Tuesday, January 18, 2011

On Martin Luther King Jr., Loving, and Homonormativity

Call me a sap, a hopeless romantic, homonormative, or just plain stupid, but I really want to get married some day.  I admit, I love romance flicks (good ones preferably) and cried like a baby the first time I saw Love Actually.  Weddings are nigh on unbearable as a single gay man with no prospects.  It is from here that I would like to start.

If you recall my previous post, I mentioned my old Yeshiva friend's wedding.  It was absolutely beautiful, and being a small, homespun affair, I was happily thrust into the midst of making it happen.  Throughout the day, from setup until leaving, I was bombarded by questions and set-up offers from total strangers.  "You're how old?  And not even dating!?  Its time!  I know the perfect girl for you."  While they were certainly well meaning and generally backed off when I said I wasn't really interested (except one very persistent woman who wouldn't take no for an answer), it was really painful to not just be alone at my friend's wedding, but to have to actively hide my orientation while turning down offer after offer, and to know that even if I found someone wonderful that he may not be accepted by my family and that we wouldn't have the right to get married ourselves.

Some 44 years ago, Mildred and Richard Loving won their landmark case (Loving v. Virginia) in the Supreme Court which brought to an end all racially motivated legal restrictions on marriage.  Until then, the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 backed by Pace v. Alabama blocked marriage by interracial couples.  The Court recognized this discriminatory law as unjust, calling marriage one of the "basic civil rights of man" and "fundamental to our very existence."  Yet today, this basic right is still denied to many.  Gay couples, lesbian couples, cis/trans couples and others are yet unable to marry in most states.  Mildred Loving is among those who realize the injustice yet standing; hopefully someday soon, our nation will recognize the rights of all to marry whomever they choose.

Yesterday, we celebrated the life and influence of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (z"l) and the pervasiveness of his dream that all people be treated as equals.  I am afraid that his dream is yet unrealized.  Integration, at least on the surface, is a struggle of the past, yet even then, not all were recognized as deserving of freedom, security, and comfort.  Still today, Blacks are treated with fear and hatred, Jews suffer antisemitic slurs and attacks, and all minority groups must deal with their lack of privilege.  "We cannot be satisfied" until all are treated as equals, "brothers under the skin," in both word and deed.  There is still much work to do.

When I finally find Mr. Right and fall head over heels in love, I do hope that he and I might be able to share the same rights and privileges as our straight married friends.  I pray that he and I might have the right to marry, to celebrate our love in a public way like anyone else.  I dream of being able to walk arm in arm down the street or share a kiss in the restaurant on our anniversary without fear of violence or persecution.  "To kiss in the sunlight and say to the sky: behold and believe what you see.  Behold how my lover loves me."

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