Is DOMA our Apartheid?
What if all people on the planet had enough food to eat and a bed to sleep in? Or if all of us had a real voice in helping to decide how our countries were run, regardless of what passport we owned? And what if everybody lived a full life and died at a nice old age in our sleep?
As Nelson Mandela once said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
When he was growing up in South Africa, black and white people were not equal. They certainly couldn’t get married to a member of the opposite race, but they also couldn’t go to school together, work together, or even live in the same neighborhoods. Nelson Mandela fought this unfair system, called Apartheid. He fought so hard that he went to jail, for 27 YEARS. Even in jail, he kept fighting, and eventually, love conquered hate. Mandela lived to see fair laws come to South Africa. He eventually got out of jail and became president, continuing to work for peace in South Africa and all over the world.
And today, the Supreme Court of the United States voted that all people deserve the same rights, no matter who they love. Last week, there were two types of couples who could get married. Heterosexual couples had access to lots of federal rights, and homosexual couples had no access to federal rights. That means that some parents didn’t have legal rights to be a mother or father to a child they raised. It means that some people have had to leave the country even though their partner lives here. It means that some people haven’t been able to visit their partner in the hospital. Today, the Supreme Court said that living under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unfair. If a state allows two people to get married, they deserve the same rights as anybody else.
It is a wonderful day… if only this story had a fully happy ending. Unfortunately, Nelson Mandela is currently on life support in the hospital. At age 94, the end of his life could be imminent. We don’t know whether or not he is well enough to know what happened in the United States today, but I’m sure he would remind us that the fight is not over.
There are still many more states that don’t allow same sex marriage. And years later, black people in South Africa are still much poorer than their white neighbors. As Mandela has shown us, we need to keep on fighting.
As Henrietta Davis, Mayor of Cambridge, MA, said today: “If you don’t like the way the world is, then change it.” So, what’s next, team?
I was lucky enough to be at a celebration today of the Supreme Court decision regarding DOMA. I couldn’t resist editing it together with some footage I captured two years ago at a celebration of Nelson Mandela’s life. This is my video tribute to a special man and a special day.