Marriage equality has arrived in Arizona. I honestly thought I would not live to see the day.
By any objective standard this should be cause for celebration. I am one of nature’s bachelors (maybe I need to start using a new term for that) and I’m in a long-term, committed relationship so this change in the legal environment affects me directly. I wish I felt more celebratory.
I’m not usually a pessimist but I wish I felt like this was a war won and not just another battle on the road to the next battle. The Arizona Attorney General announced he would not appeal the court’s ruling because he saw no chance of success at the appellate level or with SCOTUS. Governor Brewer followed up immediately with an announcement;
“Now, with their rulings, the federal courts have again thwarted the will of the people and further eroded the authority of states to regulate and uphold our laws,” Brewer’s statement said. “It is not only disappointing, but also deeply troubling, that unelected federal judges can dictate the laws of individual states, create rights based on their personal policy preferences and supplant the will of the people in an area traditionally left to the states for more than two hundred years.”
What I found most impressive about her comment was that I did not see movement in the lips of any of the Tea-stremists while sound appeared to be coming out of Gov. Jan’s mouth. I think Governor-wannabe Doug Ducey was even drinking a glass of water at the time.
Of course I still live in a state where I can be fired for being gay, denied housing for being gay, and any business can refuse service to my kind. The right to marry is important but it’s still not equality under the law. And let’s not forget how these marriage bans came into existence. Arizona legislators passed same-sex marriage bans in 1975 and 1996. In 2008 the voters enshrined this form of discrimination in the State constitution. The vote count was 56% for the ban and 44% against. I’ll try to take comfort in the knowledge that only 56% of my neighbors hate me.
Nationally, foes of marriage equality vow to fight on. They point out that SCOTUS has reversed itself before on issues of civil rights and could do so again. This is especially true in this case since SCOTUS never ruled. With the end of Justice Ginsberg’s tenure in sight, there is a school of thought that says SCOTUS declined to hear the appeals because Scalia, Thomas, et al knew they didn’t have the votes. There will be ways to get the issue before the court again once Cruz, Palin, Perry, Paul , or whichever psycho-nightmare-from-Hell becomes president in 2016 and has the opportunity to appoint a replacement or two. I’d love to believe SCOTUS would never reverse itself in a way that would curtail the rights of citizens. Then I remember the Roberts Court is the one that gutted the Voting Rights Act.
In the meantime, there will continue to be hate-speech all over the internet and Tea-vangelicals will still claim that bullying is a protected expression of their faith.