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Thu Jun 27, 2013, 01:54 PM

Reflections on the DOMA ruling

I find myself in a rather strange place with regard to the gay marriage rulings. While I am obviously more than pleased by yesterday's ruling, my joy is tempered considerably over the Court's utterly appalling ruling two days ago on the Voting Rights Act, over which I am still heartsick.

Justice Scalia, in his dissent, called the ruling in the DOMA case "jaw dropping," complaining that the Court has put its own judgement in place of the judgment of citizens and their elected officials. But that is precisely what the Court did in yesterday's Voting Rights Act ruling, a decision which Scalia himself joined, when it invalidated a major portion of legislation renewed by Congress as recently as 2006, because the Court's majority deemed it no longer necessary, If there is anything "jaw dropping" here, it is Scalia's stunning show of hypocrisy.

I began the process of 'coming out' -- and it is a process, not a once and for all event -- in late 1980, when I was 19 years old. It was a hopeful time for the LGBT community: the gay rights movement had really found its footing, and cities around the country had begun passing gay rights legislation. 'Progress,' so it seemed, was a given, as inevitable as the tide, and would surely soon bring justice and equality to everyone across the land.

Then came the election of Ronald Reagan and the AIDS crisis. Like everyone else, I watched in horror as an entire generation of gay men -- men in the prime of their lives and the peak of their creative talents, and men who had been on the front lines of the gay rights struggle in the Stonewall/post-Stonewall era -- were essentially wiped out. And I watched in equal or greater horror as social conservatives, who now had a man in the White House who was eager to appease them, seized upon the AIDS pandemic as an opportunity to begin rolling back many of the strides the LGBT community had made, and to once again enshrine their own bigotry into law. A former Miss America-cum-orange-juice-spokesperson, Anita Bryant, by then a little long of tooth to continue cashing in her former Miss America cachet, and evidently bored with peddling orange juice, found a new calling. And as gay men across America began dying in the tens of thousands, Ronald Reagan refused not only to act, but to even mention AIDS in public, until 1987 -- six long years. One of his close advisers, when asked about the administration's silence, quipped something like, "Who cares if something is killing a bunch of fags?" (If anyone wants to understand the roots of my hostility to the conservative movement and to today's Republican Party, well, i've just given you one clue- -- but there are many, many others.)

Through all of this, I learned a very valuable lesson about the fragility, the tenuousness, of 'progress.' The Voting Rights Act decision likewise stands as a reminder of how easy it can be to go in the opposite direction. As the LGBT community celebrates Gay Pride this weekend in New York, amid all the well-deserved joy over the gay marriage rulings, I sincerely hope we will also remember the importance of continued vigilance, and will be as passionate about the protection rights of other groups as we have been in pursuit of our own.

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Reply Reflections on the DOMA ruling (Original post)
markpkessinger Jun 2013 OP
William769 Jun 2013 #1

Response to markpkessinger (Original post)

Thu Jun 27, 2013, 01:57 PM

1. What happened to the voting rights act was a disgrace.

One that will be rectified when we regain the House.

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