December 3, 2020

Guest Commentary: Making strides toward equality

Matt Jamieson

The fervor for same-sex marriage has reached its tipping point. Whether you look at the red equality profile pictures on Facebook, or the Time magazine cover story about “why marriage equality has already won,” — we, as a country, have taken steps forward that we can never take back.

The tide has turned. No matter what the Supreme Court rules on the Proposition 8 or DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) cases — the court of public opinion and common sense has already made their ruling.

And as I see it, they rule for marriage equality, not against it. Despite the regular opposition from the political right and religious communities of the U.S., public opinion towards marriage equality has gone over the halfway mark, surpassing 60 percent in recent polls. Many senators and U.S. House representatives are “coming out” in support of marriage equality. Whether it’s to cover their own legacies on the “right side of history” or not is up for debate, but more support is what is helping to build the momentum.

But I feel that what has really changed opinions, hearts and minds are the stories of everyday LGBT American citizens. Nothing will influence a person to act stronger and more direct than when it affects someone they care about.

The late Harvey Milk said, “They vote 2-1 for us, if they know one of us.” Milk said this when speaking of coming out affecting a California proposition that would have given power to fire gay teachers or even anyone suspected of being gay (or even supporting gay teachers… Remember this was the ‘70s and the fight for equal rights was still in its infancy).

And it’s with this philosophy in mind that I share with you a story from my life of how I know attitudes on marriage equality are shifting permanently.

My dad and I have never really seen eye-to-eye on anything, and while I cry at commercials, he rarely expresses emotion, save for a few choice profanities when Mizzou is losing. He golfs every Saturday and he sits reading the paper in his recliner every night before watching Letterman with my mom before bed. In short, he’s a creature of habit.

This past week, I stumbled on a clip of Sally Field talking about the unconditional love she has always had for her openly gay son. I sent the clip to one of my strongest fighters — my mom. The next day, she followed up by telling me, “You should really thank your dad, and not me. Because he has really come a long way in the four years since you came out.”

I’d known he had made strides, particularly reconciling his politics and my sexual orientation, but didn’t know what she was talking about. She then proceeded to tell me that the real reason my dad had stopped going to church, was because of the Catholic Church’s beliefs and policies towards homosexuality.

The exact words he told her were, “If they cannot accept my son, then fuck them.” I was floored — my dad really has made strides since my coming out, but I didn’t think they were this massive. I know this doesn’t mean that every single, solitary person is going to change their views on marriage equality.

But if my dad, a man very set in his ways, can take these giant strides towards equality, maybe we can finally all come together and finally embrace the equality every single human being on this planet deserves.

 

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