It went down Sunday. The National Equality March hit Washington D.C., and both my Hitch List and personal belief that equal marriage rights are in line with, and mandated by, the foundation this country was built upon meant I had front row seats. I try to avoid cloying sweetness and melodramatic sappiness on this blog, so I need to be careful with this one--because it was the type of day that made even my cold, cynical heart race with hope. And pride. Marching was cathartic. But a picture is worth a hundred words. So here are a few highlights:
After a 5 hour bus trip, D.C. was so beautiful that everything looked like a Hollywood backdrop.
We were at the front of the march. Just before the crowd began moving, a rainbow appeared in the sky overhead. There was no rain, and no clouds.
People filled the streets--literally. City blocks spilled and overflowed with bodies, people, signs, chants. The air buzzed with energy, both spoken and silent.
On the way to the Capital, we passed this. It was a good motivator.
This is the front. It took over two hours for the back of the march to join us at the Capitol.
Pundits had declared no one cared. They said no one would show up for the rally...
...they were wrong. This picture was taken a 2pm, when thousands of activists hadn't even made it to the west lawn yet.
Matthew Shepard's mother, Judy, was one of many speakers. My voice caught in my throat when she was done.
Lt. Daniel Choi, a war hero dishonorably discharged after years risking his life for his country, entered silenced by black tape. Tape pulled, he started a chant: "Love is worth it."
Lady Gaga. Lady FREAKIN' Gaga, who gave a poignant and effective speech, sans pokerface. Plus. Cynthia Nixon. Hugging it out. Amazeballs.
After 18 hours on our feet in the sun, everything post-rally was a blur. I'd do it again tomorrow if I could.
Opponents of the march called it a waste of time, saying that the only thing the event "put pressure on was the grass." And, logistically, they were right. Marches rarely (if ever) scare government into action. If 100,000 (as some sources are reporting--an official number has yet to be released) protestors had spent the day at home lobbying their government by phone and written word to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell and legalize gay marriage, maybe something tangible would have been accomplished sooner.
But the naysayers overlook something more valuable. Nearly every protester I met was young. They weren't all old hippies looking for a return to radicalism. It was twentysomethings, thirtysomethings, artists, businessmen, students, doctors, all young...and committed.
If a single event can galvanize thousands of members of Generation Apathy into action, then it's worth it. A successful march is the sort of tangible kick in the ass the next generation of activists needs in order to take the passed torch firmly between their palms. We're an immediate gratification nation full of easily distracted minds, and the experience of standing shoulder to shoulder with 70-year-old lovers still unable to marry on one side and 17-year-old-heteros fighting for strangers on the other is something we need. Because without that experience, its too easy to get distracted and get back to beer pong.
And let me clear up some myths.
I have had it with the "Defense of Marriage Act," and the arcane argument that the very "sanctity of marriage" is at stake in this gays vs. government fight. Let me break something down for you: marriage, as "marriage preservers" know it, is a fallacy. I'm not talking about that Disney ideal---I'm talking about a cult of ignorance that believes, in the history of the world, marriage is, has, and always will be a profound union between man and woman.
It's time to get real about so-called "the sanctity of marriage" which some people feel the need to "preserve." Here's some fun facts: Around the time of the New Testament, marriage was an almost informal agreement. No ceremony. No flowers. No TV specials. No vows before god. A pair of mates decided to cohabitate, and that was pretty much it. They were married. Live long and prosper.
Flash forward to the last 200 years. In Eskimo cultures, married couples frequently participate in co-spousal arrangements, where two sets of married couples share resources, friendship and sexual contact. Their children are raised as spirit siblings, and share a special bond. The community accepts all as members of the same family.
Across the globe, non-Mormon polygamy exists with such regularity that it's no wonder people don't give a shit about HBO's "Big Love." The Cheyenne Indians of the 1940s took many wives, who worked in tandem to preserve their family unit. In Botswana, polygamous wives invented the saying "Without cowives a woman's work is never done," railing against the supermom standard and working as a team.
In China, a good wife treats her husband like "an honored guest," never showing outward signs of affection, and vice versa. For hundreds of years, wives used a secret language only other women knew so they could bitch about their marriage or swoon over their husbands without getting caught.
The Ancient Romans had absolutely no taboos placed on homosexuality whatsoever, and did not believe heterosexual marriages were sacred. In sections of Tibet, India and Nepal, women may marry two or more of their husband's brothers, having sex with all of them and serving as their wife--and sexual jealousy is seen as gauche.
In West Africa, there are societies in which a woman can choose and marry a female, while certain Native American cultures allow male-male unions.
The point is--WHO exactly has the audacity to think they can protect "the sanctity of marriage," when the union, by nature, is as malleable and specific as the regions and people who practice it? Here' another one: WHO exactly gets to define what a MARRIAGE is?
The Defense of Marriage Act serves one purpose: Proving how ignorant the author and his supporters are about what marriage is. The law protects what is, at best, an isolated social norm specific to the US, Canada and parts of Europe...one which, given the divorce rate, doesn't work so well.
The DMA is an act of allegorical abomination--it's like penning legislature to prevent the evolution of a biological organism. I'm just suuuuure the organism will listen too.
Crap. I think I put a dent in my soap box. I gotta lay off the gelato.
Look, I don't mean to alienate those who believe in traditional marriage. Wed, make babies, buy dogs, join the PTA. Live, love and live some more. I pray for it all one day. But for those people arguing that marriage must be protected like a frail virgin from the godless unions of heathens? Try doing some research. Then put down the porno mag, head into the kitchen, and tell your spouse you love them. And do it quick, before the gays beat you too it and love has to be rescued from the fires of hell as well.