Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Rising to the Occasion of the New Supreme Court Decisions and Their Bold Interpretations

the new definition of marriage

The rulings leave in place laws banning same-sex marriage around the nation, and the court declined to say whether there was a constitutional right to such unions. But in clearing the way for same-sex marriage in California, the nation’s most populous state, the court effectively increased to 13 the number of states that allow it.

voting-rights-act decision

The decision in Shelby County v. Holder revolves around Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which establishes a "coverage formula" to determine which states and local governments fall under Section 5, and therefore need to get approval before changing their voting laws. The justices ruled that Section 4 is unconstitutional, and that the formula used for decades — revised and extended several times by Congress — can no longer be used to establish those "preclearance" requirements: "The conditions that originally justified these measures no longer characterize voting in the covered jurisdictions." 

I am not a lawyer or a policy analyst, but I am a mother, boss, taxpayer, tuition payer, wife, and female.

What those roles give me is the experience that knows and feels difference.  Whether it is the good old boys at work regaling us with chauvinistic stories of the past or nuns telling the girls that science was a waste of time or the people who still talk about colored folks, I know this feeling of difference.  And it doesn't feel good.

I think regardless of the law, the judges are saying that different doesn't feel good.  Whether the remedy to the difference is a 50 year old law to right a horrible wrong or whether the cancellation of the difference is a nullifying a state law, the effect is the same: NO DIFFERENCE.  There shouldn't be a difference, not to the blind eye of the law, not to the open eyes of the judges and not to the feelings of those that are not in the norm. 

The judges are saying that difference does not have to be embraced, it doesn't have to be "guaranteed by numbers" and it doesn't license some and not others.  The judges are saying what every speaker on the gen Y generation says: Get Over IT.  They are different, they are staying, and soon they will be in the majority.  Technically, They already are.  Women have been different for a long time.

Different may not be acceptable to you, but it is not a reason to legislate the relegation of others to a lesser status.  The court is saying to the southern states, okay don't use the numbers to mandate difference.  Let the difference be in the voting booth.  I am nervous.  I don't trust that equal access is there all the time in Mississippi.   But I don't trust that it is there all the time in Minnesota or Michigan or Florida. 

When  the civil rights laws were passed, the people who needed protection were all considered black.  Now, the different people are African American, Muslim,  Jewish,  Irish American, gay, female, Hispanic AmericanIndian American, Haitian American, Colombian American, Mexican American, Chinese American, need I go on? +Equality Texas 

 They are as different from the 1965 act as can be:
"The chief justice concludes that times have changed: the formulas that govern singling out one state from another for different treatment, which once "made sense," have lost their relevance, and "nearly 50 years later, things have changed dramatically." 
"But history did not end in 1965. By the time the Act was reauthorized in 2006, there had been 40 more years of it. In assessing the “current need[]” for a preclearance system that treats States differently from one another today, that history cannot be ignored. During that time, largely because of the Voting Rights Act, voting tests were abolished, disparities in voter registration and turnout due to race were erased, and African-Americans attained political office in record numbers."

I am worried about the change in the Voting Rights Act and the absence of change in the Gay Marriage issue.  "If California becomes the 13th state to allow same-sex marriage, about 30 percent of Americans will live in jurisdictions where it is legal." says the decision on gay marriage.

So the court is saying that 70% of Americans live in a place of difference.  We are not yet to a place where we can be at least treated by the law as the same, whether or not our neighbors do that.  The court is placing that burden on the American people.  Do we want to be a place of difference.

And the court is saying that while the laws of 1965 are precious and were necessary for the time, that the time has come for us to stop the difference for all states, not just the few.  Again, the court is placing that burden back on the people of America.  Almost every southern state voted for the republican candidate in the last election.  But almost all the midwest did too.  And yet, what a difference there is in the white house.

Please check your heart and check your beliefs and check the future, because the nation called America is not the brave and free for some; it is the home of the brave and the free for all.  And I for one will embrace the court rulings and trust in the future.  And more importantly, I will not accept being treated or treating anyone different.