It's been a pretty memorable year for Seattle-based poet and singer Mary Lambert: She sang the hook on Macklemore & Ryan Lewis' equality anthem "Same Love," which took society (and hip-hop) to task for their homophobic stances, watched as the song became the unofficial anthem for the Referendum 74 campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington (a measure that passed in November) and a genuine Top 40 hit on radio, and then, earlier this week, witnessed history when the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act.
And though she's been celebrating her successes all year long ("I find any excuse to have champagne as often as possible," Lambert laughed), it was the Supreme Court's decision on DOMA that really had her in the mood to party. And, so, she did just that ... with a fete she dubbed "Suck It, DOMA," and, of course, some karaoke.
"When the Supreme Court decision came in, my girlfriend and I just couldn't believe it! And, to be honest, it didn't hit right away; it felt so progressive and it felt like such a monumental thing," Lambert said. "I had to keep saying it over and over again: 'The majority of the Supreme Court decided it was unconstitutional.' And they're old people!
"So we were all celebrating at this bar and it became a big thing — I kind of just made up the 'Suck it, DOMA' name — and then my partner and I went out to the lesbian bar and sang karaoke," she continued. "Of course, I was really feeling it, so I sang Adele's version of Bob Dylan's 'Make You Feel My Love.'"
Which probably explains why Lambert's voice was a little rusty when she spoke to MTV News the following day — not only was she marking the Supreme Court's historic DOMA decision (and, for that matter, the Court's dismissal of an appeal of California's Proposition 8, thereby allowing same-sex marriages to resume in the state), but she was doing so until very late into the night. And though she was still basking in the glow of yet another victory for marriage equality, she knows that there is still plenty of work to be done.
"I mean, if you look at the statistics, and it says the majority of the American population is on board [with same-sex marriages], but that's only like 58 percent, there's still a big chunk of people that still don't agree with it, and some of them very strongly disagree with it," she said. "There's definitely a long way to go; we have to keep our nose to the grindstone as a community and as allies, but it's important to recognize that we've come such a long way, and in a relatively short amount of time. Every victory is a big victory."
To that point, despite the Supreme Court's decisions, 38 states currently do not recognize same-sex marriage, meaning that, for a vast majority of gay couples, not much has changed. But Lambert has been encouraged by the progress that's been made ... and she's not just talking about legal victories, either. To her, the success of "Same Love" also proves that change is in the wind.
"I wish this song existed when I was a teenager, trying to come to terms with my sexuality, feeling like an outcast, all of that stuff, but I feel like it wouldn't have been received the way it has been now," she said. "I don't know if society would have been ready for it. I think there's sort of this shift; with more people being vocal about who they are ... it's all about honesty. People have been hiding for so long because they were scared; they're not so scared any more."
So Lambert will move forward, both with her activism and her music (she'll release her own version of "Same Love," called "She Keeps Me Warm" shortly). And though she knows that she owes plenty to the success of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis's song, she's also aware that she's not alone. And inspired by all she's seen and heard, she can't wait for what comes next.
"Everywhere I go, someone has a story about how the song has helped them, and it really resonates with me, because so much of the song is my story," she said. "I didn't want to say this at the time, because I'm not egotistical, but I felt like this was the song I was meant to write, this is completely my story, my experience in the church, and being a lesbian.
"After we wrote it, I thought of it as Ben [Haggerty, aka Macklemore] being the brain and the pragmatic part of the song, thinking about it intellectually, and I provided the heart and the emotional spark," she continued. "And that's what makes an anthem, and I think that's why it's taken off. It's the perfect time for a song to be in the Top 40 that's about gay rights. That's telling of what time it is in our society."