Tag Archives: Gay Rights

Edie, the Unlikely Hero



In a movement defined by lockstep support among 20-somethings, and a marriage debate shaped by the 2000’s, 83-year old Edie Windsor has become our unlikely hero. An octogenarian widower leading the charge is certainly unexpected, but it is important.

Edie Windsor’s story is a reminder that Millennials are not all-of-the-sudden demanding a redefinition of marriage, but instead are campaigning for recognition of something that has been around for a long time. At the very least, since Edith Windsor asked Thea Clara Spyer “is your dance card full?”

These couples have been here, and we are all quite late to their party. We’re the generation who decided to attend. Millennials are just the group who decided we wanted stories like Edie’s to be a part of our story, our history, and the list of things we want to carry with  us into our 21st Century.

An 83-year-old widow is a reminder that there has been havoc let loose on people’s lives that we cannot undo. There are 50-year relationships that have ended in death, never given equality. Though this is now the young people’s fight, there are many who stepped out long before us.

Edie Windsor and Thea Spyer’s heartwarming yet heartbreaking story is the embodiment of the consequences of Martin Luther King Jr’s warning that “a right delayed is a right denied.” Because our culture and our politics ‘just weren’t ready yet,’ a 50-year love story ended in inequality, hidden behind closed doors, and met with a monstrously large tax bill.

This is what marriage inequality does. This is what we are fighting to end. And, this is a story that a 20-something cannot tell. It takes the unlikely hero that is the energetic yet frail Edith Windsor, walking up the steps of our Supreme Court at age 83 and demanding that her love story, even in death, is equal.

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What it’s Like to Have Your Future go to Court

I’m writing this down for three reasons. First, I’ve been asked dozens of times ‘how this feels’ by friends and family over the past few weeks. Second, I think this might be interesting to look back on in 10 or 20 years as what it was like “back then.” And third, I can’t sleep, so why not.

This week, nine men and women who collectively make up the Supreme Court will consider if I, and millions like me, have the right to marry. They may decide this in the context of California, they may decide that the federal government can’t tell my state what to do with my marriage, or they may change the shape of gay marriage laws nationwide. They may deal a painful blow and decide that there is no such right.

No pressure.

There are certainly others with more of a stake in this than I have. California couples. Those already married in states which allow gay marriage. Those in the Deep South who may wait a decade if the Supreme Court does not act on their behalf against an unfathomable local majority. Some people’s lives will change forever based on this week’s arguments.

But there’s something about this case that is a great equalizer. Every gay man and woman, whether they have come out yesterday, or they protested alongside Harvey Milk and continued ever since, is watching the Supreme Court with the same mix of cautious optimism and panic.

If I could sum it up in one phrase: This is our chance, but how dare they.

This is our chance to have the Supreme Court affirm what we know — that we are citizens of the United States and deserve by birthright equal justice under the law, and before our fellow citizens. We know it ours like we know it is our right to vote.

But how dare they hear arguments that it isn’t! How can a body like the Supreme Court entertain while sober the idea that some citizens are not guaranteed rights that others are? How does this go on in my homeland? How dare we be forced to sit by and watch this argument be presented as a factual, legitimate case.

Yet we will, as we have before, watch our families be smeared and our families and souls be reduced to words like “promiscuous,” “special rights,” and “non-procreative persons.” We will return home to our husbands, wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, parents, and others, and pretend as though there is not a war about us raging outside.

We are patient. And we hope.

This is the story of gay men and women watching political developments over the past decade. We are patient, yet persistent. We have stood by and have watched TV ads that declare us invalid parents, even threats to our own children and siblings, and somehow, to society at large. And we have painfully watched as millions of our friends, neighbors, and family members abandon us at the ballot box and the local debate.

Every time, we pick up, we forgive, and we begin our arguments again — hoping that next time, maybe you’ll change your mind. Maybe.

