This week, the Supreme Court heard arguments on California’s Proposition 8 and DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act). Both set a landscape that could lead to marriage equality on a federal level. Supporters of same-sex marriage are hoping for a clear win on both, but it appears the justices are evenly divided. A decision won’t be announced until late June.
But social debates about the matter are raging today.
From Twitter to the water cooler, many do not understand the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) fight for civil rights. But look at history — when are fights for civil rights ever understood? Women, African-Americans, Native Americans, the poor — they were always supposed to “know their place” before they began demanding rights. History is also instructive in another regard.
In one of the oddest moments of Tuesday’s hearing on Prop 8, which banned same-sex marriage in California in 2008, Justice Alito said gay marriage is newer than cell phones and the Internet, so needs a lot of consideration. Huh? There are documentations of same-sex marriages dating back to Jack Baker and Michael McConnell, who tried to marry in 1970, but were denied the right. They are still together today. In ancient Egypt, the male couple of Niankhkhnum and Khnumhote — whose joint tomb immortalized their love in 2400 B.C. – stand as another testament. Justices ruling on gay marriage who are uninformed about the lengthy history of such marriages is deeply troubling.
History will also show that same-sex marriage is not solely an LGBT issue. Marriage equality affects America at-large, including African-Americans. Expanding the conversation beyond sexual orientation is paramount to understanding a simple fact: all marriage transcends identities. There is much common ground for all to benefit from same-sex marriage, especially for those who seek to improve society overall. Let’s take a look at some key issues that will affect us all in the long run.
Making marriage equal on a federal level will have an enormous impact on immigration. According to Center for American Progress, 30 percent of the over 900,000 LGBT immigrants living in America are undocumented. The right-wing fears the triple-threat of immigrant, black/brown gays becoming American citizens via same-sex marriage and joining the left. In addition, there is a quiet fear that those “radical” gays might willingly marry an immigrant just so he or she can escape their native country and become a voter. Same-sex marriage is another pathway of citizenship for West Indians, Mexicans or anyone from the continent of Africa to become “legal,” especially for those seeking asylum. The powers that be in the GOP are terrified. But this might be a boon to other parties.
Same-sex marriage boosted the economy in the states where it has passed. When marriage for all couples became legal in New York, New York City’s economy saw a growth of $259 million in one year. According to The Williams Institute, same-sex marriage could improve the economy of Maine, Maryland and Washington by $166 million over the next three years. Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama and other states could use a couple hundred million extra dollars for education, poverty aid and social services. Are fanatical beliefs based on selective (and misunderstood) religious texts reason enough to prevent communities from growing through this needed revenue? Maybe… America once discharged valuable gay, Arabic linguists from the military during a critical war in the middle east for violating the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in effect at the time. We can tell that was an ignorant move on many levels now. Will we continue to cut out our gays to spite our “freedom”?