I live in Florida and yesterday, January 6, 2015, was a happy day here – not because Governor Scott was re-inaugurated but because our state became the 36th state to legalize gay marriage. Couples from Key West to Pensacola went to county courthouses to obtain marriage licenses. Then, outside on the sidewalk, down the street at a park, and at home in their backyards, they got married, making legal relationships that had already been full of love, children, and commitment, often for decades. Some of these couples got married in their churches, some by gay ministers.
Today dawned darker as we received word that masked gunmen stormed the offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and opened fire with Kalashnikovs on a staff meeting, killing at least 12 people and critically injuring five others. The magazine has published cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, and tape showed the masked killers shouting “Allahu Akbar” and claiming to “avenge the Prophet” as they escaped. I knew nothing about Charlie Hebdo but now I know a little more. I know that its satire spares no one and that it has published cartoons lampooning the Pope, religion in general, and homophobes. I know that it operates in the tradition of the great French satirists – Voltaire, Molière, and Anatole France, that it celebrates free thought and freedom of and from religion. I’ve also learned that today was not the first time the magazine has been attacked for such bravery. In 2011, its offices were firebombed after it ran several cartoons mocking Muhammad. Within a week of that bombing, Charlie Hebdo ran a cover cartoon of its male cartoonist, pen in hand, embracing a Muslim man, the two of them kissing passionately. The caption read “L’amour – Plus fort que la haine.” I hope so. I hope tomorrow will be like yesterday was in Florida and that love is stronger than hate.