At last, the people of Minnesota can marry the loves of their lives, gay or straight. Whether sung by Billie Holliday or written on the cover of this magazine, the sentiment is an acknowledgement to an end of an era and the beginning of a new one. For this community regarding this issue of marriage equality, all of the metaphorical “lonely nights” are over in Minnesota’s history, “…and life is like a song.”
Sure, in each of our lives, life might not be so song-worthy; plenty of us are looking for our loves, some of us are leaving our loves, and some of us have no interest in love…but at least there is the legal option for recognizing love.
In these pages, you’ll find people who are, at last, married. For the first time, or the second. Is it remarrying to get married a second time? Supermarried? Legally married? Civilly married? So many different terms to cover relationships that had to improvise and come up with their own versions of commitment. At last, there is one term and one frame of reference for all who want those rights and that recognition for their commitments. At long last.
At last we have a Wedding Issue that history has caught up with; after three previous comprehensive Wedding Issues, this is the first to be just as legitimate as same-sex marriage in Minnesota. We’re celebrating three months of marriage, since August 1, and Minnesotans are living proof that same-sex marriage doesn’t lead to the downfall of humanity. Since Minnesotans started marrying, New Jersey has joined the ranks of giving rights to same-sex couples who wish to wed and Oregon has declared that its citizens’ federal rights will be upheld if they were married in a state that allows same-sex marriage (even though Oregon hasn’t legalized it, yet). The Supreme Court of the United States’ decisions to give Californians back the freedom to marry and to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act’s Section 3 are making many people reconsider both their official and personal positions on same-sex marriage. The tide is turning, but in bits and pieces.
I was in Philadelphia a few weeks ago for Outfest with other members of the media that feature the rainbow community. Being able to talk to peers who are not only in my industry, but also in my niche, was priceless. Each publication represented was from a different region of the United States; but only two of us out of five are from states that have marriage equality and nondiscrimination laws for employment. Some of the states are looking toward having a ballot vote involving marriage equality sooner or later, others might be looking to legislators to do like Minnesota did. Perhaps a few might have some courts who are hearing cases about same-sex marriage. I took a step back and noticed that my talks with them about Minnesota’s fight for marriage equality were in the past tense. It’s been a matter of months, but I sounded like a seasoned veteran of marriage equality. A seasoned veteran of three months.
I’ve noticed that I slip into that “life is wonderful, we’re awesome” way of referring to the freedom to marry, too, when I talk to friends and family from states that have yet to recognize and implement equal rights for the GLBT community. I’ll be talking to a friend in Wisconsin as if they’ve got the same rights that we do in Minnesota just to be gently reminded that, “Andy, we don’t have marriage here.” With those words, the wind is sucked from my sails and I see again just how much work is left to be done.
Walking around Philly’s Outfest that Sunday afternoon, I reveled in the fact that Philadelphia has its own officially named “Gayborhood.” Blocks and blocks of the City of Brotherly Love are given this credibility and notoriety. In addition to this geographic area and concentration of bars, eateries, and community resources, there’s a historic marker near Independence Hall indicating that significant gay rights demonstrations began in Philly and predated the Stonewall activities in New York City. Philadelphia is steeped in freedom and rights, both old and new. You could feel it in the cobblestone.
And then I realized that I hadn’t seen one indication that the GLBT community in Pennsylvania was doing anything about marriage equality. Coming from Minnesota and a couple of years of active campaigning against the marriage amendment and for marriage equality, I had to do a double-take. At our events, we couldn’t help but see something about marriage every way we turned. If you dropped a person into Loring Park during Pride (or any of the other Pride celebrations across the state), that person would know exactly what was happening in terms of marriage equality in a matter of ten minutes time.
Not in Philly. I saw no organized marriage equality effort at Outfest. I was shocked. I did not feel hope, I did not feel like “life is wonderful, we’re awesome.” I did not feel like the community was equal with the straight community, despite the Gayborhood and freedom fighters of yore.
Not to draw too judgmental of a conclusion, but Minnesota has marriage equality and Pennsylvania does not. We know how much time, money, talking, signage, and effort it took to achieve marriage equality. How will it happen across the country?
Perhaps we should sit down and have a couple conversations with the folks in Philly.
Congratulations, everyone. Revel in our own history here in Minnesota. We may not have cobblestones, but we have conversations. And they build and build.
With gratitude and love,