Monday, January 11, 2010


Former Solicitor General Ted Olson has written a truly important piece on gay marriage rights in America. (Olson has joined David Boies, his nemesis in Bush v. Gore, in a federal lawsuit to overturn California’s Proposition 8 as unconstitutional.) Fortunately for me, he covers everything I wanted to say about gay marriage but didn’t possess the clear, legal, and logical opinion headmeat to write. You can read it here. (I’ve claimed my stake from an entry by Andrew Sullivan.)

One thing I want to add, and something that Olson addresses in the piece, is the idea we have that somehow progressed ages from other types of discrimination. I’ve given this idea a test run on X and some friends and I think it’s is important to understand. When you look back to Brown v. Board (1954) and Loving v. Virginia (1967) and really take the time to just process those dates – 1954 and 1967 – you’re more likely to believe that it took way too long to overcome segregation and discrimination; yet it's not been long enough to be fully destroyed. I use my parents as a measuring stick of time – not opinion – when I sort this out in my head. My father would have been a rising college junior when the United States finally decided that ‘separate but equal’ was unconstitutional. My father. Not my grandfather or some distant ancestor from the 19th century: my father. At a university, studying, planning a family (me included) when we decided as a country that segregation was illegal. It stuns me to think of what it would be like to be a 20 year-old man and living in a time when a country finally decided that blacks and whites must be allowed to attend the same schools. If you contemplate the amount of time that black Americans have had to grow and succeed in our country it's the smallest of eras: my father’s working life. Period. Yet, we somehow expect that we’ve solved all the racial issues of our country in a blink of the eye. As for Loving, I was two years old when the Court decided that blacks and whites could not be prohibited from marrying. Suddenly, we aren’t even digging back to some generation of my family that came before. It happened in my lifetime and I’m all of (nearly) 45.

What does it mean, to me? It means that when I look at the gay marriage issue and consider transporting myself back to when my father was 20, and putting myself in that time and place – knowing what we as a country now know, it would be truly embarrassing to live through the debate of integration. And if I can look forward in my life to when I’m 65, I’ll be embarrassed for the current me to have lived through a period where basic civil rights were ignored by so much of my country.

That's all I've got...


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