Oh, I cried like a baby. For my friends who are binational couples. For my friends in California, my previous home state. For so many of us around the country, in the states where equal marriage is now truly equal. And finally, for myself. It really hit me that this is the first time in my life I am living in a place where I am no longer a second class citizen, and that it means something. It is a notion so powerful and so simple, one I have spent my life fighting for, that it kind of floored me when it actually happened. All along the way there have been lurches forward and backward, a passel of small and large victories, but the prize was always just out of reach. Through all the letter writing, the advocacy, the phone calls, the arguments, the marches — we are finally here, and I had to pinch myself. This is not perfect, because it is not national. But in the place that I live, my people now enjoy all the rights that straight people take for granted. We can’t be fired for being gay. We have the same housing rights. We have the same access to public services and accommodation. And now finally, we have the same federal marriage rights. And the federal rights are the ones that matter most in marriage law, as there are over a thousand of them. There may still be vestiges of homophobia in society, but at least in my adoptive state there is no official, state sanction anymore against us. When you have lived your whole life with constant official reminders that you are a second class citizen, that you are less than, that your love is less than, it feels unreal to be finally unburdened of all that.
As I mention above, this is a less than perfect decision in that my brothers and sisters in the hate states are still not equal before the law. The court should have decided for a national right to equality today. I will not rest until they too have equality. For now, I consider my country to be New York and the other states where equal treatment is now the law of the land. I am optimistic that one day the inequality suffered in other states will also be history, but I do not know when. It will take many lawsuits and many years I am afraid to reach that milestone.
But today, we celebrate, because we are truly equal here in my homeland.
My friend Fabian and I took a 5 day trip to Montreal from which I just returned a couple of days ago. I had never been to Montreal before and here are a few of my observations:
- Although I am fluent in French, there were a lot of times I had no idea what people were saying (and sometimes even my French friends had no idea). I imagine it is very much like an American English speaker going into deepest Scotland and trying to make sense of the accent and slang.
- They have a strange (to me) habit of automatically splitting the check when people are dining together. Everyone almost always gets their own check, and usually the restaurant is quite good at apportioning (say, for example, 4 of 5 people at the table split a bottle of wine it will correctly be divided by 4 and added to each of their bills). On the one hand, I think this is great (especially so that people on a budget can still go out with their rich friends), but on the other hand it somehow feels less communal and vaguely selfish.
- Also in restaurants, when paying they bring a little machine to your table to run your card, and you punch in your code (if you have one) and then it asks you to add the tip right there (giving you options for percent and the like) and then approve the final amount. I have mixed feelings about this too, as it is very handy, but also a little awkward to fill in a tip amount in front of the server (in the case of bad service, which to be fair never happened to me while there).
- They seem to love anything deep fat fried or otherwise coronary disease inducing in Montreal. (See Poutine, among other things)
- In the 5 days we were there, we passed through no less than three separate street fairs. And we stayed in a relatively centralized few neighborhoods. How many others were going on that same weekend that we missed?
- Montreal has one of the most unreliable cell phone networks I have ever seen. I would very often lose signal completely, even if the area supposedly had good coverage.
- I learned the most awesome dirty Quebecois slang words this weekend. My favorite among them: plotte.
- Finally, there must be some government program to give out mobility scooters to all manner of disabled, fat, old, or just plain lazy people. We saw them everywhere. I think Fabian and I must have counted at least 20.