Pride / We’ve Come a Long Way Baby

Happy Pride Month everyone — and thank you Mr. President for getting religion (heh heh) on the issue of equality! 

Here at home in Illinois, this 01 June is a joyous occasion for another reason — as of today, marriage equality is officially the law of the land in the Land of Lincoln, and counties are already issuing marriage licenses. Thank you to everyone who fought so hard to make this a reality, both here in Illinois and individuals and organizations across the country. Ten years ago, when Massachusetts became the first state in the U.S. to legalize marriage equality, the national prognosis could hardly have seemed bleaker. Karl Rove and the Bush campaign were successfully backing ballot initiatives to amend state constitutions to ban marriage equality across the nation in a cynical attempt to drive up voter turnout. Sadly, it worked.

There was a real possibility that an amendment to the federal Constitution barring same-gender marriage would pass both houses of Congress and head to the states for ratification (I doubt the required three-quarters of states would have ratified it, but it still would have represented a giant step backward for civil rights in America; and, the political climate was so different then that it… could have). DADT and DOMA were going nowhere, and even the thought of an openly gay professional athlete, much less one embraced by the nation, seemed not only impossible but absurd. Politicians, actors, musicians and hundreds of thousands of average people were still terrified to come out and be proud of who they were born to be (I should know re: the latter; I was one of them).

Fast forward just ten years, and nineteen states and D.C. have legalized marriage equality. DADT is gone, DOMA’s headed that direction, ENDA seems a real possibility. Those constitutional bans on marriage equality are dropping like flies; the tide has turned so sharply that even Republican governors are balking at challenging court decisions striking down those bans (while tying themselves into legal knots of the Gordian variety). Openly gay athletes play in the NBA, the NFL and Major League Soccer. There’s still so much more work to be done, so much more hate and discrimination to combat, rights to secure and defend, but today is another day of celebration kicking off a month of celebration.

Had you asked me in 2004 if I ever thought that my home state would be issuing marriage licenses to same-gender couples in ten years’ time, I’m not sure if I would have laughed or cried. I definitely wouldn’t have answered in the affirmative. Yet here we are.

We’ve come a long way baby.

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~ by Benji on 1 June 2014.

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