[Look for your weekly fix from the one and only Henry Rollins right here on West Coast Sound every Thursday, and come back tomorrow for the awesomely annotated playlist for his Sunday KCRW broadcast.]
When I read the Supreme Court's decision on the Defense of Marriage Act last week, I allowed myself a few moments of elation and then started scouring the Internet to read the reaction. The sentiments expressed by longtime marriage-equality advocates, while inspiring and sincere, didn't interest me nearly as much as the misguided outrage of those who find DOMA's demise to their disliking. It's fun to hear them howl.
It has been hard to get my head around how Justice Antonin Scalia rationalizes his decisions. His body blow to the Voting Rights Act was a head scratcher, but at least he was calm when he attempted to justify his odd logic. On DOMA, he was all emo. In an effort to hide his homophobia, he posited that both sides of the issue of marriage equality were cheated and that the 5-4 decision is guilty of “robbing the winners of an honest victory, and the losers of the peace that comes from a fair defeat. We owed both of them better.”
Justice Scalia, you got beat. It happens. He should be reminded that he doesn't serve the people, he serves the Constitution. I don't understand what part of the 14th Amendment isn't clear to him. Scalia talks in obtuse legalese, which I think is intended to leave many people nodding politely while they inherently understand that he's full of it. Term limits, please.
Next up was checking in with Rush Limbaugh, who's always good for a laugh. How many marriages for this guy? What is it, four? I guess he likes to stand up for the sanctity of the institution so much, he keeps at it. He said that the decision was just more proof of the “disintegration of the United States.” I didn't think he was going to be happy about it, but I thought he would be a little more colorful than that.
Michele Bachmann is always a great person to go to for an opinion about anything. She has a very active and interesting mind. She was out there in front of the cameras, no notes that I could see, speaking from her huge, humanitarian heart. “This decision is one that is profound because the Supreme Court not only attacked our Constitution today, they not only attacked the equal-protection rights of every citizen under our Constitution, they attacked something that they have no jurisdiction over whatsoever, the foundational unit of our society, which is marriage.”
It's interesting that people who cite the Constitution often don't seem to be reading the same one that the rest of us are. Again, the 14th Amendment, from 1868 (my personal favorite of the 27) tells all you need to know in the first of its five sections. I am going to assume that you are familiar with it. (Here, bookmark this address.)
DOMA was, in fact, an attack on the Constitution. Countless numbers of people have been saying for years that marriage equality is covered by the First, Fourth and 14th Amendments quite well, thank you very little.
Think of any way in which Bill marrying Tom will stop you from doing anything you want to do or strip you of any freedom you enjoy right now. I know. So, it's a strange place Ms. Bachmann is coming from. In a written statement issued on that auspicious Wednesday, she also said this. (When she goes into the God thing, she loses all constitutional traction with me.)
“Marriage was created by the hand of God. No man, not even a Supreme Court, can undo what a holy God has instituted.”
What is with these people? In many cases, sure, it could just be a generic cocktail of hatred and intolerance, but I wonder if there's something more because the anger is so fierce. Perhaps there's some past trauma that's not being addressed, or a life issue not being dealt with. Send in Dr. Drew!
It should be noted that, while the DOMA decision can be chalked up on the civil rights victory board or used as a balm to nurse the wound of the Supreme Court's treatment of the Voting Rights Act, there is still a long way to go. The pull-down of DOMA is a great start but that is what it is, a start. In a situation like this, when there is a foot in the door, you then see just how big and heavy the door really is. Marriage equality in America is still not here and it will require a lot of voices, a lot of persistence and a lot of effort from every person who values equal rights for all.
Bad News for the Haters Dept.: You realize that all those obnoxious 16-year-olds you see everywhere, texting their friends who are standing next to them, will be able to vote in the 2016 elections. Do you think you will be able to sell them on your anti-gay/anti-woman/anti-brown/black platform? Do you think they want to end up like you? I bet they don't. Gov. Bobby Jindal said that you all have to stop being the stupid party. I don't think you can do it. How did equality become political? Because you can't handle science, change or the truth. America is on the move, you are not.
Roe v. Wade is still under attack. Check out what Gov. Rick Perry of Texas has been up to. The Supreme Court's recent decision on the Voting Rights Act could make the 2014 and 2016 elections pretty tricky. The demise of DOMA, while great, is also a smack to the hornet's nest and there will be a whirlwind to reap, so please, prepare for many challenges up the road. The pushback will be considerable. America is changing and, historically, we don't handle it well.
The Supreme Court's DOMA decision was good, but the best part of the story is how it got to their door. That was you and me never shutting up, never relenting and never being satisfied for too long.