Yesterday we had required family TV viewing. We all gathered around the TV to watch "Thurgood", in which Lawrence Fishburne dutifully and magically gives credence to the life and stories of Thurgood Marshall. "Thurgood" recounts Marshall's journey as a lawyer, Supreme Court Justice, and champion of civil rights. And Fishburne shines in his performance as Thurgood Marshall, doing great justice to the life and times of the raconteur. It was amazing, inspiring, and in an educational world that oft forgets its' history, it was important that we engage J, so that he may also learn about the civil rights battles fought not so long ago in this country, and even more so, how those battles relate to the ones we fight today.
I found myself moved to tears several times during the performance by Fishburne. Although, it was impossible for me to see Lawrence Fishburne as Thurgood Marshall. Instead, it was if I watched Thurgood Marshall himself recount his battle for equal rights. I watched Thurgood Marshall recount the day the Supreme Court handed down the decision in Brown v. Board of Education, where the "separate but equal" myth that had held segregation as the law of the land was laid to rest. I watched Thurgood Marshall discuss the merits of the 14th Amendment of our United States Constitution. And I listened to Thurgood Marshall as he championed human decency and equality above all else. He held true to his faith in the law, and in the laws of our land.
Marshall once said: "In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute."
How is it then, that I fail to see the humanity in many of my fellow human beings? How is it then, that those same beings fail to recognize the humanity in me? In my family?
It was impossible (for me) to separate the civil rights battle we fight today for marriage equality and the battles fought by Mr. Thurgood Marshall while I watched the portrayal on the screen of my TV yesterday. It was impossible to listen to the reading of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution...
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
...and not wonder why I am denied equal rights AND equal protection under the law as a citizen of this country. It was impossible to think of my (and my family's) status as anything but "separate and UNequal", as we are continually denied the same rights that others are granted because they can check the "heterosexual" box on a marriage application.
Separate is never equal. There is no equality in inequality. And there is no humanity in denying equal rights to gays and lesbians in this country.
Apparently, there are those of us that haven't learned all of the lessons that the great champions of civil rights, including but not limited to Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, have tried to teach us. How sad is it that a great segment of our population seems to be learning on a curve?