Ten years ago this weekend, four thousand same-sex couples in San Francisco engaged in what could best be termed as mass civil disobedience. We realized we were making history on some level, but we may have underestimated the impact. I think we all pretty much knew that our weddings would not stand up to the inevitable court challenge but we may not have recognized that we were on the lading edge of what would become a national trend. Ten years later, same-sex marriage is legal in more than one third of the fifty states and is recognized in various ways in several other states. The United States has seen a dramatic shift in public opinion on the issue, and in many ways the conversation began in earnest on Valentine’s Day Weekend, 2004.
Now (as then) I do not see same-sex marriage as the top issue facing homosexuals in America. The fact that employment and housing discrimination are still legal in most of the county remains a far more pressing problem. But marriage is an issue that has facilitated the discussion and has helped to mold public opinion on the issue of equality in all areas. The same-sex marriage debate has made us re-think our own opinions on marriage in general–and made many of us wonder if it is an appropriate option at all. My own take has pretty much always been that I would prefer that government not be involved in marriage at all and that individuals be permitted to enter into whatever sort of consensual familial arrangements and contracts they wish. But I feel strongly that if marriage is an option with benefits for heterosexual couples, it must also be available to homosexual couples.
What a difference ten years can make…