Today I was remembering that glorious month in 2004 when same-sex weddings took place between February 12 and March 11, 2004, after San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom directed the city-county clerk to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. It was one month where we felt the freedom to love and be just like our parents and neighbors and the rest of the world who believed in marriage. Then it was halted for nearly a decade until our voices became deafening. Someone finally listened and gave in. The world did not coming crashing around us. The sky did not fall.
In 2013 I got married after thirteen years with my now wife. She avoided the subject for years. She finally told me that the reason she never said “yes” before to getting married was a “head thing”. Growing up she never dreamed of the big wedding, white dress, cans tied to the back bumper. When it isn’t something you believe is possible you don’t place it on your Bucket List. Thank goodness she changed her mind. For one brief month we believed that our right to be just like our neighbors was a forever thing. You know. Like the right to free speech or the right to vote. Have we arrived at that same place of insecurity again?
Welcome to a new time in American history folks. We’ve come a long, long, long way baby and when we turned the corner to continue celebrating the laws that protect the LGBTQ community, we hit a brick wall. Welcome to 2017 where we don’t actually speak directly to people. We tweet our anger, bigotry, nastiness from the comfort of our cozy chair. We get alias names like @fluffybear or @savemyplanet or @nowayforgays (seriously these exist) so we can Instagram pictures of butterflies while taking a shot at the lesbian who works at Starbucks. Yes, my friends, we have reached another risky place in history for basic human rights.
Facebook is not where I get my news. I actually rely on Rachel Maddow on MSNBC. She says it like it is plus she does give both sides to a story. We do know her true feelings every time she raises an eyebrow or smiles that cute crooked smile. Oh, did I say I like looking at her deliver the news too? I digress. She is warning us that the new administration doesn’t support the LGBTQ community. I think Trump held up a rainbow flag during a rally but that doesn’t mean his Cabinet supports this show of flag waving. Nope. There is a subtle movement to reverse same sex marriage laws, anti-discrimination laws, freedom to chose giving birth or not, and the criteria for a hate crime.
I cannot encourage you enough to support the National Center for Lesbian Rights. Kate Kendell, Esq., Executive Director, and her incredible staff have been our champions. They have fought in the trenches to make sure we have our protections and rights. Well, it appears that in the not so distant future Kate will be rallying the troops to make sure our hard fought battle to have the rights our neighbors have are not stripped from us. I’m serious when I say that we all need to be aware of the things that will be done in the name of freedom of choice. In reality government leaders from the governor of North Carolina, the mayor of Indianapolis, to the pending newly re-formatted Supreme Court justices will challenge everything we thought we got forever.
In March of 2004 hundreds of couples who thought they could marry were hit with the proverbial brick bat of “changed our minds”. Many, like my wife and I, hung in there and when same sex marriage became legal we were well aware of how much and how long it took to get this right. When friends were protected from discrimination in housing we realized that it took a long time to get that protection. When a child’s teacher named Miss Smith was transitioning to Mr. Smith and couldn’t be fired we realized that it took a long time to be protected in employment. I don’t know about you, but I’m not going back.
Jan Miller Corran is a filmmaker and CEO of Three Women in a Box Films. Her next project begins filming in 2017.