“Do not pity the dead…Pity the living, and above all those who live without love.” –Albus Dumbledore
Finally, marriage equality has arrived in Alabama. Despite a last ditch effort by State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore to forestall the inevitable, the United States Supreme Court ensured that marriage equality would begin in Alabama this morning when it rejected Alabama’s plea for a delay.
Congratulations to all of the loving couples in our sister state of Alabama who are marrying today.
As beautiful as this moment truly is, it strikes me how equally sad it is that there are people who have devoted significant portions of their lives to the pursuit of denying happiness to others. Yet all that effort, energy, and fervor has led to this moment: The tide of history has washed over Alabama, and we know that once Alabama has moved forward, none of us are going back.
So my question for those who have spent years – perhaps decades – standing in the chapel doors is this: Why? Why did you give so much of your heart, mind, body and soul to this failed errand? Why was it so important that you deny your fellow human beings this one little morsel of happiness in a world otherwise drowning in sorrow and despair?
Why is it that when we looked upon the same people, where I saw love, beauty, tenderness, commitment, and family, you only saw lust, filth, disgust, and perversion? How is it that you were never able to see what I saw?
How could something as beautiful as marriage – a sacrament formed as a partnership, carried by devotion, and bound by love – be so threatening to you that you would cede your legacy to the dark corners of the history books, to be counted, not alongside the Stantons, Hamers, Parks, and Kings, but among the Wallaces, Connors, and Calhouns? Why did it matter so much that you would sacrifice the admiration of your descendants generations hence, and render your memory for them a stain of shame rather than a point of pride?
And today, even as people rejoice across the state — everywhere from Birmingham, to Tuscaloosa, to Huntsville, to Hamilton, to Montgomery, to Auburn, to Mobile — you are sad.
You have good reason to be sad. Even as thousands rejoice or seal their vows, there are bereaved men and women across Alabama who cannot fully join in today’s celebrations because this day took too long. While you were working overtime to deny loving couples the dignity they so richly deserved, many watched their life partners slip away from this world, taken by sickness, old age or tragedy. They left this earth never knowing the dignity of having their home state recognize by law what they knew in their hearts. Not only should you be sad, but you should be deeply ashamed.
But that’s not why you’re sad, is it? That last paragraph doesn’t stir up an ounce of shame or compassion within you, does it? Instead, you’re sad because you sulk and long for the return of a world that had a little less happiness in it than it has today.
As heart wrenching as it is to think about those who never lived to see this day, I do not pity them. Though they sojourned through a world that often failed to appreciate or understand them, they were victorious because they lived lives driven by love, hope, and courage. The greater pity is for those who could not summon the humanity to appreciate the glory of the lives they lived and the love they shared as they were passing through.