Months of the year have unique historical or emotional associations for some of us. For example, ever since I was an elementary school student, August is the month that forever mushrooms over Hiroshima and Nagasaki. As a young boy in Fresno, I would connect such incredible, world-ending heat to the wilting August temperatures outside our swamp-cooled house on Poppy Street. Of course, no amount of my imaginative powers could ever come close to the reality that hundreds of thousands of Japanese experienced on and--for those who survived the blasts--after those two infamous days in August 1945. History often has that effect: Our human brains strive to make connections to what can seem almost as abstract and as memorable as a Pablo Picasso painting.
Today is one of those days in history that will be added to my August consciousness: A federal court judge struck down California's Proposition 8 as unconstitutional.
Some might ask, "Why is this ruling so important to you, especially if you're not gay?"
I'm a believer in the Constitution of the United States and in The Bill of Rights, and I've always considered the Fourteenth Amendment and its "Equal Protection Clause" as crucial for people who are not members of "the majority." We have a history of the majority wanting to place restrictions on various minority groups; for instance, at one time we permitted slavery and we denied women the right to vote. And just because we have a U.S. Supreme Court doesn't mean inequalities can be quickly ended; past Supreme Court decisions led to various "Jim Crow" laws that manifested the so-called "separate but equal" mentality that I'm certain some people still crave (the Tea Party's mantra, "Give us back our country," strikes me as dangerously nostalgic for what were ugly times for people not in the majority). The 1954 Brown v. The Board of Education Supreme Court ruling still bothers some who don't want their children to attend integrated schools, and the 1967 Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court ruling, which put an end to anti-miscegenation laws, must still bother those who think that whites should not marry blacks for whatever sad, ill-conceived reasons.
And such people who don't like interracial marriages, integrated schools, or homosexual marriages have every right to hold such views, but today's ruling reinforces what we all must remember: Constitutional rights can never to be denied simply because a majority of voters deem them as deniable.
The United States of America was and still is an ideal on paper that with the passage of time struggles to become a reality, and today's decision is just one more step toward that reality.