MURICA! **Cue the stereotypical hick-looking guy with a cowboy hat and faded Levis slugging a Budweiser and starting a ‘USA! USA!’ chant at the local bar**
America: the land of the free and the home of stars and stripes, human rights, and resounding fist pumps for equality.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not anti-American. In fact, I love this country and all that we stand for, all the opportunities we provide, and the ways that we love and support our people.
However, when it comes to major rulings like this, especially dealing with tender subjects like sexuality, orientation, personal preferences, or basic human rights, I have to admit I get a little bothered.
June 26, 2015: The Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage nationwide. A date that our children and our children’s children will probably recall on a U.S. history exam (crazy to think about, isn’t it?)
For the first time in many peoples’ lives, two individuals of the same sex can walk hand-in-hand with their significant other, openly buy engagement rings without narrowed eyes, and exchange ‘I do’s’ in their own states. It’s a beautiful thing.
I’ve had gay teachers, lesbian best friends, and seen an assortment of same-sex relationships all around me growing up. I’m truly and genuinely happy for them. Yet, what bothers me about this legalization is the opportunity it creates for bandwagon individuals to act like they’re so liberal and forward in their thinking when they
- couldn’t really care either way or
- have no idea what they’re really supporting
Over the last fifteen hours, the news of the legalization has spread to the top of my Google homepage, to the banners on my Pandora playlist, and to the main posts on all my social networking sites—and it should be. This is HUGE news for America, a law that grants ALL individuals the same basic rights. Yet when I really think about it, a lot of the widespread popularity and buzz regarding this legalization is not because of what it truly stands for, rather it’s people acting like they’re so American by posting rainbow colored backgrounds to their Facebook profile pictures.
I know I sound cynical. And I hate that. I know there are many people who are genuine in their support and passionate for the right reasons. But what frustrates me as I open up my social media profile is picture upon picture representing equality for same-sex couples. At first glance, I’m happy. What a wonderful country we live in where everyone supports one another, I think. But then I look harder. A good majority of these people have never supported same-sex rights in the past. They weren’t aware of the states that previously banned same-sex marriage (some of which are their home states, mind you!) They don’t know how hard individuals have struggled to love and marry in an unsupportive society. They don’t know the people who openly hated and ridiculed homosexual individuals (and still do!) And they don’t realize that this legislation isn’t the fix-all, end-all of hate. It’s only a step in the right direction.
As a friend of lesbian and gay individuals, I know I should be happy that other people are supporting their happiness, re-posting rainbow banners in celebration. But what these people don’t understand is the struggle, the story behind the legislation. The boy who had to lie to his parents for ten years about his relationship. The two girls who had to travel to a different state just to form a bond that a heterosexual couple could get in a few minutes in Vegas.
Posting ‘Hooray! #LoveWins!’ does not make you a good American or an activist for human rights. It makes you someone who supports this legalization—good—but when it comes down to it, will you hold firm to this belief? When the pastor at the church you’ve grown up in questions you, will you keep your ground? When people protest, when riots break out, when discrimination still happens, will you be the one to stand behind your rainbow-colored Facebook post? See, that’s why I’m not excited about the same-sex marriage legislation. Because people think having a post on their social media makes them a supporter of human rights.
And what about the people from a distance? Sure, you’re happy. You’re happy but it’s not your sister, your daughter, your father. What would change if it was your own family member? Would you still be as openly supportive? Or would you be afraid, suddenly, of what people would think of you, of what people would say, of how this changes your life, your religion, your personal beliefs—everything?
The same-sex marriage legislation is going to rock the world as we know it. In great ways! And in not so great ways. As a friend, and as a human being, I’m happy for equal rights. But I have to say that I’m scared. I want to be excited. I want to hold on tight as these changes take us all for a ride, but I’m scared that some people don’t understand how big this legislation truly is.
Alright, I’m done being cynical. America is a beautiful place, filled with opportunities to work, to raise families, to pursue careers, to follow dreams, and now, to be in love with whomever you choose. I’ve never been a fan of people who get all heated about human rights issues that don’t necessarily affect them personally. I’m straight and this law doesn’t really alter my daily life, but when I look outside myself to the lives of people I know and love, I’m happy for them and for the ways that this law can completely change their lives for the better.
In the future I hope to watch one of my girlfriends kiss her beautiful bride. I hope to see my seventh grade English teacher openly display a picture of him and his husband on the corner of his desk. And I hope to see people (including me!) standing behind their posts, tweets, profile pictures, and banners, being true Americans and loving one another as equals in this country we call home.