Last week, when the Supreme Court of the Unites States held that DOMA violated the Constitution, I marveled at the waste of time and money born from a fearful knee-jerk reaction to change. Amazingly, Justice Kennedy’s legal ruling stood on the same legal principles as the ruling issued 20 years earlier by that Hawaii Supreme Court justice. In our country, discrimination based simply on fear and nothing more is just not legal.
In exchange for our decades-long struggle, we have earned a victory with intensity that we can claim for ourselves. Sometimes, the fact that a win is rare is what adds the most sweetness to the occasion. In baseball terms, Red Sox fans cried more tears of happiness at their last World Series win than did the Yankee fans.
I have a friend who explained it this way:
“Though I had realized that I didn’t need the feds to tell me I was OK, it sure felt great to be accepted by those who have been telling me I was the odd ball out all my life. I am grateful to all those brave folks before me who began this fight.
“Without them I’d still be locked away in a closet. I remember with great love those who have died fighting, those who died of AIDS, those who were beaten, burned and murdered all over the world. Their memories and voices have fueled many, you and me, to never to give up.”
The comments from my straight friends showed me how this is not simply a gay victory. This is a victory for every American who believes in love, fairness and equality and we all get to share in it:
“That’s great news. I’m a heterosexual female, but I believe in the freedom to love and build a life with whoever makes you happy. I think we have so many other things to worry about as a nation.”
“I really hope the states follow suit. It’s time.”
“Melissa, I am so happy for you and your girlfriend, I have many gay friends and I celebrate your victory!”
“Thinking the Melissa and Katie Jo wedding will have some weird Star Wars / Halloween / Nascar theme. Can’t wait!!!”
We all have images from last week that we will carry with us in the days ahead, images that strengthen us and inspire us as we come to terms with how far we still have to go.
For me, the icing on the top of the gay wedding cake was the New Yorker’s cover. The simple, soothing visual of Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie said it best. There they sat on their couch in a sweet embrace as the television displays the Supreme Court’s opinion in the background.
That beautiful image brought only one verse to my mind:
“Looks like we found it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers, and me.”
Melissa Carter is also a writer for Huffington Post. She broke ground as the first out lesbian radio personality on a major station in Atlanta and was one of the few out morning show personalities in the country. Follow her on Twitter @MelissaCarter