This situation sheds light on something that many in the gay community do, that I think is often overlooked and under-appreciated: They perpetually forgive. While we may pester, bother, demand, complain, and protest to no end, when you finally do Screen shot 2013-03-26 at 12.01.58 AMcome around to supporting gay marriage, we forgive you. We thank you. We ask you to saddle up and join the fight. Even if you’re Dick Cheney and campaigned nationwide to ban same-sex marriage in dozens of states. Even if you backed Proposition 8. We embrace you and we ask for your help. No matter what you may have said.

We have done this over and over again, but this time it feels different. Doesn’t it?

The wind is at our backs, support for equality is rising at record pace, Republicans are crossing over. It feels like, maybe – just maybe, for the first time, we won’t have to pick up the pieces afterwards, go home, and pretend as though it is not going on. Maybe — just maybe, we will cease having to plead for rights we know are ours. Maybe, we can finally stop asking that All Men Are Created Equal be extended to us. We may stop having to say ‘please?’ for our rights. It may help stop the stares in restaurants, the teenage tauntings, the suicides, the federal injustices, and the state law discriminations. Maybe that time is finally now.

We are a small minority who after decades of pleading our case, finally have the majority on our side. Maybe this time, unlike any other time before, we will celebrate a national victory for our families and families to-be.

So that is how it feels. It is nerve-wracking, it is anxious, it is full of maybes, it is hopeful, and it is possibly damning. But above all, it is time. We have waited, some of us a few years, others for decades, and finally our patience is paying off.

AND it is time, for you too. Whatever vote you may have cast in the past, whatever comments you may have made in front of us or behind us, this community has proven time and time again that it will forgive to make a new friend. We ask only for equal treatment under the law (and, maybe for the last time,) please.

Conor Rogers
Facebook | Twitter
March 25th, 2013.

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“I’m Pro-Gay Marriage, But Voting for Mitt Romney” — OK, Then Read This

I’m not going to tell anyone who to vote for. Honestly, I think that given the enormous challenges our country currently faces, the fact that our choices are either President Obama or Mitt Romney is a problem in and of itself.

There’s been lots of grey areas this election: lots of lies, made-up figures, and arguments over everything from big bird to rape. But there’s one issue that could not be more clear cut: gay rights.

If you’re a social liberal voting for Romney based on your economic views, you’ve got to understand what you are doing to the gay rights cause, and your LGBT friends who you support. You’ve got to think about who you’re putting on the Supreme Court, and the veto pen you’re putting in the White House.

You are renewing the national ban on gay marriage another 4 years. You are allowing gay Americans to be fired based on their sexual orientation another 4 years.

Gay people cannot achieve equality on their own. As something like 5% of the population, gay Americans rely on their family, friends, and allies to provide the necessary votes to protect their civil rights. Gay americans are counting on you to defend them from laws that would ban them from adopting children, prevent them from obtaining domestic partnerships, civil unions, and a constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

If you’re going to vote for Mitt Romney, understand what you may be doing to your gay friends or family members, and the millions you do not know. You’re endorsing a man who has balked at the idea of gay men and women raising children, and supports putting “no gay marriage,” next to freedom of speech and the right to remain silent. Are these children Romney thinks shouldn’t exist going to be your nephews? Grandchildren? Best friend’s kids?

I’m not being sarcastic or over-emphatic. Mitt Romney supports laws that would immediately and permanently divorce my married friends, and sever their relationships with their children.

I see the economic imperative in voting for Mitt Romney that many feel. I understand the excitement people feel at the prospect of a new President, a new set of solutions, and a reprieve from a nasty 4 years. But, if you’re going to do this, and still consider yourself pro-gay marriage — please, plan your penance.

What are you going to do to help marriage equality advance in your home state? Where are you going to speak out for gay rights if its not going to be with your vote on who to send to the White House? Will you promise to back a pro-gay governor? Legislator? Will you fight a ballot initiative when it comes to your home state? Will you donate to the cause in Maryland, Minnesota, Maine, or Washington?

5% of the country is being targeted by another half of it. Do something about it.


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