Friday, May 11, 2012

a good start

I suppose I would be remiss in my duties as a gay-engaged blogger if I didn't write something about Obama's historic announcement this week in support of marriage equality.  But honestly, I have trouble viewing the statement as any real progress.

I'm glad he finally made this announcement, and I suppose it is "historic" as he's the first President to openly support same-sex marriage.

And yet, as one of my friends pointed out, it gets us no closer to slashing the number of federal rights that Kathy and I are denied, even though we can get married in our home state of New York.  And it does nothing for friends in school without health insurance because their working spouse isn't permitted to cover them.  It does nothing for friends scraping by financially because they've had to devote their resources to paying legal fees to have documents drafted so that their "registered domestic partnership" isn't rendered null and void when they cross state lines.  An endorsement without an action plan feels a little hollow. 

Unfortunately, I'm of the view that there is little that a President can do to on this, other than shift public perception (which I suppose is what he's doing) and nominate fair Justices to the US Supreme Court: Justices who value the Constitution, particularly the Full Faith and Credit and Equal Protection Clauses, more than particular religious or political obligations.  Because until DOMA is invalidated by our high court, and same-sex marriage is evaluated under the Loving v. Virgina framework, individuals will still be denied basic federal rights, and states like Michigan and North Carolina will still be able to enforce discriminatory laws at the state level.

 The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal rights essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.  Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.

--Chief Justice Warren, writing on behalf of a unanimous Supreme Court, Loving v. Virginia, 388 U.S. 1 (1967).

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