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Economic Morality: EQUALITY of advancement opportunity and treatment under law & social memes — EQUITABILITY of economic and social rewards & outcomes. We're responsible for the decisions we make, but we are not responsible for the options given. Thus, we should create that society we would want if we didn’t know in advance who we’d be.
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Eighteen nations legally allow the freedom to marry for same-sex couples nationwide (Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland, Argentina, Denmark, France, Brazil, Uruguay, New Zealand, Britain, Luxembourg and Finland)
Two very large nations have regional or court-directed provisions enabling same-sex couples to share in the freedom to marry (Mexico and the United States [soon to be nationwide]). In Slovenia, Parliament approved a marriage bill in March 2015, and it awaits signature by the President.
Fourteen other countries provide legal protections for same-sex couples through “unions.”
As more and more countries—and hopefully soon in the United States with a Supreme Court decision—win the freedom to marry, families are supported and communities and countries strengthened by protecting all loving committed couples. The world can become stronger while growing kinder and more respecting of freedoms.
For more than 165 million Americans — more than half the US population — Same-Sex Marriage Equality is now very real.
The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision Monday to decline hearing a series of appeals cases on same-sex marriage will have the effect of immediately legalizing gay marriage in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. When combined with the 19 states (and the District of Columbia) that had previously legalized same-sex marriage, these states have a collective population of roughly 165 million, according to 2013 census figures.
For the first time, same-sex marriage is legal for the majority of the U.S. population. The 26 states where the practice is not legal have a total population of about 151 million.
The Supreme Court’s decision will also lead to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming. Those states have an additional 25 million people combined. When these states follow suit because they fall under federal circuit courts that have ruled same-sex marriage restrictions unconstitutional, 30 states and the District of Columbia — totaling about 60 percent of the U.S. population — will allow same-sex marriage.
Two years ago at this time, same-sex marriage was legal only in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and the District, which together have about 11 percent of the U.S. population.
Progress marches onward.
“Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.”
– Judge Leon M. Bazile, January 6, 1959
Yesterday it was “The Coloreds;” today it is “The Gays.”
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer today vetoed the License To Discriminate Against Gays law passed by Arizona’s house and senate. That’s a good thing. But what’s bad is that she did it for economic reasons as opposed to ethical and moral reasons (Apple, American Airlines, the NFL, all the tourism associations, etc implored her to veto the bill because implementation would inevitably mean economic boycotts against the state).
I agree with using all tools available to shoot down these religion-based bigotry bills, no doubt, yet it should be stated clearly that the greater and heftier rationale for veto are ethical and moral. In a land that espouses freedoms as a central premise, any legislation that codifies discrimination because an individual does not like another person’s life should be anathema and promptly shot down.
In one’s religious realm (at their church or in their home), one may treat and allow in another in any way they would like (short of abuse and physical harm or death), but when running a business or interacting in daily life, one is in the social and civil realm, and here you may not violate another’s freedoms to live… that is the US Constitution. That means that one’s freedom to act discriminatorily is illegal. Don’t like that the constitution protects even those you don’t approve? As conservatives have said for years to protesters, etc… if you don’t like it here, maybe you should leave for some other country.
For far too long, conservatives have used the shield of religious freedom to enshrine bigotry and discrimination. It’s nothing new. The righteous must always have the unrighteous.
While LGBT Americans are the current target of this effort to repackage prejudice as “religious liberty,” we are hardly the first. As Wake Forest law Professor Michael Kent Curtis explained in a 2012 law review article, many segregationists justified racial bigotry on the very same grounds that religious conservatives now hope to justify anti-gay discrimination. In the words of one professor at a prominent Mississippi Baptist institution, “our Southern segregation way is the Christian way . . . . [God] was the original segregationist.”
In 1901, Georgia Gov. Allen Candler defended unequal public schooling for African Americans on the grounds that “God made them negroes and we cannot by education make them white folks.” After the Supreme Court ordered public schools integrated in Brown v. Board of Education, many segregationists cited their own faith as justification for official racism. Ross Barnett won Mississippi’s governorship in a landslide in 1960 after claiming that “the good Lord was the original segregationist.” Senator Harry Byrd of Virginia relied on passages from Genesis, Leviticus and Matthew when he spoke out against the civil rights law banning employment discrimination and whites-only lunch counters on the Senate floor.
Bob Jones University excluded African Americans completely until the early 1970s. The IRS revoked the schools tax-exempt status, and the school sued. When Bob Jones’ case reached the Supreme Court, the school argued that IRS’ regulations denying tax exemptions to racist institutions “cannot constitutionally be applied to schools that engage in racial discrimination on the basis of sincerely held religious beliefs.” Doesn’t that rationale sound familiar? But the justices did not agree. In an 8-1 decision by conservative Chief Justice Warren Burger, the Court explained that, “On occasion this Court has found certain governmental interests so compelling as to allow even regulations prohibiting religiously based conduct.” Prohibiting race discrimination is one of these interests. And in these modern times, prohibiting discrimination based upon sexuality has come to be one of these interests.
Importantly, in United States v. Lee, the Supreme Court has also ruled, “When followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity.”
A religious bigot’s decision to refuse to do business with someone — especially for reasons such as race or sexual orientation — can fundamentally demean that individual and deny them their own right to participate equally in society.
