Friday, October 10, 2014

In the News: The Courts and Marriage Equality in U.S. at Week's End

As the work week ends (and as I continue hosting guests, and finding very little time to blog), some excerpts from statements I've read this week about the Supremes and marriage equality in the U.S. (and about how progressive social change happens):

It is clear that the tides of time are on the side of legalizing same-sex marriage across America. But it is also true that there is more to ensuring marriage equality than just calling it "a cleanup job."  . . .  
But until all the unresolved legal issues that are reverberating across conservative states are settled, the expansion of same-sex marriage rights will continue to unfold in unruly and unpredictable ways.

The Supreme Court has dodged clear opportunities to decide the fate of same-sex marriage, and, in the process, harmed same-sex couples, their children and their families. Are the justices waiting for conflicting rulings from federal appeals courts to take up the constitutional question? No one can be sure. But the court has the power and the responsibility to affirm the dignity and equality of millions of Americans, and it should do so as soon as possible.

It’s worth noting that the legal landscape on gay marriage now looks a lot like it did just before the Supreme Court overturned bans on interracial marriage in Loving v. Virginia. When Loving was handed down in 1967, 17 states still banned mixed-race marriages. Such marriages had been allowed—or never banned in the first place—in the Northeast and much of the Midwest before 1950. Over the next two decades, interracial-marriage bans were overturned through courts or repealed in legislatures on the West Coast and in the Mountain states. Only the South remained when the Court intervened.

Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin (citing the Ninth Circuit Court as it struck down unconstitutional bans against same-sex marriage in Idaho and Nevada): 

We seriously doubt that allowing committed same-sex couples to settle down in legally recognized marriages will drive opposite-sex couples to sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll.

[T]he five justices who know right now that laws forbidding same-sex couples to marry are unconstitutional should not have left us in this position. This was an unnecessary and, in my view, a reckless risk for them to take.

Rachel Maddow, commenting on what the Supreme Court decision early in the week has immediately wrought: 

It's now easier to count the number of states where marriage rights are not equal than to count it the other way.

Bob Herbert at Moyers & Company, on great movements for social change in America:

All of the great movements in America – from abolition and civil rights, to the labor and women’s movements and the fight for gay rights – all were led by citizens fed up with an intolerable status quo. That is how societies change. That is how America can, should, and – with the proper commitment and cooperative spirit – will change.

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