Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Complicated Court

I think we were all warned that the final week of the Supreme Court term would turn us all into hypocrites, and it certainly delivered on that promise. The conservatives had to like the Voting Rights Act case decision and liberals had to like DOMA, and both sides had something to like and dislike about the Affirmative Action and the California Proposition 8 results.

In the end, none of these decisions should have been surprising. The liberal era that reached its height in the late 1960s has been declining for years and the court has done its best lately to rein in what the right sees as its excesses, especially when it comes to government power. They've also set back abortion rights, the rights of the accused, and have ruled fairly consistently for the rights of religious organizations to participate in the public square. To think that any of these issues is sacrosanct would be foolish, but to also think that the court's decisions mean an end to liberal programs would likewise be incorrect.

But the conservatives have also done wonders for the gay rights movement. Not only did they finally strike down anti-sodomy laws, but yesterday's marriage equality ruling is a huge step forward for the recognition that homosexuals must be treated with respect under the law. I know that many African-Americans don't like the comparison between the Civil Rights Movement and today's gay issues, but on a human scale they are exactly the same. It's important that every citizen be welcome and be able to feel relaxed in our society. If you're straight, the world generally works for you. If you're gay, some parts of it don't. Being a member of the majority or the power structure bestows on people a sense that they have control over their destiny. Everyone deserves to feel this way.

I'm looking forward to the day when people are simply married; not same-sex married or married with equality, but just...married. That's the beauty of the court's ruling. I also look forward to the day when all people have access to higher education and the vote. We need to work to make these happen, but I have confidence that we will.

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