Marriage Over The Rainbow

White House lit in rainbow colors Well, I guess I should say something about what happened last Friday. I’m speaking–of course–of the Obergefell v Hodges Supreme Court ruling that states could not prevent same-sex couples from marrying.

It’s hard to overstate how significant this was. Many people correctly point out that marriage equality is not the end-all of LGBT equality, that there is still much to be done. There is, it’s true. But to many of us, until recently this was unthinkable. Most of us grew up, came of age and started dating without any hope of being able to marry some day. I didn’t think I’d see it in my lifetime! And yet, thanks to 5 Justices, it’s here today.

The announcement came around 10am Friday, and I was totally useless at work for the rest of the day. I tried to concentrate on my tasks, but couldn’t. I followed the love and joy on Twitter, and I found myself tearing up at various times throughout the day. While I normally spend a fair amount of my Twitter time keeping an eye on the opponents of equality–and refuting their lies and distortions–I decided to take the weekend off, and to just be happy. So I hid those lists, and surrounded myself in love and happiness, and it was great!

Now it’s Monday, the weekend is over and it’s time to get back to the real world. There are still a few battles to be fought for marriage, and much more work to do for true, full equality. But those fights all look a bit more winnable in the multicolored afterglow of such a momentous victory. I’m invigorated to keep fighting the good fight, and not just on LGBT issues. Cops, guns, racism… as long as people are mistreated, oppressed or getting killed for no reason, there is more work to be done.

P.S. Seeing the White House lit up in rainbow colors, not to mention all the other shows of support from the executive branch of our government would have been hard to imagine a decade ago.

Sure, it’s just symbolic and to some it may seem small, but it’s not. It means the world.

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Big Win

Last Wednesday, starting at 10am Eastern, I was participating in a remote training session at work. This was also about the time that the Supreme Court announced their rulings on the two big same-sex marriage cases they had heard earlier in the year. Needless to say, I wasn’t paying much attention to the training.

The rulings on DOMA and Prop 8 were momentous. The highest court in the land declaring (even if by a shamefully thin margin) that gays are people too, and deserving of equal protection under the law is probably the biggest single step forward I’ve witnessed so far in my life. And I think everyone felt it.

I ventured out that night, in New York City, and the street was blocked off in front of the Stonewall Inn, the place where the gay rights movement began. And the street was full of people, celebrating! There were some news crews around, and every once in awhile you’d hear the sound of a bottle of champagne being uncorked and a spontaneous cheer would rise up from the crowd. The Stonewall itself was packed and the atmosphere was festive. I overheard a bar back tell some people they were running low on vodka!

The war for full equality rages on, and the enemies of progress and equality are going to be digging themselves some deep trenches. But we won a major battle with these rulings–particularly on DOMA. The winds of change are blowing in the right direction. But we can’t get complacent and assume everything will work itself out. It hasn’t been that long since a number of gay men were attacked right in Manhattan–including one who was shot to death. Many states do still not allow same-sex marriage and in some, people can still lose their jobs for being gay. We should absolutely celebrate this win and enjoy the feeling, but we must also stay vigilant.

Addendum

Within hours of clicking “Publish” on my last entry, SCOTUS + Marriage, in which I refer to only one GOP senator supporting marriage equality, this happened:

When I climbed the Capitol steps in January, I promised myself that I would return to the Senate with an open mind and greater respect for others.

Same-sex couples should have the right to civil marriage. Our time on this Earth is limited, I know that better than most.  Life comes down to who you love and who loves you back– government has no place in the middle.

Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL)

For those who don’t know the context, Senator Kirk had a serious stroke, went through a grueling rehab and returned to work. It’s an inspiring story. Until I moved last year, Kirk was one of my senators.

He seems to be saying “Life’s too short to be a dick. Let’s live and let live.” A sentiment with which I wholeheartedly agree.

With that short blog post, the number of Republican senators openly supporting marriage equality has doubled! To two. Progress is progress. I’ll take it.

I’ll also toss out this Onion piece, which I could only wish was real news. I particularly like this part:

Moreover, when Attorney Cooper said that gay marriage could harm the moral fabric of the country and hurt the institution of marriage, Associate Justice Sotomayor asked, “What are you even talking about?” while Justice Anthony Kennedy reportedly muttered, “You got to be fucking kidding me,” under his breath.

 

 

SCOTUS + Marriage

Well, it’s finally here! Marriage equality is getting its day(s) in court! Of course it’s had those days before, but not in the Supreme Court (SCOTUS), the highest court in the land, the one with the final say. The one with the power to help or harm the cause for a long time to come.

What’s going to happen? I wish I knew. From what I’ve read, the Prop 8 ruling is looking shaky. It will almost assuredly come down to Justice Kennedy. And based on his questions and comments thus far, at least one theorist thinks he’s leaning toward upholding it. DOMA is looking a little better though. Probably because it allows the Justices to strike it down in whole or in part based on the idea of States’ Rights, without needing to weigh in on same sex-marriage itself in any substantive way.

And then there’s this analysis, which is a bit hard to follow. I am not a lawyer, but I think both the author and some of the Justices are full of shit, in different ways.

Justice Alito looked for “data” on this “institution which is newer than cell phones.”   Same-sex marriage, he said, might turn out to a “good thing”, or “not”, as Proposition 8 supporters “apparently believe.”  Justice Scalia said that there is no “scientific answer” to the decisive “harm” question at this time.”…

These worries about inadequate “data” might lead the Court to decide one or both of the cases on jurisdictional grounds, including (in Windsor) federalism bases.

What “data”? What “harm question”? A “scientific answer”? What?! If you’re going to insist on data proving that something causes no harm, shouldn’t you have some hypothesis as to what that harm might be? At least some rational idea of what harm it could potentially cause? Oh, hold on.

 [Cooper] succeeded in putting on offer (in my words) the following proposition: gendered marriage laws are justified by the fact – the moral reality – that marriage is gendered.  Redefining marriage as genderless obviously changes the meaning of marriage across our society.  The “harm” of doing that is just the harm that it does to people’s opportunities to know, understand, and to participate in marriage as the gendered relationship that it truly is.

Oh that harm! How did I miss that? [Insert eye roll here]. Fortunately “Cooper’s invitation to consider the moral reality of marriage had no takers.” But that leads me back to my original question. If the Justices didn’t buy this nonsense, what do they think the harm could possibly be? And why are they trying to use that basis in this case? For example, what data did they have telling them that considering corporations as people would not be harmful in Citizens United?

Justice Scalia jumped to a discussion about possible harms to children adopted by same-sex couples.  The Chief Justice took over the theme.

I knew that was coming. Look, child rearing is a red herring, a straw man, a distraction. There is some room for a reasonable person to suspect that a child might be better off with a father and a mother than with two fathers or two mothers. The evidence I’ve seen suggests that isn’t the case, but I can’t say that it’s definitive. But it doesn’t matter either way! Same sex couples have kids now, even in states where they can’t marry or enter civil unions. And many opposite sex couples get married without procreating (and sometimes without any intention or even the possibility of doing so) or adopting. Single people have kids. Child-rearing and marriage are related, sure, but they are distinct issues and should be dealt with as such. Tying them so closely together now does nothing but appeal to the “Won’t someone please think of the children?!” set. This is one of the most pernicious arguments against same sex-marriage, because it’s both fallacious and effective.

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