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In this photo, Christina Lansdown, left, and her domestic partner Jo Lansdown kiss their daughter at a celebration for the U.S. Supreme Court's rulings on Prop. 8 and DOMA in the Castro District in San Francisco, Calif. on Wednesday, June 26, 2013. The couple of 11 years plan to wed as soon as they can. (AP)

Dear Rosalie,

You’re about 12-hours-old as I write this. You came into the world last night (Wednesday, June 26, 2013) at 1:51 am, avidly voicing your objections to the various injustices to which you were subjected. You looked like a beautiful furious rose. Thus your name.

Having a baby, as you may eventually discover, involves a lot of waiting around. For this reason, me and your mom — when we weren’t bouncing on the birthing ball or pacing the halls of the birthing center or whining about the hospital food we were nonetheless stuffing into our pieholes — spent some time perusing the news.

There You Are Rosalie! (Courtesy of the author)

There You Are Rosalie! (Courtesy of the author)

Most of it was bad.

A famous athlete was about to be charged with murder and the local press was in a blood frenzy. A famous freedom fighter was fading toward death. Perhaps most depressing of all (at least on this day, the day of your birth) the Supreme Court ruled to overturn a key provision in the Voting Rights Act, which will make it easier for states and municipalities to disenfranchise minority voters.

It was hard to watch all this without losing a bit of faith in the species. But then, just a few hours after you appeared, something kind of awesome happened.

The same group of judges (or at least the five most enlightened among them) issued a decision that essentially said this: if you love someone, you have the right to marry  them.

This shouldn’t be an especially controversial notion. But you’ve been born into a strange country, Rosalie, one full of guns and greed and lazy prejudices masquerading as religious belief.

In many parts of America, it’s perfectly acceptable to discriminate against people for not earning enough money or coming from the wrong part of the world or worshipping the wrong God.

But today, thanks to the Supreme Court, it is going to become much easier for two men or two women who fall in love to be legally married, and to enjoy the privileges accorded to other couples.

That may not sound like a big deal, but it represents profound moral progress. Until quite recently, most gay people remained in hiding for fear of being ostracized or worse. They didn’t think to get married, because marriage was defined as the union between a man and a woman.

What makes today special — aside from the fact, of course, that you entered our world — is that it marks a fundamental victory for the cause of love over hate.

My own twin brother, for instance, couldn’t marry the man he loved in the state where they both lived.

I don’t know that I can explain why some people hate gays so much. Like most forms of hatred, it has more to do with their own insecurities than any kind of rational thought.

What matters, though, is that these insecurities are no longer being viewed as reason enough to denigrate the love of others.

This is not to suggest that love will be something easy or painless for you. In my own experience, love is awfully hard to come by and even harder to hold onto.

Your mother and I love each other very much. But our devotion is complicated by our own fears and anxieties. We struggle every day to be good to one another. This is a necessary part of the human arrangement, I’m afraid.

Still, what makes today special — aside from the fact, of course, that you entered our world — is that it marks a fundamental victory for the cause of love over hate.

Those of us lucky enough to live in this country, have been given cause to believe in a wonderful dream: that our children will be able to love, and eventually marry, whomever they choose without shame or fear.

It won’t matter what race or creed or gender they are, only that the two of you provide each other the respect and joy you deserve.

Here’s to dreaming, kid.

Love,
Papa

Tags: Family, Gender, Law, Relationships

The views and opinions expressed in this piece are solely those of the writer and do not in any way reflect the views of WBUR management or its employees.

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  • LPenney

    “…one full of guns and greed and lazy prejudices masquerading as religious belief.” Sad, but true, and beautifully put. Great piece. Congratulations on Rosalie!

    • MelissaJane

      That same phrase really stood out for me, too. “Lazy prejudices masquerading as religious belief” sums up a great deal of the worst that characterizes this country. The same creator who is now supposed to hate gays was once deemed disgusted by interracial marriage or desegregated schools, and a supporter of slavery.

  • MelissaJane

    Congratulations! Welcome to the world, wee Rosalie. May it be kind to you. May you find love. May you build a better world than the one you are born into.

  • GoblinTrainTraveller

    This was wonderful. Well written and honest.

  • Jen K

    Beautiful, Steve. Congratulations on No. 3.

  • letloverule

    Welcome to the world, Rosalie. And this letter your Daddy wrote? Kind of awesome!

  • Ellen Hillery

    Steve Almond is awesome! Whether writing about candy, music, parenting or American politics, his writing is a must read!

  • geraldfnord

    I’m very glad of the DOMA/Prop.8 decisions, but can’t shake the feeling that gay marriage doesn’t threaten our most powerful actors but full enfranchisement of the poor does (at least as long as the government they help elect were seen as a legitimate power in itself) and that this explains the previous week’s decisions neatly.

    (Probably _too_ neatly—an hypothesis’ being neat, fully explanatory, and consonant with the formulator’s extant ideas and prejudices is usually a warning sign of its being less a valid idea than the symbolic equivalent of a pleasurable drug…but still, I think I’m ‘onto something’ here, to a noticeable extent that I’m not ‘on something’….)

    P.S.: Steve: I’ve tasted many of those obscure candy-bars, and I’m afraid I can see exactly why they’re dying off…still, I’d love to try a fresh Chicken Dinner…..

  • http://www.amymackin.com/ Amy Mackin

    A baby was born yesterday. “That may not sound like a big deal, but it represents profound moral progress.” Because every new child born to parents like you, who will raise her or him to treat every person with equality, dignity, and respect, is also a step in moral progress. Welcome to the world, Rosalie. I have no doubt you will make it a better place.

  • Reilly22

    Congratulations Steve! Rosalie is my mothers name. Excellent choice. :0)
    And wonderful article.

  • Karin T

    Congratulations! Love your writing – Candyfreak was a favorite…

  • FanOfSteve

    Great post,Steve. Congratulations on the birth of your daughter.

  • Jen Hicks

    Beautiful words, beautiful occasion. Congratulations on the sweet baby daughter.

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