This week has been big for the forces of love and compassion and equality, and a pretty dark one for those who celebrate a heritage of hate, for those who don’t care about doing the Christian thing for our sick and injuried, and for those who want to deny to others that happy ending to which we all aspire.
Of course, I’m talking about the three wins over the Confederate flag, Obamacare, and marriage equality. In each case, the outcome will make the country better, even as it givens its aging opponents reasons to be irate for the next few days, months, or election cycles. No good can come from continuing to legitimize a failed rebellion that stood for slavery and white supremacy. No good can come from denying our most vulnerable citizens access to affordable healthcare when they need it, as everyone eventually does. No good can come from discriminating against millions of deeply committed couples on the basis of their genders. A kinder, gentler America requires change on all these fronts, and the victories this week gives me hope that that America will be realized in my lifetime.
Specifically on marriage equality, Justice Anthony Kennedy’s conclusion in the majority opinion is perhaps the most poignant piece of non-fiction I have read in a long, long time:
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.
The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed.
It is so ordered.
There is far more work to be done to restore America to its rightful place as defender and leader of the forces of freedom and compassion against those who would turn back the clock to a darker time. But this week was a giant step forward.