It’s been a big week at our house, and it’s all pretty exciting.
As I write, I’m watching a couple of workers in a Bobcat and an excavator decimate the brick walls on our terraced back yard. They’ve been at it most of the week.
We either had to get another house or tear down the crumbling walls and let the landscape people eliminate our minor hills for one big one. A few days ago, I couldn’t have imagined the change.
But a bigger change came Wednesday when U.S. District Judge Richard Young declared Indiana’s ban on gay marriage violated the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause in the 14th Amendment.
The next day, I opened the paper not only to see this most welcome news but a photograph of an old friend at a courthouse computer filling out a marriage license for her an her partner. Harriet and Monica had been two of the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit.
That first day after the court decision nearly 60 gay couples in our county alone filed the necessary papers to marry. The news story in The Journal Gazette called the ancient courthouse downtown “wedding central.”
My wife Toni and I have had lots of gay and lesbian friends through the years. Our Unitarian Universalist congregation openly welcomes gay as well as heterosexual couples, a point made as we recite the church’s covenant at each worship service. So we cheered Judge Young’s ruling.
I expected the state attorney general to file a motion in the federal court to stay the decision. He did just that. Late Friday, an appeals court complied. But as Martin Luther King Jr. used to say about the arc of history, that it’s long but “It bends toward justice.”
Common sense. That’s what the editorial declared the morning after Judge Young’s ruling. Yes, from my perspective, legally recognizing the commitment that gay couples share toward one another makes a lot of sense.
The law is catching up with history. Lower court rulings, such as Judge Young’s, tell you where gay marriage is headed. Just within the last few years, 17 consecutive court decisions in different states have upheld the right of gay persons to marry.
Decisions are pending in 31 other states. The District of Columbia has honored gay marriage for several years.
In Utah, it was a federal appeals court that overturned that state’s gay marriage ban.
This clearly is a national trend, touching every community. States that now must recognize the right of gay persons run the gamut of conservative to liberal and several middle-of-road.
Moreover, the arguments against gay marriage just don’t stand up. Opponents, for example, argue that it takes a mother and father to raise a mentally healthy, happy child. But the reality is that gay couples have been raising emotionally healthy and happy children. For years.
Citing the Bible doesn’t get you anywhere. Solomon was said to have had 70 wives, a suspect number giving the ancient superstition about the magic of numbers, such as 70, 40 and 12. Whatever the real number, you’d call that polygamy, condemned centuries later in the New Testament. In Matthew Jesus is reported as condemning lust.
In our age, the overriding challenge is human rights. For everyone.
Gay couples deserve the right to visit their partner in the hospital, whatever the prejudices of family members. Gay couples deserve the right to have a say in the partner’s care, in the same way a person does in a heterosexual marriage.
And what about when the loved one dies? The gay partner deserves the right to inherit the benefits of the loved one’s insurance policy and personal items – just like any heterosexual spouse.
I can only imagine now the sense of relief, of vindication and of hope that our own gay and lesbian friends must be feeling this week. Judge Young has welcomed them into full, respected and equal members of every community in the state.
Yes, quite a week. Walls down in my backyard. Walls coming down in America.