The Supreme Court Ruling On Gay Marriage Is On The Right Side Of History

by Leigh Anderson
Originally Published: 

Today the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage, and those basic rights belong to everyone, as the arc of history bends towards justice. Justice Kennedy, writing for the majority:

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

My own marriage has brought me more comfort and satisfaction than any other thing I’ve done. In choosing my husband as a life partner, we have become something greater, together, than we once were, alone. But that is largely because we have taken a place in a community that values and supports marriage. We have comfort and support and social standing as a lawfully married couple. I am proud to introduce him as my husband, to be publicly and legally obligated to him, as he is to me. No one questioned this at the births of our children, when we enrolled them in school or during the already-too-many times we’ve helped each through medical crises. Our estate will be settled in a predictable way. The community lifts and carries us over all of a family’s milestones, transitions, celebrations and griefs, large to small. This is our great privilege.

As I was writing this, the news came in that a dear friend’s wife of 30 years has died. He nursed her through her final illness, and now she is gone. Even through our tears, we know what to do now: Can we help? Call the synagogue or the funeral home? Call our mutual friends? When is the service, where is the shiva? For a heterosexual couple, the mechanisms for handling the logistics of death and mourning are in place, just as they are for the other profound moments of life. To deny gay couples those mechanisms is to deprive them of the support of their community and the larger community at large—their country. As of today, the country has included its same-sex citizens in this web of support, both social and legal, that has been denied to them too long. I am profoundly proud of the institution of marriage today, and proud of my country.

President Obama said in his speech today, “This victory is a ruling for America.” It is. Too many vulnerable people have been left out in the cold, unprotected by the wider community. This is one more step towards a more humane America, one that doesn’t privilege one group at the expense of another.

As of today, thank God, that isn’t possible anymore, at least on this subject. For my gay friends: I will be proud to dance at your weddings. Let the jokes begin.

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