"An era can be said to end when its basic illusions are exhausted." - Arthur Miller

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Supreme Court Upholds Gay Marriage

Today the Supreme Court of the United States did something surprising. In a 5-4 decision, they ruled that the 1996's The Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional. The law prevented the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages even when legalized in states. While most anti-gay focus on the "married" part, the law has repercussions that extend into taxes, death benefits, health care coverage and host of other legal issues that other marriages simply did not have to worry about. In essence the ruling is saying the federal government is not allowed to discriminate based on sexual preference. The case regarding gay marriage is ultimately about a founding and constant principle of this country - equality for all.

The ruling occurred because of an unexpected jumping of sides from Justice Anthony Kennedy, who while Republican, tends to go back and forth across the political dividing line, wrote the majority decision. In other words he behaves like a Justice should and makes me wish the other 8 were just as unpredictable as he tends to be.
"The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment."
The ruling is confined to states that recognize same-sex marriages as it does not invalidate state laws that ban or refuse to recognize same-sex marriages. Or as Rachel Maddow put it, "rights fade in and out like cell phone service [as you] travel around the country.” The ruling does provide ammunition to eventually invalidate those laws through lawsuits at the state level. It will take time and a lot of capital but this ruling means that within this generation's lifetime, there is a good change legally supported discrimination against homosexuals will cease to exist. As the Supreme Court's ruling ending the Voting Rights Act of 1965 indicates, that doesn't necessarily mean the discrimination fight is over as Republicans will do whatever they can to roll back the clock even if it takes them decades.

The usual GOP block of three (Thomas doesn't count as just a sidekick to Scalia) were against it, basically citing nonsense in the minority decision. In effect since Scalia couldn't write "I hate the gays per teachings of the GOP" he instead complained that the decision would cause states to be forced to recognize gay marriages. Which is no different then his other "legal arguments" that basically can be summed up as "what I saw on Fox News the other day." How anyone gives this man (and his butt buddy) any respect as a Justices instead of the crass, ignorant politicians they really are is beyond me.

As Rep. Jerry Nadler said, this decision is not about religion despite best efforts to make it so:
"We’re not dealing with religious belief in all these questions. We’re dealing with what the state or the federal government does. We have a separation of church and state in this country. So for government purposes, you can be married. The church may not recognize this. That’s their business. If you don’t want to recognize it from a religious point of view, it’s your business. No one is forcing anybody to get married. The point of the separation of church and state is that when we deal with public business and the...celebration of marriage by the state, the recognition by the state of who’s married is not a religious question."
Many do not believe in equality for all (see 99% of the Republican party). That is their choice and this decision reminds us that they are against history, they are against the Constitution and they are against the will of the people. The American people often stumble and fall in trying to uphold our ideals but occasionally we actually get back up and do it right. Now if only we can learn to do it right the first time without decades of battles to reverse our hate-fueled mistakes.

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