A federal appeals court unanimously decided DOMA is unconstitutional today edging the United States one step closer to an inevitability: nationally legalized gay marriage.
The reality of gay marriage has always been that it should be recognized as legal because of the Constitution and the fact it has been outlawed and restricted in different states and still not recognized as equal to hetero marriage is ridiculous. There is little doubt that in time (as Fox’s Shepard Smith said) the opponents of gay marriage will be on the wrong side of history on this and the videos of people demeaning the homosexual community will be looked upon with scorn similar to the videos we now watch of past segregationists.
Some may say this debate is different at its core. It’s not. Both were about equality and gaining rights a majority of the country possesses and a smaller portion does not. The idea each person should have the same rights as the next is not radical or evil or unholy. It’s in the Constitution and is not really arguable.
Which is why the opponents of gay marriage wanted the Constitutional amendment banning it so badly. Despite the fact it was a pipe dream in terms of passing from the beginning, the opponents knew a day would come when the courts would rule on this issue and the courts would have no choice how to rule on it no matter who the judges were. They could scream about activist judges all they want but today is indicative of what they knew. Three judges ruled in favor of gay rights and two were appointed by Republican presidents.
When it comes down to the bare bones of this debate it is simply a belief in a rite versus actual rights. One has a legal reason for being. The other is just a symbol in our minds left to be interpreted in whatever way pleases our consciences and beliefs. Letting rituals be the basis for decision making and not proper equality in law reeks of a society of the simple minded too afraid of change to embrace the idea of treating law abiding citizens the same.
One of the realities of this fight is just a simple fact of politics: politicians need targets to fire up people for their election prospects. They need bogeymen and the best ones to rail against are the ones with little or no rights and power because they can’t be hurt as badly by them. Illegal immigrants and criminals are perfect examples of this. What does a politician have to lose by saying anything vile about these folks? They can’t vote so what does a politician care when he knows he can light a fire in his constituents by saying how tough he will be on this group of people regardless of how inefficient it might be? The gay community has been similarly demonized because of the bigotry toward them and this gave politicians another target. And since gays are a relatively small portion of the population, there has been little risk in attacking them in the interest of getting elected.
But, happily, that’s changing and changing quickly now. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see if the Supreme Court will take this case on and bring it to its logical conclusion: true equality in marriage across the U.S.