Gay marriage was never my issue. I believed in pragmatic politics, and I feared the backlash it would generate with church folks. But the Massachusetts court decision created an avalanche that cascaded through the legal system and surprised even the experts. The backlash I predicted happened in several other states that passed laws or even constitutional amendments banning gay marriage. One-by-one those have fallen on appeal, and public opinion has shifted radically in just a few years. It is happening worldwide and isn’t limited just to the United States. Of course, the churches are still fighting it, but it is a losing battle.
In the meantime, although the majority of the public opposes discrimination against LGBT people, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) has languished in the Congress for two decades. Several states, many communities, and most corporations have enacted similar protections. The Executive Branch prohibited LGBT discrimination for federal employees and recently extended that to apply for contractors doing business with the federal government. But many employees still can arbitrarily be fired just for being rumored to be gay, and housing and public accommodations can be refused to the LGBT population. This is a really big issue for transgender people who face the most discrimination.
So I was surprised by my reaction to a new documentary film with the misleading title of Bridegroom. It features two very attractive young men who find romance and live together for six years even though they cannot be legally married. I won’t give away any spoilers, but the emotional impact of the film went far beyond the comedy that I was expecting. If this film doesn’t change your attitudes or beliefs about gay marriage, then nothing will. It is not yet in general release, but it is available on Netflix.
Currently a lot of people are speculating about what the Supreme Court might do in hearing the rulings of various Federal Courts of Appeals striking down laws banning gay marriage. They have cited the Supreme Court decision striking down the federal law banning gay marriage, known as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA.) Even the opponents seem to think that gay marriage is inevitable and that state legislatures and courts can only delay it.
Proponents of gay marriage claim this is the new civil rights issue and that LGBT people have the same rights as others. When the rights of one class or group of people are restricted, then it affects everyone. Even the African-American community that long opposed this issue have come around and recognized that we have faced discrimination similar to what they encountered for generations even after a U.S. Constitutional Amendment and many federal and state laws banning racial discrimination. Discrimination is discrimination regardless of how you categorize it. Legislation has become more specific in spelling out what kinds of discrimination are prohibited, but it still exists. Hatred of people who are somehow different than the majority has historically resulted in discrimination. Simon Schama portrayed that recently in his PBS special The Story of the Jews.
So get over it, gay marriage is here to stay.