PERSONAL SPACE: The Right Side of History

Editor-in-Chief Amy DuBois Barnett

Several years ago, I was a guest at one of the most beautiful weddings I have ever seen. Set against a stunning background of Vermont mountains, the ceremony took place in a field of flowers overlooking a sparkling blue lake. The 100 guests—a mixture of college friends, as I was, work friends (the couple were both corporate lawyers) and family—sat in ribbon-wrapped chairs under a bright late-morning sun, cooling our faces with pretty paper fans imprinted with the couple’s initials. And when the traditional wedding march began and the bride started her walk down the aisle, more than a few of us shed a tear.

It was emotional partially because we were happy to witness the union of two people so in love, and partially because we knew what it took for the two of them to be able to exchange their vows on that sunny day. You see, when the bride finished her trip down the aisle, she joined hands with another white dress-clad bride. They had been in love for almost a decade, and they were finally able to make their union official in their home state.

Even though their journey to the altar was longer than most, their wedding felt like any other—because it was like any other wedding. These two women were standing before their friends, colleagues, families and creator, pledging to take on this crazy thing we call life in partnership. That’s all any of us can do when we devote our life to someone else. And when the vows were said, the bouquet thrown and they stepped out for their first official dance as wife and wife, it was clear to me that their love and devotion were no different than that of any other newlyweds I have known.

I firmly believe that we all have the right to wed, no matter the sex of our chosen partner. I couldn’t have been more proud of President Obama for his public statement of support for gay marriage (see page 18). When history looks at this period of time, anyone who opposes same-sex marriage is going to look as archaic and close-minded as the misogynists who opposed women’s right to vote in the late 19th century or the racists who opposed interracial marriage in the 1960s. We should always strive to be on the right side of history, lest we be judged the bigots of our time.

Although I respect that some of the arguments against gay marriage are rooted in an interpretation of the Bible, I think we should focus instead on the Good Book’s Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you.” Let’s not judge our neighbors lives, then treat them poorly if their choices and experiences do not mirror our own. Or as Jay-Z said in his own statement in favor of gay marriage, ‘What people do in their own homes is their business, and you can choose to love whoever you love.” ’Nuff said.

Please e-mail me or hit me up on Twitter to share your views.

Read more in the July 2012 issue of EBONY Magazine on page 16.