Thursday, October 9, 2014

Dahlia Lithwick on the Supremes and Marriage Equality: "It's Time Now"

Dahlia Lithwick at Slate on why it's time now for the Supremes to put an end to the state-by-state, patchwork-quilt nonsense regarding the legal rights of LGBT citizens, nonsense that is making the lives of gay people and their families miserable:

[I]’s time now, when court after court and state after state realizes that the gay marriage bans have no more merit than the anti-miscegenation bans of the Jim Crow era. It’s time now that the arguments against gay marriage have dwindled to the point that they truly strain credulity. It’s time because all around this country, partners who wish to visit spouses in hospitals, children who should have both parents on a birth certificate, and couples who want the dignity and legitimacy of their state announcing that they, too, are married are waiting to be told that it’s finally time. And it’s time because as five more states (and six more after that) now join the states that have already recognized this right, it’s simply become too late to say that it is not yet time.

Our guests are still with us — hence my hiatus in blogging. (I'm sneaking a bit of time to do so now.) Yesterday, we took them to the Central High Museum which remembers the crisis that occurred in my city of Little Rock in 1957 when the "white" high school, Central High, was integrated, and the governor, Orval Faubus, resisted integration, provoking President Eisenhower to send in the National Guard to protect the nine African-American students who integrated the school.

Our guests are a Presbyterian minister, Ian, and his wife Donna, from Edinburgh. Our friend Ian has a sabbatical fellowship from the Church of Scotland to do research about how African-American spirituals are used in worship, how they enshrine key aspects of black liberation theology, and sustain the spirit to enable it to resist oppression. Hence our visit to the Central High Museum . . . . 

In one exhibit after another at the museum, there were clips from television news reports in 1957-1959 or from newspapers of the period, in which Faubus and those who defended him said the same thing over and over: We just can't move quickly on the issue of rights for black people.

We've done things this way for too long. People will be upset if things change too quickly. The "separate but equal" schools separated by race worked just fine. No one really wants these changes. Outside agitators are stirring things up and making trouble for us down here in the South, when we were all just getting along.

It's such an embarrassment to hear these transparently self-serving excuses over half a century down the road. And even more of an embarrassment to think that some Americans now want to offer them when the issue is the rights of LGBT human beings — with the support of many churches, and of ostensibly religious people chanting religious slogans like the one on the sign at the head of this posting, which reads "Stop the race mixing. March of the anti-Christ."

As the Wikimedia Commons text for this photograph notes, it's a photo taken in 1959 in front of the Arkansas state capitol as the turmoil regarding the integration of Central High School continued. The photo is from the Library of Congress, and we saw it and several like it featured yesterday in the exhibits at the Central High Museum.

It's embarrassing to show our Scottish visitors this raw, ugly snapshot of who the American people have chosen to be at some points in our past. It's even more embarrassing to know that, even as we share this snapshot with them, some of us persist in behaving the very same way now that the issue is the contested rights of another minority group, LGBT Americans.

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