Tuesday, June 25, 2013

On Marriage Equality, the Tide is High

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.
Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.
Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

~ Martin Niemöller (1892–1984)

So people are anxiously awaiting a ruling by the U.S. Supremes about marriage equality. The court is expected to rule on California’s Proposition 8 – the ballot proposal passed by state voters in November of 2008 which specifies that only marriages between men and women are valid in the Golden State – and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), signed into law by Bubba C. in 1996, which restricts federal marriage benefits to opposite-sex marriages.

I have to admit I wasn’t paying a lot of attention to this. I dutifully changed my Facebook profile photo to the red marriage equality symbol back in March, of course (along with 2.7 million others), and briefly mentioned in an e-mail to a friend a few weeks ago that I hope the Supremes do the right thing. But I wasn’t invested in the decision until I read up on what’s happening.

According to the experts at SCOTUSblog.com, the Supremes are expected to uphold Proposition 8 and strike down DOMA. (Everyone expects California’s electorate to come to its senses and overturn Prop. 8 at the next election anyway.) It’s assumed that Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Kagan and Sotomayor will vote to invalidate DOMA; Justice Kennedy is predicted to emerge as the fifth vote for striking it down.

(Check out a Scotusblog.com piece entitled, “Why DOMA’s demise will support Prop 8 surprise,” posted on March 29, 2013.)

I’m not sure why Bubba C. signed DOMA into law back in 1996. But I’m not sure why he repealed Glass-Steagall, allowed children to die in the Waco siege or betrayed Hillary with a homely intern from Brentwood either.

I’m also not sure why Weeper of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) decided to spend more than $3 million in public funds to defend DOMA after President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder announced they would no longer defend the law and it became clear that a wagonload of folks, including dozens of federal judges, thought it was unconstitutional. It might have something to do with the fact that 68 percent of born-again Christians, an important element of the GOP, opposes same-sex marriage. (Republicans 35 and younger support same-sex marriage by a five-to-four majority, however.)

The claims of religious zealots notwithstanding, born-agains don’t represent mainstream America. A recent Bloomberg National Poll found that 52 percent of Americans say they back giving gay couples the right to marry. (Of those supporters, 61 percent want a national law rather than a state-by-state approach.) Twelve states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex weddings – six in the last year alone.

The tide is high.

I do know why it’s now important to me that the Supremes do the right thing. A wise dude from Atlanta who was assassinated in Memphis in April of 1968 once said, “None of us is free until all of us are free." I don’t think of men who love men as gays and women who love women as lesbians. I think of them as people. They’re different and yet they’re the same. And they have the same right to be free as I do. It’s really that simple.

A decision by the Supremes is expected on June 26 or 27.

Sources: The New Civil Rights Movement, Huffington Post, Washington Monthly, Bloomberg.com, Scotusblog.com, International Business Times, US News and World Report, PCMag.com.

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