“The change in people’s attitudes on that issue has been enormous,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said. “In recent years, people have said, ‘This is the way I am.’ And others looked around, and we discovered it’s our next-door neighbor — we’re very fond of them. Or it’s our child’s best friend, or even our child. I think that as more and more people came out and said that ‘this is who I am,’ the rest of us recognized that they are one of us.”
This was in an interview with Bloomberg News. I am a huge admirer of Justice Ginsburg. She seems always to be exactly on target in what she says. Here, she goes to the heart of the matter—not necessarily the central legal question, which would have to be put in different language—but the beating heart of the question. She knows that the issue before our society is are gay people one of us? She knows that the us is herself, her next door neighbor, her child, her child’s best friend, people she’s fond of, the community and society she’s a part of, and the gay person, who says, “This is the way I am,” is part of that community also, is one of us. No different, no distance. Nothing separates us from gay people and nothing separates gay people from the community that is America, from us.
While many of us are celebrating how much alike we all are, we know we don’t have sex like our neighbors, we don’t conduct our relationships like our neighbors, there are many areas of our lives where we are pleased with the way we do things and not the way they do things. It is appropriate, while we are getting recognized as being one of us, that we respect our way of doing things.
We are not going to be the same as everyone else. Men are not the same as women, white Americans are not the same as black Americans, rich folks are not the same as poor folks. I don’t know how deeply these differences run, but it does seem clear that when we follow Justice Ginsburg’s lead and see our neighbor as one of us, what she seems to be leading us toward is seeing and celebrating the diversity of the people on our block.