Equality and the Destiny of Dissenters

The joy many felt at the SCOTUS’ marriage equality ruling – and the beauty of more than a  dozen landmarks that turned rainbow last night – was marred only by diminishing comments from Justices Roberts, Scalia, Thomas and Alito. Their sour dissents were mirrored by some of the Republican Party powerful. Yet when even conservative CNN commentator S.E. Cupp makes an emotional plea for her Party to join the 21st century lest they become political “relics,” their recalcitrance bears examining for what it bodes in the upcoming election cycle and their future as a Party.

White House on June 26th, 2015
White House on June 26th, 2015

As a launch pad to examine some popular Republican talking points, Chief Justice Roberts implied that the marriage equality decision could lead to legal polygamy (tell that to the two gents in Texas who just got married today after being together for 54 years), and that marriage is to procreate which requires a man and a woman (my happy 20+ years with hubby are childless by choice; gay women friends, long married, just adopted a beautiful baby boy).

Justice Scalia accused the other five Justices of being pretentious narcissists, despite he and his brethren jamming the Hobby Lobby decision down the American gullet based upon their own religious beliefs last year. Let’s cap it off with this from  Justice Clarence Thomas, which must be read to be believed:

The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.

This implies that because no one can take your dignity from you, you should live a life enslaved, or that it is acceptable to live as a lesser being without enjoying the rights conferred upon other citizens. Unfathomable for learned men to say such things, yet their remarks only get more ignorant and insensitive as one reads on.

Bobby Jindal reacted to the marriage equality decision by calling for us to “get rid of the courts.” Someone should explain to the Louisiana Governor that there are three branches of government for a reason. The ultra-conservative Jindal is doing his best to block gay marriage in his state,  in contravention of the new federal law.

Republicans pols who double down on a sidewalk act which condemns the equal rights of others as a threat to our very existence likely do so not out of sincere belief, but pandering or willful ignorance. Such behavior is exacerbated by obsessive efforts to stop a woman from enjoying sovereignty over her own body, stopping universal background checks that support sensible gun ownership and most especially, their inability to stand up in a loud voice and call a hate crime a hate crime.

This past week, the devastating murders in Charleston of nine African American parishioners at Emanuel’s AME church were a prime example of how the current crop of Republicans are hamstrung by their donor base, the gun lobby and religious conservatives to the extent that they will parrot positions that make no sense in the face of simple facts. Defending the Confederate flag, even though confessed murderer Dylann Roof used it as a rallying symbol, is another such illogical choice. Republican presidential candidates got dizzy trying to morph their untenable positions to, finally, be somewhat in line with the enormous public outcry to remove the flag from South Carolina capital grounds, for example.

Senator Lindsay Graham made his first act as a Presidential candidate to propose yet another piece of legislation to force an abortion ban after 20 weeks, even though such a procedure only occurs in 1.4% of all cases. The country remains divided over the issue of choice, yet how receptive will Americans be to this obsession to the exclusion of all else? Graham and his compadres (along with Carly Fiorina) offer dire warnings that President Obama has brought America to the brink of disaster. Yet their solution for fixing this is focusing on at least 38 pieces of legislation in Congress this year alone limiting a woman’s right to choose.

How sincere can they be when they say the sky is falling?

This week’s other momentous SCOTUS decision, which upheld Obamacare subsidies, also “infuriated” Republicans. Majority Leader McConnell again shouted “repeal!” Yet it was acknowledged behind the scenes that the Supreme Court did Republicans a huge favor by not taking away the subsidies of millions of voters – when Republicans have no good alternative.

Further, since 75% of Millennials approve of gay marriage with approximately 60% of citizens approving overall, one wonders what kind of a coalition Republicans will be cobbling together in 2016 with their bluster on this and other issues.

In her speech at VA’s Jefferson Jackson dinner last night, Hillary Clinton seemed to speak directly to her potential Republican opponents when she said:

“I am asking them, please, don’t make the rights, the hopes, of any American into a political football for this 2016 campaign,” she said. “LGBT Americans should be free not just to marry, but to live, learn and work, just like everybody else.”

Having earlier attended the funeral of one of the Charleston shooting’s nine victims, S.C. State Senator Rev. Clementa Pinckney, …

[Clinton] referenced the tragedy when she hit House Republicans for voting on Wednesday to put restrictions on whether the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention can study gun violence and make recommendations.

“How can you watch massacre after massacre and take that vote?” she asked. “That is wrong. It puts our people at risk, and I, for one, am never going to stop fighting for a better, safer approach to get the gun violence in this country under control.”

The rights, hopes, safety, equality and opportunities for advancement of all Americans are something Republicans should consider before adopting their next bellicose position:

Steadfastly clinging to trickle-down economics, cutting food stamps in favor of tax cuts for our richest Americas.

Laws that make it more challenging to vote.

— Pulling the rug out from under gay Americans, who for the first time have the ability to marry anywhere in the fifty states.

— Restricting a woman’s right to choose or limiting contraceptive care. No exceptions on abortion even in the case of rape or incest.

— Fighting universal background checks, which do nothing to stop sensible gun ownership.

— Continuing to fight a health care law just because…

— Most importantly, minimizing or ignoring the inequalities that still exist in our nation.

Taken together, Republican leaders might want to propose ideas that bow to facts rather than fear mongering. Certainly, there are conservatives or independents who are troubled both by a lack of common sense and obstructionism for its own sake.

Both sides do their share of pandering, but if Republicans continue to function as little more than the Party of outrage, adopting stances that feel like something out of an episode of Mad Men, they run the risk of attaining the “relic” status that S.E. Cupp warned them against.

Imagine what could be accomplished if we focused on solutions rather than making the other guy or gal look bad.

In the name of all citizens regardless of race, gender, or sexual preference realizing their full potential and enjoying equal rights, I thank Slate.com for sharing the last paragraph of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion yesterday:


“Equal dignity and equal rights in the eyes of the law.” Apparently, we still have a ways to travel in that regard.


Original version published at Anita Finlay’s blog on June 27, 2015. Reposted, in full, with permission of the author.



1 Comment

  1. Anita – Well said! Every bit of it! The link to all the images of landmarks across the US lit up in rainbow colors is such an uplifting and powerful celebration of life. Even as we still mourn the pain and losses in Charleston.


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