Ask any American where the center of the Universe is and they’ll tell you it’s somewhere below the 49th parallel and above Mexico. Many will choose New York City, Los Angeles or Las Vegas. How many would choose Annapolis, Augusta or Olympia, the capital cities of Maine, Maryland and Washington State?
On November 6th, 2012, the good people of these three states voted to allow same sex couples to get married. It is the first time in the US where this decision was made by the people and not the courts.
Forgive me if I overstate; this is a watershed moment for GLBT people worldwide and perhaps the most important day in the history of the gay rights struggle.
America is the bright beacon of hope for so many people around the world, whether we like it or not, often “how goes America, how goes the world.” Even though it isn’t a perfect system, democracy is the best option out there, and democracy spoke loud and clear on Tuesday night.
Brave pioneers like Ellen DeGeneres, Elton John, Melissa Etheridge, and Rosie O’Donnell started the process by coming out early, at great professional peril. It mattered. Neil Patrick Harris, Lance Bass, Portia de Rossi, Cynthia Nixon, George Takei and others followed suit. It mattered. In the past few years, Jim Parsons, Zachary Quinto, Frank Ocean, Sara Gilbert, Sean Hayes, Chely Wright, Ricky Martin, Don Lemon and Matt Bomer have all come out of the closet. It matters.
Then, on May 9th 2012 something extraordinary happened; Barak Obama became the first sitting US President to publically endorse same sex marriage. It mattered. A President’s job is to lead, politically and morally. People listen when he speaks. People pay attention, not only in the US, but around the world.
On July 2nd, 2012 a certain handsome, silver-haired, CNN news anchor and high-profile professional journalist sent an e-mail to a friend where he addressed his sexuality: The fact is, I’m gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud. When Anderson Cooper came out it mattered and it accelerated the trend towards acceptance and tolerance.
Us “normal people,” the one’s who aren’t in the public eye, have been coming out for years, without the hoopla and fanfare, also, at times, at great personal and professional risk and it matters.
I was sitting with my husband of 5 years watching the results come in and had tears in my eyes when it became apparent that Maine, Maryland and Washington State would vote for basic civil rights and equality. I turned to him and wondered aloud what the hell had taken them so long.
He said change takes time but time is on our side.
Our time is now. America’s time is now. The good folks in Bangor and Augusta, in Seattle and Olympia, in Annapolis and Baltimore have proven this. Common sense, dignity, civil rights, and love will always prevail.
Now is not the time to rest on our laurels. Now is not the time to be satisfied. Now is not the time to take our collective foot off the gas pedal.
DOMA will one day be repealed. Soon we will not talk about heteronormative marriage vs. gay marriage; it’ll just be plain ol’ marriage. In the not too distant future every American will be able to get married to the person they love, just like in Canada, Argentina, Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and South Africa.
11 out of 196 countries…
Change takes time.