Usually I wouldn’t talk about controversial issues here, but on this topic I already show my support in my books, starting most clearly toward the end of Sacred Honor with mild hints in Sacred Blood. If discussing support of equal rights will alienate readers and potential readers, oh well. It’ll happen now or later.
I was in California watching the election coverage when Prop 8 passed, this, on top of the wrongly-named “Defense” of Marriage Act. I felt like I’d been sucker-punched. All my gay friends had just been dealt the blow that in California, the state with San Francisco and the center of gay culture for the US, they were second-class citizens undeserving of equal rights because some people think homosexuality is icky based on the bible. These are people who save lives in hospitals, educate children in schools, and fight in wars so that the rest of us can practice our religions (if any) for ourselves, and there they were, being told their love doesn’t matter and they aren’t free to marry the consenting adult of their choice. It was a dark, painful night, and the days that followed were brightened, though so barely, only by the Sarah Palin memes and the hope that soon-to-be-president Obama might help effect change to give LGBT people equal rights.
We’re glad to take the services and protections these people offer, but our laws were refusing them EQUAL protection.
Two inaugural speeches later, second-tine-elected President Obama stated his support for our gay brothers and sisters and he has refused to help uphold a discriminatory law that has hurt countless people and destroyed so many families. DOMA, at its base, was about defending the idea that marriage should be “traditional” and according to the bible – one man and one woman. Additional state bans on it just kicked people who were already down. Defenders of bans have claimed that this is an issue for the states while ignoring that this issue, unlike a speeding ticket, has ramifications at the federal level.
This morning I woke up to the news that the US Supreme Court had ruled DOMA unconstitutional, in effect opening up federal protections and rights to millions of same-sex couples, and struck down California’s Prop 8 ban on same-sex marriages. Leave it to people like Scalia to whine that it’s not right for judges to overturn voted-on laws. What people like him forget is that women’s right to vote and equal rights for non-whites weren’t granted by votes, but by the courts, and that rights put up for public vote become privileges rather than rights. Some argue that same-sex relationships are no one’s business, so why have equal rights? By the thinking that relationships are private, why have marriage at all? And some people have argued that marriage is for making babies. What about infertile people and those who don’t want kids? No marriage for them? No protections and rights under the law to medical decisions, inheriting property, etc.? These questions ignored, California went on to a landmark election cycle in which same-sex couples and their supporters were dealt a swift blow to their hearts.
After Prop 8 passed, which many, including myself, thought would fail by a landslide, and with the conservative on the SCOTUS, I didn’t take it as a given that DOMA and Prop 8 would be struck down today. But they have been, and all day I’ve been so close to tears of happiness. If the floodgates open, I’ll be a mess. This ruling is incredible, and it’s about time it happened. Those who fight in wars and give their live protecting us stateside will be entitled to the same benefits as opposite-sex couples. For many couples, it’ll mean paying more in federal taxes since the exemption goes up 50% over one person, not double. This means more income between two working people that can be taxed. They will be allowed to bring their foreign-born spouses to the US instead of being apart nine months out of every year. There are more than a thousand rights that opposite-sex couples take for granted to the point of not even realizing it.
Today a dark, heavy veil has been lifted. Let’s get rid of it altogether.