The election truly was historic. I made sure to come home from work before the polls closed so that I could watch the election coverage as the results unfolded. I watched as the electoral votes from California were announced and Senator Barack Obama became President-elect Barack Obama. I listened attentively as John McCain delivered a very moving and gracious concession speech, and I eagerly awaited Barack Obama’s victory speech.
As I listened to Barack Obama’s speech, I kept thinking about how far this country has come in terms of racial discrimination yet how much widespread and accepted discrimination of gays there still is. There were many moments during the election coverage last night when I heard African-Americans feeling like they are no longer “second-class citizens.” Unfortunately, there does still exist a second-class of citizens. And I am one of them.
Even before the results of Proposition 8 were confirmed, I already knew that California would fail me (as much as I hoped otherwise). The unyielding determination of so many Americans to hinder the freedoms of one class of people is so strong that the passing of Proposition 8, I feel, was inevitable. I wasn’t at all surprised that all the anti-gay ballot initiatives around the nation were passed. As much as I’m glad that Barack Obama is going to be our next president, his victory for me is overshadowed by the sadness that so many people still feel so threatened by the “gay lifestyle.”
America was built on the idea that everyone has unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. No law in America should be able to take those away. As Chief Justice Earl Warren wrote, in the Loving v. Virginia decision in 1967 to allow interracial marriage:
The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.
How is it that over 40 years later, the freedom to marry is still a “vital personal right” that can not only be hindered but even be revoked?
In researching the Loving v. Virginia case, I found out that Mildred Loving gave a public statement on June 12, 2007, the 40th anniversary of that momentous court case. Here is the conclusion:
My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God’s plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation’s fears and prejudices have given way, and today’s young people realize that if someone loves someone, they have a right to marry.
Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don’t think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the “wrong kind of person” for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.
I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard’s and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That’s what Loving, and loving, are all about.
You can find the PDF of her statement here.
I only hope that I don’t have to wait 40 years to see my freedom restored.