March 27, 2013

Cowardice Court: The Blight of Civil Rights in America.


Credit: Bob Johnson, BittenByAZebra

The Will of the Majority v. The Rights of the Minority.

News just broke that the majority of Supreme Court Justices are skeptical on banning benefits to LGBT Americans. This insight gives us the necessary direction to positively influence the justices (and the public-at-large) by promoting the case precedence set by their comments on past relevant LGBT cases.We, the media, have the power to direct the fate of gay marriage in America, it is important to critically review the comments made by the justices ahead of the forthcoming June ruling on both DOMA and Prop 8—a ruling that will effectively seal the fate of gay marriage in America.Do we really want to allow gay marriage to be the issue that exposes a “bought” Supreme Court?As Americans, we all must use every positive means necessary to demand progress, transparency, and equality from our nation’s highest court, lest we erase 50 years of LGBT progress.Yesterday, Justice Scalia, in particular, made several comments that contradicted his “stance” on the federal prerequisites to enter into marriage; he solidified his stance in the landmark case Lawrence v. Texas (2003).

The Nation’s Founding Laws That Lawmakers Seem to Overlook.

According to The Principles of Democracy,

“majority rule is a means for organizing government and deciding public issues; it is not another road to oppression;”

in other words, you cannot utilize public referendums to vote on civil rights! Furthermore, these referendums (and subsequent laws) are a complete contradiction to several cases that have fallen before the Supreme Court over the past 60 years—cases that explicitly state that marriage is a fundamental human right under the Equality Protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Yet, in 31 states we have used majority rule to justify the oppression of LGBT Americans.

Let’s look at New Jersey Governor Christie who has always vowed to veto any gay marriage bill that passes his desk. What’s more, to compound his blatant ignorance, he publicly remarked on the progress towards marriage equality made by the New Jersey State Senate Judiciary Committee, whereby he implied that the civil rights headway made in the 1960s by courageous lawmakers should have instead been passed by public referendum, not by forceful legislation.

His now-infamous comment goes as follows, “People would have been happy to have a referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South.”

Despite the overwhelming amount of bigotry and stupidity that was spewing from his cakehole, it appears he, too, has forgotten a few chapters from his days in law school.

DOMA: In Review

(Photo By: stevebott)

In 1996 when the United States Congress passed the ‘Defense of Marriage Act,’ signed by President Clinton, the federal government started denying same-sex couples all federal benefits and defined marriage as one man and one woman. So, regardless of how tolerant our state government may be, our country will still have a separate and unequal system under DOMA.

How can the Supreme Court allow states to segregate by way of public referendum? They continue to do so even though Justice Antonin Scalia, a foe of gay rights, wrote in Lawrence v. Texas: “What justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples exercising “[t]he liberty protected by the Constitution”? Surely not the encouragement of procreation, since the sterile and the elderly are allowed to marry”

Gov. Christie, pay attention here: The U.S. had this same debate for another ‘class’ of individuals until 1967 when the Court unanimously overturned laws of more than 20 states that prohibited interracial marriage in Loving v. Virginia. There is no logical argument to justify the inequality that exists today for same-sex couples.

Equality or Segregation?

The olive branch extended to the LGBT community is a separate but “equal” system, marriage for them, and civil unions for us. Gay marriage has become the water fountains of the 1950s: LGBT individuals are separate but by no means equal.

Thanks, but no thanks.

Religious leaders and other naysayers want to keep the so-called sanctity of marriage intact, they should demand a constitutional ban on divorce. Such a ban will ensure that our country would preserve the sanctity of marriage. With a divorce rate higher than 50 percent, heterosexuals have shown us that most unions cannot stand the test of time.

The religious powers that be can, indeed, keep marriage strictly defined as their creed dictates, albeit with the understanding that a marriage has no legal merit. Marriage would simply become a union of one man and one woman under God.

In order to receive the benefits that the LGBT community has been deprived of, all couples would be required to get a civil union. This would be equal. This would be fair. Because Churches and other religious institutions do not receive federal aid and will no longer be able to perform a ceremony with legal merit, our country would experience a genuine separation of church and state.

This, however, is only half the battle. Even if all 50 states pass laws allowing same-sex couples to marry, LGBT individuals will continue to be denied federal marriage benefits, unless we act now with the utmost vigor to ensure the voice of progress echoes through the chambers of the Supreme Court.

We cannot forget that slavery ended in the United States in 1863, it took 102 years before Americans of Color were recognized as a protected class. If the Supreme Court allows the states to decide who and who cannot marry, it very well may take another 102 years before the LGBT community receives the rights we deserve. This case is not about DOMA just going away, it is about paving the way for an immediate amendment to the Civil Rights Acts to add Sexual Orientation to the list of protected classes in the United States.

The fact that Justice Thomas does not appear to have a clear grasp on the historical precedence of the civil rights movement is very concerning. Does he not realize the fact that he and his family were fighting this same fight until 46 years ago? If the Supreme Court had continued to allow the States to dictate who and who was not allowed to marry, Justice Thomas’ marriage to his Caucasian wife may have remained illegal to this very day.

The LGBT community has suffered through relentless oppression, violence and inequality under the law for long enough.

It is time to change this country and bring the U.S. out of a puritanical mindset and really look at who is and who is not “destroying” the “sanctity” of marriage.

We must use the monumental, and previously unprecedented, leverage we all have as media correspondents and social-engaged citizens to put pressure on the courts to rule properly—to force their gavel to strike on the proper side of history.


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Ed: Kate Bartolotta

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