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CA Supreme Court: Equal Justice, Equal Marriage

California plaintiffs Stuart Gaffney and John Lewis

Today at 10 a.m. Pacific Time, the Supreme Court of California declared that Lesbian and Gay couples have the right to marry, and that the state’s attempt to prevent them from doing so violates the most basic principle of equal justice under law.

Proposition 22 is unconstitutional.

I expect the reaction of most Americans is “Okay, the other shoe has fallen. Now we’ve got Gay marriage. I wonder what’s for supper?”

Politicians are already weighing in, and no doubt the decision will stoke all sorts of debate in the media, at least until Britney Spears pops off again.

Meanwhile over at the Church of the Gay-Hating Anglicans, people are running around screaming “The sky is falling! It’s the anti-Christ! Run for your lives! America is doomed!” Several welcomed the four horsemen of the Apocalypse, the day the Empire of Jesus Strikes Back. One even predicted civil war.

Feh. Over this, dude?

Get a freakin’ life. The world outside my window shows the grass still growing, the trees all leafed out, the winds calm, the earth at peace.

I expect that in the homes of the Lesbian and Gay couples I know, people are wondering about supper too.

Bart and Tony (!) may be having a discussion, “Whaddaya think? You wanna get married?” But the rest of us in the other 49 states (and 194 countries, including Taiwan) are not directly affected. This doesn’t mean it’s not momentous news; it is.

It will also have a serious impact on the Episcopal Church, which is having to spend way too much time fending off the Church of the Gay-Hating Anglicans.

What the decision shows Episcopalians is that we’re not far off in our understanding of what justice requires. The Supreme Court of the most populous U.S. state has come to the same understanding, by a different set of ideas, by secular law.

This is a great day.

Disclosure: I married a wonderful guy named Jack in Cincinnati on Dec. 6, 1991, our fifth anniversary, with the giving and receiving of vows in front of 40 friends, presided over by the late Fr. Wayland Melton. My mom was there! I’ve got pictures.

Jack and I eventually separated, but we haven’t been divorced, and if he needed me I’d be there for him. I didn’t just promise Jack in those vows; I promised God as well.

I always wanted to get married, but for many years I held out, until the Church got its act together and approved Gay marriage. However, a major illness intervened, and I married Jack to let him know I’d always be with him.

He survived his illness, thanks be to God. But certainly it screwed up both our lives; ruined our business, destroyed my career. We had to let everything go, but I love him to this day, and he loves me.

I’m currently writing a novel in which a Gay wedding occurs in Chapter 1. Two guys marry each other, all alone, with only God as their witness. Catholic theology believes that the marriage partners perform the wedding, and the priest only blesses it. The novel doesn’t articulate the theology, it just describes the action the two guys take.

So what about Bart and Tony(!) in California? They’ve been together for decades. They are serious, church-going Episcopalians. Should they do California’s civil marriage once it goes into effect in 30 days?

Well, they should do whatever they want to, whatever God tells them to. It’s not up to me to advise them on so personal a thing.

But I wouldn’t be surprised if they wait, as I once wanted to do, until the day they can walk together down the aisle of their parish church, to reiterate the vows they’ve been living all this time—to do it in front of their friends, in front of the altar, and to receive the priest’s blessing on God’s behalf.

That will likely take legislation at the General Convention next year in… California. If it passes, it will probably come with another waiting period, as if people don’t die while they’re waiting.

Of course, we also know that the Church of the Gay-Hating Anglicans (and Mormons, Catholics, Presbyterians, Baptists, Fundamentalists and Holy Rollers of All Sorts, ad nauseam) hope to talk California voters into nullifying the Supreme Court decision. I haven’t seen any polls; some worry about a backlash today, which the Gay-Hating Church is hoping to take advantage of.

Voters can overturn this decision, but they can’t overturn “Equal justice under law.”

The same idea that makes you equal to Bill Gates and Warren Buffett makes Bart and Tony(!) equal to you. Pretty good idea, most people think.

You can’t repeal equality. It’s foundational, in California and everywhere else. Heck, the Supreme Court of California is dominated by Republicans, and even they can’t repeal equality.

My crystal ball for seeing into the future is cloudy. But I seriously doubt that most discussions over the supper table tonight even mention Gay marriage.

(An online poll, the unscientific kind, on today’s L.A. Times, got 17,000 votes by mid-afternoon, and Gay marriage was winning, 83% to 17%.)

So if I were advising Bart and Tony(!), here is what I might say.

As long as your health is good, and you’ve taken advantage of all available legal protections for your relationship and your estate, wait.

As prayerful, Christian guys, it will be a lot more fun to dress up, and walk down the aisle of your parish church, and kneel at the altar, and be solemn in making and receiving your vows before God and your friends, and receiving the Church’s blessing.

Then, when you stand and turn and behold your friends in Christ, beaming back at you as the music plays just for your special moment, your joy will be complete.

Isn’t that what we wish for all our friends when they get married? Why should same-sex couples be any different?

The good news is, Bart and Tony(!) made their vows long ago, and now even the California Supreme Court gives them its blessing. Heaven is singing today; alleluia.++

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