundaries? As a society, what do we think is OK and what do we think we have no right to judge whether it is OK or not? I think it’s fine that we don’t have all of the answers, but I’m glad that we’re asking the questions. The answers we come up with today might be different than the answers we provide decades from now – they are certainly different than our answers of decades ago. I think it’s key for a well functioning democracy to question itself constantly.
So, congratulations to my friends and loved ones who can now enjoy the benefits of marriage with their loved ones, congratulations to the US women’s soccer team on a very convincing World Cup victory, and congratulations to the USA on another birthday. I am feeling very good about the USA today – God bless America!