My ears perked this afternoon when, as we sat down for our holiday meal, my 9-year-old daughter read aloud President Obama’s Thanksgiving Proclamation. For the first time since George Washington declared a day of Thanksgiving in 1789 and since the holiday was set on the fourth Thursday of November by Abraham Lincoln 150 years ago, an American president’s words opened with an unmistakable endorsement of gay and lesbian relationships:
Thanksgiving offers each of us the chance to count our many blessings — the freedoms we enjoy, the time we spend with loved ones, the brave men and women who defend our Nation at home and abroad. This tradition reminds us that no matter what our background or beliefs, no matter who we are or who we love, at our core we are first and foremost Americans.
These words are a reminder of how frequently even intelligent people confuse subjects and objects (it should have read “who we are or whom we love”). But grammatical quibbles aside, the line is an indication of how much has changed with regard to the rights of gays and lesbians over the past year. On Thanksgiving 2012, same-sex marriage was legal in 9 states and jurisdictions; today, that number is 15 (Massachusetts, California, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Washington, Maine, Maryland, Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, New Jersey and the District of Columbia) and climbs to 17 after the most recent conversions take effect on Monday (in Hawaii) and next June (in Illinois). Last year, the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) denied scores of federal rights to same-sex couples; today, section 3 of DOMA is history after the U.S. Supreme Court declared it unconstitutional last summer.
In all, about 38 percent of Americans now live in jurisdictions where same-sex marriage is legal, and well over half of Americans support the right of gays and lesbians to wed. President Obama’s embrace of same-sex couples is now mainstream: as American as turkey, stuffing and Thanksgiving-day parades.
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