Religious liberty is an important value and it rightfully belongs in our Constitution, but we do not allow it to be used to destroy the rights of others. Hateful discrimination is wrong. And it doesn’t matter why someone wants to discriminate.
Through their varied talking points, conservatives advance a narrative suggesting a “religious rights vs. gay rights” conflict, ignoring the fact that not all religious persons are anti-gay and the reality that many gay persons are religious. Moreover, it suggests an uneven playing field that is opposite of reality.
There are NO federal laws protecting gay citizens from discrimination in employment, housing, or public accommodations. Many states and cities offer their own laws to compensate for this national failure, but gays are still largely unprotected throughout the country. Conversely, religious discrimination has been prohibited under federal law since the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964!
Conservatives absurdly portrait gay nondiscrimination protections as “special privileges,” implying that religious people are thus at a disadvantage… even though the religious already enjoy those same protections! Based on this false premise, conservatives argue that religion needs its own extra protection to compensate for these “special” gay protections — a law like what was proposed in Arizona. In reality, such a law would give religion an unfair advantage, allowing religion to trump any protections gay citizens might enjoy through other state or local laws.
THIS is really what “Religious Freedom” means in these debates: it frames a discussion for conservative Christians wrestling with the emerging equality of a previously disadvantaged group.
In fact, waking up this morning with the weight of last evening’s intellectual joust at a dinner with friends still pressing on me, I found this video rant to be like looking into a mirror. So much so that I forwarded the clip to one of my best friends (who’s often witness to my passionate defense of how I see the world — our reality — and this nation’s place in it) with the subject: “Oh, My GAWD! This Is Me Going On My Rants & Receiving The Same Stares.”
When I encounter the too-often-experienced-and-reflexive pushback to any criticism-observation of our nation’s current reality or my past experience within that reality, my passions take hold. I stake my position and launch into an energized and confident diatribe citing the same statistics and facts and interspersing the same colorful metaphors and F-bombs dropped throughout this video. And I usually receive the same stunned stares from those uninitiated to my opining, as well as the slanted smiles from experienced ones thinking, “Well, now it begins.”
Such was the experience last evening in a Japanese restaurant, around a low slung table with eight extremely intelligent and educated friends seated on thin mats on wooden benches near the floor. As always the discussion evolved from casual and superficial fare to more high-brow and intellectual pursuits. So, toward the end of the several-hour-long meal — and after much sake, wine, and drink — three of us began to discuss the recent Supreme Court decisions. Ah, nothing unusual here…this would be expected of us.
What was unexpected was one friend’s reaction to my assertions: 1) That I thought the court’s and Scalia’s decisions in the cases concerning the Voting Rights Act and the cases regarding gay marriage were inconsistent and conflicting and thus indicative of decisions based upon ideological grounds rather than point-of-law; and 2) That the decisions involving gay marriage moved me to tears because it was the first time I felt at least partly validated by my nation as a full citizen worthy of the rights that should be mine simply by definition. By implication, I asserted that ethnic minorities like my husband might rightly feel more ostracized and invalidated by their nation because of the SCOTUS decisions on voting rights.
I was informed by my friend seated directly next to me that I was being extreme in my tearful reaction and unreasonable in my attitude toward both the nation and these court decisions…that this was a great nation, that the courts were basing decisions on points-of-law, and that I could not possibly know what was in the mind of someone like Supreme Court Justice Scalia (Well, of course, no one knows his mind except Scalia but I can have a perspective of his mindset and an opinion about it…damn it!).
As a gay man married (in Europe) for several decades to a gentleman of mixed ethnicities (African-American, American-Indian, and White Anglo-Saxon), I’ve personally experienced, heard personal recounts, and witnessed a few of the discriminations that expose me to the raw realities of modern American life. I’ve thoughtfully considered those events and experiences to better know and understand that reality, why it exists as it does, and what must change to make us a “More Perfect Union.”
On what are clearly very personal and emotional issues to me, I was informed in a coldly intellectual and dismissive manner that I was being extreme in both my judgement and my reactions to the decisions.
So, when I received further criticism that I was being extreme and unreasonable in my tearful reaction to the gay marriage ruling and resentment to the voting rights decision, I launched into a typical Faustian urGe to explain my positions. Namely, I went into the America-is-not-as-great-as-you-think rant (ala, the above video), nor does it offer the constitutionally mandated protections this person, my counterpart, takes for granted (assumed from my perspective).
After attempting to keep the discussion confined to intellectual reasoning, I finally just had to blurt out loudly , “You only feel this way and don’t understand how important these rulings are to real lives, to real people, to people you know like me…because you didn’t experience working a decade for a major corporation for which you helped to earn tens-of-million-of-dollars in profits and then get tossed out with no recourse because you were a ‘faggot’ too high up in the ranks! But I have. And you don’t know what it feels like to have state constitutional amendments banning you as a person from ever receiving your rights as a citizen! But I do!” Silence, and then, “I didn’t know that.”
The point is that one shouldn’t have to “know that,” to know a person viciously discriminated against simply because of who they are, simply because of their very existence as a person. Everyone’s rights are worth protecting and enforcing. That’s why they are called “Rights” and not “privileges.”
The third person in this troika discussing the courts, the national reality, and experience then interjected and said to me, “I think you’re being very reasonable. In fact, it amazes me that people like yourself and especially african-americans like your husband have any love or respect for their country at all. Always amazes me. That you work to improve this country on many levels is a great testament.”