Why We Are Crying
Read Rabbi Lisa Edwards’ column in this week’s issue of the Jewish Journal following the historic Marriage Equality decision.
I was reminiscing with a friend last night about my 21 years as rabbi of Beth Chayim Chadashim (BCC), the first and oldest LGBT synagogue in the world (founded in 1972). I arrived in 1994, in the midst of the AIDS crisis, and my calendar filled immediately with death-bed conversations, funerals, shivahs and a congregation in grief.
In 2008, my calendar filled to overflowing again, this time with the extraordinary high of wedding after wedding during that all-too- brief 4 1/2-month window of legal marriage in California before Proposition 8 slammed the window shut.
My reminiscing was prompted, of course, by news of the 5-4 Supreme Court decision on the morning of June 26 — flinging open the window of marriage equality in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
My wife, Tracy Moore, an out lesbian activist since the early 1970s, wrote to her cousin that Friday:
“It does seem that change happened fast! Consider how long it took to get Loving v. Virginia (1967) to do away with ‘anti-miscegenation’ laws. Still, many have long suffered for lack of these rights. Children forgone, deathbed farewells forbidden, inheritances appropriated, jobs lost or not striven toward thru fear of exposure, relationships undermined for lack of family support. On and on. I’m glad you helped me think of those things by sending me your congratulations on this most thrilling day.”
I think of people I have known personally:
The years she lived in fear her ex-husband would sue her for sole custody by outing her in court as “unfit.”
The father whose children were removed from his life — even visiting rights, let alone joint custody, were denied.
The one dying from AIDS, whose parents descended and locked his partner out of his house.
I remember the first time I saw pieces of the AIDS Memorial Quilt: “I am 21 years old. If you are reading this, I am dead.”