Today is the 4th of July, traditionally the most important holiday in the United States. Lots of blowhard speechifying, lots of hot dogs and hamburgers and iced tea and beer and wine and tequila. And at night the sky wll be filled with fireworks of unbelievable sudden beauty. I like to think of it as "sky art" and, frankly, I always find the programs too short.
June 26, 2015, just a week and a day ago, has made today actually mean something to me. Although not fully achieved, United States' LGBTQ citizens are damned-near equal. The Supreme Court said that we also have the "unalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," that we are indeed equal under law, and that "all" in the various governmental pronouncements finally means all.
A few years ago, the main bigot in the Pennsylvania House of Reps, who is also in charge of the committee that decides what can go to the floor for debate, decided to start consideration for the amendment to enshrine his bigotry into the Constitution. It had failed, rightly ignobly, before. For some reason he thought the times were right to try it again. Few citizens show up for his meetings, but word was leaked that he intended to rush it to the floor and at that meeting the place was full of LGBTQ people and our allies. He, of course,started the proceedings with the Pledge of Allegiance and, if he wasn't aware of his audience before, he got the drift when the volume and emphasis rose when we got to "with liberty and for ALL." Maybe he never understood the definition of that last word. The quick shocked expression on his face was seen by all of us as we directed that to him. He made up an excuse for not getting to the amendment that day, and it was not proposed for the rest of the session.
He is also in charge of the bill that would allow LGBTQ citizens to be part of the non-discrimination low. He has vowed it will never see the House floor. I may have given you my story about this, but it's the summer and that's a time for re-runs. My love and I can be legally married in Pennsylvania which we can pay for from our shared bank account. However, we can be denied the services of bakers, photographers, wedding planners, and clothiers because, in their now-polluted minds, they don't want to participate in our civilly legal wedding. Our civil marriage takes place in a friend's lawn by an officiant friend. Off we go to the reception hall, where we are told that the owner didn't know we were gay when he rented the space; he doesn't serve gays and the contract is void. The caterer overhears the conversation and refuses to serve us, even in the parking lot, because he won't serve fags on account of his deeply held religious beliefs. Off we go to a small hotel with a wedding suite. We are thrown out after getting ready for bed because the hotel because homosexuality is a sin and the owner cannot condone it. Apparently, she's down with divorcees, adulterers, non-Christians, and Pharisees, but she cannot bring herself to public accommodations for "you people." We go back to apartment and discover we've been thrown out. The landlord didn't realize, after all these years of two guys living together, that we were queers; he doesn't have to put up with that. We spend another night in the car and, in the morning, I go to work. One of the first things I do is go to HR to change my marital status. A half hour later, I'm called into the boss's office and am fired because I'm gay and he doesn't have to have "that kind of pervert" on his staff...because, you know, Jesus.
It's all true, yet "the Honorable Representative" Metcalfe doesn't have any problem with it.
But I still have a joy, a sense of belonging, a sense of citizenship on this 4th of July that I never felt before. I never thought I'd live to see the day that my partner and I could get married. Maybe I'll live to see the day we both have the rights that all straight citizens take for granted. Still, the hamburgers will taste a little bit better and the sky art will be more stunning. We're on our way.