Good News That Wasn't

It’s all over the twitterverse right now: The California State Supreme Court just overturned the gay marriage ban. What we have learned more recently is that we are all basing these tweets on links to an article which is dated 2008 (a year ago). Thus, it is not, in fact, true.

Watching the elated exclamations followed shortly thereafter by dejected realization that Prop 8 remains in effect has been hard. The let down of that realization is hard. Again.

And again I find myself frustrated and bothered that people are so insecure in their own marriages that they feel those marriages will be threatened if gays and lesbians are allowed to marry. I perform weddings because I believe them to be a sacred act between people who love each other and are making a commitment to one another. When I do weddings, I like to include a mention of the lack of marriage equality as an issue. I would perform same-sex weddings, were I asked. And I remain astounded by the bigotry of the American people, and the willingness of the courts to allow that bigotry to stand.

There are constitutional amendments that are not constitutional. A ban on African-American drivers, for instance, even as a constitutional amendment, would not, I think , be constitutional. I would argue the same is inherently true of same-sex marriage. Marriage, as a legal institution, either exists for everyone or no one. As a legal institution, it is on a par with the formation of a corporation (indeed, it seems to be very similar to the formation of a corporation). As a spiritual issue, neither the voters, the court, nor any government body get a say. That’s what separation of church and state is about. It means that I, as the interpreter of Judaism, have the authority to make the decision about who may spiritually wed in a Jewish setting. It also means that other rabbis, ministers, etc., may choose to differently interpret who may wed, and may not be forced to celebrate same-sex weddings if they violate their understanding of their spiritual tradition.

Once again, I find myself worked up over this issue. Not because of a twitter meme that popped up mistakenly today. Not because little has changed on this issue today (though the governor of New Hampshire did announce today that he would sign a gay-marriage bill). I am worked up because I live in a country (and state) where the majority of the citizenry are bigots and the courts have not acted decisively on this issue. There will come a time when we look back on this era, not with amazement at how fast things are changing, but with disgust at our hypocrisy, as we now look back at the segregated south.

There are those who point out how far we’ve come, and how quickly. And it is true. Just a decade ago, when I talked about same-sex marriage, everyone else in the room thought we’d be lucky to see it within our lifetimes. Nonetheless, it is not acceptable to congratulate oneself on the pace of reform while in process of moving from moral bankruptcy to moral compliance until the change is complete.

We will get to a place of equality. We will overcome this legalized bigotry. But until then, our world is broken.