Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Celebration of the Death of DOMA

Taken from George Takei's Facebook Page
The caption to the left is similar to how I looked when I turned on my computer yesterday morning to see some of the best news I have seen in years. The Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA had been put down by the Supreme Court of the United States as unconstitutional. For those of you who are unfamiliar with DOMA, as I once was, it is a law that was signed by President Clinton. Simply it mandated that if a same sex couple got a civil marriage or a civil union that other states did not need to recognize that. Such as a same sex couple that got married in Massachusetts moved to New York the state of New York would not have to recognize that relationship as legal. Not only did DOMA make it difficult for same sex couples to be able to move where they pleased, it made it difficult for them to travel and retain their rights. Such as if a same sex couple would be on vacation in Florida and they were in a car accident the family of the injured party would have rights to visitation of the injured, but the spouse may not have rights of visitation and could even be asked by the family and the hospital to leave. These are the kinds of situations that make the end of DOMA worth celebrating.

However not everyone in the Union will see this as a matter worth celebration. Many people in California donated thousands of dollars to make certain that Proposition Eight passed. And when it did lawmakers were faced with a group of people who proposed that it may be unconstitutional. This is what made DOMA and Proposition Eight so controversial: the fact that people said they wanted X and the Bill of Rights said people should get Y. This is what the Supreme Court among others has been trying to sort out for years since all this began back in 2008. Now that it has been declared unconstitutional there are groups of people who are upset because the Supreme Court did not vote in favor of the people. Instead they elected to give the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender community their rights. This is why I celebrate.

However I need to make a confession to you. I am a Mormon. Mormons did much of the funding for Proposition Eight in California. I do not agree with their choice despite some of my beliefs being the same as theirs. I believe that religious marriage is meant to be between a man and a woman. The purpose of that marriage is to have a relationship that lasts longer than our lifetime here on earth and into the eternities before God. None of the doctrine I have read has ever led me to believe that God offers that same opportunity for those of the LGBT community. That is the primary reason why I am against religious marriage for the LGBT community. However civil marriage which is the legal form of the union which is recognized by the state and federal government I believe is crucial to the livelihood of this nation if we want to continue to brand our nation as the land of the free.

The United States of America was established to offer religious freedom to the puritans over two hundred years ago. During that time we have had to redefine freedom multiple times. First we had to figure out what it meant to give the natives freedom. We hurt them as individual nations by taking their lands, corrupting their culture, and expecting them to peacefully respond to our demands. I do not need to describe to you that this went poorly. Next we had to deal with the issue of slavery. This issue lasted much longer because of the belief that blacks were less than human at one point. With the Emancipation Proclamation we purchased a peaceless surrender of the slaves. Over the freedom of slaves we started a civil war, we instituted the Jim Crow Laws, and we oppressed blacks for another hundred years after they were granted their “freedom.” Today we face the issue of Gay Rights and we are responding to it in much the same way we did with same grace and sensitivity that we have with these other issues. We as a people are undereducated about it, fearful of it, and unwilling to recognize in what ways we may be wrong about how we are treating our fellow human beings. Same Sex Marriage is only one of a multitude of rights that the LGBT community is fighting for.

In my celebration of the Death of DOMA I am committing to becoming more educated on how to help support the rights of the LGBT community because I do not want to repeat the mistakes of our past. As a young black man, I still see discrimination towards me and I’ve seen it towards the LGBT community as well. And personally I hurt, because I know they hurt. Civil Rights isn’t about protecting the definition of a word that doesn’t need protection. The definition of marriage changed in the Oxford Dictionary already. And marriage in the context of what the LGBT community is working towards has everything to do with legal rights and nothing to do with trying to take the domestic comfort of the families of heterosexual couples. This is about making us as a people living according to the values that we state in our Constitution to stand by. If we are seeking the Life, Liberty, and Happiness of all the people in our nation then we by definition need to give to our people the same rights that they can be with those they love, take care of their families, and build our nation into the beacon of freedom that it claims to be.

I end this blog with one of my favorite songs. It is by Mackelmore and Lewis and it is called Same Love. I believe if we raise the rising generation to hate themselves, fear the judgment of others, and polarize themselves and others on the issues we face in our world we will fail them. We owe it to ourselves, and our children to educate ourselves that we may be full of love one for another and live in real freedom.

1 comment:

  1. You make a very good point, as always.


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