Two states in two days. I like the folks in New Mexico. Truly, I'm happy that they got marriage equality yesterday. But today's news that UTAH's marriage ban was ruled unconstitutional, well that's different.
Despite a history of compassion and integration among neighbors, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (the Mormons) spent considerable time, effort, and money in California to usher in Proposition 8. Prop 8 has for many of us living in California been nothing short of a disaster. It represented the ability of a plutocratic, demagogic majority to withdraw equality from a set of citizens. Prop 8 wasn't the same as the Japanese internment, but I got a keener understanding of what mass discrimination meant on a personal level.
Prop 8 wasn't foisted upon us Californians, as we voted it into place ourselves, but the LDS influence was considerable and notable. And I could not marry the person I loved in California because of Prop 8.
So I couldn't help but jump for joy, yelping when I saw the news. Today Utah, home of the LDS, had its own constitutional marriage ban ruled unconstitutional, just as California's was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in June 2013.
This isn't a matter of spite to me. It's not a matter of gloating for those who believe that they can define marriage for others who don't love the people they're expected to love.
Instead, I'm thrilled, thrilled because all the wonderful and caring gay people of Utah now have a way to be honest about their relationships, to let it be known that their love for each other is deep, God-given, and blessed by the Holy Spirit. If they lack a church, they can at least have that relationship acknowledged by the state as much as it is by the federal government. I'm thrilled because people don't have to "turn it off" and pretend that their love doesn't matter as much as the person's next door. I'm thrilled because the arc of history is long, and it really is bending towards justice.
I've cared deeply about some the wonderful people of Utah ever since I started doing business there two decades ago. And it hurt to see so many people having to push their families into the closet. And worse, it was painful to see so many people from Utah come into California and affect our own families.
The musical "Book of Mormon" has a lovely ballad called "Sal Tlay Ka Siti" (as in Salt Lake City, get it?), sung by a girl from an impoverished African village. She dreams of a Sal Tlay Ka Siti paradise so much better than her own land. Some lyrics include:
And I'll bet the people are open-minded and don't care who you've beenI pray that the people of Utah will find it in their hearts to be open to the message of understanding and hope that today's news brings. It is the season of Advent after all, and for me, the love and joy that surpasses all understanding may be wandering into the mountainous west. Will we fit in? Maybe, just maybe, yes.
And all I hope is that when I find it, I'm able to fit in...
Will I fit in?