Thursday, August 5, 2010

Bending Toward Justice

"Perry testified that marriage would provide her what she wants most in life: a stable relationship with Stier, the woman she loves and with whom she has built a life and a family. To Perry, marriage would provide access to the language to describe her relationship with Stier: 'I’m a 45-year-old woman. I have been in love with a woman for 10 years and I don’t have a word to tell anybody about that.'"

The US District Court for the Northern District of California has struck down the odious and indefensible Proposition 8. This is something of a watershed moment - a victory that will be studied (literally) in law schools for decades to come. As many folks have been quick to point out, this is just the beginning - this decision will surely be appealed, all the way up to the Supreme Court. But if and when this case arrives at the Court o' The Supremes it's going to change our society forever; it's going to change us in the best possible way.

Most of the people on this blog (myself included) weren't alive to see segregation struck down, or to witness firsthand the legitimization of interracial marriage. Because we arrived on the scene after the fact, these victories seem like common sense to many of us. The idea that a man or woman or child could be kept out of a restaurant due to the color of their skin feels Medieval, and yet the reality of that is only a few decades behind us.

For all the supposed differences between those "Medieval" times and this new civil rights movement there's one overarching similarity: Our children are going to look back at all this hullabaloo, shake their heads, and wonder what all the fuss was about.

Thank God for that.

Judge Vaughn Walker drafted the opinion for the court, and it's well worth your reading. Yes, some of it is dry, but this is genuinely history-making stuff. More importantly than that even: this is life-affirming stuff. It doesn't matter if you're straight or gay. Vaughn's opinion should make you feel proud to be an American; to live in a country where freedom has real, objective meaning. As Martin Luther King, Jr. famously wrote: "The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice." The road to this kind of freedom is long, too long by any humane standard. But slow or fast, Justice is coming - and all the bigotry in the world can't drown the rising sound of its approach.

"At oral argument on proponents’ motion for summary judgment, the court posed to proponents’ counsel the assumption that 'the state’s interest in marriage is procreative' and inquired how permitting same-sex marriage impairs or adversely affects that interest. Counsel replied that the inquiry was 'not the legally relevant question,' but when pressed for an answer, counsel replied: 'Your honor, my answer is: I don’t know. I don’t know.'"

And that says it all. When the lawyer representing the Prop 8 people can't honestly answer how gay marriage impairs or hurts the state's interest in "procreative" marriages, you've lost. Straight from the horse's mouth, folks. Why shouldn't gay people have a right to marry?

"I don't know. I don't know."

1 comment:

  1. Excellent post. I totally agree. Thanks for taking the time to write about issues like this and the mosque in NYC, etc.
    If you're interested, I did a little write up on the Prop 8 issue on my blog as well, after getting frustrated with the angry reaction I was hearing from the Rush Limbaugh crowd: