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    The Return of Hope and Joy

    By Kate Kendell, Esq.–

    When we won the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in 2015, we as legal advocates knew that the fight for true liberation, equality, and justice was far from over for the LGBTQ+ community, especially our Black, Brown and Trans brothers and sisters.

    What we did not imagine was that, five short years later, we would see Justices on the Supreme Court, in this case Justices Alito and Thomas, denounce the ruling and openly scheme about how to limit and undermine this landmark ruling. It is a well-held principle that once a majority of Justices rule, even if you were a dissenting judge, you accord that ruling respect and honor it as settled law.

    The rammed through confirmation of Amy Coney Barrett solidifies a Supreme Court majority that is more extreme than any other time in history. The ACA (Affordable Care Act), LGBTQ+ rights, abortion access, climate change, and the entire range of racial justice issues roiling our nation will all be crushed and buried by this majority. 

    Photo Courtesy of Kate Kendall

    This bedrock norm in a democratic society has been trashed and abandoned, as have so many of the critical rules of fair play and free elections in our far too fragile democracy. The rights we’ve fought so hard to win are imperiled and democracy itself is on life support. The carnage caused and celebrated by the GOP Senate and the Republican party is disgraceful and we have an outgoing Presidential Administration that despises the very idea of “Equal Justice Under the Law.”

    But after so much suffering and carnage, our long national nightmare is about to be over. While it is clear that Trump and his corrupt enablers intend to torch the house on their way out, we will soon have President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris as our leaders.

    Just writing that sentence gives me hope and the ability to imagine a policy agenda marked by humanity, a love for justice, and a belief in the right of every individual to live with full dignity: free from harm, cruelty, and suffering. Imagining that future fills me with hope and joy, even as I am clear-eyed about the challenges and difficulties that lie ahead for the new Administration and our nation.

    In the years and months since the inauguration of Donald Trump, we have watched with growing horror and shame as he has embodied the very worst of the human character. I will not relay the litany of those characteristics here; there is no need. We see them, still, every day and the harm done to our national reputation and psyche is incalculable.  

    Over seventy-five million of us took our country back from the brink of total destruction. So many have suffered so much. But we can chart a new future and begin the hard work of repairing and rebuilding.

    Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the best of us. They are honorable, kind, curious, humble, dedicated, and wicked smart. Together, they embody the qualities we most want to see in ourselves and love in others. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that they have clear and doable policy positions on the most urgent needs our nation and our neighbors face.

    But to just have kindness and decency once again emanating from the White House, and to know that we matter to our leaders, well, that will at least allow us to breathe free once again.

    Kate Kendell, Esq., is the former Executive Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and now works with Take Back the Court and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

    Published on November 19, 2020