Bending Towards Justice

June 26, 2013
Waiting for decisions

Waiting for decisions (Photo credit: vpickering)

“The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

These are the words of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr, on the steps of the State Capitol in Montgomery, Alabama, after the completion of the Selma to Montgomery March on March 25, 1965. His prophetic words are a beacon of hope for all who wish to fulfill the Biblical commandment, “Justice, justice, you shall pursue.” (Deuteronomy 16:20)

Today the US Supreme Court declared parts of the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, and allowed a lower court ruling to stand striking down California’s Proposition 8, which had attempted to redefine marriage in such a way that same-gender couples were excluded. There are still legal and practical matters to be worked out about both, but two great obstacles to human rights have been much reduced.

I am not objective about these matters. I am a citizen of the State of California, and the combination of Prop 8 and DOMA affected my family in tangible ways. Discrimination has shaped our choices over and over again: choices about matters as trivial as vacation and as serious as end-of-life. I still don’t know exactly how today’s legal decisions will play out in my life, but I know that their effect will be far-ranging and profound.

Our children are, if anything, more excited than Linda and myself. The official illegitimacy of our relationship disturbed them deeply.

All that said and done, there is so much left to do!  Getting married will help a lot of LGBT folks with nice things like estate planning and dignity, but it will mostly make a difference for those who are middle-class or wealthy. We still face workplace discrimination and immigration discrimination, and for transgender Americans, the battles are still over rights as basic as the right to use an appropriate public restroom. Some of us still face the threat of violence when we drive through the “wrong” county, or walk on the “wrong” street.

Today’s progress, wonderful as it is, is not enough. We can’t declare the work done yet.

We can’t declare the work done until every U.S. citizen’s vote is counted, and every U.S. citizen can get to the polls.

We can’t declare the work done until no one, anywhere, gets stopped for Driving While Black.

We can’t declare the work done until no one, anywhere, is deported to a strange country where they don’t know the language because of cruel immigration law and decisions made by others before they were born.

We can’t declare the work done until rape culture is only an historical footnote.

We can’t declare the work done until everyone, everywhere, has the chance to make of themselves what they can: until everyone has a fair shot at education and a job.

We can’t declare the work done until the very young and the very old can feel safe and secure, without fear for shelter or their next meal.

I am sure that you can think of something that needs to be done before we declare the work done, and I tell you, go work for that change!

There are those who look to a mythical past for the “good old days.” I am here to tell you, those good old days never existed. Those good old days are ahead. May they come speedily and in our lives!


jonathan lace

theologian | musician | developer

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