Homo Sullivan on Massachusetts
posted by June 15 at 10:57 AMon
Andrew Sullivan is the most passionate, eloquent, and effective voice for marriage equality in the United States. A vocal and prominent proponent of same-sex marriage before any national gay groups would touch the issue, Sullivan has done more—through his blog, his books, and his advocacy—to advance the cause of marriage equality than any other single individual in the country. (Freedom to Marry’s Evan Wolfson comes in a very, very close, photo-finish second.) Sullivan’s willingness to pick anti-marriage equality arguments apart is as invaluable as his ability to skin dishonest anti-gay marriage pundits alive is entertaining.
Looking back on two decades of struggle, past the ashes of so many, to the clearing on which we now stand, it’s hard not to weep. Two decades ago, marriage for gays was a pipe-dream. Some of us were ridiculed for even thinking of the idea. And yet here we are. Past the vicious attack from the president, past the cynical manipulation by Rove, past the cowardice of so many Democrats, past the rank hypocrisy of the Clintons, past the inertia of the Human Rights Campaign, past the false dawn in San Francisco, and the countless, countless debates and speeches and books and articles and op-eds.
Yes, we have much more to do. Yes, we still have to win over those who see our loves as somehow destructive of the families we seek merely to affirm. Yes, we don’t have federal recognition of our basic civic equality. Yes, in many, many states, we have been locked out of equality for a generation, because of the politics of fear and backlash. But look how far we’ve come. From a viral holocaust to full equality—somewhere in America, in the commonwealth where American freedom was born. In two decades. This is history. What a privilege to have witnessed it.
It was driven above all by ordinary gay and lesbian couples and their families—not activists, not lobbyists, not intellectuals. Couples and their families. It was driven by a brutal, sudden realization that we were far more vulnerable than we knew. In the plague years, husbands reeled as they were denied access to their own spouses in hospitals, as they were evicted from their shared homes in the immediate aftermath of terrible grief, and refused access even to funerals by estranged and often hostile in-laws. This day is for them, for all those who were abused and maligned and cast aside because they loved another human being.
It’s also for all the lesbian mothers who realized in the last two decades just how much contempt and hatred existed for their care of their own children, who lived in constant insecurity, or who, at best, had to endure erasure from visibility. It’s for gay families in Virginia today, denied dignity and protection multiple times over, enduring popular votes of meretricious contempt, and carrying on regardless, living their lives, building their relationships, cherishing their homes, caring for their kids, honoring their parents. And it’s for the countless, countless gay couples throughout human history—who for so long had to live lives in which their deepest longings and loves were denied, crushed, ignored or threatened.
The media didn’t much notice yesterday. But America changed. The world changed. And an ancient and deep wound began, ever so slightly, to heal.