The older I get, I realize, the less I know, and there are simply some things I just don't understand. For example, I just don't understand all the controversy over gay marriage. Don't get me wrong, yet again, I'm not some naif fresh out the womb who needs to suckle on the teat of "civic" discourse. It's just something I don't get.
I don't understand why people feel the need to mask their morbid curiosity, dread, and hatred over what goes on in other people's bedrooms in such dramatically indignant, "moralistic" tones, using the Bible, Koran, Torah, or McDonald's Dollar Menu to justify their aversion to homosexuality. Let's face it, people: you either hate gays, kinda wanna be gay (or at least have an "experience"), or they just creep you out. Why mask this with such high-falutin', florid, religious language (you know, like "God Hates Fags")? I'm not saying, "Get over it." Some of you will. Most of you won't. Just admit it and leave God out of it!
You used to say He was down with slavery and stoning adulterous women. He seems to have gotten over those little disappointments. Maybe He'll get over this little gay marriage thing, too. But, until I see you conversing with a burning bush or bringing down a plague of locusts, shut the hell up and let God speak for Himself.
I also don't understand why our government listens to this vitriolic, hyperbolic, pseudo-religious hate speech and allow this claptrap to dictate the law. Now, if these different "God-fearing," "Bible-believing" churches want to ban marriage ceremonies in their own "houses of God," that's one matter. But how does that dictate what goes on in the State House?
The last I checked, the religious ceremony was all pomp and circumstance signifying nothing in the eyes of the State. The real marriage happens when two people sign that paper and file it with you.
And I could've sworn that, in the eyes of the State, marriage was not some mystical, magical, holy union to unite man and wife. I thought, to them, it was a straight-up property rights issue: who can sign for whom; who can speak for whom; who gets whose stuff when somebody dies. I mean, aren't there thousands of rights conveyed to a married couple that single folks don't have? And let's face it: nobody looks into my moral character when I buy a house (though it is a rather invasive procedure), and nobody seems to care who I diddle when I hit the Dollar Menu. Those are not the issue when it comes to property rights. Now, is it?
I'm simply baffled as to why these same states allow the gay marriage issue up for referenda, too. Since when has granting Civil Rights been up for popular vote? Could you imagine the campaign speeches back in 1860?
"Now, my glorious, urbane, civilized, Christian, white people! Let us take this filthy, barbaric, lazy, son of Ham, heathen nigger and raise him up from slavery! Let us unshackle this beast of burden! Let us give him full and equal rights with us, the civilized, master race of Caucasia! Let him live among us! Let him compete with us for the same jobs...
"Yeah, yeah, I know. Funny, right? But I'm on a roll here.
"Let this dusky brute marry our pure, virginal-white daughters! Let him father our mulatto grandchildren! Let him vote! Let him hold political office! Hell, let him run for President of these here United States of America! What say you, my glorious, urbane, civilized, Christian, white people?!!!"
"Hoorah!!! Hoorah!!! Hoorah!!!"
"You gonna let them niggers vote?"
"Hush now, Susan B. Anthony!"
Civil Rights have never been granted at the ballot box. American Civil Rights have been won in the streets, on the battlefield, through judicial rulings, Constitutional Amendments, and hard-fought legislation. But never have the people voted on the rights of a despised minority and granted them. Anybody serious about the issue ought to know this by now.
But what I really don't understand about the gay marriage debate is whatever happened to Loving v. Virginia? I mean, haven't we had this fight already?
For those not in the know, Loving v. Virginia was the landmark, 1967 Supreme Court decision that forever struck down anti-miscegenation laws and bans on interracial marriage. Mildred (black) and Richard Perry Loving (white) were Virginia residents who moved to DC in order to get married. When they returned to VA, the local police raided their home, hoping to catch them doing the Mandingo (interracial sex being a crime), and arrested them in their bed. When the Lovings produced their marriage license, the cops hauled them in (interracial marriage being an even bigger crime). The couple was sentenced to one year in prison, but the sentence was commuted to 25 years probation if they promised to never return to the commonwealth. They moved back to DC and later sued with the help of the ACLU.
The Supreme Court decided that Virginia's anti-miscegenation laws violated the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, and stated:
"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."
They also stated that these laws were racist and perpetuated white supremacy:
"There is patently no legitimate overriding purpose independent of invidious racial discrimination which justifies this classification. The fact that Virginia prohibits only interracial marriages involving white persons demonstrates that the racial classifications must stand on their own justification, as measures designed to maintain White Supremacy."
Now, I ain't no lawyer and definitely no legal scholar or nuthin' like dat, but it is absolutely beyond me as to how this does not apply to homosexuals and their right to marry. Substitute "black" for "gay" and "white supremacy" for I don't know, "hetero homodoxy," and you pretty much got your answer to this entire debate.
I know a lot of my fellow African-Americans don't like equating our Civil Rights struggles with others and think that our hard-won rights should not be expanded. However, the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses have already been expanded to other groups.
Due Process has been used to protect the "freedom of contract," so employers and employees could negotiate wages without state interference. And it's been used to interfere in said contract in setting maximum hours for workers. It's also been used to uphold states' prohibition laws and federal drug laws as well as the right to privacy and parental rights.
Equal Protection expanded to protect Chinese-Americans in 1886 and all other racial groups in 1954. It's also been expanded to protect women and illegitimate children. Hell, it's even been used to regulate voter redistricting.
How so far-reaching an Amendment and a Supreme Court decision incorporating said Amendment does not apply to gays and their right to marry is utterly incomprehensible (I'm almost certain that it applies to all other facets of their lives). And how any law or court ruling that does not utilize the Fourteenth Amendment and rules against gay marriage is not deemed unconstitutional just boggles the mind.
Marriage is a Constitutional right. Plain and simple. Any legislator or judge who believes otherwise is simply neglecting their duty as protectors of the Constitution and playing with people's lives under some false pretense of morality. Morals are for individuals to grapple with. Your jobs are to uphold the Constitution. Start doing it.
"Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the "wrong kind of person" for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people's religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people's civil rights.
I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about."
--Mildred Loving, 2007