Thursday, December 26, 2013

Washington Post: More Hard Work and Advances in Gay Marriage Needed

With numerous lawsuits pending in multiple states seeking to strike down gay marriage bans - two such suits are pending in Virginia - the Washington Post editorial board weighs in arguing that more advances are needed.  The editorial notes that further progress cannot be taken for granted - a very true statement given the hate and animus that motivates the Christofascist base of the Republican Party that continues to demand GOP support for every law and constitutional amendment that demeans gays and reduces us to a lesser level of citizenship.  Here are editorial highlights:

ONLY A DECADE ago, the events of recent days would have been unimaginable. President Obama announced that, instead of attending the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, he would send an official delegation that will conspicuously include openly gay U.S. athletes — a clear protest of Russian discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. New Mexico’s Supreme Court declared the state’s prohibition of same-sex unions unconstitutional. Then a federal judge threw out Utah’s same-sex marriage ban.

We are coming to the end of a second banner year for gay and lesbian equality. Indeed, after the heady victories of 2012 and 2013, continuing progress might seem as inevitable as it did impossible a few years ago. But further progress can’t be taken for granted. LGBT people, and their friends and loved ones, are reaping the rewards of decades of hard work in the face of persistent discrimination. The need for such hard work isn’t over.

In June, the Supreme Court struck down the most odious parts of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which barred federal benefits to same-sex couples, and the justices ruled against Proposition 8, which had banned same-sex unions in California. The court did not proclaim same-sex marriage to be a constitutional right. But its decisions have informed many other legal proceedings that will likely bring the question before the court again in a couple of years. The Utah case is one of those. Encouraged by the Supreme Court rulings, meanwhile, more and more state and local officials are arguing that same-sex marriage restrictions in their jurisdictions violate the federal Constitution.

Yet, save the late addition of Utah, where the fate of the judicial decree remains uncertain, every state in which same-sex marriage or civil unions are legal voted for President Obama in the past two elections. That’s also true of most of the states on gay rights campaigners’ target lists for the next few years.

In other words, it’s still unclear whether the wave of equality that has swept from state to state over the past two years is national or regional, bound to crash ineffectually on more conservative parts of the country. The Supreme Court stopped short of declaring same-sex marriage a constitutional right — which is the logical and moral outcome — in large part because a more ambitious ruling might provoke a nasty and counterproductive backlash.

Meanwhile, Congress has yet to guarantee workplace equality. And countries from Russia to Uganda to India to Australia went backward in their stances on gay rights this year. 

We should celebrate that millions of Americans, including President Obama, are “evolving” on this issue. But further progress can’t be assumed. In 2014, as in every prior year, the fight for equality will take hard organizing and patient persuasion.

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