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     I see glimmers of hope for the end of systemic racism in the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision. Since June 26th the church has seen a steady flow of long committed gay and lesbian couples. The first wedding I officiated (that the state was finally legally required to recognize anyway) was for a couple who had already been together 36 years. The second wedding was for a couple with 28 years under their belt.

      One couple I met with said that they didn’t want any fanfare with their wedding. They didn’t want the media to take their picture when they were the first gay couple to go to their parish’s clerk of court’s office. Another couple said that they worried about how they would be received when they got the application. They didn’t know how kind everyone would be. They worried that they would be judged by the clerk or shamed by other people in the office.

      Fortunately that wasn’t the experience of the couples I’ve met. For the most part people were happy for them. One couple said the woman behind the counter couldn’t contain her smile. She was overjoyed because this was the first same sex couple that she got to issue a license to.

      While I’m sure this is not a universal experience of gay and lesbian people in our country, it does give me hope. There are some people who will always agitate and activate for justice. There are some people who will always be on the edge of civil rights. There will always be people dissatisfied with the status quo.

      There are other people who will wait in the wings for the status quo to change. It’s easy for me, an agitator, to feel resentful and angry with people who stay with the status quo. Especially in Louisiana where the open sores of racism are above the surface, it’s easy for me to lose hope. It’s easy for me to craft a story about how unloving and hateful and racist Louisianians are. That’s the easiest explanation for the glacial movement towards justice here.

      But that explanation is not fair, and it’s not kind. I believe deep down that people are good and want a more loving and just world. People want a reason to be happy and to see a world of compassion.  I have been looking for a way to reconcile my experience of racism in Louisiana with the divinity I see within each person. And I’ve found a glimmer in people’s response to the marriage ruling.

     The same people I expected to be hostile towards gay and lesbian couples were excited for them. Couples that expected 2-3 guests had 15 or 16: many taking pictures and crying more than I’d seen at any straight wedding.

 

      I believe that there are just as many people waiting to shed the racist exoskeleton of our past. There are people waiting, hoping, for the status quo to change so that they can be more loving and more kind. It’s easy for me to be frustrated that they aren’t undoing racism on their own. While I want to shake people and agitate them until they are as dissatisfied by the system as I am, I know doing that will only scare some people further into their shell.

 

       Instead, by seeing how loving many Louisianians have been after June 26th, I see a clear hope for undoing racism here. Because there is more than 500 years of systemic abuse to rectify, it will be a harder struggle, but I have faith and hope that we will get there.