The Black History of Same-Sex Marriage
1 year ago
Fight for gay marriage reflects the legal structure built for freed slaves in 1868
The views expressed in this Op-Ed do not reflect that of Loop 21.
Before the supporters of same-sex marriage organize another rally, they should take a good, long look at African-American history. Before opponents of gay unions draft another email blast, they should do the same.
It’s not about political correctness, even though February is African-American History Month. If the African-American past is the nation’s prologue, gay unions eventually will be as legal as interracial marriages. But it might take generations before a husband and husband, or a wife and wife, are fully accepted.
The Foundation Was Built in 1868
When gay couples stand before an altar, they standing on the legal structure built for freed slaves in 1868: the 14th Amendment to the Constitution. That amendment gave former slaves three important rights: citizenship, equal protection and due process. Simply put, a state needs a compelling reason to fashion laws targeted to a specific segment of its citizens.
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In California, judges from the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals looked at the federal constitution, and agreed the state could not legally ban same-sex marriage. They voted 2-1 to uphold an earlier ruling against Proposition 8, which added the prohibition to the California’s constitution. Here’s what the majority wrote:
“…(The U.S.Constitution) requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently. There is no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted.”
Then, As Now, States Skirted Federal Law