One Small Step Toward Equality…
When they write about marriage equality in the history blogs of the future, they will be sure to mention Wednesday, May 9, 2012, when Barack Obama became came the first sitting U.S. president to come out in support of same-sex marriage. Perhaps this will prove to be the tipping point on marriage equality in America, and there are certainly many more battles to win before it becomes a reality. But I think the particular facts about Obama’s announcement, his age and his approach, are the most interesting.
Public opinion on a social issue has rarely shifted so quickly as it has with marriage equality, a trend that is largely due to generational changes. Our generation, the Millennials, is overwhelmingly in favor of same-sex marriage even as our grandparents’ generation still maintains its stodgy opposition. It’s no small surprise that Obama, the first president of the modern era who isn’t still mired in the cultural battles of the 1960′s, was the one to take this step. Millennial values on social issues are more liberal than even our parents’ were at our age, and we are driving the country’s “evolution” on marriage. This is good news for Unitarian Universalist youth and young adults because it means that the values we hold so dear are spreading more and more each day. To those of us who look out at the depressing fact that North Carolina just double-banned gay marriage, or at the attacks on reproductive justice found in so many states, I say we can take solace in a brighter future ahead, and I’m glad we’ll get to be a part of making it happen.
The thing I love most about Obama’s announcement, however, is that he described his support in personal terms. Because that’s what this is about, isn’t it? It’s about people who want to commit to one another in love who are prevented from doing so by ignorance, apathy, suspicion and fear. Obama talked about how wrong it is that our military members and veterans serve our country so nobly and yet can’t get the most basic recognition of their family. He said it was the appeals of those closest to him, his wife and his daughters, who finally brought him around.
Recognizing our mutual humanity is the same approach that grounds the Standing on the Side of Love campaign. It’s a distillation of our UU values which helps us understand that despite the political calculations, electoral maps, interest groups, voting blocs and fundraising goals, sometimes it really isn’t any more complicated than the question of what love and compassion ask us to do. People want to get married and they can’t; trying to stand on the side of love is what leads me to be their ally. I’m a Unitarian Universalist young adult and I proudly call myself pro-marriage because I’m for people being able to get married, no matter what their gender identity or sexual orientation. Thanks for joining us, Mr. President.