Side Effects: Beyond the Obvious

Written by scott on April 8th, 2013

Supreme Court Oral Arguments to Defeat Prop 8 and DOMA, March 26-27, 2013

At the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial, there is a granite wall with some of his inspiring statements. After two days of oral arguments at the Supreme Court alongside two days of communing with fellow equality supporters at the steps of the Court, tears welled up in my eyes as I read:

JM Sorrell - Washington DC Rally

JM SorrellOn that final day, I also paid a visit to the White House where I stood for a long time with my sign to thank President Obama. I carried that sign at our local LGBT Pride march last May when the President said he was “evolving” on his views of marriage equality.

JM SorrellEach day, I arrived at 6:30am with my signs to stand with fellow supporters. Members of the press were intrigued by my signs and my work as a Massachusetts Justice of the Peace, and it was touching how gently they approached me and other activists as they participated in the profundity of the moment.

JM SorrellI ran into Rea Carey, one of the most prominent leaders of our movement. She is the executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. For the events, she opted not to speak and to simply be amongst us as the spotlight belonged to couples, families, faith leaders and others. We had met at the NGLTF annual conference in 2012, and we connected immediately, so running into her was like seeing an old friend.

As plaintiffs and participants and attorneys walked in and out of the Supreme Courthouse, we cheered and watched and celebrated our communities.

What an incredible honor to be present for these landmark cases! The oral arguments took place in the morning, so each day I had time to wander about in DC. I wore my red t-shirt that proclaimed that it is time for marriage equality. It also happened to be spring break week for public schools, so many families were in town for vacation.

JM SorrellAn unexpected side effect happened over and over again during those two days. Average-looking mothers and fathers approached me and asked, “How did it go today?” They explained to their children that this was a momentous week to be in our nation’s Capital to fight for civil rights. I was in awe.

At Union Station the morning after oral arguments, I noticed a large contingent of young high schoolers. Their teachers told me they came from Hartford, CT and that many of these kids had never left the city or state before this trip. They were mostly African-American kids from impoverished families. Money was raised for the trip. The teachers took them to Howard University and monuments and museums. When I explained my reason for being there, the two teachers told me that they brought the kids to the Supreme Court even though it was not on their original agenda. They did not want them to miss history in the making and a fight for justice and equality. My eyes welled up.

When we hear that the tide is turning in our favor on the media, we hear from politicians and other famous people who have come forward to support full equality for lesbians and gay men. This is merely a reflection of what is happening on a deeper level: average people of all ages and backgrounds understand this as an issue of fairness.

Contemporary times are difficult on many levels. Love is no small thing. Allies are everything.

J.M. Sorrell is a 52 year old lesbian, Justice of the Peace, Massachusetts resident and global citizen.


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