Ongoing efforts to create ‘a more perfect union’
As James Brown yelps in his classic hit, “I feel good!” The reason? I and my gay and lesbian siblings finally can experience first-class citizenship. We not only can come out of the closet but also walk to some altars to exercise our natural, human, and constitutional right to marry.
So ruled the Supreme Court of the United States for the latest disenfranchised and marginalized group to be welcomed to the American castes pantheon once the preserve of 21-years-old and above, straight, property-owning white—preferably of northern European persuasion—males.
“No union is more profound than marriage,” writes Justice Kennedy for the majority, “for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family.”
Kennedy goes on, waxing philosophically from his soul.
“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.
To the contrary, says Kennedy. The petitioners respect and value marriage so much they’ve persisted in the face of enormous odds in order to be included in “one of civilization’s oldest institutions.”
In his concluding sentence Kennedy concisely sums it up: “The Constitution grants them that right.”
That is unless Republican presidential candidate Wisconsin governor Scott Walker, whose goal is to trump Donald Trump by advocating a constitutional amendment that would rescind personhood for gays and lesbians, gets his way.
While he’s at it, Walker might consider pushing for repealing the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Nineteenth, and Twenty-sixth Amendments as well as the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that’ve served to grant in Kennedy’s words “equal dignity in the eyes of the law” to other marginalized groups: women, racial and ethnic minorities, and 18 to 21 year olds.
That won’t happen, but the idea is providing him pandering points in the GOP presidential scrum.
Walker’s not alone. Those who hold their version of the Bible trumps the Constitution when it comes to public policy are legion and faithfully vote in Republican primaries. They trumpet their message from a religious liberty platform, but it’s not really about liberty but of something sinister.
In my April 8, 2015 column, I state, “the recent campaign for religious liberty is the 21st-century version of states’ rights. It’s becoming code for repression, bigotry, and down-right meanness.”
The problem for the GOP presidential hopefuls and charlatans—read Trump—alike is that if they ride this horse too long, they’ll be doomed in 2016. A large majority of Americans favor marriage equality and others who don’t necessarily favor it see the ruling as settled law and prefer moving on. My sense is that Jeb Bush and Rand Paul fall into that latter category, but they might be lone voices in the right’s ideological desert.
A problem with conservatism, as I get at in my June 10, 2015 piece, is that history inevitably passes it by. That’s especially true for social and religious conservatives who see themselves as members of their particular religious sect bound by its laws, rules, proscriptions and interpretations of some sacred text first and as citizens of the United States second.
History passing by as conservatives spout Chicken Little warnings is evidenced as well in two other events: the Supreme Court decision validating the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act and the retirement of the Confederate battle flag.
What is settled besides the constitutionality of the AFA is that the old way of doing business when it comes to paying for health is done. Options abound from fine-tuning the AFA to instituting a single-payer system, but there’s no turning back.
As for the Confederate battle flag, its half-century service as a symbol for segregation, white supremacy, and bigotry has come to an end. While Rush Limbaugh exhorts his disciples to fight for displaying it, sane conservatives are ascribing to and aligning themselves with the liberal position in calling for its retirement to the dustbins of history, also known as museums.
As Dr. Martin Luther King declared, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” And as the Pledge of Allegiance concludes, “with liberty and justice for all.”
239 years and counting. Here’s to the never-ending efforts to create that more perfect union.