I’ve started writing my seminar paper for my post-grad class. My focus is on the Defense of Marriage Act and the status of LGBTQ rights in this election, and I’m sure I’ll be posting more about it over on the teacher blog. For now, though, I wanted to share this.
I grew up having television as a major influence in my childhood. I didn’t have the most attentive parents (Gee, Chili; really?!) so television was pretty much ever-present in my life. As my mother didn’t get up to get me going for school (and my father left every morning before school started), I used the t.v. to tell time; when Scooby Doo was over, it was time to go to kindergarten (yes, kindergarten. I’m not kidding when I say that I had inattentive parents). As a consequence, much of my growing up was shaped not only by shows like Sesame Street, and Zoom and Scooby Doo, but also by Hogan’s Heroes, Good Times, Nanny and the Professor, and All in the Family.
I have a particular spot for All in the Family because I recognized, even when I was very young, that they were taking on some really difficult and controversial issues (I loved Good Times for the same reason; the story arc about child abuse had me riveted). Archie’s bumbling and bluster gave the other characters an opportunity to talk to the audience about things that, to the best of my limited knowledge, weren’t really talked about on television in the 70′s – things like racial equality, women’s rights (including sovereignty over our bodies; does anyone remember the story arc that watched Edith and her family cope with her being raped?), and gay rights.
One of those groundbreaking episodes dealt with the death of Edith’s “Cousin Liz.” Cousin Liz was a closeted lesbian, and Liz’s partner of 25 years confides in / confronts Edith with that fact after she overhears Edith and Archie talk about repossessing a tea set from Liz’s estate. A facebook friend posted a link to a blog containing the entire episode to her wall and commented that she’s sad that we’re still having to have these kinds of conversations about GLBTQ equality.
The truth is that we’re making amazing and heartening leaps toward equality in this country. DOMA is being struck down as unconstitutional every time it’s being argued in court (and I have high – but guarded – hopes for its defeat at the Supreme Court later this year). Marriage equality has been put on the ballot by pro-equality groups in three states (Maine, Maryland, and Washington) and advocates are pushing a “no” vote in Minnesota, where anti-equality groups are trying to deny marriage rights to same-sex couples. Support for equality is coming from surprising places, from religious and civic leaders to the President of the United States. The tide is shifting, and the majority of people are fed up that we’re still fighting this ridiculous fight. I’m hopeful that we’ve finally gone past the point where we can ever go back; I like to think that as a People, as a nation, we’re done being mean.