THE BLOG

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner

03/02/2014 07:12 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016
  • Neal Wooten Writer, artist and standup comedian; author, 'Reternity' and 'The Balance'

That's the title of the 1967 movie about a black man named Dr. John Prentice, played by Sidney Poitier, who falls in love and plans to marry a white woman, Joey Drayton, played by Katharine Houghton. It was on Turner Classic Movies Saturday evening and I watched it for perhaps the twentieth time.

There is a scene in the movie where Dr. Prentice's father, played by Roy Glenn, is trying to talk some sense into his son, at one point explaining that he and his bride-to-be will be breaking the law in 16 or 17 states. As I watched that scene, it suddenly reminded me of Arizona's Senate Bill 1062, also known as the Anti-Gay Bill.

It amazes me that in this great country, less than 50 years ago, mixed-race marriage was indeed against the law in many states. It's even more amazing that right now in good, old 2014, in this country whose citizens tout their freedoms as the grandest in all the world, that we are still having to fight for marriage equality today.

And even though Governor Jan Brewer wisely vetoed the bill, it reminds us that for every inch gained in the fight for true freedom and equality in a country that pretends to cherish both, it only takes one act like this to set us back a mile.

It was no surprise that the creators of this bill did it under the guise of "religious freedom." Some of the most unthinkable devices of our time have been administered under misleading titles. The "Patriot Act" allowed the government to legally conduct the most unpatriotic operations. "The House Committee on Un-American Activities" allowed the government to act in the most un-American way.

There is little doubt that in the near future, citizens of this country will look back with a little shame at how long it took for gay discrimination to become socially unacceptable, whether it be the right to marry or to simply order a meal without fear of assailment. In much the same way we now look back on how long it took for non-whites to attend the same schools or eat at the same establishments as whites, or how long it took non-whites to be able to vote, or how long it took women to have the right to vote, or how long it took mix-race marriage to become legal in all fifty states.

All of these events were prognosticated with the same world-ending, fear mongering scenarios we hear in the arguments against gay marriage today, and yet the only effect they had on our society was to make it stronger, wiser, and brought us a little closer to living up to the idea that this country was truly built on the great qualities we learned about in elementary school.

Just like those men and women who fought for the freedoms in our past, we must fight for it in our time. We must stand our ground against any proposed law in any state that permits discrimination. We must stand in support of marriage equality, because in forty years when a young person is watching a classic movie about our time, they'll be surprised and shocked that 33 states did not legally allow gay marriage.

And hopefully in the near future, when a gay person is being attacked by a group of heathens, the twenty or so people watching will raise their hands with more than just a cell phone to film it.