Bett Norris

Perspectives

Live to See the Day

I really have no words of my own to discuss this week.

800px-Rainbow_flag_and_blue_skiesUS flag

So many things happened.

The Republican governor of Alabama ordered the Confederate flag unceremoniously removed from state Capitol grounds.

Removing Confederate flag June 2015

Rarely have I been so proud of news from my home state.

Then, on Thursday, this happened. In a 6-3 decision, the Affordable Care Act was upheld.

This is what victory looks like.

Affordable Care victory

Then, on Friday, June 26, 2015, a bunch of things happened.

Marriage equality becomes the law of the land.

And this.

Rainbow White House

Then there was this.

Somehow, President Obama made all of these things mesh together with a eulogy about grace.

I admit I never quite grasped the concept of grace. I think I have a much clearer idea of it now.

Bloody Sunday 1    The Bus

civil rights memorial

The Stonewall Inn at 73 Christopher Street in New York seemed to draw people to it to celebrate.

http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2015/06/27/3674685/stonewall-inn-reactions-federal-ruling/

And this also happened: http://msmagazine.com/blog/2015/06/26/stonewall-inn-designated-nyc-landmark/

So, so many of the posts on Twitter and Facebook yesterday began with, “I never thought I’d live to see the day.”

I know I didn’t expect it. As my partner and I looked at each other, stunned and thrilled, I knew I should sit down and write about what this week in history means, to me, to the LGBT community, to the country. I should write something sweeping in scope, something moving and profound.

INstead, we cried, and all I could really think about were the thousands and thousands of ordinary people with small and large acts of courage, made my life possible, and made this day possible.

I am so grateful for all those who forged their lives when it was very brave to do so, like my partner Sandy.

Jane Rule

  Jane Rule

Katherine V. Forrest

Katherine V. Forrest

Harper Lee, Monroeville county courthouse, 1961

Harper Lee, Monroeville county courthouse, 1961

These three women helped shape my life, made this life I am living possible. Their writing saved me from another kind of life that would have been stifling and painful, and ultimately no life at all.

I keep thinking about what President Obama called “small acts of courage” by countless ordinary people, and I think of trail blazers like Harvey Milk.

I am also thinking of Rosa Parks, Coretta Scott King, Diane Nash, Fanny Lou Hamer, Optima Clark, Amelia Boynton.

My partner Sandy got married right after high school, raised three boys, built a career in art for herself as she built her sculptures, waited until her sons were grown and living outside the home, she got divorced and came out. Just like that.  It takes my breath away to imagine the courage that took. Not a small act at all. It was a life saving act, an act of unbelievable self validation.

For her, for all the many thousands like her and me, I am so grateful. Without them, there would be no appeal to the Supreme Court. Without their earlier footsteps, we would not yet be afforded equal protection under the law, as guaranteed to every citizen in the Fourteenth Amendment.

The last paragraph of the decision will be memorized and recited at weddings for years to come.

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. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. 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. 

                                                                                                                                  It is so ordered.

Not my words. But they are mine to claim now. I am protected under the Fourteenth amendment. The Constitution applies to me and mine.

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