Dan Canon discusses the marriage equality case, 5 years on. Now is it the turn for racial justice?


Dan Canon’s column in LEO Weekly last week. Click the link, read it all. We’re very fortunate to have Dan, Valerie and their kids in the neighborhood.

Marriage equality case 5 years later: Can that victory be replicated for racial justice?

 … My naiveté served me well. We went to the Supreme Court in 2015. We won.

I got my feather and hung it on my wall. Our clients, and millions of other people, can get married. I’ve been to lots of weddings over the last five years. I’ve even officiated a few. It feels good.

I suppose it’s for the best that I didn’t recognize then what I see clearly now: Of all the ways to try to bring about social change, filing a lawsuit and leaving it to a judge in the Midwest, or the South, or anywhere, is among the worst. As evidence, I offer a detail that is often lost in the retelling of the marriage cases: We lost. We lost in the court of appeals on our way to the Supreme Court. We lost in the court that presides over Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan and Tennessee. We lost in a court that hears hundreds of cases every year on police misconduct, inmates’ rights, immigration detention, free speech, abortion and every other hot-button issue anyone has ever cared about. We lost, just like the national organizations said we would. We lost, just like everyone loses. And since the Supreme Court takes so few cases, losing at that court is the end of the line for most people seeking to make change through what we think of as proper, respectable channels.

By the time we lost in the lower court, pro-marriage activists were accustomed to losing legal battles …

 … For now, I’ll celebrate our surprising win in an institution designed to make losers. I’ll celebrate the marriages of Tim and Larry, Greg and Michael, Kim and Tammy, Maurice and Dominique, Paul and Randy, and Luke and Jimmy. And even as the buzzards circle the great bird that gave me my defunct quill, I’ll celebrate what the marriage case stands for: The hope that the mythology of American equality can be realized, even if we don’t quite know the recipe for it.