Capturing Historic Moments: A Time for Hope
By Jean Hodges
Both Desmund Tutu and Martin L. King Jr. have said that “The arc of history is long but it bends toward justice.” Those words echoed in my mind when I was recently in the cast of “8”, listening to the words of the two lawyers from opposing political parties who teamed up to take on California’s ban on gay marriages, Proposition 8, to federal court. As I listened to the words from the court records during our one Boulder performance on December 6, I never dreamed that the Supreme Court would announce the very next day that they would hear arguments challenging both Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act. “It’s happening so fast,” I said to myself. Maybe I will live long enough to see my gay sons legally marry in Colorado!
What is the argument for the freedom to marry? As Theodore Olson, one of the lawyers stated in fed- eral court: “I believe, Your Honor, that there is a political tide turning. I think that people’s eyes are being opened. People are becoming more understanding and tolerant. The polls tell us that. That isn’t any secret”. He went on to say that this case is going to be in a court where a judge is going to have to depend on more than public opinion; he will need to decide on a reason with real evidence that marriage equality does or does not do actual harm to society. He proclaimed that ”it is not acceptable under our Constitution to deprive any citizens basic human rights that are guaranteed in our Constitution.” He said to the judge: “You cannot say, ‘We are going to take away the constitutional right to liberty, privacy, association, and sexual intimacy that we already tell you you have!’ So that case will now be heard by the Supreme Court sometime in April. And we wait breathlessly for the next historic moment.
Lest we feel too confident…… we still have Utah…Missouri,…Montana… North Carolina. I was in North Carolina this past spring just a week before the vote about including the ban on same-sex marriage in their Constitution. I read the Charlotte newspaper’s front page and saw that special feature highlighted the words of Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham, who spoke of the “sanctity of marriage” and “disobeying God’s commands.” Other articles that were supportive of gay marriage were buried on back pages. One brave progressive Baptist minister wrote that the issue behind the vote was really about the separation of church and state, established by our Founders. Religious beliefs should not govern state policies. Didn’t our recent election cycle support that claim?
At the same time in April, the United Methodist Church met in world-wide General Conference in Tampa to once again refuse to take out anti-gay policies from their Book of Discipline which governs church polity. Even so, our local FUMC pastors, Pat Bruns and Joe Agne, announced soon after the Tampa meetings that they were joining with other UM clergy across the country to defy church policy and would perform same-sex ceremonies in their church.
So there is room for hope. This year our first sitting President took a public stand on marriage equality. After thirty-two states over the past 20 years have banned same-sex marriage, in November, four states voted either to preserve the right to marriage equality in Maine or to vote against a ban in Maryand, Minnesota and Washington. Yes, the tide is turning. The arc of history is bending closer to justice; it is made up of historic moments that create eventual change. Stay tuned for the Supreme Court’s decision this spring.