This is where the grown-ups exiled the kids at meal time. It was always some rickety card table with a cheap plastic table cloth and you were stuck on a folding chair between cousin Frankie who eats his own boogers and Dottie who still has “accidents.”
Man, I hated the kids’ table.
It felt as if the family were relegating me and everyone else under the age of 16 to No Man’s Land. The adults were talking and having fun and you were stuck cutting someone else’s meat or or listening to Cara Maria singing to herself and thinking, “When is someone can say that girl ain’t right in the head?”
As a kid, I always wondered: Why have a family get-together and get rid of a good chunk of the family at meal time?
Maybe you remember that feeling of being left out. Maybe you can recall your own moments of feeling like an outsider to your own family. Take those feelings of exclusion and multiply them, oh, I don’t know, by infinity, and you’ll get a sense of how many in the LGBT community have felt for decades – that our dreams, our lives, our loves, our relationships weren’t worthy, weren’t equal, weren’t on par with our heterosexual family and friends.
The Supreme Court on Friday ruling took a big step in changing that.
I have to be honest. I was surprised how hard the decision hit me. I teared up at my desk at work as Twitter filled with the hashtag #LoveWins. My state Massachusetts was the first in the nation to welcome same-sex marriage, back in 2003. But the backlash across the country was swift and terrifying as state after state enacted amendments to their constitutions “preserving” the sanctity of marriage. The shift in public opinion only began a few years ago, and only after a lot of hard work among LGBT activists.
In his majority opinion, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote, “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. … It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”
The dissents ranged from petulant to pissy.
Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said, “If you are among the many Americans – of whatever sexual orientation – who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”
Gays: The Reason Why We Can’t Have a Nice Democracy
Justice Antonin Scalia cried judicial activism, which is hysterical considering he didn’t have a problem five years ago in the Citizens United ruling that put corporations on par with people and polluted elections with Big Money.
Then there was this odd aside: “Who ever thought that intimacy and spirituality (whatever that means) were freedoms? And if intimacy is, one would think Freedom of Intimacy is abridged rather than expanded by marriage. Ask the nearest hippie.”
Justice Clarence Thomas, who as part of an interracial marriage is a beneficiary of another Supreme Court decision, the 1967 case Loving v. Virginia, wrote: “Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits.”
How did this man become a Supreme Court justice? A brick bashed repeatedly against a keyboard would produce more coherent arguments.
The Angry Right
All the Republican presidential candidates decried the ruling. Mike Huckabee raged, “I will not acquiesce to an imperial court.” Minnesota Vikings player Joshua Robinson compared homosexuality to pedophilia and incest. Radio host Bryan Fischer tweeted, “From a moral standpoint, 6/26 is our 9/11.”
The idea that someone could compare the decision affirming the right to marry to a terrorist attack that killed thousands of innocents boggles the mind.
Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley said he was “saddened” by the ruling and predicted that “enshrining same-sex marriage in our constitutional system of governance has dangers that may become fully evident only over time.”
He’s right: Destination weddings are going to go through the roof.
I kid, of course, but it’s important to remember that while one milestone has been achieved, the battles are far from over. Conservatives are already stepping up their efforts to pass so-called religious exemption laws to get around the ruling. Twenty-eight states do offer not employment protections for LGBT workers. You might be able to get married anywhere on a Sunday, but you could still lose your job in more than half the states on a Monday.
Still, this is a moment worth marking and celebrating, one few of us could ever predict we’d see in our lifetimes.
Someday we won’t even be talking about gay marriage. It’ll just be marriage.
No more kids’ table for any of us. Now we all get to sit with our families and share our lives, our loves, our troubles and our joys. We’re all welcome and equal now at the family table.
Hey. Don’t hog the cole slaw.