I don’t want to rain on anyone’s LGBT Inaugural moment, however…
As happy as I was to hear President Obama say in his second inaugural address:
“Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law. For if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”
… I was just an unhappy to hear White House Press Secretary Jay Carney the following day say that while President Obama personally supports civil gay marriage, he doesn’t believe gay marriage should be a federal issue.
To me this says the present Administration has no intention of pushing for any more action to make any of his words a reality for those of us in the gay community.
Even though the President mentioned Stonewall along with Selma and Seneca Falls in the same sentence, he doesn’t really see gay marriage as a civil rights issue that needs to be helped along by the federal government. For the truth of the matter is, no matter what President Obama may say, and no matter where he is when he says it – he still believes that marriage equality belongs in the hands of the States.
Do we really want the civil rights of a minority placed in the hands of the people?
Seriously – do you believe for one moment that blacks would have the right to vote in Alabama or Mississippi had it been placed in the hands of the voters of those States?
Just go look at the pictures and videos from the 1960’s in those places and you will understand that without the government stepping in – blacks would still be drinking from different water fountains and still riding in the back of buses.
The states that seceded from the Union in the 1860’s did so because of slavery.
You can try and spin it any way you choose, but one need only to read all their declarations of secession or take a look at their states constitutions to know the truth. Mississippi “…Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery…”
These people were willing to secede from the Union before they were willing to give up owning slaves. Think about that.
Do you believe that women would have ever been given the right to vote if that had been left up to the individual States to vote on? As it is – women are still looking for that equal pay thing to click in.
One has to only look at what the States are doing right now to the rights a woman has to get an abortion. They can’t take that right away from her, but… they can make the laws of the States so rigid that no doctor or clinic can possibly follow them thus abortions in some States have pretty much disappeared.
Look at a map of the United States and see what the States have done and are doing in terms of marriage equality.
- In nine states (Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, Washington state) and the District of Columbia, same-sex marriage is legal;
- In five states (Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey and Rhode Island), civil unions between same-sex couples are legal;
- Domestic partnerships between same-sex couples are legal in four states (California, Nevada, Oregon, Wisconsin);
- A total of 35 states have laws prohibiting same-sex marriage, and 31 states have gone so far as to vote for constitutional bans to prevent their courts and legislatures from allowing marriage equality.
And while there has been a shift in public opinion (Washington, Maryland, Maine, for example), one should never place the civil rights of a minority in the hands of the majority – ever. The minority will almost always lose – history shows us this time and time again.
A civil union is not a marriage and does not offer the same legal benefits, dignity and respect as a marriage – just as separate but equal was never, ever equal. It was, and is, merely – separate.
You can talk the talk, but walking the walk while you’re talking is what will bring about change.
Our work here is far from done…