Calhoun's Cannons for June 27, 2013
Well, there's no mistake, now. The Supreme Court, that ideologically muddled hot mess, has made it vaguely clear, sort of, that when it comes to marriage, gay people are finally semi-full citizens, maybe. At least in California and several other states, they can get married, just like regular folk. And with the fall of DOMA, that politically motivated piece of cynical, shameful expediency, federal laws will now treat them like their married straight brethren.
But being full citizens will have to wait until the Supreme Court finds the courage to apply the motto above its front door --equal justice under law --and/or Congress stops dicking around and passes ENDA, among other laws that will at least give gay folks some federal civil protections in the workplace. Without those measures, full civil rights for gay people will have to wait until the Court weighs in again and again on more un-civil state laws, a grindingly slow legal version of Chinese water torture that eventually ensures that the arc of history bends to equal justice under law.
But even quasi-equality is bringing with it delicious muddlement -- How to sort out the practical, day to day changes needed to ensure equality of marriage. And if the devil is always in the details, it's the details themselves -- all those little things one never thinks of -- that offer a fascinating glimpse into just how many and how far-reaching are the presumptions, assumptions, accommodations and benefits behind the word "married." And just how much of their "civil rights" straight married people have taken for granted.
Meantime, the country finds itself once again divided into free states, where gay citizens have full rights and social acceptance, and decidedly un-free states, where gay citizens better head for the state line before the sun goes down. It's all a creepy rerun of the civil rights battles of the 1960's. Which is both hopeful and dispiriting, because once again we have to face the same slow social slog to a more perfect union, with no guarantee that real parity will ever be achieved. Bigotry has deep, deep roots and religion-fueled bigotry goes deeper still. So, we will have to wait generations for most of the poison to abate.
But, in California, at least, gay folks can once again head for the altar. Yes, yes, I know, this is proof positive that the state is surely doomed and damned. But California has always been sliding into the sinful sea, a condition that's been its original fatal attraction to so many straight arrow Baptists from Butte heading west for the street of broken dreams or maybe a movie contract.
So, bring money, boys and boys and girls and girls and boys and girls. The wedding industry is gearing up for a blow-out, and the state's economic recovery needs a shot in the arm, complete with balloons, confetti and rice. Mazel tov!