Magazine article Tikkun

William G. Sinkford on Gay Marriage

Magazine article Tikkun

William G. Sinkford on Gay Marriage

Article excerpt

I LEARNED OF YOUR ELECTION ON A LATE-NIGHT FLIGHT TO AFRICA. WHEN THE PILOT ANNOUNCED THAT YOU would be the 44th president of the United States, many of us wept with joy. The hopes Americans have placed in you are so high, and the challenges are so daunting. You will lead us during a critical period of war, recession, and mounting ecological threats. Some might say you have taken on a thankless job; I am deeply grateful for a president who seems equal to these challenges.

And I am hopeful that your vision will encompass all of us. During the campaign, the rights of same-sex couples were downplayed even among progressives. While I understand the strategic reasons for this, I feel called to witness on behalf of those Americans whose rights were trampled and whose dignity was assaulted by state ballot initiatives preventing marriage or adoption.

Before the presidential campaign began in earnest, back in the summer of 2007, you said something that gave me great hope: "Too often, the issue of gay rights is exploited by those seeking to divide us. But at its core, this issue is about who we are as Americans. It's about whether this nation is going to Uve up to its founding promise of equality by treating all its citizens with dignity and respect"

I rejoiced at those words then, and I want to lift them up now. Some people- including some wise and experienced leaders- are still seeking to divide us. They are cautioning you not to overreach as you set new policies. These people may advise you that legal equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people is a luxury, and they may urge you to put civil rights on the back burner for now. "Wait," they are saying. "Wait for a better time."

But we know there's never a better time to end discrimination. It wasn'tthe right time in 1954 when Brown v. Board ended segregation in public schools- the critics then said that too many states and cities weren't ready for a change as big as racial integration. And yet change came, not because we were ready but because- in the words of abolitionist Unitarian minister Theodore Parker that were echoed by Dr. King- "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." Progress may be delayed, but its course is unstoppable.

In 1967, if the United States Supreme Court had waited for "the right time," Loving v. Virginia would not have been decided in favor of committed couples who wished to marry but happened to be of different races. Before this decision, in many states I would not have been allowed to marry my wife. …

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