As the Supreme Court Considers Gay Marriage

Growing up in Richmond in the ‘50’s in a lower middle class neighborhood blocks away from black neighborhoods, I have no memory of class conflict between whites and blacks. I don’t remember it being anything I was aware of or ever considered. Things seem then so much simpler.

 What connection is there between this and gay marriage you may ask. Perhaps little. However, I do see so many parallels. When the Warren court ended segregation, abruptly, there was a dislocation and disruption of many cities and communities – particularly in the South. Forced bussing, white flight, were just some of the consequences. It could be argued that the desegregation process should not have been abrupt, but gradual, allowing society to adjust.

 But a gradual process of desegregation or integration would deny that then generation of blacks the equal rights that the court was now deciding had been denied. There was no real process or law providing a gradual desegregation option.

 Gay people have over the last very few decades fought for or were given, gradually, visibility, medical community acquiescence, national organization, partnership registry, state court directed marriage, employee spousal benefits, and now, marriage in 37 states and full federal rights and privileges.

 This was gradualism – no matter how many want to paint this social change as uncomfortably rapid. But this still begs the question – are homosexual Americans to be discriminated in any way by the governments or laws of the land? This is the basic question the Court is to answer in the next few months – and the suggestion that the court would prefer that gay rights percolate up through the democratic process rather than be decided by the courts, is to deny reality and what most see as inevitable. Why delay one day longer if a wrong needs to be righted? The Warren court did the right thing – with far more at stake – this court with the stroke of a pen could lift this legal inequality and the next day the country would not be the same – it would be immeasurably better.


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