Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Maybe a box of chocolates. Perhaps a quiet, romantic, candle-lit dinner with a festive bottle of champagne. It could even mean a special present like a piece of jewelry or even some sexy underwear.
Sometimes, it even means a proposal of marriage.
For lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, that proposal is inching closer and closer to something that might actually mean more than the utilitarian, pragmatic, sterile-sounding 'Domestic Partnership' or 'Civil Union'.
Yesterday, the state of New Jersey decisively voted for Marriage Equality. Unfortunately, nothing will change. Not for awhile, anyway. Not until Governor Chris Christie becomes the one-term governor he said he would be and/or finally agrees to run for President of the United States (Lord, have mercy).
Christie has vowed to veto the bill. And, one thing I have to say about Christie: He is a man of firm principles and convictions who is unafraid to stand by them and on them.
One would be mistaken, however, to think the story will end there.
Everyone who called me last night to report on what they saw in the NJ Senate Chambers said it was striking to see how the debate has changed with time, and how one can almost see the arc of history bending toward justice for gays.
The idea of civil unions - which is now the 'law of the land' in NJ - was once seen as a way to ensure full rights without offending the traditionalists. It was rightly dismissed yesterday as an imposture for the real thing, as weak and phony as the promise of separate-but-equal schools in old Mississippi.
Six states now have full marriage equality, and somehow, traditional marriages have survived the blow. That scare tactic has been exposed.
Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) was quoted as saying, “The state should not be in the business of legally sanctioning homophobia. This is not steeped in traditional values. It is steeped in prejudice.”
Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) abstained in the vote on marriage equality two years ago for political reasons and almost immediately regretted it.
Yesterday, he finally had the chance to make amends. “What is silly is that we have to debate something as elementary as equal protection under the law for all citizens,” he said.
Next up is the Assembly, which is expected to pass this bill on Thursday, and then comes the governor’s inevitable veto. Christie says he wants to put the issue before voters, a move as clever as it is cynical. It will give him and fellow Republicans a place to retreat that will sound respectable to traditional, conservative ears.
But it would be as wrong as holding a referendum on interracial marriage, which most Americans opposed until the mid-1990s, despite the Supreme Court striking down Virginia’s ban three decades earlier.
So the real fight will be to gather enough votes to override the veto, which can be done anytime during this two-year session.
Slowly, slowly - state by state, inch by bloody inch - we are moving toward full Marriage Equality.
Proposition 8 was ruled unconstitutional in California. The State of Washington now has Marriage Equality. Even here in the First State of Delaware, we have Civil Unions. That, too, will move, eventually to full Marriage Equality.
It will be the best Valentine's Day present. Evah.
Eventually, we'll understand that love is not about gender. It is a matter of the heart. And, as that famous line goes, "The heart has reasons that Reason can not understand."
So, my friends, go out into this day and celebrate love. Celebrate that the members of God's Queer Rainbow Tribe are moving from second-tier status to full, productive citizens of the universe. Celebrate the long arc of history bending toward justice and equality and liberty.
I know. I know. There's still lots of prejudice and bigotry and hate in the world. I firmly believe that the reason we are making the advances in Marriage Equality is because all that ugliness and ignorance and stupidity is being exposed for what it is by LGBT people who are living and loving each other and their families.
So, on this Valentine's Day, here's my message: Love anyway. Let's love ourselves and others beyond hate and fear and gender and into full Marriage Equality.
It's like that line in that sappy, silly love song from the 60s:
What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It's the only thing that there's just too little of.
Today is the day to celebrate love - and the hope and transformation it brings to the human heart.
Here's to lovers - wherever and whoever you are!
Never doubt that love - your love - can change the world.
Especially when you love, anyway.