Occasionally The South is reminded the distinctions that made it a capitalized region are not all beautiful. The South is seersucker and pretty girls and white sand and quiet corners of kudzu choked trees, but it is also a cultural child. And while the recent passage of Amendment One is not the face-marring scar of a beastly racial history, it is a blemish, an ode to The South’s adolescence. This is a place that holds yesterday’s views by the hand as if tradition were a blind child needing help across a busy road.
Amendment One chiseled into our constitution a definition of marriage that leaves little room for interpretation. Eventually the state will have a chance to try once more but for now the buttoned-up men who drafted the legislation, the ones who revel in the crushing clap of their loafers on legislative floors, have won. They have won because there are no answers for the unemployed or our veterans. They have won because we need something to divide us, something to do, so we separate the voting public with issues like Amendment One. Women and black people once grew tired of being the line on either side of which we fought, so a different minority takes its turn.
One of the sadder things about the passage of the Amendment is that the passage of the Amendment One no longer matters. Facebook forgot twelve hours later. Facebook, the forum where the next generation of leaders talk, was never much for momentum, but the fire and vigor that raged on status pages last week was quickly replaced by pictures of pets and dinners before the votes were counted. Facebook is but an empty well into which the Boomers' kids yell when the Boomers frustrate them. The kids just yell because the kids are not yet ready to lead.
Gay people will get married everywhere one day, just as today’s bus seats are open to all and bathrooms now corral the stench of various creeds. It will happen. A vote for or against Amendment One was simply a chance to accept what is coming and to stand on the right side of history. Not the right side of history in the sense of what is morally true or legally correct, because cases can be argued in every direction, but rather right in the sense of the side that will win. A vote against Amendment One was a chance for our generation, the furious Facebookers, to sit with our kids when they begin to study the formative issues our time and tell them we stood on the right side, even when we didn’t understand the issue or it made us uncomfortable.
The champions of Amendment One say a gay marriage will cheapen a straight marriage. If this is the case let them marry. We can then hire all our unemployed neighbors to lick envelopes when the notices of devaluation are mailed.
The South is still young in terms of progress—progress in the sense that what my neighbor does behind his wall does not matter unless the banging of his headboard keeps me up. The South is still young. With its seersucker pants cinched at the waist it sits on a porch and watches the green trees move in the hot air, waiting to grow up.