Last Friday night I was privileged to share my story of the fight for marriage equality at my synagogue’s Pride Shabbat. This is what I shared:
Today was a historic day for marriage equality but frankly, I never thought I’d live to see this day when my son told me he was gay in 1989. The thought of him being allowed to marry wasn’t even on my radar until 2000 when Vermont legalized civil unions and registered partnerships between same-sex couples. That was also the year my younger son married his wife.
He easily got married because he is straight. I didn’t even realize how much I took for granted the ability to marry the person I loved until Brian was able to and Rick was not. Even in 2004 when Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage I didn’t think I’d ever see it available for my son.
As often happens, that created a backlash and states began amending their constitutions to define marriage as being between one man and one woman. When the CA Supreme Court declared it was unconstitutional to ban same sex partners from marrying, Prop 8 became the rallying cry for all those opposed to same-sex marriage. It was so poorly worded that people who supported same-sex marriage voted in favor thinking they were voting against.
I got involved in the No on 8 campaign in June of 2008. I quickly became a trainer for those on the phone banks and eventually coordinated and trained in my home county. On election night I was alone in the office, coordinating those on the streets trying to counteract the Yes on 8 people at the polling places.
When the election closed, I was elated at Barak Obama’s election and terribly worried about the results of the proposition. It took until the next day to find out it passed. I was devastated.
But not nearly as devastated as that morning waiting on the steps of the California Supreme Court to hear that they had upheld Prop 8.
When the Federal Appellate Court ruled that Prop 8 was unconstitutional, I started to get hopeful. Judge Walker’s decision sounded like it could actually be upheld by the Supreme Court. While the Supreme Court didn’t actually uphold his decision, the effect of their decision was the same. Marriages could resume in California. That November my son was finally able to marry his partner of over 20 years.
Today’s decision declares once and for all that our gay and lesbian sisters and brothers have the right to marry the person they love and receive all the benefits and privileges that go along with that. Their children will have both of their parents listed on their birth certificates. It is indeed a day of joy.
But backlash started even before this decision was handed down. States are passing “religious freedom“ laws which essentially allow discrimination. The religious right is looking for new ways to discriminate.
We still don’t have the Employment Non Discrimination law passed. LGBT people can still get fired or denied housing just for being gay.
And personally, I’m concerned about the backlash that may occur in countries which already ban homosexuality. This is indeed a victory but we still have a long way to go.