The famous phrase used by Rev. Martin Luther King about the arc of the universe being long, but bending towards justice came partially true today with the decision by the US Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and to let stand the lower court decision invalidating California’s Proposition 8. Same sex marriages will likely begin again in California and the joy experienced five years ago can resume.
The arc of the universe is long, but it bends towards justice. Indeed, it sometimes does. King paraphrased what our own Theodore Parker said in 1857: “Look at the facts of the world. You see a continual and progressive triumph of the right. I do not pretend to understand the moral universe, the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways. I cannot calculate the curve and complete the figure by the experience of sight; I can divine it by conscience. But from what I see, I am sure it bends towards justice.”
But the universe bends only when we bend it – when we work for justice and equality. It was our work and the efforts of so many that led to the Court’s decision. It was our protests and our witness, our mails and phone calls, our dollars and hours spent that bent the universe. It was because of us that we have moved further in the direction of what is right and good. The arc is long, but its curve is in our hands.
A couple I married five years ago asked, when we met to plan their wedding, “Why do they hate us so?” Today, some respect was extended to people and to couples who exemplify the best in the human spirit, whose love and commitment is second to none, who are lessons for all of us of courage and kindness, who have helped the arc of the universe bend in the right way.
This is real cause for joy. It fits in with the courage of Wendy Davis, the Texas state legislator who filibustered for 13 hours to prevent a draconian and terrible restriction of women’s rights. It helps balance the Voting Rights Act decision, which will only encourage those trying to limit access to voting, mostly people of color and the poor.
So let’s sing and dance for today and affirm our commitment to justice, equity, and compassion in human relations. It is where the holy resides and how the universe continues bending its arc towards justice.