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Another step, ever forward

I feel I should write about the very exciting DOMA decision, but I don’t have anything really to say. I have the impression, from the little I’ve read, that the decision is unlikely to stand at the Supreme Court level, but one never knows, do one?

I will say this: when we talked about it with the Perfect Non-Reader (who is almost nine, now, believe it or not), I was utterly thrilled to be able to say that in our state, like in Massachusetts and a handful of other states, two adults who want to get married and can show that they understand what marriage is and what the responsibilities are can do so. And have her show that (a) she understood what the issue was, and (2) that she not only agreed that we should let people marry each other, but was essentially unable to see arguments for restricting marriage.

I know that even if this does stand, it’s yet another tiny step away from institutionalized bigotry, hatred and discrimination. But each tiny step is a step. I remember (from back before Andrew Sullivan was a blogger) when there was a big discussion about where to push gay rights—twenty years ago anyone who wasn’t perceived as straight was subject to discrimination in employment, in the military, in medical care, in law enforcement, in family law (not just marriage but adoption, divorce, visitation rights, all of that), in education—heck, the Castro Sweep was in 1989. I don’t really remember where I came down on the issue, but I vaguely and possibly inaccurately remember thinking that the people who wanted to divert attention from the military ban or AIDS funding to the right to marry were utterly mad. There were limited resources, after all, a finite number of attorneys and fund-raisers, and helping people in the here and now was more important than some pie-in-the-sky idea that we would make marriage equal.

Well, and I (again vaguely and possibly inaccurately) remember there was a big cultural divide between people who wanted to celebrate the queerness, if you will, of non-heterosexuals, and people who wanted to celebrate the normality. People who wanted to emphasize the difference, and people who wanted to emphasize the similarities. Or, perhaps, people who wanted to attack the normative notions of sex and family, and people who wanted to expand those notions to include more people. I was younger, then, and hornier; I thought the Castro Street Fair with its nudity, S/M and fetish gear, and general kink was just the best thing ever. But I also thought it was great that when I worked as a temp at a bank, my boss and co-worker were gay; one was a button-down executive type in a long-term domestic partnership and one was a moustachioed flamboyant queen with a new story every week. They got along fine, and I got along fine with them. The cultural divide wasn’t actually that big.

And the resource argument wasn’t all that, either. We have made tremendous progress on all those fronts. Not everything, not everywhere, and not all the way (alas), but many, many more non-straights have many, many more protections (legal but also social and cultural) in many, many more aspects of their lives. It’s not enough—but like I say about America, it’s not supposed to ever be enough, it’s about always working toward liberty and equality, not about getting to some magical there where we don’t have to work anymore.

So. One more step. And even when this is overturned, and I do think at least the Gill case will be, even the fact that this one federal judge issued this opinion to be overturned is another step. So. Well done, Judge Tauro.

Tolerabimus quod tolerare debemus,