Hear the wedding bells ring

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Bailes celebrate their one-year wedding anniversary and the one-year anniversary of a California Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex marriages
Bailes celebrate their one-year wedding anniversary and the one-year anniversary of a California Supreme Court ruling allowing same-sex marriages

What a time to be living! Just this morning, the U.S. Supreme Court declared gay couples in every state enjoy the constitutional right to marry.

No exceptions. No exclusions.

This is more than a victory for those gay couples living in the 14 states that have yet to grant these couples the right. The 5-4 decision certainly is a big win for them.

This is also a win for all of us who cherish the fundamental American values of freedom and equality. We’ve pledged “justice for all” since kindergarten. We’ve pledged it at the start of the school day. We’ve pledged it at ball games. We’ve pledged it our homes. Now the court has put some meaning in that pledge for gays.

Indeed, the court’s affirmation reminds us of what’s woven into the fabric of our Republic. To be sure, the arc of history can be long, as the old saying goes. “But it bends toward justice.” I love the solemn promise of that phrase.

I’m embarrassed to admit that in the many years I wrote editorials and columns for the morning paper in Fort Wayne I never said a thing about gay marriage. Nor did any other major daily, I’m sure. I don’t recall anyone at our very welcoming Unitarian congregation raising the question.

I retired from the paper in mid-2000. So in this case justice has come swiftly, within just a few short years. But I want to tell you, our church certainly has been prepared.

If any denomination has always openly welcomed gays and lesbians, it’s the Unitarian-Universalist churches. At beginning of our Sunday service the person presiding welcomes everyone no matter who you are or whom you love.

Here in Indiana, lower courts already have upheld gay couples’ right to legally marry. We attended once such wedding together. In that ceremony my wife Toni was honored to stand up with good friends as they exchanged vows.

With Friday’s high court decision, every state’s gay couples can now enjoy the rights and privileges. They can now feel the joy of having their rights as Americans affirmed, their full humanity upheld.

Maybe in time, the dissenting four conservative justices will come around to see that granting equality to gays was the only right decision. Consider that at the beginning not every Supreme Court justice embraced the New Deal, Social Security or Medicare.

I must add three more cheers that the Supreme Court, once again, affirmed this week the constitutionality of President Obama’s signature domestic achievement, the Affordable Care Act – Obamacare.

More struggles for a just and peaceful society remain. I know that. Too many families don’t get the boost they need to join the middle class. Too many children remain in segregated schools. Too many elderly citizens waste away in their own homes alone and forgotten. Too many guns are in the hands of the wrong people.

But with affordable health care now affirmed, with the right of gays to marry secured, this surely is a time to celebrate. If you see me in the next few days and I’ve wearing that old Larry Hayes grin from ear to ear, you’ll know exactly why I’m so happy.

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