(Many thanks to Linda Hershman of Slate online for her initial article about this subject. You rock, Linda!)
We won a big one yesterday. Really big.
It looks little on the outside: one judge and two relatively unrelated rulings. One state: Massachusetts. One law: DoMA. One concept:
Judge Joe Tauro of the US District Court in Boston delivered a ruling that used precisely the same logic and reason we in the LGBT community have been using for the last thirty years, ever since gays came out of the closet and started asking for their/our rightful due. That reasoning runs somewhat like this: the Federal government (and by extension; any government) does not have the right to pass a law that separates citizens into classes; one class having rights the other does not.
That's it. That's the core of it and he's exactly right. No government has the right to discriminate, either as a ways to maintain the social order or to encourage behavior. Period. No arguments there, please, as we try to think with our forebrains 'round here at Chez Rose, not our gonads or our amygdalas. If you manage to finish reading this piece, I would assume that you do, too. So listen up:
To quote Linda Hershman's article: "Judge Tauro rejected every possible reason to retain the law." He sure did. He did a scathing number on the whole underlying concept and stated it quite well: "The Constitution neither knows nor tolerates classes among citizens." One statement, referring to the Plessy v. Ferguson decision (1896) that established segregation and was struck down in 1967. (Almost a century. Hope you didn't get too bored, waiting for that...) One statement, but it's huge.
It's the central issue; the core value; the very heart of the consensual relationship between a truly free people and the government they choose to rule them. No other concept so defines the basic tenet of both the Constitution itself and the entirety of what 'American' means.
It means you can't tell me that I'm not allowed to be equal. It means you can't tell me that I have no right to be considered as worthy or deserving as anyone else. It means that I'm just like you and you're just like me: we have the same rights under the friggin' law and anyone who says we're not, for any reason, is a bigot and a hypocrite.
Well, the Judge didn't add that last sentence. I did. But it follows. How? Uh, the forebrain, kids. Use the forebrain. Stop living in the gonads or the lizard brain and listen up.
If you are entitled to be married to the one you love (and if you're cis, that means someone of the opposite gender. Not, I point out unnecessarily, homosexuals), then I am, too. Homosexuality is not a reason to deny me that privilege; that right.
But! you cry, recoiling in horror. What of the children? The bathrooms? The damage to society!
Children? Children of gays do just fine, if not better than offspring of cis-gender marriage. Better, because the divorce rate (or separation rate) among gays and lesbians is much, much lower than that of 'traditional' marriages. They don't grow up to be pedophiles, they don't grow up to be substance abusers and they damn sure don't all grow up to be gay or lesbian. (Some do. About the same percentage that homosexuality occurs in society. No change, in other words.)
Bathrooms? Oh, yeah. The horror of having a man with a beard and wearing a dress in the stall next to you. Is he masturbating as he avidly listens to you pee?
Not bloody likely. Same thing for the "beard in the dress" bit. I don't know of any trans woman who wants to keep her beard. Nor any andro or intersexed individual. (We hate facial hair, mostly. Yuck.) Someone who goes into a woman's potty for sexual purposes isn't trans or gay, he's a fetishist. OCD, in other words.
Damage to society? Hmm, wanna tell me what damage to society has resulted due to the presence of homosexuality? If you tell me pedophilia, I remind you that your forebrain is all that is required here. Command your gonads and lizard brain to remain silent for a moment. (If you can.) Pedophiles are almost exclusively heterosexual. Most are married men. Most have offspring who are among the first to be abused by these men. See the pattern. Ignore the rhetoric. Okay? Proceeding on:
Gay, lesbian, bi and trans folk have done as much (if not more, in some cases) to enrich and support society as any other segment of Western civilization. C'mon, you don't want the whole damn list, do you? It's about forty-some pages long. Really boring.
No damage, in other words. In fact, quite the opposite. To claim otherwise is to also claim a particularly stupefying ignorance. What rock have you been hiding under?
One of the rationales proposed by DoMA was to give American society breathing room, a time to assimilate this 'new' concept of 'gay equality'. As if we haven't had gays, lesbians, bi's and trans folk for thousands of years already. Like it just now popped up on the radar screen. That's horseshit and we all know it. Judge Tauro thinks so, too. He pointed out that the reversal of the anti-miscegenation laws in 1967 did not lead to complete societal breakdown, as the proponents claimed in 1896. He's right. The rest of you lizard-brains are completely wrong. See the pattern. Did black folks marrying white folks result in anarchy and nihilism? No, but it did give us some awfully beautiful and really smart people.
Same thing for marriages for LGBT folk. It won't hurt and it will definitely help. See the frickin' pattern!
Those are the high points. There's more, especially if you see the pattern and follow the logic of all its extensions. Briefly: no government has the right, either implied or consensual, to impose a system of segregation upon its citizens, for any reason or any cause. To do so is discriminatory and unjust.
It is unworthy of a sane, civilized and rational society society to impose conditions upon which any group may be damaged by omission or neglect or animus.
Judge Joe (he's now my new hero. I tend to be overly-familiar with my heroes.) used that word: animus. According to Linda Hershman, he concluded that animus was the only reason for imposition of this law: "If the Constitution means anything, it does at the very least mean that the Constitution will not abide a bare congressional desire to harm a politically unpopular group," Tauro wrote.
Damn straight, Joe. Thanks for pointing that out. It sure as hell does meant that. You listening, GOP? You listening, Palin? Limbaugh? Beck? You especially, Rupe. You and your evil clone better pay close attention. If all of you keep claiming the right to discriminate against us, you're going to run afoul of the very document you all claim to revere so much. (I have serious doubts about you, Rupe. I think you'd like to wipe your ass with the original Constitution.)
It means you don't have a legal leg to stand on anymore. It means you can't claim that it's a good law. You can fall back on your old (and creaky) habit of claiming "God says!" and point to the Good Book, but it's the one book that's not taught in schools and has no place within the framework of our government.
You'd like to change that, too. Wouldn't you? You will, if given half a chance.
You will not be given that. You have no right to that, despite what you may believe. Your belief is based on exclusion whereas ours is based on inclusion. We will win because our strategy is better.
See the pattern, lizard-brains. And perhaps you might see also that your evolution ended about the time you drew your first breath. Ours continues, will continue and we will grow while you will become extinct.
This is the death-knell for the extinction of those who believe that there are other humans who are not worthy or as good or as deserving. This is their last warning: grow or die.
It's about time. Thanks again, Joe. You too, Linda, for a great article: http://www.slate.com/id/2260039/?from=rss This one will keep me smiling all day. I hope it does the same for you, too.
Stand in the Light, y'all.
Michelle Diane Rose
July 9, 2010