Along With Prop 8, Supreme Court Ends Latest Era Of Legal Discrimination
Although Congress has great authority to design laws to fit its own conception of sound national policy, it cannot deny the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
– Justice Anthony Kennedy
The Defense Of Marriage Act, a nifty piece of legislation which disallowed a segment of taxpaying citizens access to the Bill Of Rights, is now dead and buried. DOMA, as it is most popularly referred to, was another in a long line of “laws” heaped upon the public by the government to strip us of our civil liberties, as in the now debated Patriot Act. Only this one insidiously singled out a segment of society, denying them access to systems put in place to protect spouses and their property and dignity.
Justice Kennedy expounds; “DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal. The principal purpose is to impose inequality, not for other reasons like governmental efficiency. Responsibilities, as well as rights, enhance the dignity and integrity of the person. And DOMA contrives to deprive some couples married under the laws of their State, but not other couples, of both rights and responsibilities.”
The fact that DOMA was ever formed, voted on, passed, and signed into law is an abject embarrassment for the length of breath of this republic and it is luckily for this country and the people in it that 84-year-old Edith Windsor stood up and said, “What?” Motivated by over 300 grand of estate tax she wouldn’t have had to pay if not for these goofy laws saying she couldn’t marry a woman named Thea she’d lived with for four decades simply because he was not a man named Theo, Windsor became this era’s Oliver Brown.
Upon announcing incredulity with silly laws, Brown v. The Board Of Education put a spike through serration, which is a nice word for saying “state sanctioned discrimination” or “legal bigotry.” People like Windsor and Brown make all of our hollow talk about Life, Liberty and the Pursuit Of Happiness and haughty spouting about the U.S. Constitution being our Bible, which is all correct, can now rest easier that a little more of us are allowed inside the freedom boat, protected against social tyranny.
The great irony of an abomination called the Defense Of Marriage Act is that it was designed and presided over by a Speaker Of The House and signed into law by a president, both of whom had routinely made sport of cheating on their spouses (Newt Gingrich, twice divorced, and Bill Clinton’s well-documented misogyny). Although it never quite seriously explained why two of the most powerful men in America would not be more of a “threat” to the sanctity of marriage than an everyday citizen who deserved the same chance to shit all over their spouses. The answer was always that people who make an open mockery of this institution are less a stain on marriage than two people of the same sex.
And that’s the rub.
It is selective moralizing.
We have a Constitution and a Bill Of Rights to safeguard against such nonsense.
And that’s apparently what opponents of this obvious and way overdue Supreme Court ruling don’t get. They get all uppity and defensive saying, “Oh, if we defend traditional marriage we are called bigots!” Well, yes, if you are only applying this glorious worship of an institution to one segment of society then it is the very definition of discrimination, and this is only practiced by bigots. Hence, you are a bigot.
Of course, they muddy the whole thing by calling themselves traditionalists, which is old hat for people trying to deny rights they enjoy to other citizens, whether it’s the Irish owning land or Jews allowed access to certain institutions or women voting or African Americans eating at a diner below the Mason Dixon line. “This is the way it’s always been done,” they say. “Why are you going around changing stuff?” The other day talk show host Rush Limbaugh couched his derision on the ruling by actually saying out loud that “things are going along just fine and then the gays say, ‘Hey, we want to be able to marry’ and then it’s madness.”
Yes, can you imagine waking up one day and realizing your height keeps you from getting a driver’s license? And when you say, “Wait a minute!” some sanctimonious nitwit says, “Take it easy, buddy, things are fine the way they are. This is how we do it and have always done it.” I bet you would take it like a good citizen and realize that tradition is far more important and you’d run out and get yourself a bike.
I guess things were going along just fine until some moron invented a radio, huh?
And I know she’s silly and cannot really be taken seriously outside the geeks at CPAC, but the other day when Michele Bachmann, who would not have been able to publicly voice political opinion, never mind cast a ballot, less than a century ago, stands on the Capitol steps as a senator and derides this law on the basis of Biblical law, which openly frames women as nothing more than livestock, is beyond absurdity. Not sure she realizes how much of a metaphor for this ruling she’s truly become. Hell, if Moses or George Washington showed up to her little speech, if they could ever stop choking, both men would have wondered what bizarre joke was playing out by having a woman legislator speaking to a crowd of people she was not serving soup to.
Look, traditionalists and Bible thumpers won’t get it. This is their thing. And this is why we have a Bill Of Rights and a Constitution, to protect us from those who don’t get it, which brings us to the second Supreme Court ruling, California’s goofy Proposition 8, an excellent example of why leaving civil liberties up to the vagaries of state laws is also thorny. Having people vote whether, say, people with blonde hair can have kids is dangerous. And lawmakers? Well, we’ve already seen how that goes on the federal level. Right now in Texas the state legislature and its governor are trying to make it legal to shoot women on the way to get a pap smear. Something like that. I can’t tell. Most laws in Texas end up allowing the shooting of someone or something. It’s hard to fathom what those preciously colorful idiots are doing down there. It’s like “the weird kid in the basement” state.
And so, regardless of all the other junk and flaws and spectacular hypocrisy that we’re straddled with around here on a daily basis year after fuck-awful year, we have a very proud day in the American experiment; the fantastic Don’t Tread On Me, “Give me liberty or give me death” and “All men are created equal” part that seems to perfectly rear its beautiful head when some generation or segment of our society decides what another can or can’t do.
This is going to be one hell of an Independence Day at The Desk.
Do yourself no favors and “like” this idiot at www.facebook.com/jc.author
James Campion is the Managing Editor of the Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of “Deep Tank Jersey”, “Fear No Art”, “Trailing Jesus” and “Midnight for Cinderella”