Let Freedom Ring

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Chez Pazienza
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gay marriage

I'll make this quick and to the point.

I don't know what decisions the Supreme Court will return regarding California's Prop 8 and the national Defense of Marriage Act, but in the end it will hardly matter. Oh, sure, it will certainly matter in the short term because it will immediately affect the lives of millions of gay Americans, men and women looking for nothing more from our nation's legal system than the same rights it affords their straight counterparts: the right to marry the ones they love. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Prop 8 and DOMA, legalized gay marriage across the United States -- afforded the full faith and credit of the United States -- may wind up being deferred to another date, very likely in the not-so-distant future. But make no mistake: gay marriage, as a legally accepted practice from coast to coast, is going to happen. It's an inevitability, no matter how desperately those who want to cling to the past try to stop it.

The reason for this is simple and it involves the very nature of freedom, that which we hold dearest in this country. The unavoidable reality is that freedom expands. It will not be denied and it cannot be contained once it's been allowed to flourish, even in the smallest of ways. The genie is well out of the bottle when it comes to same-sex marriage in the United States and it won't be put back in at this point. History is already written in stone on this because we've seen the same sort of thing happen so many times before and our society as it exists today is a living example of its ultimate outcome. We live in a world where it's impossible to imagine separate-but-equal laws dividing the races by color, or women deprived of the right to vote, or Americans living with disabilities discriminated against as a matter of acceptable practice. And all of this was because the first steps toward justice were taken years ago -- all leading us here, now.

The Supreme Court exists so the decisions that should be beyond the whim of the electorate can be made. We trust the members of the court to be smarter and more just than we are and to make the judgments that we can't and some judgments we shouldn't. There are things that shouldn't be put to a vote, that should in fact be out of reach of the most ignorant, timid and demagogic among us. The right of each of us to be treated equally to the rest of our fellow Americans isn't the kind of thing that should be subject to a public referendum. It doesn't matter what the often easily terrified masses, content in their complacency and threatened by the possibility of freedom for all, want or need. All that matters is what's right.

Marriage equality is right. It's right because equality itself is right. It exists as one of the founding principles of this country. The reality of legal and even socially accepted same-sex marriage is a guarantee. In time, an America in which we denied millions of our citizens the right to love who and how they please will be as unthinkable and unconscionable as an America in which black people were restricted to their own water fountains and women were voiceless in government. Someday, we'll look back on those days -- these days -- and hang our heads in shame. The question is how long we want to postpone history and to try to stop what's not simply inevitable but what's fair. What's right. What's American.

Yes, in time gay marriage will be legal from state to state, coast to coast. But there's no reason that time shouldn't begin right now.