- Written by Charles Karel Bouley
10 Feb 2012
CIVIL RIGHTS - Tuesday should have been a marvelous day for me as a member of LGBT community living in Long Beach, Calif. The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals declared Proposition 8 unconstitutional, in effect ending marriage discrimination in the state. It's a victory. It's a triumph. It's yet another step in the national embarrassment known as condoned bigotry against members of the LGBT community by the religious right, fully sanctioned by many of the people of this and other states.
Jaded? You bet. How many days have you had to wake up and wait for nine or 12 people to decide whether or not something so natural and normal to you as the love for your partner will matter in your state or country? The president himself, as a constitutional scholar, knows a ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and violates the 14th Amendment, but even he talks out of both sides of his mouth on the issue, condemning inequality but spiritually "wrestling" with it or having problems deciding. Cowardly.
(Also recommended: “After Prop 8 Victory, What’s Next for Same-Sex Marriage”-Adam Winkler; “Judge N. Randy Smith’s Dissent in Prop 8 Ruling: A Preview of Vacuous Arguments to Come?-David Groshoff.)
So rah, rah, what do you know? My relationship, should I ever have another one that would lead to a commitment such as marriage, is OK with my state -- not my country yet, but my state. Maybe. If the U.S. Supreme Court takes the case, who can say? Will they honor their constitutional charter and protect all Americans or continue the second-class status LGBT citizens currently enjoy in many states and nationally?
Yes, this is a positive step. But these steps have been stomping all over members of the LGBT community for years, and most of us are tired of it. As a nation we scream of freedom and equality, of liberty and justice, and then make it a habit of denying rights to those a certain God allegedly doesn't like, and that makes it OK. It isn't OK today, according to the 9th Circuit, and it has never been OK to me or any other person in America who has felt the harsh light of discrimination, be they gay, a woman, black, Hispanic, Japanese, Jewish, or a member of whatever other group we chose to hate at the time.
This argument is old and tired. There is no valid reason to deny two people access to a civil license based on gender, period, end of story. If a man and a woman can do it, so can two men or two women, of any race and of legal age as long as all other requirements are met. That's what equal protection is about, like it or not, so this has always been an embarrassment to America, as all discrimination has been.
So today a court reiterates the obvious: discrimination is bad, mmmkay. And that even if you get a lot of people in the state to agree to the discriminatory act, it doesn't make the act right or legal; let's remember, bigotry and hatred still exist in America, and many feel that if given the chance, some would regress.
In response to a statement by Gov. Chris Christie, Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D) told the Star-Ledger, "I shudder to think what would have happened if the civil rights gains, heroically established by courageous lawmakers in the 1960s, were instead conveniently left up to popular votes in our 50 states." And so do I.
In a South that still displays the Confederate Flag in some circles, it's not a far stretch to see schools segregate yet again. And yes, in 2012, just a few weeks back, a person went to court to protect a sign at a shared pool that said "White Only," because they thought black hair-care products would harm the water. So no, the public doesn't always know what is best when it comes to equality.
Congratulations to those that have fought this fight, and shame on many of the residents of the State of California and churches that made them. And perhaps this will fast-track to the Supreme Court, and once and for all, same-sex marriage will be legal in all 50 states. If not, the fight will continue, because denying it is wrong, and wrongs must always be battled until they are made right.
But history will not judge this battle well; it will be seen as a leftover bit of medieval rule from a time when the Church was the law and when citizens could deny equality under the law to anyone they didn't approve of for whatever reason.
If you think today's decision was a wrong one, please, for the love of any God named or unnamed, read the Constitution online. Immediately. All of it. And remember, it is the law of the land, not any other doctrine.
(Charles Karel Bouley is an author, actor and KGO Radio personality. He also blogs at huffingtonpost.com) --cw
Tags: Prop 8, Appeals Court, Prop 8 Decision, civil rights, gay rights, same sex marriage, 14th Amendment, right to marry, US Supreme Court
Vol 10 Issue 12
Pub: Feb 10, 2012