The Supreme Court’s ruling Friday to legalize same-sex marriage is a victory for human rights and an occasion to rejoice. The decision follows in the footsteps of the Supreme Court’s 1967 decision in Loving v. Virginia that outlawed states’ bans on interracial marriage, an earlier pathbreaking victory for marriage equality.
But there is a huge difference in the two rulings. The Loving decision on inter-racial marriage was unanimous. Friday’s ruling on same-sex marriage was a 5 to 4 decision. We should not forget that four members of the nation’s highest court — Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas — opposed marriage equality. Each had his own reasons to justify his vote to himself and to the public, but history will record that all four of them supported states’ rights over equal rights, bigotry over tolerance. Justices Stephen Breyer,
Wednesday’s Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage represented a major victory in the battle for social justice. But the Court stopped short of proclaiming same-sex marriage a basic right. It left it to the states to determine whether gay Americans have the same right to marry as their straight counterparts.
This is the same logic — states’ rights — that allowed the Court this week to weaken the Voting Rights Act of 1965, essentially giving states permission to discriminate against Blacks and Latinos in gerrymandering electoral districts and erecting obstacles to voting. Soon, we’re likely to see a number of Republican-controlled states, including Texas, redraw legislative boundaries to make it harder for minority candidates and white liberal candidates backed by minority voters (such as Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis, who courageously waged a filibuster this week to protect women’s reproductive rights) to win public office and to change state laws to make it harder for people to vote.
Yesterday’s historic Supreme Court rulings supporting marriage equality marked an important step forward for justice for all workers. Labor unions in California and across the nation have been strongly united for marriage equality for years. In fact, the California Labor Federation and 50 other labor organizations signed on to an amicus brief in support of marriage equality back when the challenges to Prop 8 first began nearly five years go.
Tim Paulson of the San Francisco Labor Council, which was one of the most vocal parties to the amicus brief, celebrated the announcement, which happens to coincide with the 43rd annual San Francisco Pride celebration that kicks off this weekend.
Here in San Francisco, where it all started, workers are celebrating this great civil rights victory. As we say, “an injury to one is an injury to all.” Now all of our LBGT members and their partners can be treated with equal respect.
Brothers David and Charles Koch, and other libertarian billionaire backers of Proposition 32, including Charles Munger Jr., like to wrap themselves in the toga of individual freedom. However, despite their supposed ideological fervor for personal liberties, they have allied themselves with some of the nation’s most vociferously anti-gay religious activists – all for a campaign to outlaw the use of automatic payroll deductions from union members and corporations for political purposes. Although it is not widely seen as a “gay issue,” Prop. 32’s passage could have far-reaching consequences for California’s gays and lesbians.
“If we lose organized labor as a funded political ally in California, the LGBT movement is in big trouble,” says Courage Campaign founder and LGBT activist Rick Jacobs. “Would you rather have Howard Ahmanson thinking about your rights in the workplace, or organized labor? That’s what this is about. Mark my words, people like the Kochs and Ahmanson are not thinking about how LGBT people are welcome in the workplace and not discriminated against.”