Friday, March 29, 2013

The issue of Marriage Equality

Well, the Supreme Court arguments last week are now history and we wait for their decision.  I'm guessing they will punt on Prop 8 saying there was no standing and the case should not have been appealed once the State of California was no longer interested in defending it.  Those who pursued the defense had no legal standing to do so.  That will mean the last court ruling in which the State of California was defending Prop 8 will be the final decision.  If that is how they rule, the case will have little effect beyond California in the march toward equality.
I think they will make a decision concerning DOMA.  While the Attorney General was no longer defending it (the executive branch), the House of Representatives was so I don't think they can punt based on standing.  My guess is that DOMA will be ruled unconstitutional but I'm not sure if it will be the 14th amendment or that the Federal government overstepped states rights.  That will be the most interesting part.
The biggest argument against marriage equality was centered on the notion that procreation is the central purpose for marriage.  If the only benefits of marriage revolved around children, that could make some sense but most of the benefits of marriage have nothing to do with procreation at all.  In the DOMA case, one plaintiff was an 83 year old widow who was forced to pay over $360,000 to the IRS in order to keep the home she and her wife had shared for more than 40 years.  If she had been married to a man, she would not have needed to pay that - even if they had no children.  Procreation is not the central issue.
The inheritance tax issue is just one of 1100 benefits married couples enjoy - most having nothing to do with procreation.  This is an issue of fairness and equality.
Judge Scalia asked when it became unconstitutional to discriminate against gay people.  I would say as soon as the constitution was drafted.  It's simply taken this long for enough people to speak up and say so.  It's taken this long to overcome the fear of repercussions like loss of a job, and even loss of life.  When discrimination is prevailing and accepted, it takes great effort to overcome.  We've had to hear the real stories of real people who have been harmed by the effects of discrimination.  We've had to overcome the myths and lies that justified the discrimination.  And we have had to force the issue until it could be raised before the Supreme Court.
I marvel at the notion some claim, that marriage will be forever re-defined if equality is granted.  I cannot imagine any two fully committed people feeling any less committed by someone else's marriage.  But if they feel they need some clarification, let them say they are "Mormon married", "Johavah Witness married",  "Methodist married", "Catholic married" or "Bible Baptist married".  That should make a clear statement.  It won't mean they are any more or any less committed in marriage.  It also should not give them any more or any less Federal benefits.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Something in the Water...

The past several years have been rather amazing for LGBT people.  Just this year, public opinion shifted to favor marriage equality.  More states have enacted marriage equality legislation.  The military has eliminated its "Don't ask, don't tell policy".  DOMA will be argued before the Supreme Court.
It seems every month a well known celebrity is breaking silence and openly discussing their own same-sex relationships.  Jodi Foster, Suzi Orman, Anderson Cooper and many more are no longer afraid that their careers will be ruined if they are known.
Is it something in the water?  Has the secret "gay agenda" finally taken hold?
No, there's nothing in the water and if LGBT people have an agenda, it's simply to have the same rights afforded straight couples. 
"Every gay person must come out.... Once they realize we are indeed their children, we are indeed everywhere, every myth, every lie, every innuendo will be destroyed once and for all." -HARVEY MILK
It's long been believed that approximately 10% of the population is gay, lesbian, bi-sexual or transgender.  If you know 1000 people, 100 of them are likely gay or lesbian. Within your family, 1 in every 10 are likely LGBT.  If you did not know that, it's because no one talked about it.  We all bought into the myths, the lies and the innuendos and everyone remained silent.
Just as Harvey Milk predicted, as more LGBT people are breaking their silence, the myths, lies and innuendos are being destroyed.
It will be very hard for some people to shed those myths, and to stop believing the lies.  For some, these are deeply held beliefs intertwined in religious teachings.  These people will continue to believe the world is flat until and unless they walk around the world and don't fall off the edge.  It will be the next generation who make the greatest strides.
Meanwhile, put your seat belts on because the greater the push for change, the greater those resisting change will push back.  We're going to hear some interesting, and sometimes odd, discussion as we get closer to the Supreme Court ruling on DOMA.  Both sides have fought very hard and no one likes being on the loosing end of an argument.  No matter which way the ruling goes, there will be outrage.
It's important for everyone to understand that LGBT people are not going away and will never go away.  The majority of Americans now understand that LGBT people have lived under a cloud of myths and lies.  Those myths and lies cannot be re-applied.
If you're hanging onto those myths and lies, you may as well believe the world is flat.