Let love win

I await the day when I can hold my hus­band’s hand in public

The Washington Post Sunday - - SUNDAY OPINION - BY MAU­RICE BLAN­CHARD The writer, a Bap­tist min­is­ter, is a plain­tiff in the Supreme Court case Bourke v. Bes­hear.

Be­fore April 28, I had rarely held my hus­band’s hand in public. This isn’t be­cause I dis­like public dis­plays of af­fec­tion. It was be­cause I usu­ally don’t feel safe enough to do it. My hus­band, Do­minique James, and I were ar­rested in 2013 as we peace­fully protested Ken­tucky’s re­fusal to grant legal recog­ni­tion to our mar­riage, and we are now among the plain­tiffs in the land­mark mar­riage-equal­ity cases set to be de­cided this month by the Supreme Court. As a same-sex cou­ple living in the South, we are all too aware of the po­ten­tially vi­o­lent con­se­quences of our sim­ply choos­ing to hold each other’s hand. Like so many other cou­ples, we learned early on to hide any in­di­ca­tion that we are to­gether while out in public.

But that morn­ing in April, we felt a full sense of the dig­nity in who God cre­ated us to be. It was a sa­cred mo­ment that is dif­fi­cult to put into words.

As we walked three blocks to the Supreme Court with the other plain­tiffs to hear oral ar­gu­ments, I held Do­minique’s hand in a world that was chang­ing be­fore our eyes. We held our heads high, smil­ing ear to ear, and it felt in­cred­i­ble. Crowds of mar­riage-equal­ity sup­port­ers cheered as we ap­proached, and I could see the re­flec­tion of God in the faces of all the LGBT folks and al­lies lining the side­walk. Some cried and pat­ted our shoul­ders. As we en­tered the court­house, each of those pre­cious broth­ers and sis­ters was with us in spirit, their hopes, dreams and faith in­ter­twined with our own in this his­toric civil rights case.

In­side, I once again felt God’s com­fort­ing pres­ence when a kind, older bailiff came to lead us into the court. I asked his name, and he smiled and said, “Moses.” Some will say this was mere co­in­ci­dence, but to me it was an­other re­minder that we were not alone. Our lov­ing God had de­liv­ered us to the very place that pos­sessed the legal author­ity to help cre­ate a promised land of equal­ity in th­ese United States. Egypt lay be­hind us, and we weren’t go­ing back.

Af­ter Moses es­corted us to our seats, we stood as the jus­tices en­tered. It was sur­real to see those nine larger-than-life in­di­vid­u­als sit­ting right there in front of us, all look­ing very se­ri­ous in their black robes. We lis­tened as the lawyers ar­gued for and against our rights and as some of the jus­tices ques­tioned the va­lid­ity of our re­quest for mar­riage equal­ity. We heard them dis­cuss whether our love was equal to that of het­ero­sex­ual cou­ples and there­fore wor­thy of the same rights and benefits that legal mar­riage brings. It was dif­fi­cult to sit there and say noth­ing as the value of our love was de­bated by folks who had never ex­pe­ri­enced what it’s like to be ho­mo­sex­ual in a ho­mo­pho­bic world.

When the ar­gu­ments ended, I knew in my heart that love had won. Gath­er­ing with the other plain­tiffs, we walked out into the sun­light. The crowds of sup­port­ers erupted, the flood­wall that had held back my churn­ing emo­tions broke loose and I be­gan to cry. Mak­ing our way onto the plaza be­low the court­house, I could hear voices scream­ing, “You’re all go­ing to hell, you fags!” I saw a man with a Bi­ble in one hand and a bull­horn in the other, sur­rounded by an­gry peo­ple shout­ing ob­scen­i­ties. I started to feel the old wounds begin to throb inmy heart.

But then some­thing hap­pened. Like the Red Sea part­ing, the power of God’s in­clu­sive love broke forth and the throng of our sup­port­ers be­gan chant­ing, softly at first, but then louder and louder: “Love will win! Love will win! Love will win!” Their words drowned out the hate and lifted our hearts above the pain, and we knew what equal­ity felt like.

Com­ing home to Ken­tucky was bit­ter­sweet. It’s hard re­turn­ing to a place where we’re still not equal, where we feel un­safe hold­ing hands in public. This is the re­al­ity for LGBT peo­ple, but like the old spir­i­tual says, “I’m so glad trou­ble don’t last al­ways.” God is bring­ing equal­ity, and as we wait and pray for its ar­rival, Do­minique and I will for­ever re­mem­ber how it felt hold­ing each other’s hand as we walked those three blocks to the Promised Land. Have faith, broth­ers and sis­ters, love will win. Amen.

JOSHUA ROBERTS/REUTERS

Ikeita Cantu holds a sign sup­port­ing same-sex mar­riage in front of the Supreme Court on April 28.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.