Holding Forth

Published on June 28th, 2015 | by Richard Black

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Congratulations LGBTs! It’s About Time (It’s Also Really Just the Beginning)

UF_GayPrideFlag_062815A few days ago the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the Constitution guarantees same sex couples the right to marry and it’s about time. By denying the men and women of the LGBT community the right to marry the powers that be have been both implicitly and tacitly treating these people as second class citizens, prohibiting them from the same rights that heterosexual couples largely take for granted.

As visionary as our founding fathers may have been they were, how shall I put this, still a product of their times. Most, for example, were appalled by the thought that someone who didn’t own property would be afforded the right to vote. They deemed women incapable of understanding the nuances of politics or intricacies of the law not too mention their thoughts on slavery. Outside of a few members of society on the fringe I think most people these days can agree that this sort of thinking is, at the very least, antiquated. Slavery was finally abolished, women finally obtained the right to vote and now people of the same sex have the right to engage in a civil union. It’s about time.

As much as it has held us in good stead The Law of the Land has been bastardized at times. The Constitution has been used to uphold Jim Crow laws, create separate but equal schools and bathrooms, and numerous other transgressions. The Constitution isn’t perfect, nor were our founding fathers, they did however have the foresight to create a document that could be amended as well as a Supreme Court to hear grievances and rule on the constitutionality of existing law. Two days ago the Supreme Court, the highest court in the land, ruled that men and women have the right to a civil union in all fifty states.

Our nation was founded on many principals, not the least of which was the separation of Church and State. Regardless of your religious affiliation, regardless of what you believe about God, the Supreme Court’s decision has nothing to do with any particular faith. Not really. Through their ruling the highest court in our land has merely, or monumentally depending upon your take on the situation, sanctioned a legal union between two people of the same sex. The ruling does not compel any religion to perform marriages for gay men, lesbians, bisexuals or transgendered peoples. The ruling does not even require that any church recognize that union. The ruling simply affords these men and women the right to enjoy the same privileges and rights guaranteed by law to those of us who happen to not be attracted to a member of the opposite sex.

In the past, a century or two ago perhaps even more, the union of two people has primarily been the bailiwick of the Church. In this day and age that is no longer the case and we can debate whether that is to the benefit of detriment of our country until the cows come home, the fat lady sings, the chickens come home to roost or the Rapture. Through its evolution in response to changing circumstances and times the State has come to have the ability to sanction a union between two people, a union that affords each partner with certain rights, the right to inherit property, the right to have custody of a child, and the right to make end of life decisions if necessary to name just a few. It’s about time those rights are extended to men and women without reserve or hesitation and regardless of their sexual orientation.

It’s about time but it’s also just the beginning. Inequity still exists. Women on average still make less than their male counterparts. Black men and women, Latino men and women, make less than their white counterparts, have a lower life expectancy, are in poorer health, more likely to die in a violent crime…I could go on. We are generally more open as a society when it comes to race and even sexuality than we were twenty, fifty or a hundred years ago. It’s progress, groundbreaking and monumental, but really just progress. The end has not been achieved. Laws guarantee rights for those who chose to fight for them but laws do not change minds and that, my friends, is a struggle of a much more complex and difficult nature.

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