msnbc’s Lawrence O’Donnell paid homage to the playwright Oscar Wilde, who was jailed for the love that dare not speak its name. O’Donnell explained, “118 years after England sent Oscar Wilde to prison for the crime of homosexuality, the House of Commons voted overwhelmingly this week to approve a bill legalizing same-sex marriage.”
In his Rewrite segment on Thursday, O’Donnell highlighted a member of the British Parliament’s impassioned speech for marriage equality, which drew parallels to race and civil rights movement.
“ ‘Separate but equal’ is a fraud,” said Labour MP David Lammy, arguing in favor of same-sex marriage. “ ‘Separate but equal’ is the language that tried to push Rosa Parks to the back of the bus. ‘Separate but equal’ is the motif that determined that black and white people could not possibly drink from the same water fountain, eat at the same table or use the same toilets.” He added,”It is an excerpt from the phrasebook of the segregationists and the racists.”
The House of Commons debated for six hours before coming to the historic vote. If only Wilde had a public advocate like Lammy.
O’Donnell called attention to a passage Wilde wrote in prison: “ ‘Society, as we have constituted it, will have no place for me, has none to offer; but Nature, whose sweet rains fall on unjust and just alike, will have clefts in the rocks where I may hide, and secret valleys in whose silence I may weep undisturbed.’”
“Tonight in England,” O’Donnell concluded, “Oscar Wilde would not have to hide in clefts in the rocks and would not have to weep in secret valleys.”