Today I’m celebrating President Obama’s statement this week that he personally supports gay marriage. Yes, celebrating.
I’m a little late, I know. I wasn’t ready yet, not that soon after the passage of North Carolina’s Amendment 1. Everything was still too raw and painful. Even good news hurt. But I’ve rested and given myself time and put in a bunch of manual labor (which makes a difference). Now I’m ready, and I’m going to celebrate.
When I put up a post on Thursday mocking the idea that Obama’s statement would undermine heterosexual relationships. Someone came along then, decided I was celebrating, and told me it was “fucking offensive”. To those who would like to do that now: Knock it the fuck off.
Celebration is a natural reaction to a positive change. It’s not the only natural reaction, of course. Some people just keep their head down and keep working without any need to celebrate. For some people, a step forward highlights the distance yet to go. They can’t celebrate that. Some people are just tired of fighting and don’t have much resources to celebrate with.
And some people celebrate.
In this case, some people, myself included, remember that DOMA was put in place 16 years ago to keep states from meaningfully granting their citizens equality, and that the most progressive member of the Senate voted for it (on religious grounds, of course). We know that a statement from a centrist president about leaving this up to the states is progress. That progress is worth celebrating.
Some of us see the President’s statement as a measure of how much society has changed. That is well worth celebrating. We know too that this statement coming from this source will add to the ongoing normalization of the idea of marriage equality among those people who just don’t think about it much, the swing voters. As someone in a state that has a constitutional amendment on the topic on the ballot in November, let me tell you just how much that is worth celebrating.
When I celebrate those things, that doesn’t mean I think the fight is done. It doesn’t mean I’m forgetting about the gross injustices that exist. It just means I see progress, and I am celebrating it.
Then, tomorrow, I’ll keep on fighting, a little better rested, a little more hopeful, a little stronger for both. I’ll be happier too that among the people who celebrated were many of the people most directly affected by the fight. They have to bear the greatest indignities in this fight. Celebrating small victories means that not all the joy is reserved for that next generation who don’t have to fight this same fight. Those who fight now should be entitled to it as well.
If you’re one of those who isn’t celebrating now, well, you certainly don’t need me to tell you that’s your right. If you’re not celebrating because you’re in the kind of shape that can keep right on fighting, I thank you. If you’re not celebrating because you can’t, I grieve for you.
Whatever you do, however, don’t tell people not to celebrate. It serves its purpose, and an awful lot of people have earned this celebration.