Irrespective of how someone might feel about same-sex marriage, last Friday’s US Supreme Court decision will be looked upon as watershed moment in American history. Further, it has already launched celebrations around the globe as the decision to allow same-sex marriages here is a beacon for the rest of the world. It was indeed a good Friday for America and the world.
Our friend Barney wrote earlier this year a post that offers some valuable historical context. He notes that our US Constitution afforded more rights to white male property owners at the expense of others. I would offer that should any of those white males have been gay men, they would have kept it extremely quiet, so as not to run afoul or the mores of the day. Women did not have the right to vote, nor did other white men. And, slaves were denied all rights and counted as 3/5 a person to provide southern states with more power in Congress.
But, what is most interesting to me, is the history of our country is a series of events that give others those same rights. The most notable changes are the freedoms afforded former slaves at the end of the Civil War, which was a hard fought battle in a predominantly northern Congress, and giving women the right to vote in the early 1920s. I like to remind people that women have had the right to vote in our country for less than 100 years, which is a shame that it took so long.
Yet, other key changes occurred by legislation and court cases. The Civil Rights and Voters Rights Acts are two key pieces of legislation which afforded Blacks the same rights they should have had in practice for 100 years, but were denied by Jim Crow laws. These laws were also ten years after the Brown v. Board of Education US Supreme court decision which said separate was not equal in education. Another key court case which is similar in nature to last Friday’s decision is Loving v. VA where an interracial couple won a court case which opened up marriage between people of different races. Like the recent decision, the Loving decision ran up against people with biblical references of how bad it would be to mix the races.
In America, people have the right to believe the way they want. That freedom is important. Yet, one thing that is of equal importance, is no one has the freedom to restrict the rights of other people. That is a key part of the Civil Rights Act. So, to say it simply, your freedoms are of equal importance to my freedoms, but not more. I cannot discriminate unfairly against you, nor should you be allowed to do the same to me. And, this goes for government officials as well. To do otherwise, is a slippery slope.
So, we should celebrate the historical ruling of last Friday. As a 56 year-old, heterosexual married father, who is an Independent voter, I am delighted that Americans have the freedom to marry someone of the same-sex. One of the best pictures I saw this weekend, is one of a Lesbian couple who had words painted on their fists, when held up in unison, said “Love Wins.” Yes, it most certainly did. And, so did America.