Diane Silver

The Dawn of LGBT Equality

Filed By Diane Silver | September 15, 2009 7:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: Cindy West, flyover country, Iowa, Judith Galas, Kansas, marriage equality, Middle America, Rev Peter Luckey, same-sex marriage

Sometimes I wonder if we'll miss the moment when the LGBT revolution really does arrive. Many, myself included, have always expected that moment to come with cheers and back slapping as equal rights legislation finally becomes law. bkb_seabury_veritas_rm5_t460-cropped.jpgOthers may be looking for the election of the first gay president or the installation of the first lesbian member of the U.S. Supreme Court.

I have a funny feeling, though, that I just saw the revolution dawn, and it didn't happen in Washington, D.C. The revolution arrived this past Saturday in Lawrence, Kan., inside the home of the senior pastor of the oldest church in the state.

I was in Linda Luckey and the Rev. Peter Luckey's living room, and I was surrounded by a group of largely heterosexual couples, ranging in age from 40 to their late 70s. We were all staring raptly at a DVD playing on a small TV.

I don't think there was a dry eye in the room as we watched two women who had been together for 25 years pledge (or perhaps I should say re-pledge) their lives, their love and their souls to each other.

The DVD showed the wedding ceremony of Judith Galas and Cindy West, who had recently married in Des Moines, Iowa. The party was the reception their good friends, the Luckeys, held so that all of their Kansas friends could celebrate their long-delayed and finally official marriage.

The celebration was the second for their marriage. About 40 people, most of them straight, had accompanied the couple to Iowa. Peter performed the ceremony there. Cindy and Judith are longtime members of Peter's church, Plymouth Congregational.

For a time, Judith was the Director of Christian Education for the 1,150-member church. These days Judith teaches English at Bishop Seabury Academy, an Episcopal school. By the way, the headmaster of her school announced her wedding to students. The only responses Judith received were cards of congratulation left on her desk.

On Saturday, most people stood because there weren't enough chairs. Even though the ceremony was long, no one fidgeted or made jokes or talked.

Tearing up, wiping at cheeks with tissues, beaming, these straight people - our alleged enemies - had been captured by the love shown so clearly on the screen. How many of them were remembering their own marriages, or wishing their relationships were as strong as Cindy and Judith's? How many of them were considering their heartbreak if they were forbidden by law to marry?

This is not a fairy tale.

Neither Judith, Cindy nor the rest of us LGBT folk are equal under the law, at least not yet. Our families and our children face crippling discrimination - all of which is fully legal.

Judith and Cindy also can't marry in Kansas, and the state doesn't even recognize the union their pastor and another state just formalized. Meanwhile, efforts are already underway to take away the right of same-sex couples to marry in Iowa.

This incident may even misleading because it happened in the most liberal city in Kansas in a congregation of the progressive United Church of Christ. Linda Luckey, by the way, serves on the local chapter board of the state's LGBT rights organization, the Kansas Equality Coalition.

And yet, I can't help being hopeful.

Something important is happening in this country, and it's occurring away from the glare of TV lights. Heterosexuals are beginning to be able to see us for who we are. The people standing with me in that living room certainly did. They saw the highest form of love on that screen, and they recognized it for what it was -- something sacred.

PHOTO: Judith Galas and Cindy West celebrate a basket as the Bishop Seabury boy's team takes a come-from-behind victory over Veritas Christian School. Veritas, by the way, is the local fundamentalist school.

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Often, through history, revolutions don't come with slanting flags and beating drums. They come little by little, step by step, drop by drop, sometimes in the middle of the night, when people least expect them-- even the people who most want them to come.

This is a wonderful story, Diane. And it's one of those steps in the revolution. A few weeks ago, I wrote about the installation of those two Brokeback Mountain cowboy shirts in the Gene Autry museum in L.A. That's another little step.

I think Bilerico is a great place for these step-by-step stories to be told, by all of us who are out there in the field and happen to see them happening.

LGB equality? Maybe. I hope so. It's long past time.

T equality... not so much... but there's a time and a place to talk about that. A wedding celebration is not one of them. My blessings and best wishes to the couple, and may their joy be shared by others, soon.

Best wishes to the beautiful couple. May they enjoy each other for years to come.

Best of wishes for the renwelyweds and thank you for this post.

Paige Listerud | September 16, 2009 12:28 PM

Someone send this to Sarah Palin. This is the real America.

This is a lovely story that needs to be told again and again. I'm convinced that stories will be the best way to turn the hearts of those who will hear. Put a face on the issue, and suddenly it's not just an issue anymore.

I was very happy to see--and to have been part of the struggle of my gay and lesbian friends for--their final move from "the margins to the mainstream," that equal marriage, as we called it in Canada, came to be.

Canadians for Equal Marriage, the advocacy organization for this struggle--which I worked for--was clearly successful beyond the wildest dreams of American gay and lesbian people.

However, it was with an emotion much different than happiness I watched these very same people abandon the struggle for the human rights and hate crimes protection of transsexual and transgender people.

It is with even greater emotion I now watch them define transgender as part of "all things associated" with homosexuality, declare the rights of all those who so identify recognized--and not a single word about transsexual people is heard.

If there is any wonder why so many of us object to the imposed transgender umbrella or identity it is because it so easily allows for the erasure and repudiation of those who medically transition, those whose primary question in life is not their sexual orientation, but what their sex, not gender is.

Zoe Brain and Jessica, thanks so much for your thoughtful comments about the "T" in "LGBT." You're absolutely right that I foolishly made it look like the ability of same-sex couples to marry somehow conveys equality to transgendered citizens. Of course it doesn't. The problems transgendered folk face are different than those faced by those of us who are lesbian, gay or bisexual. We all need to open our eyes and ears to that fact. You've helped to begin to raise my consciousness on the issue. I hope other folks are also paying attention.

Diane, thank you for your positive response to my comment, certainly--and I suspect Zoe would say the same.

For some, there is no appropriate time to raise concerns about equality--as I am confident every gay and lesbian person over the age of 40 knows from unpleasant experience--possibly younger.

Transgender and especially transsexual people yearn for precisely the same things gay and lesbian people do:equality and inclusion as the people we are.