David was more than a friend. He was family. We met in New York City shortly before he made the decision to leave teaching in public schools in the Bronx to enter Columbia University’s law school. He was probably the most optimistic person I’ve ever known: a rainbow-flag-waving activist back in the late 1970’s when such things could get you fired or beaten up.
He wasn’t easily intimidated. As a 6 foot 5 inch Puerto Rican Jew with an Afro, wearing a rainbow T-shirt was the least of David’s worries. He was the first person I met who liked being out. He sometimes compared blending in or hiding in the closet to an act of treason to the gay community.
Over and over, he said being out is the single most powerful statement the gay community can make. People can’t change their attitudes about gay people if they don’t know any, he said.
David became an excellent attorney in his own practice, often representing people from minority communities who couldn’t afford good legal services. For the last few days, it’s been hard to get the thought of him out of mind. David often talked about gay marriage and raising a family without the slightest doubt that it would one day be possible. He would have been riveted by the arguments for and against Proposition 8. (He died in the late 1990's.)
There’s plenty of speculation about what the justices will do, with some observers suggesting they won’t act in favor of same-sex marriage based on their questions and comments yesterday. We’ll have to wait and see, but I’m channeling David's optimism.
I’m sure about one thing, however: American’s are increasingly supportive of same-sex marriage mostly because we have gay sons, daughters, grandchildren, co-workers, and neighbors. They’re real people who add meaning to our lives.
And we've become more open about the love we feel for them.