The politics of the day never pass me by without much great thought. I think there are a great number of issues our children and grandchildren will look at from our time and wonder what our problem was in dealing with them. We’re letting the Earth go to hell for cheaper cars and fuel. We still don’t have gender or racial equality in the most important places of work and school. And I think our descendants will look on us with amazement that we allowed people to get an automatic rifle more easily than a pack of Sudafed.
With all of that being so glaringly obvious, there’s one issue that I think we’ll be looked on even more harshly for: the idiotic legal and moral opposition to same sex marriage.
This week the Supreme Court will take up the issue of gay marriage when it hears two cases to determine whether Proposition 8 in California that outlaws same sex marriage and the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) are constitutional. Here’s a hint: the right answer is that both laws are discriminatory and violate the Equal Protection clauses of our Constitution. Sadly, I have no spoiler alert because there are some discriminatory curmudgeons on the Court that would love nothing more than to make this a victory for the incorrectly named “Moral Majority.”
Our country was built on words guaranteeing equality and freedom. Those words rang hollow for so many for too long. People of color were lucky to be treated as second class citizens and more often were thought of as property. Women were relegated to servitude and not allowed legal or societal standing to be individual persons. Our Founding Fathers were smart men, but they were also men of their time and they allowed this discrimination to continue. The nice thing about America, though, is that given the passage of time we’re a country that likes to at least try to get things right. It may take entirely too long and too many people have to be hurt or worse in the process, but there’s nothing more American than forward progress.
So why do we fight so hard against what is right as a nation?
I can’t answer that. What I can say, though, is that with the issue of LGBT rights, it’s time to get on track with the right side of history. There is no logical argument for denying LGBT people equal rights, whether it be protection against discrimination or hatred in employment or society or denying the right to marry someone of your same sex. Neither prohibits any other party from being themselves. A same sex marriage does nothing to denegrate the status of a different sex marriage. If anything, the ability for all people to marry and have that relationship recognized under the law STRENGTHENS all marriages.
There are many gray areas in life. In fact, life itself is one big grey area with very few lines of clear black and white. The issue of granting people equal rights should be one of those clear cut situations. It’s sad that it isn’t yet. I just hope by the time my daughters are old enough to understand these things that we’ve remedied this situation.
This week is a big week for the future of this country. These decisions can either tear us apart or lend legitimacy to our quest to be the home of equality and freedom. For the sake of ourselves, our souls and our children it’s time to do the right thing and take a step in the right direction. Equality won’t happen overnight. You cannot undo centuries of privilege and injustice with one or two court decisions. No court is that powerful. But you can make strides in the right direction.
If we do that, maybe we’ll start encouraging more progressive moves toward a future we can all tell our daughters and sons about proudly that we helped create.