I normally keep politics off this blog, but I hope the readership will forgive me for this lapse and for saying that I'm pleased as punch about yesterday's Supreme Court rulings. While the decisions don't benefit me as a heterosexual male, I know several individuals for whom they mean a great deal. Both from the standpoint of enjoying the same legal benefits and security accorded other couples, but also because this change makes many of them feel like full citizens in the eyes of the law and their country.
That sense among gays and lesbians of having been second class citizens is something that I don't think most of my conservative friends have ever picked up on, unfortunately. But for other friends and acquaintances it's been very much a part of their lives. The ability to participate in the American project of moving towards a more perfect union, of being able to do things like get married, serve in the armed forces, and raise children were hopes that could not be taken lightly or be easily realized. Just as the fears of losing a job because of a careless utterance, or of being kept out of a hospital should something happen to a partner because only family and legally recognized spouses were allowed in, couldn't be easily dismissed.
So in honor of the occasion, the prescient "We Will be Citizens" speech from the end of Angels in America, written in 1993*
*A speech that captures both a sense of communal optimism that I haven't encountered elsewhere in the world, as well as the often creative tensions between the secular and the religious in American life.