My blog sister, Cassie, have already weighed in on the matter, as did the Carpetbagger on Facebook. I’ve been on the fence (regarding blogging the topic) because I’ve trod this path quite a few times before.
I’m sure you know where I stand on this. While the issue doesn’t affect me directly, it affects a number of friends and acquaintances, and thousands of good people that I don’t know.
I’ve obviously been following reports on the dual same-sex marriage cases before the Supreme Court, to overturn California’s Proposition 8 (banning same-sex marriage in the state) and the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA (banning federal recognition of same-sex marriages, regardless of legality in any particular state).
It’s funny to me, the lengths the opponents of same-sex marriage will go to make their case, while avoiding the obvious reasons for their opposition: Religion and the Ick Factor. In the California case, they made it about childbearing, saying that since same-sex couples can’t “accidentally have children,” there is no compelling reason they need to be married.
Seriously. That’s what they’re hanging their hat on. And it’s no wonder, because they cannot win this fight with any rational argument. Religion? Gone… this country isn’t governed by the Bible, (or any other holy book) and if it was, there are a ton of other Biblical assertions that no one would ever conceive of adopting, (like pretty much all of Leviticus). That leaves the “gay sex is gross” argument, to which the obvious solution is “Then don’t have any.”
To me, there would need to be a compelling, nation-threatening reason to deprive a percentage of our population the right to marry (or any other right the rest of us have). Being uncomfortable is not one of them. I’m uncomfortable with calling strangers on the phone, but you don’t see me protesting outside Verizon.
Again in the Prop 8 case, Chief Justice Roberts mentioned something truly appalling to me. He was quoted as saying that marriage has been limited to a man and a woman “since time immemorial.” What this means is that he is hesitant to remove this institutionalized discrimination because it’s been around for a long time.
I would ask the Chief Justice how long corporations weren’t people, before he granted them full 1st Amendment rights in the Citizens United case. He didn’t seem too concerned with precedent then, did he? No, just like most Republicans in charge, they’re only for full freedoms when it suits Republicans.
Same with “State’s Rights.” The GOP is all for State’s Rights in restricting abortion, installing voter ID laws, or teaching Creationism. Why are they not in support of State’s Rights in permitting same-sex marriage? What’s different?
So what if we’re entering “uncharted waters?” Everything we take for granted right now was in uncharted waters at one time or another… slavery, segregation, women’s rights, the world being round and revolving around the sun… all of it was unheard of at one time or another.
And it’s not like we’re just talking about semantics with this issue. There are over 100 federal effects and benefits that hinge on the definition of marriage. It’s a big deal with tangible and often very expensive ramifications.
It always kills me when I see the opponents arguing that no one group (meaning the gays) should be singled out for “special rights.” That makes my head explode. Since when is ensuring that one group has the same rights as everyone else considered “special?” One right, applied to all, period. I guess if one group is going to receive “special” persecution, then they need “special” protection. When the former goes away, so does the need for the latter. But as we know, the Civil Rights turmoil took place in the 50s and 60s and we’re still waiting for the prejudice to die out.
Unfortunately, those that read the Supreme tea leaves seem to think they will rule narrowly, overturning Prop 8 in a way that the fallout is limited to California, and possibly ducking DOMA on a technicality.
The key to the whole thing is Justice Kennedy. He stands between the 4 hard-core conservatives and the 4 raging liberals. Kennedy has ruled in favor of gay rights twice before, and the State Supreme Court Judge who overturned Prop 8 wrote his opinion in a way designed to appeal directly to Kennedy.
This country is based on the principle of equality for all. And that has to extend to everyone, not just to people that think and act like the majority. There is no valid reason to deprive citizens of common rights based solely on the characteristics with which they were born. Now would be a good time for our highest court to remind everyone of that fact.
I would really like to see the Supremes drive a stake in the ground here for marriage equality, but I’m not optimistic. Even if 58% of the country is ready for it, at least 4 people on the bench are not. I don’t think they want to history to look at them as social revolutionaries, but I’m afraid, instead, that they’ll be viewed like those who ruled on Plessy vs Ferguson (creating “separate but equal”).
In other words, in 50 years, people will be wondering what the hell was wrong with us, back in the early 20-teens.