Friday, February 20, 2015

Same-Sex Marriage--Daybreak in Alabama--Sorta

photo by listentoreason / flickr

The Gay Rights Struggle in Alabama is really reflective of the Civil Rights struggle in the 60's. Governor George Wallace stood at the door to the University of Alabama saying Alabama would not allow Vivian Malone and James Hood, two black students to attend that University. He lost.

Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore in Alabama has said that same-sex marriages are against the law and will not be performed in Alabama. A Federal  District Judge has declared that the states' ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Some counties follow Justice Moore and some counties have listened to the Federal Judge and some Gay couples have attained marriage licenses. The New York Times reports that of Wednesday 48 out of Alabama's 67 counties were issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. So couples who have been denied this basic right for years are now receiving  the legal privileges of  marriage. Other couples in the state have been turned away.

Several states face the same confusion. In South Carolina the Governor and Attorney General  have vowed to block these marriages. Yet because of Federal Courts' ruling--same-sex marriages are being performed in South Carolina every day. Like many other issues before us, people's rights are either confused or lost in the shuffle while politicians preen and pontificate.  It looks like the Supreme Court will have to settle this matter soon.

On this issue I keep thinking of those great old words: "Liberty and justice for all." This all takes everyone in. We must be patient with those good folk who disagree with us. If we really do believe in this all we must include those people who are on the other side of this issue. These are our brothers and sisters too.  It took many folk a long time to come to terms with civil rights for everyone. Even today--after all these years--the vestiges of racism are still with us. But we have come a long way. And we still have a long road ahead on gay rights.

Years ago the black poet Langston Hughes wrote a wonderful poem called" Daybreak in Alabama." Even though he had his own people in mind--I  think this poem speaks to the rights of gay people everywhere today also.

"When I get to be a composer
I'm gonna write me some music about
Daybreak in Alabama
And I'm gonna put the purtiest songs in it
Rising out of the ground like a swamp mist
And falling out of heaven like soft dew.
I'm gonna put some tall tall trees in it
And the scent of pine needles
And the smell of red clay after rain
And long red necks
And poppy colored faces
And big brown arms
And the field daisy eyes
Of black and white black white black people
And I'm gonna put white hands
And black hands and brown hands and yellow hands
And red clay earth hands in it
Touching everybody with kind fingers
And touching each other natural as dew
In that dawn of music when I
Get to be a composer
And write about daybreak
In Alabama."
 --Langston Hughes, The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes, pp. 220-221

photo by Susan Melkisethian / flickr

--Roger Lovette /

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