Wed­dings & Fu­ner­als

GA Voice - - Outspoken -

“Our move­ment is wont to high­light the sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween our cru­sade and the plight of African-Amer­i­cans, but the un­for­tu­nate tim­ing of re­cent episodes show that the two are, not only dif­fer­ent, but headed in op­po­site di­rec­tions.”

It’s tempt­ing to think we’re at the part of a wed­ding when the of­fi­ciant asks if any­one knows any rea­son why LGBT Amer­i­cans should not wed: there’s ev­ery rea­son to be op­ti­mistic, but also a faint con­cern that some peo­ple could raise ob­jec­tions that make the LGBT move­ment wipe the “Just Mar­ried” paint off the idling limousine.

As close as we feel we are to be­ing able to say, “I do,” we’re ac­tu­ally at a much ear­lier stage in this process: await­ing parental ap­proval. Should a ma­jor­ity of U.S. Supreme Court jus­tices give their bless­ings to same-sex unions, as they are ex­pected to do within days, it will be time to win over the rest of the fam­ily.

Many folks will share our joy, even if some of them whis­per their mis­giv­ings in pri­vate com­pany, while oth­ers are ready­ing to lie in the wed­ding aisle to pre­vent us from ex­chang­ing vows. There are many peo­ple whose own grief and frus­tra­tion leave them in no mood to celebrate, and LGBT Amer­i­cans ought not let tears of joy blind us to the tears and blood flow­ing from those we claim as kin in the strug­gle for hu­man rights.

We were mer­ci­fully spared the un­seemly jux­ta­po­si­tion of LGBT folks cel­e­brat­ing a mar­riage equal­ity vic­tory on Thurs­day, June 18, as Amer­i­cans mourned the ter­ror­ist at­tack car­ried out by a white su­prem­a­cist against wor­shipers at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Epis­co­pal Church. Our move­ment is wont to high­light the sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween our cru­sade and the plight of African-Amer­i­cans, but the un­for­tu­nate tim­ing of re­cent episodes show that the two are, not only dif­fer­ent, but headed in op­po­site di­rec­tions.

Our an­tic­i­pa­tion of the April 28 oral ar­gu­ments in the mar­riage case cur­rently be­fore the Supreme Court, Oberge­fell v. Hodges, re­mained en­thu­si­as­tic, even while Bal­ti­more smol­dered af­ter yet another black man re­ceived a death sen­tence for a petty of­fense. Some of us didn’t set­tle for sim­ply be­ing ob­tuse, in­stead chastis­ing black ri­ot­ers with­out any recog­ni­tion that our own move­ment be­gan when LGBT peo­ple started throw­ing bricks at New York po­lice of­fi­cers, locked them in­side the Stonewall Inn and set the joint ablaze.

It’s en­cour­ag­ing that many LGBT groups is­sue press re­leases to ex­press sol­i­dar­ity dur­ing African-Amer­i­can crises, although when an or­ga­ni­za­tion’s in­ter­nal re­view con­cludes that it is a “white men’s club,” as with the Hu­man Rights Cam­paign’s re­cent case of self-aware­ness, it’s clear that LGBT Amer­ica is not apart from the awak­en­ing and re­demp­tion that is de­manded of our na­tion on the is­sues of color and cul­ture.

If we fancy our­selves as be­ing con­cerned with so­cial jus­tice, we must en­gage in such con­ver­sa­tions be­yond when our civil rights are be­ing dis­cussed. Those who feel over­whelmed by pow­er­less­ness to change the racial ills of our so­ci­ety might want to draw upon their own mi­nor­ity ex­pe­ri­ence and re­mem­ber that the in­dif­fer­ence of friends can be as hurt­ful as an­tag­o­nism from op­po­nents.

Per­haps our vic­tory in mar­riage will make plain to us that the elec­tion of Pres­i­dent Obama ush­ered in a “post-racial” so­ci­ety as much as Re­con­struc­tion did. We would be righ­teously of­fended if some­one sug­gested that mar­riage equal­ity meant ho­mo­pho­bia and trans­pho­bia were sud­denly ex­tinct, and we would take ex­cep­tion to a new group com­ing along and anoint­ing it­self as “the new civil rights move­ment,” as we have so reck­lessly done.

Hate en­dures, as ev­i­denced by the or­ga­ni­za­tion that was founded in de­fense of slav­ery, the South­ern Bap­tist Con­ven­tion, dust­ing off its big­oted bay­o­net to de­clare spir­i­tual war­fare against LGBT Amer­i­cans. Our com­mit­ment to de­fend­ing our­selves and our al­lies from in­jus­tice must be sin­cere and tire­less.

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