June 27, 2015 by David K. Sutton
Marriage Equality Fight Still Not Over After Supreme Court Ruling
Would you say the fight for reproductive rights is over in 2015? I didn’t think so. Much the same can be said for marriage equality, even after yesterday’s landmark Supreme Court ruling. Because no matter how much we may perceive a “rights issue” as finally reaching its pinnacle, in this case, capped by a 5-4 Supreme Court ruling making marriage equality the law in all 50 states, it doesn’t automatically change the minds of the regressive opposition.
Passive-aggressive displays aside (i.e. Facebook profile photos suddenly awash in red/white/blue instead of the rainbow.), there are millions of Americans, typically Christian conservatives, who will continue to be opposed, not only to marriage equality, but to anything that doesn’t neatly fit into a narrow worldview they call religious belief.
Religious beliefs are a protected freedom in this country, but these beliefs shall not trounce the individual liberty of others. I’ve said this before, but no rights are absolute, but it seems when it comes to religious freedom, many people believe the religious belief always wins.
Religious freedom is no greater a right compared to all other rights protected by the First Amendment, like freedom of speech, which means Christians are not a persecuted minority just because they might face greater numbers of Americans vocally in opposition to their beliefs. Oh, and lest we forget, Christians are still a large majority in this country, which kind of throws water on the flicker of an idea of being persecuted.
Not only is religious freedom no greater a right than any other First Amendment rights, it is no greater a right than any other right. And what that means is this: Your right to believe something will always be your right, but that right stops at the point where it infringes the rights of others. So, you can continue to believe same-sex marriage is against your religion, on whatever grounds, but you do not have the right to deny marriage equality to another person.
This really is a simple concept, and I know I shouldn’t find it bizarre that so many people don’t “get it,” but nonetheless, every time I write about, or talk about, or think about this issue, the regressive opposition aggravates me with their ignorance. It’s none of your damn business! Nobody is forcing you to marry a person of the same sex, and the fact that others might be marrying a person of the same sex is, again, none of your damn business.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court majority wrote, “Changed understandings of marriage are characteristic of a Nation where new dimensions of freedom become apparent to new generations.”
That statement is true not only for marriage, but for rights in general. We do not have our rights because they are bestowed to us by God. We have our rights because enlightened and wise people in positions to expand rights, did just that. That is quite literally how this country was founded. And when I say enlightened and wise, do not mistake that to mean they are not imperfect. We are all imperfect, but hopefully we strive to improve ourselves and our community. The Founding Fathers were certainly far from perfect, but they had some pretty good ideas about human rights, even if their imperfections meant that these rights did not apply equally in their time.
Finally, let Friday’s Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage be an object lesson to anyone who believes elections don’t matter, and to anyone who believes the fight for marriage equality is over.
Because if you agree (and a majority of Americans do) with Friday’s Supreme Court decision, making same-sex marriage legal across the country, then it should serve as a rebuke of the notion that voting doesn’t matter, and as a reminder the two political parties are not the same. In other words, one might consider renouncing one’s aloofness with respect to important social issues.
Some of the most regressive voices in this country are actively engaged in the democratic process, even if their “achievements” would subvert hard-won human rights victories. Unfortunately, too many Americans who are accepting of same-sex marriage, or any other minority right, stay home on election day, giving regressives a louder voice.
So keep this in mind: Had John McCain won the presidency in 2008, the makeup of the Supreme Court would now be more conservative. Remember, President Obama appointed two liberal-leaning justices in Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Had McCain won, Friday’s Supreme Court ruling would never have happened.
So, how’s that for elections having consequences?