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Dear Friends and Colleagues–

At just after 10:00 am this morning, I learned that the Supreme Court delivered its decision in the Obergefell v. Hodges case, making it unmistakably clear that same-sex couples now have the right to access marriage across our country, a right resting on the concept of human dignity. I sat in my meeting in silence, just soaking it in. I thought to myself… “this is really happening.” I exhaled, not realizing that a part of me had not been breathing for the past forty years.

My quiet musings were interrupted by the joyous cry from a colleague across the table. This particular campus dean cried out, “Oh, by the way, Hooray! I just saw that same-sex marriage is legal across the whole country!” The rest of the room chimed in with words of joy, relief, and affirmation. I just looked around, taking stock of it all. “This is what a historic moment looks like,” I said to myself.

But what does this all mean?

I write to you, because I want to help mark this moment in time. I was not alive to see the end of slavery. Nor was I able to witness suffrage for women. And during the civil rights era, I was too young to really comprehend what was going on around me. But here and now, we are able to see it, feel it, and be a part of a day when the United States of America came one step closer to the fulfillment of its promises and ideals. Today, I’m seeing how true it is that we often buy into the false dichotomy that change must either be gradual or radical. Indeed, our story suggests that change tends to be gradual and then, suddenly, it takes a radical leap forward. Both are true. Both are necessary. Today is that proof.

Let us begin the celebration by honoring our history and our ancestors. To truly honor this moment, let us remember that the Stonewall riots were started and sustained by those who, even today, still struggle to be seen within our own community: people who are gender non-conforming, Trans* men, Trans* women, people of color, drag queens, polyamorous people, older people, poor and working class folks, just to name a few. Let us recognize the many community organizations, campus advocates, and steadfast allies who tirelessly worked to get us here. It wasn’t that long ago that the idea of civil unions was considered scary and radical (and marriage wasn’t even on the table). So take a look around you. Remember where you are today and with whom you are sharing your experiences. Though we are often characterized as multiple communities, perhaps today consider holding each other in the awareness that we, all of us, have come a long way. Perhaps today, we can lift our voices as one… expressing gratitude for the future ahead of us and a determination to stave off complacency in maintaining our dignity.

But I also want to speak to those of us whose first reaction to marriage equality is “yeah, but…”

It’s true. Marriage is not the ultimate aspiration for everyone, nor should it be. Marriage does have historical roots that are deeply problematic. Marriage does not miraculously fix our woes. Marriages sometimes do not last. I recognize that today’s Supreme Court decision does not mean that the struggle is over. You’re right, there is no “trickle down” social justice. More remains.

It’s also true that today President Obama eulogizes South Carolina State Senator, Rev. Clementa Pinckney in Charleston. It is sadly ironic that even as LGBTQ persons achieve full marriage equality, African Americans (and other people of color) continue to struggle with the harsh, daily reality of American anti-Blackness and racism. How is it possible that LGBTQ people are afforded dignity today, but African Americans and other people of color still (STILL!) seek to have their humanity and dignity recognized? When will we reach this next step in creating a more perfect union? Yes, this is all too true.

And despite it all, I would ask you to consider a memory from my past that curtailed my own tendency to say “yeah, but”…

A number of years ago, I attended a presentation by Starhawk, a white woman feminist pagan activist. I can’t remember the topic, but I remember walking out a changed person. In the middle of the presentation, Starhawk was asked the question: “Given the enormity of what you’re up against, what keeps you going?”

Her reply (paraphrased from my poor memory): “I’m absolutely committed to social justice for everyone and the Earth. It means that I’m in a life-long marathon, not a sprint. I can’t run indefinitely. In order to keep going, I have to rest on occasion. I have to stop and notice how far I’ve come. I have to celebrate every accomplishment to give me the energy to keep striving forward.”

I invite all of you to dwell on the wisdom of Starhawk’s advice… put down your burdens, embrace those around you, and celebrate this landmark moment… at least for today. Tomorrow, we can pick up the struggles anew.

I leave you with a quote that gives me inspiration on days like today. A. Powell Davies was the minister at All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, DC. He said: “Life must have its sacred moments and holy places. We need the infinite, the limitless, the uttermost—all that can give the heart a deep and strengthening peace.”

En la lucha con Ustedes,