Thursday, June 27, 2013

DOMA Decision and Voting Rights Act Decision: We Stand Together or We Fall Together

I want to lift a statement I made at the end of my posting yesterday about the initial Twitter commentary re: the Supreme Court and DOMA, and place it in a separate posting today. I think it's very important that this be said:

No celebrating for me without remembering what happened yesterday. I stand with all my fellow citizens--notably, people of color and Latinos--whose right to vote has been assaulted and will now be assaulted strongly in state after state throughout the U.S. We all stand together or we all fall together.

As Charles Blow says today in the New York Times, supporters of human rights have reason both to cheer and cry this week in the U.S. And as he also states,

Racial hostility, homophobia and misogyny are braided together like strands of the same rope. When we fight one, we fight them all.

And as Amy Goodman and Dennis Moynihan note for Democracy Now (via Truthdig), though we as a nation may have taken two steps forward with yesterday's Supreme Court rulings, we took a giant step backwards on Tuesday with the ruling on the Voting Rights Act. Goodman and Moynihan cite Georgia Congressman John Lewis, who was brutally beaten by police on a civil rights march in Selma, Alabama, in 1965. Lewis has stated that the decision of the Supreme Court about the Voting Rights Act stabs the act in its heart.

John Lewis has been a strong supporter of LGBT rights. Here are Goodman and Moynihan on that history:

Back when DOMA was being debated in 1996, with President Bill Clinton championing it and with bipartisan support in Congress, John Lewis spoke out against it with the same passion he showed in the struggle for voting rights. Lewis said then, on the floor of the House: "This bill is a slap in the face of the Declaration of Independence. It denies gay men and women the right of liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Marriage is a basic human right. You cannot tell people they cannot fall in love. I will not turn my back on another American. I will not oppress my fellow human being. I fought too hard and too long against discrimination based on race and color not to stand up against discrimination based on sexual orientation.” After this week’s DOMA decision, he reiterated, “It’s better to love than to hate."
For John Lewis, human rights cannot be compromised, they are indivisible. Following his lead, people should channel the joy they feel for the marriage equality victories today to a renewed struggle for voting rights, for equality for all.

John Lewis and other people of color who fought hard for their civil rights in the Civil Rights movement have stood with me as a gay man seeking his rights. I now intend to keep standing with these courageous people as their right to vote is once again placed in jeopardy in the U.S. by a Supreme Court decision that betrays the ideals of American democracy.

The photographs of John Lewis are from Library of Congress, by way of Kung Li at the Color Lines website.

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