Victory at the Supreme Court

Victory at the Supreme Court

WOW!!!  What a moment

Below is a little food for thought and some talking points that may be useful during this flurry of conversation in our nation. There is much rejoicing and much lamenting. 

 
Rainbow flags are waving and Black churches are burning in Georgia and North Carolina, set aflame by arson. Our nation’s victories are sweet and its backlashes are bitter. The world of many has been rocked today who vow to fight the marriage equality decision just as the racial desegregation decisions were fought. We must mend fences even as we tear down walls.

 
Today is a historic moment in our nation’s history. The US Supreme Court has ruled that bans against persons of the same sex marrying is unconstitutional under our 14th Amendment. This is perhaps the biggest civil rights ruling since Brown vs Board of Education of Topekaended racial segregation in schools in 1954, also based on the 14th Amendment. 
 
The purpose of the 14th amendment, established upon the end of slavery, is to assure that the nation and no state erects laws that infringe upon the basic civil rights of its citizens without due cause. It further requires reciprocity for states to honor these rights across states, thus ending the “slave states” and “free states.” One might have been free or a slave in one state, and across the state border that status reverse, with the federal government upholding the unequal treatment. Such had been the case with marriage equality.
 
It should be duly noted, however, that the Supreme Court has not granted male couples and female couples the RIGHT to marry as will be decried. It has granted the FREEDOM to exercise their pre-existing right to marry, guaranteed to them under the constitution as US citizens, which has been illegally denied them all of these decades. This is akin to the Voting Rights Act. The right to marry and have a family is considered among our “inalienable rights” even retained by persons incarcerated for life. The freedom to marry the person of one’s choice is finally the law of the land. Restrictions based on race were lifted in 1967 in Loving vs Virginia and now the last restrictions based on sex are lifted, as well.
 
This is not an infringement on religious freedom. Religions don’t issue marriage licenses, the State does. Churches are not bound to perform any ceremonies contrary to their beliefs. Public establishments operating under government permits, however, may not not discriminate. 
 
I was privileged enough to be the successful co-plaintiff in a landmark case in 1984 against a restaurant in Los Angeles that set the precedent for the inclusion of sexual orientation in California’s Civil Rights Bill, a major forerunner to such inclusion in our nation’s Civil Rights Amendment. Like many others, who have fought long and hard for such inclusion, I am proud and beyond pleased that our nation is living up to its creed. AND we must all stand in compassion and resolve to end hatred and intolerance everywhere throughout the nation and the world. 
 
This weekend in International Pride around the world, celebrating the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots at Stonewall Bar on Christopher Street West in Greenwich Village, NY in late June, 1969. The patrons were Black and Brown drag queens who fought back against police brutality. Their brothers and sisters were already setting the cities aflame across the nation about racial injustice and police brutality. This was just “one more river to cross.” 
 
Let us have compassion for those whose worlds have been completely rocked this day and pray for safety at the parades and festivals, for respect for houses of worship, for police fairness, for. . . . . .
“The days of racial segregation are over. You can be certain of this. The only thing uncertain about it is how costly the segregationist will make the funeral.” MLK Jr.
 
Let us rejoice in this sweet Supreme Court decision today and understand that we still have to mend some fences even as we tear down the walls. 
 
Congratulations America. Special thanks to our heterosexual allies who have stood up and stood by us. You made the difference!!!
 
Rev Deborah Johnson
 
PS. The Supreme Court in Mexico recently made the same ruling on same sex marriage. May love and freedom prevail!
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