Turn! Turn! TURN!


Pardon my jubilation, but yesterday was a momentous day for the citizens included in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that encompasses Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina which has been my second home state for more than forty years.  A majority of two of the three judges on that court ruled in favor of same-sex marriages, and I could hear the echoes of the voices of Harvey Milk in San Francisco and the Stonewall Rebellion activists in New York City as they chanted and chorused  in celebration with their sisters and brothers in the South.

For everything, turn, turn, turn…there is a season, turn, turn. turn…and a time for every purpose under heaven.  Thank you, Pete Seeger, and the book of Ecclesiastes, too.

On Election Night in November, 2006 Teresa and I joined a few other pitiful looking people at a reception sponsored by the South Carolina Equality Coalition in a small meeting room at the Town House Motel on Gervais Street in Columbia.  When I say few, I do mean few; and when I say pitiful looking, I do mean the faces were long and the expressions grim.  I also remember the food was sparse and drinks were served from a cash bar.  We’re talking bare bones reception because the coffers were bare.

The night was a disaster for the GLBTQ community in South Carolina.  Despite the efforts of the members of the fledgling SCEC organization formed four years earlier,  the tireless dedication of the supporters of the South Carolina Pride Movement and the Alliance for Full Acceptance and an outpouring of financial contributions from individuals and other groups around the entire state – despite four years of hard work by the leaders of this social justice movement – 78% of the voters of the state of South Carolina passed a constitutional amendment that day and declared “a marriage between one man and one woman is the only lawful domestic union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote “Our freedom was not won a century ago, it is not won today, but some small part of it is in our hands, and we are marching no longer by ones and twos but in legions of thousands, convinced now it cannot be denied by human force.”  That night in the Town House Motel I felt we were marching by ones and twos as I looked around the small room that emptied quickly.  I thought the battle for marriage equality would never be won in my lifetime.

As those battles were fought and won in other states by popular votes, by state legislatures and by court decisions, I knew we were now marching by legions of thousands but still felt my home states of Texas and South Carolina would surely be the last ones standing against me.  The ruling yesterday proved I was wrong, and I have no words to express my joy.

Circuit Judge Henry F. Floyd wrote in the ruling that “Civil marriage is one of the cornerstones of our way of life…and the choice of whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual’s life.  Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance.”

I know the movement has many heroes to thank for the cultural changes that fostered the political  victories of  the past thirty years.  From Will and Grace to Brokeback Mountain to The Indigo Girls to We Are Fam-i-ly to the countless other pioneers that made us laugh and cry and sing together – those who made it easier to recognize each other for who we are.  I am grateful for these national treasures that elevated our consciousness and for the local leaders who continued the outrageous acts and everyday rebellions that Gloria Steinem believed to be the key to grassroots organizing.

Later this evening Teresa and I will go to the Capital Club which is a gay bar in downtown Columbia on Gervais Street.  It’s been in business for as long as I can remember.  The same, more mature, South Carolina Equality Coalition is hosting a spontaneous celebration because of the court’s ruling yesterday.  I’m not sure how many people will be able to come on short notice, but I fully expect the expressions on their faces to be exuberant.

I know mine will be.

 

 

About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is an essayist with humorist tendencies who periodically indulges her desires to write outside her genre by trying to write fiction and poetry. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press is publishing her collection of first-person accounts of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBT organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBT history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published four nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and a group of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike and Charly. Her Texas roots are never too far from her thoughts.
This entry was posted in Humor, Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, Random, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Turn! Turn! TURN!

  1. Pingback: Turn! Turn! TURN! | I'll Call It Like I See It

  2. hulanne@earthlink.net says:

    I’m very happy for you, Sheila!  Some things are a long time coming but worth waiting for.         Love,            Anne

    Like

    • Thanks so very much, Anne, bless you for your support! and you know who would also be happy with me? C.H. – he always loved me and my family no matter what! I felt the same for him – and for you, too.

      I was so glad to see you in the Fire Department picture! I’m sure you enjoyed seeing old friends. 🙂

      Like

  3. Enjoy tonight. This is a celebration many, many years in the making.There is no turning back for our society now as more and more Americans embrace what is right and good. I AM SO HAPPY to be witnessing the restrictions fall state by state. It’s a coronet handed to the brave souls who never gave up on the dream of marriage equality.

    Like

    • Hi Ann,

      We had a good time tonight, and I don’t think I saw a frown in the bar! (Of course, maybe that had something to do with the cocktails, too! 🙂 )
      It has been a long time coming, but hopefully it’s another step forward!
      Thank you so very much for sharing in our happiness and for your loving friendship,
      Sheila

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think it is a step forward, and I think there will be more forward momentum than reverse. The time is right and many more people think it is a just thing. I am happy for you both, having worked so hard at making a difference, to now enjoy the fruits of your labor and maybe a margarita or two!

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      • True story: We had our neighbors over Sunday night to play our new obsession: Mexican train. They live across the street from us on Canterbury and are a couple younger than me but older than Pretty. At any rate, to cut to the chase, the husband grew up with Judge Henry Floyd in Pickens, South Carolina, and remembered him very well. Told us some good stories about him.

        And now, Judge Floyd became a circuit judge in our jurisdiction and had the swing vote and wrote the decision for the ruling in this case. Is that not just a small world for you?? Who would have thought a native South Carolinian would be the one to take this step forward in history. It gives me hope for the state! 🙂

        Thanks for caring – you are a jewel.

        Sheila

        Like

      • Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant!! You never know anymore who is pulling for marriage equality. 🙂

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      • Truly – it’s a world turning on its axis, I think – and about damn time!! 🙂

        Like

  4. Robyn Whyte says:

    Absolutely tickled for you

    Like

    • I know that to be true, Robyn Whyte, and I am grateful for your love and constant support over fifty years. You are a treasure for me and have been since the days at 310 Blanton.
      Of course, the only state attorney general who has publicly declared he will fight this ruling is ours here in South Carolina – which he is happy to do with my tax dollars. He will, of course, ultimately lose, but I’m not expecting a refund.
      The year is more than half gone by, and I have still to arrange to lay eyes on you.

      Like

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