On Friday, the Supreme Court ruled by a 5-to-4 vote that gay marriage is a constitutional right for the entirety of the United States. The news caused double rainbows of pure joy to erupt from humans and their news sources worldwide, and, as is always the case, controversy erupted surrounding the decision. Mostly, though, there was a glittering, unstoppable wave of sheer happiness, and a sigh of relief from the hardworking activists who can finally enjoy what they’ve worked so hard to achieve.
Before getting into the detractors, let’s focus for a second on all the blooming positivity here. According to coverage by the New York Times, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote, “No longer may this liberty be denied… No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”
In a piece by The Guardian – and in every paper this side of the universe – President Obama was quoted as saying “Love is love” and the Supreme Court ruling makes “our union a little more perfect.” The White House even went full rainbow for the ruling, in full support of the joyous occasion. There were parades and parties everywhere, in real life and in the digital realm, where folks like Ian McKellen and Derek Jacobi posted celebratory videos. A wonderful occasion in every conceivable fashion.
Except, of course, there was immediate backlash, the tone of which remains erroneous, though actually cringe-worthy entertaining. On the one hand, you had the dissenters angrily proclaiming via social media their plans to move to Australia or Canada, despite the fact that Australia has many supporters of marriage rights, and Canada flat out made it legal in 2005. This kind of communicative recourse smacks heavily of basic naivety and definable hatred. Unfortunately, not a whole lot to be done there, unless we wait for evolution to weed out said folks.
The Guardian’s coverage included quotes from Justice Samuel Alito, one of which read, “I assume that those who cling to old beliefs will be able to whisper their thoughts in the recesses of their homes, but if they repeat those views in public, they will risk being labeled as bigots and treated as such by governments, employers, and schools.” This runs kind of parallel to all those naysayers shouting their plans to leave the US. The error here would be to make good on Alito’s statement – I’m in full support of equality in marriage, don’t get me wrong, but there is sense in not repeating the mistakes of shaming one side. Maybe this is a wake up call for the old ways to be selected out of social evolution, stop the cycle of shame and hatred.
Following the news, Salon put out a collection of different sorts of negative conservative responses, much of the compilation anger filled tweets signaling the impending onslaught of polygamy. My first reaction to this was, why not? Gay marriage finally being recognized as a right in the US opens many doors to other marginalized groups. This success could lead to other successes; a rainbow road (thanks for the phrase, Mario Kart) to redefining traditions that have held many people back. The error here would be to close up shop and forget that although now any pairing of people can marry, there are still other relationship models to stop demonizing, and leagues of transgendered individuals who continue to vie for understanding on many levels.
On Buzzfeed, there have been a few stories, including this one about Freedom to Marry, about how activists are, at least for the moment, a super happy bunch of unemployed people. Read further into the piece and you quickly realize that Friday’s victory is one pretty big win in an incredibly harrowing trek toward equality. Questions remain about the future of the trans community, the sex worker world, and many other cultures hoping for more support. Here’s to the idea that 6/26 is soon followed by even more days like it, and those filled with hatred will finally lose their audience.
For now, let’s holler and cheer in giddy fulfillment, enjoy the spectacle of the White House and other locales smothered in beaming rainbows, with the knowledge all voices can and should be heard. The work ain’t over, but this is worth taking a giddy confetti break.