If you haven’t seen the news lately, Arkansas, and Eureka Springs is yet again coming into focus. What has this got to do with Down Syndrome or Autism you ask?? Hang with me for a minute and I’ll get to it.
Pulaski County Circuit Judge Chris Piazza ruled that Arkansas’ voter-approved ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional – heralding the arrival of gay marriage in the ultra conservative Bible Belt in the South.
Where I think it got a little sticky, and probably no one even realized, was that Eureka Springs was the only county out of 75 that keeps a courthouse open on saturday for marriage licenses. Thats because Eureka has long been known as the go to place for marriage in the south, and Carroll County saw a revenue stream.
So when Judge Piazza ruled late friday night, that opened the flood gates for gay couples to flock to Eureka Springs on saturday morning with the hope that for once in their lives they might have the same equal rights under the law.
Licenses were in fact issued and then stopped a few times before by Tuesday Pulaski and Washington counties were the only 2 left issuing licenses with all 73 others waiting for a ruling by the Supreme Court if it gets to that.
Now lets get back to Downs and Autism…..
As I drove around the courthouse and took a hard look at the faces of people in line, which was out the door and around the building, the main expression I witnessed was hope. Some of these people I knew, some I didn’t. But they all had the same emotion clearly displayed for all to see.
Not being gay, but being human I tried to empathize and thought about all the times in our history that any group had been victims of prejudice and how it impacted them and their families lives. Irish, Italians, Jews, the Disabled, even American Indians. And then I thought about Alex and the many times that we have been on the receiving end of snarky comments and stares knowing that our family was being judged as less than “normal”. It breaks your heart to watch knowing that your child will always be looked at as not good enough to some. Until you’ve been on the receiving end of that condescending stare from a total stranger, you probably have no idea how diminishing and worthless it can make you can feel. Which was probably what they wanted all along. Goal accomplished.
The major difference here is that Alex having a disability is guaranteed his rights under the federal law. Gay families are still fighting for their recognition. Fighting just to be able to publicly say “I love you” to that one special person in their lives and know that they too will have the same benefits under the law as everyone else.
So if you really get to the heart of the matter, does it really matter who somebody loves, as long as they love? Are we really that controlling as a society that we feel we have the right to tell someone that we probably don’t even know how to live their lives, and would we want anyone to do that to us?
Maybe it’s time to remember that Beatles song and practice what it preached….All you need is love…….