If it’s Sunday, it’s “Meet the Press.” Like any good JCU journalism student, I start my Sabbath day with a piping hot cup of coffee and awardwinning political commentary, all the while visualizing my name in the closing credits.
Last Sunday, one of the predominant talking points was the upcoming marriage equality vote in the Supreme Court, which is a surreal and exciting reality, considering the Defense of Marriage Act was signed by President Bill Clinton merely a decade ago.
I am a firm believer that the fight for marriage equality is the civil rights movement of our generation. Many people, I’m sure, would like to tell me that I’m wrong.
Generally, those people believe that being gay is as arbitrary a “decision” as deciding which pair of pants to wear in the morning. I think that in this day and age, most people are enlightened enough to understand that human sexuality is far more complicated than that. If you look at the skeleton of the marriage equality movement, it boils down to human beings being discriminated against because of an uncontrollable and beautifully human part of them. Fifty years ago, young Americans marched in solidarity because other human beings were unfairly discriminated against because of the uncontrollable nature of their skin. I am in no way saying the movements are identical, but instead attempting to point of that it the two social movements are more alike than different.
Without contest, the judiciary is my favorite branch of government. For quite some time, the legislature held the key to my heart (the executive never has and never will, sorry, Barry), so seeing the lawyers who argued the over-turn of California’s same-sex marriage ban before the Supreme Court on “Meet the Press” was a rare, nerdy treat. According to David Boies and Ted Olsen, there is a really great chance that the Supreme Court has the votes to legalize same-sex marriage in all 50 states.
“This has to do with equal rights. What we’re saying is that you can’t deprive of marriage simply based on their sexual orientation, just like you can’t deprive a loving biracial couple of the right to get married. The Supreme Court [of the United States] held that many, many years ago,” Boies said.
For those of you that need a little background information, the Supreme Court arguments are to center on two questions, according to NPR: first, whether a ban on marriage is constitutional, and secondly, whether states with pre-existing bans can refuse to recognize marriages that took place in legal states. The decision to make is high risk in nature; by the end of the Supreme Court’s term, the number of legal states could grow from 36 to 50, or bans could potentially be reinstated where they had previously been abolished. There are four states that are stubbornly defending their bans, good ol’ Ohio being one of them. SCOTUS has etched out a whopping two and half hours for the arguments. Friends, pray that Ruth Bader Ginsburg stays awake.
In all seriousness, for some people, the weight of the world rides on this decision. A marriage license is more than a piece of paper for most couples; it is the ability to adopt children, receive tax breaks (it’s more important than you think) and feeling a sense of societal validation for the relationship they hold dear. The Queen RBG herself fears that even if a marriage-equality vote is achieved, that a wave of public sentiment and tolerance will not be achieved. I must agree with her. Decades after the civil rights legislation of the 1960s and 1970s, deep-seated racism rears it’s ugly head in the form of blatant police brutality and micro-aggressive social environments, as if the words of Martin Luther King were lost on deaf ears. A Supreme Court precedent won’t necessarily set the precedent for more open and loving hearts, that’s entirely up to us.
The fight for marriage equality is the first social movement I fell in love with. I remember the day that DOMA was overturned. I was in high school, the time of most people’s self-discovery. All around me, the friends I loved the most were struggling with their sexuality, and I wanted so much to take on their pain. The decision broke on a warm summer day, and in all honesty, I remember the air feeling lighter with the decision. Although I knew it was the first step of a long battle for equality, I knew that my friends and people with similar struggles were one step closer to feeling actualized. I truly hope that the air can feel that light again. Let’s get equal, people.