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Gara LaMarche says that the president's evolved view on gay marriage is a reminder that we mustn't deprive anyone of his or her humanity.

Yesterday's watershed declaration by the President on same-sex marriage made me think about an experience I had with the class I taught this semester to prisoners at Eastern Correctional Facility. It's a course on social movements, and when I was putting the syllabus together, I included classes on abolition prohibition, civil rights, and labor, but also wanted to deal with a few contemporary issues and movements.  New York State had just passed marriage equality, and I thought that would be a good, fresh issue to focus on …

But I was struck in comment after comment, in the very candid exchange we had in the final class, how much each person spoke about his pain about the dehumanization of prisoners — about their own dehumanization, seen as "animals," written off as dangerous, useless, a set-apart "other."

And then I realized that in writing about the need for gay people to be seen and understood as fully human — as just like everyone else — my students were also, or maybe even mainly, talking about themselves.  They made the connection, and they felt a personal sense of solidarity with a group they felt that many in society were eager to marginalize, make "other."


… But what I learned about solidarity in that prison classroom was a poignant and profound moment for me, and it has been been very much on my mind since the President's words yesterday.

Read Gara LaMarche's entire piece at GaraLog.