“The arc of the moral universe is long. But it bends toward justice.”
– Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King 1929-1968
Beginning this morning, history will be made at the United States Supreme Court. Today, in oral arguments before the Court, advocates make the case that there exists a constitutional right to same-sex marriage that states may not deny. The case is California’s Prop 8, which voters passed in 2008 to define marriage as between a man and woman. It ended the joyous rush to the alter of same-sex couples after that state’s Supreme Court made it legal. The legal challenge worked its way through California courts, now to the highest court in the land. The Obama administration’s Department of Justice is arguing for an “8-state solution” that would bring marriage equality to New Jersey, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, and Rhode Island — on the grounds that Prop 8 and other “separate but unequal” civil union/domestic partnership laws are violate equal protection. The Supreme Court also hears DOMA this week; it is the law of the land, but the Obama administration has already declined to defend it.
One of the many amicus curiae briefs submitted on behalf of the gay California couple at the center of today’s case comes from Garden State Equality. Read it here. New Jersey is, in all ways except by law, a marriage equality state. By 2-1.
I’ve been thinking all day of the many, many people who brought us to this moment. Among gay people, it is mainly those whose names we will never know because our laws forced them to live their lives and fall in and out of love in secrecy and often in fear. Along with those who spoke out.
Gay people are waiting for justice, in a country that often fails to provide it. Women know this. Immigrants know this. Disabled people know this. Black people know this.
As gay people await these decisions, so do straight people like me. What is right is right. We all live better when the people around us are treated as they should be. The gay rights movement follows a path set down by the civil rights movement of the 1960s, and heroes known and unknown. But it also takes that movement’s great lesson; that we move forward as a nation when we give a damn about the people around us; their lives, their freedom, their opportunities, their happiness.
The arc of the moral universe is long. It bends toward justice. Good luck, everybody.