Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

Overturning Prop 8 latest to break down society’s hate-filled barriers

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The beauty of going back and forth in time is seeing the perspective of how things we now take for granted were different and exciting at one point.

There will be a point where it is no big deal that a woman is anchoring a Sunday morning talk show, yet this past Sunday, Christiane Amanpour made her debut on “This Week” on ABC. Having watched her debut, but honestly not much of the Sunday morning shows in general, Amanpour did fine. Her accent was more noticeable than her gender, something that she would probably appreciate.

When Barbara Walters first worked on the “Today” show, women weren’t considered worthy of covering serious news. And Walters’ trailblazing role as the first female anchor of a nightly newscast (co-anchoring with Harry Reasoner at ABC) was controversial.

Now we have two female nightly news anchors in the United States, and it’s not a big deal.

We see mixed-race couples as a common occurrence. Mariah Carey and Derek Jeter are two celebrities that are the byproduct of mixed-race couples. Though maybe not the best example at the moment, Tiger Woods’ parents and himself and his wife Elin Nordegren qualify as mixed-race couples.

In the 1970s, Walters says she had an affair with Edward Brooke, the African-American Republican senator from Massachusetts. If light had shined on that affair at the time, the biggest issue would be imaging a black man and a white woman. When Walters revealed the affair, the mixed-race element wasn’t a concern.

But in 1967, in Virginia and other places in the South, it was illegal for a mixed-race couple to be married. In Virginia, in particular, as we learn in Loving vs. Virginia, a mixed-race couple having sex was illegal and the couple were also arrested “under Section 20-58 of the Virginia Code, which prohibited interracial couples from being married out of state and then returning to Virginia.”

Years from now, when most, if not all, of the U.S. states allow for gay and lesbian couples to be married, people will look back on the times of the early 21st century and ask what the big deal was.

The federal judge who ruled against Proposition 8 in California made this point abundantly clear:

Marriage in the United States has always been a civil matter. Civil authorities may permit religious leaders to solemnize marriages but not to determine who may enter or leave a civil marriage. Religious leaders may determine independently whether to recognize a civil marriage or divorce but that recognition or lack thereof has no effect on the relationship under state law.

The conservative position — small c — has always seemed to be to not have the mighty hand of government interfere in people’s consensual relationships and that the free market should abound.

In the 1960s, newspaper classified ads were divided into women jobs and men jobs. And interracial couples, if they could get married, had to be careful where they lived.

Now, we have no official gender discrimination when it comes to jobs and interracial couples are free to marry and choose where they live.

In the 2000s, very few gay and lesbian couples could get married in the United States, even though several Western countries allow for this, including America’s neighbor to the North, Canada.

Someday, most if not all places in the U.S. will allow gay and lesbian couples to be married. Provided that the anti-gay marriage proponents don’t win in a court of law, Californians will once again have this seemingly basic option in life.

Yet conservatives have been the ones fighting gay and lesbian marriages. Their argument has been religious freedom is being threatened by allowing these marriages. But the ones that are stifling religious freedom and encouraging government heavy-handedness are the conservatives.

Religions that want to oversee marriages between gays and lesbians are prohibited from doing so in most parts of the United States. The contrasting argument would be that religions can want to do things that are illegal, such as peyote. But allowing two consenting adults to enter into an union doesn’t meet the conservative standard. And true believers of religious freedom would stretch the boundaries to the other extreme in the name of religion.

But conservatives want religious freedom only for themselves and not for everyone else — not a very Christian attitude.

Religion was also used as a reason to not let mixed-race couples get married. And for women to be treated less equally than men.

This isn’t to bash religion: religion clearly has its place. But when any structure of a society uses their power and position for hate, society needs to set up and say, “Give all of us a chance.”


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