Why the Gay Marriage
Decision of the Supreme Court Matters Even More Than the One on Obamacare
To my kids, this is a non-issue.
For them, having friends who are gay has about the same
novelty as having a black fraternity brother had to me.
In one sense when my black ZBT brother had his first dinner
ever in a white household with my parents and me on Long Island in 1968, it
seemed momentous. It wasn’t to my folks who were libertarians before it was
fashionable or I even knew they were libertarians. They were anxious to have
Sandy from South Carolina, son of a sharecropper and soon to be an MBA with a
Duke undergraduate degree, have dinner in their home. It was both a big deal
and no big deal simultaneously.
Today, our extended family has a gay couple in it and we
welcome the new addition. It is both a big deal and no big deal at all and we
made damned sure that’s how it went down at the recent wedding that we all
attended with significant others of all religious and sexual preferences.
Today, the Supreme Court ended discrimination of a major
kind the fight for which began in earnest during my lifetime with the Stonewall
riots of 1969. From that time, through the AIDS epidemic, to openly gay
characters in movies and TV and on to the “coming out” of one preference or
another of numerous prominent Americans from Barney Frank to Caitlyn Jenner,
America has rapidly moved from a country of intolerance of various sexual
preferences and gender identities, to a country that embraces all of the
diversity humanity continues to muster. Thank goodness. It went a lot faster than our tolerance of
racial differences which still has a long way to go.
What the Supreme Court finally said today was that all
Americans have basic human rights and one of those rights is to choose who and
how they love another person regardless of who that person is. This is long
overdue. On the one hand it is shameful it took this long and there undoubtedly
will be hold outs, mostly among the GOP Presidential candidates who are going
to have to dance pretty hard around this one if they want to be elected by this
America. On the other, it has been breathtaking to see the progress transpire
in less than 50 years.
Cultures move slowly unless propelled into rapid action by
individuals who simply see injustice and can no longer live with it. In 100
years Americans of all sexual preferences will be talking about Anthony Kennedy
the way we talk about Abraham Lincoln today for as sure as Lincoln began a
process through war to free a large number of Americans who were deemed by
their fellow countrymen to be less than fully Americans, Justice Kennedy cast a
vote that finally brought some justice to a large number of Americans who chose
to be gay about as much as a black person choses to be black. It doesn’t work
that way and the evidence is overwhelming that it doesn’t.
As momentous as the Obamacare decision by the Court was,
this is far more important. Now no one can tell anyone else who to love, who to
live with, who to raise children with or who to care for in times of tragedy
like terminal illness. We, as the medical community, should embrace this day,
too. No longer will we have to worry about who has the right to determine the
fate or make the key decisions for an ill loved one. That’s done. Good! It
should have been years ago.
To some, it may seem like no big deal to decide who and when
to marry whomever one wishes. But it is. But now, maybe it won’t be.