Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Decision Day

by The Rev. Canon Susan Russell

As predicted, the Supreme Court waited until the “eleventh hour” to announce the long awaited rulings on the two marriage equality cases: Perry v Swarzenegger (Prop 8) and Windsor v United States (DOMA). I write this on the eve of those decisions – surrounded by much nail biting, handwringing and tea-leaf reading. I’ve been asked over and over again what I expect and – being both an optimist and a pragmatist – I expect both movement forward and more work to do.

Because of course I don’t know exactly what the Supreme Court will do. Nobody does. One of my smart lawyer friends compared predicting what and when the Supremes would do what and when with playing “Whack-a-Mole,” saying “It’s entertaining for a little while but eventually frustrating and never productive.”

Whatever the Court decides, I cannot sit here on the eve of Decision Day and not reflect on how far we’ve come to be even sitting here on the eve of Decision Day!

Rev. Dr. Caro Hall, Rev. Canon Susan Russell,
and Rev. Winnie Varghese
I’m remembering lobby days on Capitol Hill when the question wasn’t how far forward we’d move on marriage equality but whether we could prevent the “Federal Marriage Amendment” from writing discrimination against same-sex couples into the U.S. Constitution.

I’m remembering the deep disappointment of the Prop 8 campaign here in California where a bare majority of voters were able to take away the fundamental right to marry from gay and lesbian couples and we were deflated at what looked to be a marriage equality movement derailed.

And yet I’m also remembering what we learned from that campaign. That we learned two of its greatest failings were [a] failure to strategically utilize the witness of people of faith and [b] failure to effectively use the stories of gay and lesbian couples. And since that time we as a movement got smarter, we got more organized and we started changing hearts and minds … and votes.

And now – on the eve of Decision Day – there are 12 states (plus the District of Columbia) with marriage equality and the likelihood (if not the certainty!) that both Prop 8 and DOMA are headed for the dustbin of history.

We are where we are because we refused to give up. Like the “persistent widow” in Luke’s gospel we kept returning again and again seeking justice – and no matter what the Court rules tomorrow we will keep coming back until the job is done – until the mission is accomplished – until justice rolls down like waters for LGBT couples and their families and for every member of the human family.

It is both an exhilarating and an exhausting thing to be smack dab in the middle of history being made. But that is precisely where we find ourselves, my brother and sisters. This is the day that the Lord has made – let us rejoice and be glad in it. And then let’s keep on keepin’ on until there is not a single stranger left at the gate.

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