The News Tribune logo

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

My Nickel: Cheering For Gay Marriage Bill Passing In Washington State

Until the passage of the McCarren-Walter Act in 1952 three years prior to my birth my immigrant Japanese grandparents who had arrived in the early 1900's were not allowed to become American citizens because laws had been passed in the United States to specifically exclude Asians. 

Laws had been passed in individual states to prohibit Japanese from attending local schools, buying homes and property, and marrying outside their race because their fellow citizens (among others some who freely admitted to be practicing adherents of the Christian faith) including some here in the State of Washington decided it should be perfectly legal to exclude people like my grandparents. Even the threat of such laws had the effect of often forcing them into separate, schools, communities, and in some cases - segregated graveyards.

It's clear to see that the very same shameful wellspring of injustice and intolerance has been uncovered once again and the hateful stream of water is spread in outgoing waves by countrymen and women whose limited understanding of equality under the law does not yet extend to anyone whose perspectives lie outside of their own.

In the past citizens of the same mold shut the back door in front of my grandparents. During World War II they shut the door in the face of my parents - then two American-born and raised teenagers. Today they want to shut the door in front of same sex couples who wish to be married.

A few years over six decades ago my relatives spent several formative years of their lives contemplating the future thanks to the hospitality of such fellow citizens - enjoying free food, housing and views of the barbed wire fences around the inland desert US government internment camps where they had been herded by armed members of the military. Meanwhile the philosophical ancestors of today's equal marriage opponents happily snoozed in their own beds, surrounded by loved ones in the peace, warmth and comfort of their own abodes justifiably confident that their own personal freedoms, United States citizenship rights and Constitutional protections were defended and preserved.

Would they sleep so soundly if they by an accident of birth were Japanese-American during that era and had been as mine transported by the wisk of a wand into the US interment camps to serve a regrettable sentence as human wartime collateral damage? Would they rest easy having to bear that uncertainty of fate the rest of their lives? Would they wish for the same blessing upon their children and grandchildren?

Would they advocate so unequivocally as Christians that marriage is only limited to men and women if they should wake up tomorrow morning and find the good Lord transformed them into the body of someone happily identifying as gay or lesbian and be then surrounded for eternity by the love of good people such as they are today?

As I see it a salute is in order for Governor Christine Gregoire and the Washington State Legislature. America is truly alive and well. And it would be a complete sham for the rest of US to settle for anything but.


Anonymous said...

Mizu - what a hauntingly beautiful tribute you crafted here, with such care and love. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for the vision. Thank you for you.

All My Relations,

Lorraine Hart said...

Your nickel is worth a million bucks to me, Mizu. You beautifully jumped back and forth between the personal story of your family and race, to the story of gay families, and their struggle for equal rights.

Indeed, is it not the grand experiment of this country, to stand together, despite our differences? Is it not the Word of Jesus Christ, that we love one another, as He loved us?

Gov. Gregoire made her landmark decision, after a personal journey. If we walk across that No-Man's-Land of fear and meet each other, we find our differences minute, compared to our sameness.

You make a brilliant point when you ask if any of us can sleep easy at night, in a country that can come for any of us next, when laws are made at the beck and call of fear.

Well done, my friend.

Stephanie Frieze said...

A wonderful post, Mizu! It is sad that it has taken this long to come close to marriage equality in the United States.

Anonymous said...

A well crafted tribute to equality...I am personally touched!

Anonymous said...

Well said. It's time we embrace equality instead of fear it.