When I was a little girl in Manhattan, in the warm spring months, men could at last roll up their sleeves. On my way home from school, I’d stop into the local candy store, pick out my treat and offer my quarter to “the candy man.” That’s what we called him. As he gave me my candy, I noticed tattooed numbers on his arm. It wasn’t until years later I realized he’d survived some death camp imprisonment during World War II. He had been identified as an “other.” That’s all it took to de-humanize him but that was enough.
It was basically the same during the struggle for Civil RIghts in the 60’s. Black-Americans fought to exercise constitutional rights enabling them to live as fully equal citizens and never again to be thought of as “less than” or defined by an “other” status. Barriers started to break. “Virginia vs. Loving” ruled that state bans on interracial marriage were unconstitutional.
My young life was filled with aunts, uncles, cousins, friends and extended family of gay uncles, who were friends and colleagues of my parents. They were part of the precious crowd who occupied my village, listened to the dreams and poems of a young artist and encouraged me to trust my heart. They widened the circle of love I called family. I was not privy to the heartache and shadows they had to live in, marginalized by the wider society. It would be a long while until I knew how gay and lesbian teens and adults would be bullied, abused and once again be defined by that peculiar concept of “otherness.”
That is why Friday’s ruling by the Supreme Court of The United States was as poignant as it was powerful, especially Justice Kennedy’s swing vote whereby he stated the ruling provided “equal dignity in the eyes of the law.”
For the sake of our children, and consistent with our founding fathers who forged this great nation based upon the enlightened notion that, in effect, God believes in us to do right by supporting life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, what could be more inspiring than for all the citizens of these united states to live with equal dignity under the law?