Gay Marriage After Proposition 8: The Historical Arc is Long, and MAYBE It Will Bend Toward Justice

Andrew Sullivan is philosophical about the passage of Proposition 8 in California:

Law never trumps love. And one day it will echo it.

This is a fine sentiment, recalling Martin Luther King, and rallies the heart for the battles ahead, but it’s not true.

Unfortunately, the integrity of one’s inner life and longing CAN be broken by long abuse.

And the law frequently trumps love.

So many human beings have failed to outlive the unjust laws that have oppressed them, and there are gay couples living today who will not live long enough to see their full equality before the law realized.

This is the sting of Proposition 8. Yet again gay people have been driven, by the law, into a condition of inequality.

Love rarely succeeds in trumping law and tradition, as the great works of Western literature so heart-breakingly attest (think, for example, of Antigone and Romeo and Juliet).

Contra sentiment, there is no principle of nature or progress which gives an edge to love over law, and this is terrifying—but also the source for our hope—for if we resist, the contingencies of history might break our way—and that means that things can be different.

Just ask Barack Obama.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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