A lot of surprising, ground shaking history was made this week, with the Supreme Court deciding that gay marriage is protected by the US constitution, and struck down all state-level bans. This is a huge victory for millions of gay couples that can now celebrate their relationship with equality, and a victory for a society that bills itself as free. And, many of my friends know I am a HUGE supporter of marriage equality.
But I feel a pang of irony in the celebratory news, as we also force the removal of the confederate flag from our collective psyche.
While this support of an equal society seems to fly in the face of my hesitation around removing the confederate flag, it is the hypocrisy of it all that bothers me the most.
How can we celebrate equality for all while simultaneously requiring the removal of a symbol that some hold dear? The tenets of the constitution protect personal belief, no matter the social acceptance of that belief. We should all fight for freedom of speech without the approval of that speech. Gay Americans should permit the hate speech of the Westboro Baptist Church. We should permit the flag of a racial history. Why? Because we cannot celebrate equality and freedom while simultaneously removing the ability for others to hold their own beliefs, no matter how much we love or hate those beliefs.
This is a scary premise – to run everyone’s ideals, no matter how hateful or how sanitized – through some filter of social acceptance in order to determine that belief’s ability to exist.
Put simply – we cannot celebrate marriage equality without simultaneously permitting the flying of the confederate flag.
This is the same irony I feel with the Republican agenda – pro freedom, and anti-big government…while also passing laws that limit women’s rights, gay rights, and bills that swell the government. You cannot have it both ways – either you are pro-constitution, pro-freedom and pro-marriage equality, pro-choice, and pro-religious freedom. Or you are against it all.
Also, we see all this “feel good” policy around removing confederate items from retailers and other places as if all along, to patch the racial divide in this country, all we needed to do was pull some products from the shelves. Removing General Lee toy cars from store shelves will do just as much for racism as removing pistol grips from AR-15s does on curbing mass shootings. Basically, we will all feel good for a day or two, like we are making some amazing progress..then we will go back into our American “Dancing with the stars” coma, be distracted by garbage media, and go right back to where we were.
I look forward to celebrating this historic move for America this week. But I also understand that we need to expand our tolerance, even to those we do not agree with and those ideals with which we do not associate.