The Waiting Game

With the history of equal rights moving quickly forward, it's harder to be patient while the world catches up

So, after weeks and months of careful consideration, voluminous reading and personal consultations with friends and family, I’m finally ready to make an important announcement: I’ve decided to officially endorse Barack Obama for re-election as president of the United States.

See what happens when you wait too long?

Seriously, this post-election season has been all about waiting, in particular for Congress to figure out a way to avoid the fiscal cliff it has been willingly and merrily barreling toward for a couple years now. And then there’s the ongoing waiting game that the Supreme Court has snagged all of us in, waiting for them to decide which gay-marriage case they’re going to hear, if they’re going to hear one at all.

Waiting is the hardest part, as a wise sage once said. And the closer you get to where you’re going, the harder the waiting becomes. Like a long car trip, it’s those last few miles, when you’re well past the excitement of leaving home and beyond the middle section where you can numb your mind with iPads and audiobooks, that are the hardest to bear. Why aren’t we there yet?

(As an aside, I had to use a car trip for that metaphor because in these days of government-mandated security theater and the increasing similarity of airplane passenger cabins to veal-fattening pens, every last moment of air travel feels like a hangnail rubbed with salt.)

So waiting on the Supreme Court isn’t just hard because they have yet to make up their minds about how they are going to proceed about making up their minds, but because history is getting away from them. It may be cliché at this point because it’s being repeated so often, but it’s a good cliché to have from our perspective: It is amazing in terms of marriage equality that we have come this far, this fast.

At the risk of straining the metaphor, the history of marriage equality is about to take the final exit for its destination, while the Supreme Court and much of our government is still two states back dithering over the Sizzler buffet.

That sense of history leaving the courts behind really hit home when a Nevada judge released a ruling against same-sex marriage in that state because nothing says ”traditional” values like the world capital of slot machines, free drinks and legal hookers making sure that no one can get gay married at a drive-through chapel. I sense that this particular ruling may be part of the history lessons of the future, the ones where our children’s children — or my nephew’s children’s children, in my case — look back and laugh at the strange little man in black robes declaring that homosexuals already have the right to get married since they can marry opposite-sex people just like heterosexuals can.

These things grate because they fly in the face of what we know is coming. It’s not hubristic to say that we gays are winning the long game on marriage, nor to say that equality for all LGBT people will advance further as a result. It’s provable at this point, even if we should lose a Supreme Court case. And, anyway, we should be seriously reconsidering what it means for civil rights in this country when equality seems to be legally determined by whatever Anthony Kennedy happens to think.

This point in time is by no means the hardest part of the journey — that part was done by people past and present who simply asked that they be treated equally. The final stretch only feels hard, because time can stretch on forever while we wait for the world to catch up.

Sean Bugg is Editor Emeritus for Metro Weekly.

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