Little old ladies, young dads with their twin daughters in snugglies,
punkie 20-somethings with nose rings, elegant white haired men in
tuxedos, frumpy people, hip 30-somethings, men with receding hairlines
and middle-aged paunch, dotcommers and construction workers, people in
work clothes, people in tourist clothes, women in gowns, women in
suits, interracial couples, couples with parents listening on cell
phones...they are all there.
The electricity emanating from San Francisco is palpable, even here in
Alabama, and the images of joyful people lined up around the block to
wait all day are enough to make even bigots cry. Love and justice have
been unleashed and they are sweeping the city and the nation and they
can't be stopped now. It is nothing short of a Pentecost. Maybe it
can be slowed or halted in the short run, but thousands of couples with
legal marriage certificates can't all be put down. They will go back
to their workplaces and cities and states and demand their rights as
married couples. Some will have the courage to press the issue. Some
will win. Eventually, state by state, justice will reign. When the
National Guard forces the governor of Alabama to step aside from the
courthouse door, the last battle will have been won.
Then, and only then, will MY marriage (which happens to be the
privileged "one man, one woman" kind) be sanctified through the
elimination of the exclusionary and discriminatory practices that mar
the institution. And when my as yet unconceived but hoped for child is
doing a high school civics project s/he will ask, "Do you remember back
when gay couples weren't allowed to get married? WHY?? It makes no
sense! Didn't people know that it was wrong to try to stop people from
loving each other?" And I will want to critique the church, or explain
the connections between patriarchy and heterosexism, or discuss the
history of oppression supported by the politicians of the time…but in
that moment I will lean down to kiss that appalled teenage face and
say, "I am so glad that YOU know."
Sheri Shuler is a professor of Communication Studies at the
University of Alabama. She and her husband live in Tuscaloosa.