He was beaten until unrecognizable, then hung up on a fence and left to die. Twenty years ago this month. All because he was gay.
All because he was gay.
Since Matthew Shepard’s murder in Laramie, Wyo., in a hate crime that made headlines around the world, the LGBTQ community has made slow but steady progress in the struggle to win equal rights and protections.
I said equal, not special rights. Just equal, that’s all we’ve asked for.
We have been helped along the way by our allies and by landmark decisions by the Supreme Court of the United States. Without the Supreme Court, we would not have made the progress we have made.
Why did so many allies come forward to stand with us? Because we came out. We emerged from the darkness to show them we are their brothers, their sisters, their fathers, their mothers — their family. We put names and faces to what once was a stereotype, a charicature
And perhaps they came to stand with us because they realized that what we were fighting for was right.
A little more than three years ago, in June 2015, the Supreme Court recognized the fundamental value of marriage, and they recognized that the arguments for denying us marriage equality were indefensible. The court , in its Obergefell ruling found that real, visceral damage had been inflicted upon us for no valid reason.
But it was a 5-4 decision. Given last week’s confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, what was the minority in Obergefell has become the majority. What was the dissent may now become the opinion of the court.
Chief Justice John Roberts was part of that minority. He sees no fundamental right to marriage equality. As a matter of fact, he spent a significant amount of space in his dissent to Obergefell detailing how, traditionally, marriage has always been between a man and a woman, and that, “for the good of children and society, sexual relations that can lead to procreation should occur only between a man and a woman committed to a lasting bond.”
While Roberts acknowledges that there could be fundamental rights that are not specifically enumerated in the Constitution that still deserve protection guaranteed by the court’s intervention. But in this case, he said, the majority opinion redefined traditional marriage, and that was a question better left to the states and legislative action.
Even more troubling were his ruminations on competing rights: “Today’s decision … creates serious questions about religious liberty. Many good and decent people oppose same-sex marriage as a tenant of faith, and their freedom to exercise religion is — unlike the right imagined by the majority — actually spelled out in the Constitution.”
Any doubt which trumps which for Justice Roberts?
Justice Samuel Alito offered different reasons for opposing marriage equality: “… states formalize and promote marriage, unlike other fulfilling human relationships, in order to encourage potential procreative conduct to take place within a lasting unit that has long been thought to provide the best atmosphere for raising children.”
Here’s a reality check for these guys who are stuck in the 1950s: Marriage is evolving.
What was a traditional marriage in 1776 is not the same as marriage today. Alito and the others claiming traditional marriage is between a man and a woman because the sole reason for marriage is procreation should have been forced to write that drivel by candlelight, wearing clothes like Ben Franklin wore.
Their vision of a wife is sort of like a Pez dispenser, just pumping out those kids to make sure the marriage is “traditional.”
Give me a f#@king break!
Most women in America couldn’t own property until sometime in the 19th century. They couldn’t even vote until we passed a damn amendment to the Constitution in 1920 — 1920 for God’s sake! Racially mixed marriages were illegal in many places until 1967.
So tell me again about “traditional” marriage?
And one other thing: As my third grade teacher, Mrs. Delgado, told us, women give birth, not men. It follows then that if procreation is the reason for marriage then there shouldn’t be any prohibition against lesbians getting married.
These old white men talk about the sanctity of marriage. Sanctity, ha! Many states, including Texas, encourage non-traditional marriage in the form of common law marriage. And some states actually encourage divorce by allowing “no fault” divorces.
There’s one more irony to me in Alito’s dissent in Obergefell: he claimed that ruling would have “a fundamental effect on this court and its ability to uphold the rule of law.” Why? Because they intend to dismantle Roe v. Wade. And that, folks, is the present rule of law.
This is the future of the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, in the rest of the country, hate crimes are on the rise; open, unvarnished bigotry and homophobia are becoming the norm. The bigots have been validated and energized by so many in government, including the president. The right-wing evangelicals have been recompensed by Trump, and they are more powerful than ever before.
The administration’s most recent gift to the haters is the new rule prohibiting unmarried diplomats’ partners from entering the country — a rule specifically targeting same-sex couples since less than 20 percent of the countries allow those couples to marry.
Remember Larry Kramer? Remember Harvey Milk? Remember the Stonewall riots? Remember Matthew Shepard? You better remember, because this is a new day — and it’s not bright.
Get a grip on reality and do something. The first step is to vote. If not for you, then for the LGBTQ children who have no voice. The struggle continues, now more than ever. █