Thursday, June 27, 2013

Marriage Equality Rally

Yesterday's Supreme Court decision on DOMA proved that the Supremes can recognize unconstitutional laws every now and again still.

Lots of people were waiting for the verdict, of course, and when it came down favorably locals decided to get together and have a rally in front of the courthouse in celebration.  Since I missed the last marriage equality rally I really wanted to go to this one, so I loaded the kids on the bus and met my mother downtown where she had a poster board, markers, and some rainbow tape.

So we made this:
And yes, I am responsible for that horrible abbreviation of the word straight.  I was afraid of running out of room, and I also wanted to echo the No H8 campaign.

Anyway, the rally was supposed to start at 6:30pm, and of course I am always early, so this is what we found when we got there:
There were plenty more people in the back.  I reckon there were about thirty or so folks when we got there and maybe 75 or so once the rally was in full swing.  It was short notice and hotter than hell, both of which I think contributed.  You can kind of tell in this picture that folks were mostly congregating in the shade as best we could.  The elderly gentleman with the American flag is an Air Force vet (quite possibly retired; I didn't ask) and member of PFLAG.

One thing about events like these is the gay community is always very welcoming and friendly.  We were greeted immediately (quite a change from the Occupy SA folks) and given stickers for GetEqual Texas, which was one of the sponsoring groups:

We hied ourselves over to the side of the building where everybody else was and Esther, being an outgoing little child, immediately made a new friend, who let her play with one of the rainbow pinwheels:
The little girl's t-shirt, by the way, said "I love my two daddies."  One of the two is standing right behind her.  Of course you can't get a great read on a family from a brief encounter, but these two did seem to have a good rapport, and it made me grateful Texas allows gay adoption.

I did not score one of the sweet rainbow lei, though.  I'll just have to make my own for the next rally.

This being San Antonio, our rally took on a party atmosphere. There was dancing. Believe it or not, I hide from pop culture successfully enough that not only had I never heard Katy Perry's "I Kissed a Girl" before yesterday, but the song was nearly over before I realized what it was.  Strangely, there was no Cher.  Perhaps I'm too old? I really expected Cher.

Anyway, here's a picture of Esther dancing:
I realize it looks a lot like running, but that's how Esther dances.  Now, take a look at the background.  Dude right over the other little girl's head was a reporter. He had an actual notebook!  Guy over Esther's head was also a reporter; he has a microphone. I'm guessing Univision.  Off to the edge, you can see a guy's butt who was a cameraman; there was a female reporter with him. There was also an Express-News photog (recognizable because he had two cameras), which brings me to the fact that Bobbie and Esther made their slideshow of the event.  (Those photos are far more worth looking at than my own; you can get a better idea of the actual crowd. It got crowded enough that I had difficulty making my way through it.)

Now, here is where I fail as a citizen-journalist.  Eric Alva was there, but I only got a picture of him from behind 'cause I didn't want to be a pain in the ass and put him on the spot.  You may recognize his name; he was the first American wounded in Iraq. He's also a Marine, a native San Antonian, and a gay rights activist.

I get the feeling he gets his pick of the men, too, 'cause damn.

Now, over his head you see one of the things that kind of raised an eyebrow. I do not like dicking with the American flag to make a political point. And, well, let's just say I was reminded a time or two during the speeches that I was sitting in a crowd of leftists.  (But somehow I bet I wasn't the only one rolling my eyes at some of the stuff that was said.) 

Speaking of the speeches.  Interesting lot.  Maybe five different speeches, mostly from activist leaders.  One of the speakers was the chapter leader of the local PFLAG.  She said she had been uneasy going to her first meeting because she wasn't sure how she'd be received by the gay community.  I think she said she has a gay sibling or some such.  I don't remember.  It struck me as odd, because frankly my experience is that gays are a lot more accepting of straight people than the other way around.  But then again, I need to remind myself that not everyone has hung around gays essentially their whole life like I have. (My godmother is in fact gay.  So I'm a cradle fruit fly.)

Almost everyone in line in this photo was a PFLAG member.  I'm not sure about the sign language interpreter (red shirt & khakis) or the lady in the red shirt and white shorts, but the other folks were.  One of the speakers, I think the lady who is second from the left here, said her mother was actually one of the founding members of PFLAG and they had a phone line at home just to talk to people--gay people coming to grips with their sexuality, and their families coming to grips with it.  Her brother is gay, she said, and in an "alternate relationship"--he is not married and does not wish to be.

Which brings up another interesting point.  I have heard some people express the opinion that marriage equality doesn't matter because some gay folks don't even want to get married.  This is so idiotic! Not everyone wants to get married.  This is true of straight people as well as gays.  The key difference is that we get to choose.

The speeches were another thing where I was forced to confront my own privilege.  I am well aware of it in this case--I get to get married to the person I love.  Plenty of folks don't.  And gay people will travel to get married, even if it's not recognized in their home state.  One of the first speeches was given by a man who got married to his long-time partner in Vermont; two years later the man died.  Another joint speech was given by a lesbian couple.  They've been together twenty years, and got married a little while ago in Canada.  One of them said they didn't understand how important, how meaningful, marriage is until they got married.  (This is a pretty common refrain from people who marry after a long cohabitation, by the way.)  One of the signs had the name of two men on it and the year they became a couple--1993.  So, for twenty years they've been together and they can't get married.  But I had no problems marrying someone I'd known for six months.  There's a problem there, aside from your opinion on whether I rushed into matrimony a second time.

Once the speeches were over, there was more dancing because of course there was.  I had to take a picture of this couple; unfortunately I got them talking rather than dancing.  You know that couple that when you see them you can tell how deeply in love they are?  This was that couple.  They are just beautiful together.

One last note.  This was a very body-positive gathering.  You could have done an alternative-forms-of-beauty bingo.  We had the amputee, the fat people, the shorter-than-average people, a couple of goth chicks, someone with a random birth defect, one transgender person, a dude in an electric wheelchair, etc.  Everybody partying and getting down.  This is the sort of environment I want my children to be a part of.


Dave said...

Sabra, Great report!

Interesting note: My daughter and her husband attended the first gay "commitment" ceremony held in a DoD church at JB-MDL in New Jersey. My son-in-law was one of the ushers. His PME instructor was one of the grooms. Anyway, Eric Alva attended that event and my daughter said he had some brief words of encouragement and appreciation that an event such as that was actually being held in a military chapel.

I am extremely proud of the military and the fact that for the most part, we lead a lot of social change whether we (as a whole) want it or not. On the day the the SCOTUS ruled, the SECDEF proclaimed that the DoD would take immediate steps to provide benefits for the partners of military members. That is fast.

You are raising your kids right!

Roberta X said...