I honestly doubted that I would live to see something like last week’s Supreme Court ruling legalizing gay marriage.
I remember the summer of 2000, when Vermont legalized “civil unions,” which allowed gay and lesbian partners to reap the legal benefits of marriage, albeit without using the word marriage. Some people argued that civil unions in all 50 states should be the new goal, rather than marriage. The idea was that the term “marriage” was too explosive and, if it was pushed too hard, the anti-marriage people would get so riled up that all progress and rights would be lost in the backlash.
Well, it’s a good thing that no one settled for the first sign of progress! It’s amazing what has happened since then. As NPR put it in 2013, “… Vermont’s pioneering law is viewed by many as an artifact.” (Vermont itself legalized gay marriage in 2009, eliminating the need for civil unions after a mere nine years.) It’s like the civil unions served as tiny cracks that ultimately shattered prejudice and habit.
Speaking of small beginnings, I also didn’t expect to see the Confederate flag fall out of favor.
I never understood how that flag (literally) hung in there for so long. So many people have pointed out the racism embodied in the symbol, but I also love the plain common sense with which Run the Jewels rapper Killer Mike addressed the issue in Fader magazine:
“That side lost, and you do not fly the flags of losers over the winners’ country. It’s just that simple.”
Of course, as a reaction to the rash of racist killings that culminated with the terroristic massacre in a Charleston church, getting rid of a flag is such a little thing. But, now, I have hope that it will be one of those tiny cracks that ultimately destroys the old, bad ways. And Bree Newsome, who climbed the flagpole outside of the South Carolina statehouse to remove the flag? What a hero!