I am the dark cloud on this very bright day, but the gay, lesbian, and transgendered community needs one today. I have been eagerly waiting for the Defense Of Marriage Act to be struck down since President Clinton signed it into law in 1996. During the brief time I spent running for the U.S. House Of Representatives, I vocally spoke in favor of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered rights and promised that I would do what I could to help end “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and repeal DOMA, should I make it to office. So, then, why am I not celebrating today as millions are elated by the news that the Supreme Court has struck down key elements of the Defense Of Marriage Act and paved the way for gay, lesbian, and bisexuals to marry?
Because history has provided us with more than enough information to illustrate that today’s ruling is not the end of the fight and, odds are, there are worse things in the store for the gay, lesbian, and bisexual community coming for the next few decades.
Sorry, there it is, that’s me and this is the dark cloud moment. If you don’t believe me, just ask a woman who wants an abortion in Mississippi.
How are the two related? It’s simple; after every major Civil Rights ruling by the Supreme Court, the affected group has gotten lazy and their supporters feel like their work is done and they move on to their next cause. After almost every major Civil Rights ruling, Congress fails to follow the Constitutionally prescribed remedy when a law is determined to be unconstitutional, which is to pass a new law. That is why, after the slaves were freed, the United States suffered through a reactionary Reconstruction and decades of heinous actions in the years of legally sanctified segregation. That is why, after forty years, when talking about abortion rights, we still refer to Roe V. Wade instead of the Abortion Rights Protection Act.
After the Supreme Court determined that women have a right to privacy under the 14th Amendment and that right to privacy extends to their right to have an abortion, there was . . . no successful follow-up. In fact, the Equal Rights Amendment failed . . . and women and liberals gave up on trying again to pass it. In the years since, states have worked to undermine the rights acknowledged in that ruling and now many have laws that specifically undermine a woman’s ability to get an abortion in those states.
So, while most liberals, gays, lesbians, sensible conservatives, and others who value civil rights are celebrating today, I am not. Right now, throughout the United States, there are conservative think tanks with obscene amounts of money who have their legal teams combing over the language of the decision in United States v. Windsor. Those lawyers are hired to draft laws for every state where conservatives think they can get enough support which will dismantle the ability for gays, lesbians, and transgendered people to marry or have their marriages from other states legally acknowledged at the state level. You will see such laws by 2014 when the Tea Party will use them to win votes and Congressional seats and the fight will be that much harder to win.
I will celebrate when the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered Civil Rights movement proves me wrong and organizes enough to stop history from repeating itself yet again and gets an Equal Rights Amendment passed.
© 2013 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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