Tuesday, February 10, 2015

A Parallel Process: Marriage Equality and Civil Rights

As I consumed the news this morning, I found myself muttering aloud. The kind of muttering you do when you just can't fathom that what you are hearing is true. The kind of muttering you do when something so logical to you seems so foreign to others. Surely, I am not alone and you all do this at times.

The state of Alabama dominated the news this morning.  The Supreme Court denied Alabama's request to deny marriage licenses for same sex couples making Alabama the 37th state to recognize marriage equality.  Atlas it was not to be so easy.  Alabama's Chief Justice, who apparently does not believe in marriage equality, ordered the state's lower Probate Courts to not issue the licenses.  Couples seeking licenses were met with two different responses. Some lower courts ignored Alabama's Chief Justices' order and granted same sex marriage licenses while others continued to deny the request for marriage.

As I listened this news, I have to ask the most obvious question. Haven't we done this before? Hasn't Alabama done this before?

How can the parallel process between the Civil Rights Movement and the Marriage Equality Movement not be seen? Despite President Johnson passing the Civil Rights Act, which outlawed discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin we know that Alabama (and other southern states) continued to administer literacy test to prevent Black Americans from becoming registered voters.  Despite the Supreme Court denying the request to prevent same sex marriage licenses, Alabama continues to deny same sex marriage licenses.

In my mind, I keep returning to the Declaration of Independence; "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." Whether it is voting, employment, education, or marriage, all men were created equal.  Isn't that a founding value of this country. Why does that seem so logical to me? And how are others missing it?

 I absolutely know that the number one argument against Marriage Equality is Religion.  The Bible calls it a sin. God condemns it. The conservative core vehemently are fighting the Marriage Equality Movement to protect the marriage that God sanctioned. Am I close?  I wonder: do you think that religion was used to discriminate against Black American's during the Civil Rights Movement?  Do you think our ancestors used the Bible as justification for separatism? Do you think that every religion has the same interpretation of the Bible?

How can we not see the parallel process?  The Civil Rights Movement is some 50 years behind us.
Have we not learned anything in the last fifty years?

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