|To the Editor: Gay rights are just catching up|
|Written by Jack Taylor|
|Wednesday, 13 November 2013 11:08|
I am writing in response to Mr. Harold Chapman's Nov. 6, 2013 LTE in which he quoted a gay man, who, after a recent Supreme Court decision concerning gay marriage, came down the courthouse steps and said, "I'm more equal! Today, I am more equal."
Based upon these two statements, Mr. Chapman drew the erroneous conclusion that the minority gay community now has "more rights" than the majority straight community. To believe that the Supreme Court interprets the constitution in a manner which would grant more rights to the gay community than to the straight community would be, in my opinion (borrowing the words of Mr. Chapman), "unconscionable and absurd."
I would like to offer my interpretation of what the man meant by "more equal." In my explanation, I am going to draw primarily upon the historical events which made it possible for Black Americans to become "more equal" to white Americans. I would like to start with the 1857 Dred Scott v. Sanford decision in which Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Roger B. Taney made the infamous statement that "… blacks had no rights which the white man was bound to respect…." Approximately 40 years later in 1896, the Supreme Court upheld in Plessy v. Ferguson, the doctrine of "separate but equal."
Based upon these two decisions, one could rightly conclude that Black Americans were "less equal" when compared to white Americans. In 1948 when President Truman signed into law Executive Order 998, he desegregated the armed services. Shortly thereafter, in 1954 the Supreme Court ruled in Brown v. Board of Education that "separate but equal" facilities-including education-were unconstitutional. These two monumental events were soon followed by the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Indeed, Black Americans were becoming "more equal" to white Americans. In a like manner, with the passage of Title IX of the Educational Amendments Act in 1972 that prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender in educational programs women became "more equal" to men.
Similarly, in the recent Supreme Court decision, the majority ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional because, in part, it violated the liberty clause of the 5th Amendment. As a consequence of this decision, the gay man now has the same 1,138 benefits and protections granted to married couples. In short, he is right to declare that he is "more equal."
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