Thursday, July 06, 2006

New York is Officially a Discriminatory State

I don't have the time or the health or the heart for a full post on this topic right now, but since it is my home state, I feel a compulsion to express my total opposition to the bigotry sanctioned by our highest court. I don't have an opinion on the decision -- I haven't read it, I'm not a lawyer -- but the outcome is wrong. Right now we have one state in fifty that treats gay and lesbian citizens with basic equality and dignity. As a former resident of Massachusetts, I am proud that my former home is doing the morally right thing; as a current resident of New York, I am ashamed that my current home is not. The court had a chance to decide between right and wrong today, and it chose wrong. Perhaps the law compelled them to*; that does not make wrong into right.

Protests are occurring tonight; go if you can. News articles on this topic can be found here and here. The New York Times article is here.

I suppose the silver lining here is that the court said that equal, non-discriminatory marriage laws are not required by our state's constitution -- but certainly that they are not forbidden either. Now it goes to the legislature. And if, ultimately, the legislature upholds the demands of equality and justice, that will be a far more politically powerful act than if the court did. One of the main calumnies that the forces of bigotry have put on the fight for equal marriage rights is that it is an action solely of courts and a few mayors. It will be a powerful statement if a legislature, the political voice of the people, are the ones who establish equality in marriage. (Update: Reading the Republic of T reminds me that a state legislature - California's - has passed an equal marriage-rights bill before; but its !@#$% governor vetoed it, so it didn't become law. With luck, however, New York will soon have a Governor who will support equal marriage rights, so we could still become the first state in the union in which a legislature-passed equal marriage bill becomes law.)

So if that happens, perhaps I'll have something to be proud of my home for.

* Though I doubt it, given that the "rational basis" test has failed in many states before -- Massachusetts certainly and (if memory serves) Hawaii and Vermont too; and all purported rational bases have been shredded over and over. (The real reason people don't want gays and lesbians to marry is that they think it wrong, usually for religious reasons -- but if they say this, then they will definitely loose, so they have to make reasons up (which, naturally, tend to be flimsy.) They want to write their own moral prejudices (which they are entitled to believe, of course) into law, so struggle to justify it rationally.) So -- again, not having read the case -- it seems probable that this is simply a case of bigotry -- or perhaps cowardice -- overruling legal judgment. And of course there were two dissenters, so another legal reading was available. But, again: even if the law allows no other choice, the law is immoral, and should be changed. [Footnote added as an update.]

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