Friday, June 26, 2015

The March Of History Now Dancing To the Tune of "We Are Family"

Obergefell v Hodges: basically the court case about whether or not gays have the same right to marry as heterosexuals.  There was a previous Supreme Court ruling in 2013, but that essentially said civil unions were possible but did not go further into marriage legal rights.  That was akin to a prelude: this case went straight to the heart of the matter.  On this, let's refer to SCOTUSblog's summary in Plain English by Amy Howe:

The Supreme Court, Kennedy’s opinion explains, has long recognized the right to marry as a fundamental right.  And although until today it has always done so in the context of opposite-sex couples, he continues, all of the same principles on which the Court has relied in cases involving opposite-sex couples apply equally to same-sex marriage and the recognition of out-of-state same-sex marriages.  For example, being able to decide whether to get married is an important part of an individual’s autonomy regardless whether you are the same sex as your intended spouse.  Along much the same lines, marriage is a unique way for two individuals – in both same- and opposite-sex partnerships – to demonstrate their commitment to one another.

Justice Kennedy writing for the majority uses the 14th Amendment, arguably the most key civil rights amendment outside of the Bill of Rights, to argue that marriage as a fundamental right needed to apply to all:

These considerations lead to the conclusion that the right to marry is a fundamental right inherent in the liberty of the person, and under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment couples of the same-sex may not be deprived of that right and that liberty. The Court now holds that same-sex couples may exercise the fundamental right to marry. No longer may this liberty be denied to them. Baker v. Nelson must be and now is overruled, and the State laws challenged by Petitioners in these cases are now held invalid to the extent they exclude same-sex couples from civil marriage on the same terms and conditions as opposite sex couples.
This is just one more step forward in this moral universe, in that long arc that bends towards justice.

To quote Kennedy's key point:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right. The judgment of the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is reversed. It is so ordered.

To be fair, this ruling will affect just a significant minority of Americans.  Statistically there's about 3 percent of the population that is gay/lesbian: in a population of 313 million or so Americans that's roughly 9 million.  But by extension of families, of friends and colleagues, this affects so many of us.

This is a moment where a right that should be viewed as universal finally is: much like the right to be free as a person regardless of ethnicity, much like the right to vote for women as well as men, much like the right to be protected before the law, there is a right to marriage that covers so many aspects of our world - of property, of community, of relationships between ourselves, of the simple identity of humanity - that ought to be protected and confirmed by our Constitution.  This ruling makes it so.

This is not the end of the fight.  The Haters who rail against gays will continue to do so.  But now they have one less weapon in their arsenal.  The Constitution - the law of the land - is no longer on their side.  All they have is their stringent religious dogma, stuck forever in Rage mode quoting Leviticus or Romans as though they were the only passages that matter.

Never mind they cherry-pick such quotes, ignoring all other bans of Leviticus and the Bible.  Never mind their cries about gay marriage harming families conveniently overlooking the Biblical warnings against Adultery, which more Americans commit than there are gays in our nation (our Far Right leadership and fear-mongers in the media refuse to punish adulterers like Gingrich or Trump or half their male membership, shame on them).  Never mind the passages in the Bible that speak to Grace, Acceptance, Good Will.  The Haters gonna hate.  That battle will not end today.

But today is a day to feel good.  To feel good about being an American.  To feel good about being Pro-People.  To feel good about being on the right side of history on the right arc bending towards justice.  Like this guy Rich Juwziak at Gawker says, this ruling feels so good:

...All of that fills my heart beyond what I understood to be its capacity. It’s why my mother called me crying happy tears this morning. It’s a beautiful thing to have experienced in my lifetime. I’m so thankful for today.
I can’t help but be happiest, though, about the defeat of the anti-marriage equality crusaders. The defeat of people who signed up to lose, who wasted their time and ours on a platform of animus and contempt. The defeat of people who put principle over the practical, who fought to preserve their limited understanding of an already imperfect institution over the actual human lives that would benefit from it. The defeat of people who did what bigots do: discriminate, vilify, fear-monger, argue irrationally and without respect to human dignity, and then bristle when they’re called out for what they are (bigots).
The jig is up. The world has turned and left you fuming, seething, weeping...
Really should not dance or strut before the Haters.  That's not what Christian Grace should be about.

Better to dance and strut with the Lovers.  With the People who love for the sake of grace and humanity and happiness.  The Four Loves that the Greeks defined for us, love like Agape (for the love of others, for the love of God), Storge (love of family, between parents and children and siblings), Philia (for the love of friends, for companions), and yes Eros (for the love of passion between two people).

So, DJ Agape, give us a beat:

1 comment:

dinthebeast said...

There were major celebrations last night all over the Bay Area, and fireworks... Fireworks in the middle of a drought. And police helicopters circling, so some of the celebrations may have gotten unruly...

-Doug in Oakland