Thursday, January 22, 2015

Hatching chickens

It’s been just over 21 years since my partner and I were on the cutting edge of marriage equality. (A few years later we pioneered gay divorce.) Keeping a relationship going isn't easy - it takes work. The joys, excitement and challenges of having a long term successful relationship is universal, regardless of sexual orientation or any other factor. There’s a lot of different elements at play in the quest for national Marriage Equality in the U.S. – public opinion and religious opinion to name two. The Supreme Court will revisit the issue and make a determination in its 2014-15 session – many in the LGBT community have started to head down a path of hope and optimism. It feels premature.

Marriage Equality as a political issue began to take national prominence in the 1990’s – some twenty years ago. For those who are directly impacted it’s been an eternity. For historians who look at progressions in civil rights movements this has been a remarkably quick journey.

In the American system of government, legislatures create laws, the executive branch enforces them and the judiciary ensures they are consistent with the Constitution. This “equal” branches of government concept goes somewhat awry when the practical reality is that the judiciary isn’t equal – it’s the final word on what’s permissible, making it far more influential than the rest in impact.

The Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) ultimate ruling on issues has made it appear less impartial that it may actually be and has brought out accusations of political impact and bias. Most recently:

  •       The Citizens United decision authorized corporations and unions to make independent contributions to candidates and parties. Progressives and liberals have fumed about the decision, with President Obama deriding it in a State of the Union address.
  •    “Obamacare” was upheld as legal when it determined that the Act was the Government utilizing its ability to tax. Conservatives were irate that the Act they contend will be the unhinging of American capitalism was found to be legal.
  •        The Hobby Lobby ruling permitted for-profit companies to be exempt from part of the health law that the owners objected to on religious grounds. Progressives and liberals decried the dismantling of the fundamentals of American freedoms with this “loophole.”
  •        The Defense of Marriage Act was found to be unconstitutional. Conservatives fumed at the “activist justices” making laws that the majority of Americans had voted against.

How can the same nine justices both be revered by one side and repulsed by the other on one issue and then the opposite happen on a different issue? When a decision meets with one’s own belief’s – they’re right and examples of how America is superior to every other nation on earth. When a decision doesn't meet with one's own beleif's – they’re a bunch of nincompoops who should be carted off to the nursing home and put out of our collective misery. This is human nature. (SCOTUS must be doing something right if everybody gets pissed at them.)

Gay rights groups, individuals and even the media have begun a game of expectations that the decision that Court will come back with in June 2015 will be one that resolves the Marriage Equality question once and for all – and that means it’ll be legal across the Union. I’d like to think so. But I also think that corporations and unions shouldn’t have equal voices in politic discourse and that one’s religious beliefs shouldn’t permit taking away the rights of another.

Barak Obama won the Presidency in 2008 on a campaign of “Hope.” Many have cited that his inability to be that transformational figure he and his supporters wanted him to be has made him a failed President. Time will tell, it’s too early to write that chapter of history. Hope unfulfilled is the recipe for upset and disappointment. Many are putting an awful lot of hope and expectation into this SCOTUS decision. There’s good reason – the cause is right, the history of decisions lends itself towards that conclusion. But legal arguments on the cases have yet to be made. Let’s not count those chickens before they’re hatched.

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