As we watched first Maine, then Maryland and, hopefully, finally Washington state all approve marriage equality (or as the news reporters like to say "Gay Marriage" because it is somehow completely different and separate from any other sort of marriage--I think it is lumped in with "plural marriage" and other italicized arrangements)...by popular vote...at the ballot...we got a little teary. Teri summed it up in a simple sentence when she said "There are some good people out there who stand by us." It is hard not to take it personally--both for those who are finally voting to approve marriage equality and for those who surely now know plenty of good and awesome gay people, but who are still clinging to discrimination.
It feels monumental, historical, and, honestly, exhausting. I am so grateful for all the people who organized, phone-banked and literally went door-to-door talking to folks in these states. These are amazing victories--the first ever achieved by vote. What we hope this means is that we will eventually be able to overturn some of the discrimination that has been built into state constitutions (like ours in Oregon) but there is also something bittersweet about stitching together rights state by state--rights still for some but not for all.
We are solidly the first generation encouraged, cajoled and pressured to be "out"--there was a sense that if we all came out of the closet, our visibility would inspire change and this has been true. What has also been true is the painful, soul-searing backlash. Teri and I realized last night that these victories would not be met without plenty of push-back from those who are convinced that all this equality is just the sort of shameful horror that will bring about the end times. So, out of habit, in the midst of all the Yay! we were bracing ourselves for the Yuck.
Meanwhile, there were/are other things that matter to us too: Maryland also approved a measure that would allow immigrants who have attended high school to pay in-state tuition for college; many of our local bond measures to pay for schools, road repairs and parks were passed; and progressive ballot measures legalizing recreational marijuana use (and thus decriminalizing while paving the way for taxes to support the public coffers) passed in Washington and Colorado--but, alas, not here in Oregon. Tammy Baldwin was elected as state senator in Wisconsin--first woman and first out lesbian to hold that office. The state of New Hampshire now has an all-female delegation--including a female governor. The presidential race mattered as well, but it was one piece of a whole lotta big and heavy stuff!
I know full well that just as we are feeling cautiously optimistic and breathing a little easier this morning, there are those who are praying fervently or brooding about the disgusting trajectory of America. I've already read the remarks about how "we Christians need to stick together" and a variety of racial and homophobic slurs. In other words, it's not a clean win. It feels like hard-won progress but not really a victory. We know the battles are important but we have to fortify ourselves for the rest of the journey.