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Posts Tagged ‘equality’

Where to go from here

Yesterday a law allowing same-sex marriage was repealed in Maine. This was a replay of California last year and the defeat is equally as stinging for those of us who believe in equality for all. While the same-sex marriage law in Maine doesn’t affect me directly, in that neither am I gay or from Maine, I am personally hurt by its repeal. Maine voters have taken away an entire groups right, not only to marry who they please, but to reap the economic benefits that are incorporated into marriage laws.

Now that the voting is over and this campaign in Maine has come to a close for 2009 the question of “where do we go from here?” lingers. Obviously, there needs to be a recalibration strategy. The gay rights movement has seen progress granted by courts overturned by popular referendum. Personally, I believe civil rights should never be up for referendum. How one person chooses to live their private life has no bearing whatsoever on the populace at-large. The fourteenth amendment to the US Constitution guarantees equal protection under the law therefore, when equality is denied, the battle becomes one of constitutional proportions. The issue of same-sex marriage should be left up to courts who interpret law objectively, not popular opinion which is heavily influenced by money and demagoguery.

In the aftermath of defeat in Maine and California the gay rights movement should more heavily embrace the strategy of the NAACP from the 1920’s -1950’s. Over that time the NAACP essentially waged proxy wars on the “separate but equal” ruling first introduced in Plessy v. Ferguson. They brought cases to state Supreme Court’s and overturned “separate but equal” on a piecemeal basis. While the gay rights movement have been undertaking this strategy as of late they should focus solely on this and stop trying to convince the populace to support them. Eventually they can establish enough precedent to bring the issue of same-sex marriage to the United States Supreme Court, as did the NAACP with Brown v. Board of Education.

This may sound as if I am saying ‘wait it out’. Do not misunderstand, I am a full supporter of ‘if not now, when?’ but in reality, the proxy wars fought on state-level Supreme Courts are a tested strategy. There has been progress on this front and with a Democratic Congress and White House, chances of national laws being repealed (The Defense of Marriage Act) and new ones being passed is all the more likely.

Keep up the good fight friends.

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