The best comment I heard outside of San Francisco’s City Hall on the first day marriage equality was law came from an older gentleman, who truly did seem a bit perplexed. “Didn’t we already do this a few years ago,” he asked.
Indeed sir, we did! We were here, in this same location, with the same screaming crowds, bursting into applause each time a new couple emerged from the glass doors, the same protesters shouting hate and driving in circles with their posters on the topic of sin. (A favorite sign in the crowd yesterday: “Eating lobster is a sin as well!”)
This time, the marriages will most definitely last a few months, rather than a few days, and, dependent on the voters in the state of California, they may just last as long as the couples keep them lasting.
But, yes, we have done this before. Yesterday afternoon I ran to join the crowd with some friends of mine. I was in the crowd in February 2004 as well. One of my friends kept comparing the scene to that outside of Cambridge’s City Hall when marriages become legal in Massachusetts in 2004. “They were much more into parading and dressed up more there,” the friend informs me.
Yesterday I was working in a café and kept refreshing NYTimes.com to see the top story of the moment. It took me quite a few refresher clicks to realize that I was waiting for the story of marriage equality to be at the top of the page. I wanted the news to confirm that it was real. And, although by all means a top story of the day yesterday, already today CNN.com has turned back to coverage of the flooding, talking about Al Gore, and running with other stories.
We have done this before. This story has been seen. The visual image of Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon getting married, we’ve seen. We just now see them four more years into their love, trying once more for equality. The public at large has already seen pictures of marrying gay and lesbian couples. Massachusetts has had marriages for four years now. Massachusetts is still thriving and has in no way fallen into the sea or become run by crazy bandits seeking anarchy.
My gay and lesbian friends are seriously trying to make me go broke with all their Weddings Part II that I have to fly west for. I was out for the first round, I’m now returning to take part in several second rounds of recognizing their love and commitment. We’ll all just keep gathering; these friends will just keep repeating their vows.
These things have already happened. Ellen Degeneres went from being blacklisted to having a top show where she can – and does! – ask Jenna Bush if she can use her father’s ranch for her marriage to her partner Portia de Rossi, and then asks John McCain, after he states that he does not support her marriage, if that means he’ll walk her down the aisle at her wedding!?
The voters in California, come November, will decide whether this is the last round of déjà vu necessary in the fight for marriage equality in California. Tonight we should all toast to the accomplishment and history made. Tomorrow we get back to the streets and to organizing. We have done this before. We don’t want to have to do it again.