Marriage Equality and School Desegregation

My Facebook feed is still full of negative responses to Friday’s SCOTUS ruling on marriage equality.  Two members of my close family seem to be clicking “like” or commenting on every article and meme that pop up in their newsfeed that portrays marriage equality as a bad thing.  Just a few examples of this are the picture of a supreme court justice on his knees, weeping with the words, “By their fruit ye shall know them” above the picture; and the picture of two wedding rings saying something about 1 man + 1 woman…  It seems that those supporting marriage equality have stopped, for the most part, posting and “liking” about this victory and have moved on to pictures of their kids, vacations, and posts about their lives, while those against it have continued to revel in their dissatisfaction at the court ruling that didn’t go their way.  Three days later, that’s all they seem to be Facebooking about.

One interesting response from the “powers that be” on the right are those saying that christians needn’t abide by this decision. One such promoter of this view is Mike Huckabee who urged christians to “resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.”  Ted Cruz also seems to think it’s OK to reject the court ruling in favor of your religious beliefs to the point that he said court officials do not have to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

I find it interesting that the christian right’s response to marriage equality is similar to their response to desegregation in the sixties and seventies.  I looked around the internet and found an article by Sarah Ellem (this link is a PDF download) in which Senator James O. Eastland from Mississippi is quoted as saying “You are not required to obey any court which passes out such a ruling.  In fact you are obligated to defy it.”  A senator from Virginia, Harry Flood Byrd, called for massive resistance to the desegregation of schools by saying, “If we can organize the southern states for massive resistance to this order, I think that in time the rest of the country will realize that racial integration is not going to be accepted in the south.”

The current response from the christian right is certainly in line with their past response to court rulings they don’t like.  But time has a way of sorting out those who lose gracefully from those who accept defeat and move on.  I remember right after my wife and I were married, we went to visit a friend of hers from college.  This happened in 1994, so it was a good 30 years after desegregation was ordered by SCOTUS.  When we got to this friend’s house it turned out that her grandparents were visiting.  The grandfather and I started talking in the parking lot of the apartment complex and after a few moments, something caught his eye on the other side of the parking lot.  I looked over and saw several kids playing.  The grandfather shook his head and said, “Would you look at that… Them n—-r kids playing with them white kids like there’s nothing wrong with it.”  I was in total shock that he would say something so callous, but the more I thought about it, the more I was in shock that that kind of attitude was still around in the nineties.  I guess hatred has a tight grip.

My personal opinion is that marriage equality and LGBT rights will follow a similar path in the American sentiment.  In thirty years, some kid will be standing in a parking lot somewhere in a state of shock that some old guy made a callous remark about the couple next door because they are gay and married.  And this kid will be offended at the remark because it will not be socially acceptable to say such things.  He might say something like, “I didn’t know bigots like you were still around,” or “I thought all of your kind were dead.”

That’s how I see it playing out, because as we all know, history repeats itself.  So in the mean time, I’ll just have to put up with the Facebook likes and posts that are in complete disagreement with human rights and human decency in an attempt to keep from alienating my family.  You might be wondering why I wouldn’t try to set them straight: I find that arguing with an idiot over obviously wrong opinion gives legitimacy to those opinions.  So I just keep my mouth shut and every once in a while, I bring up a point using socratic reasoning.  That seems to make them think a bit and hopefully will change their minds in the long run.

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3 thoughts on “Marriage Equality and School Desegregation

  1. This rhetoric isn’t any more helpful that what you very rightly denounce. As a point of history, it was southern democrats standing in the doorways of schoolhouses, figuratively and literally, blocking desegregation. But that is beside the point of you are also making an already very emotional and complex situation more so. I agree, it was time. But it’s never time to fan flames of retribution. We all should be able to deal with things as they are and encourage unity in diversity. Just my thoughts. Thx

    • I’ve seen several other people making reference to the Democrats being the ones who were on the side of slavery. Someone just this morning posted a video on Facebook about the Democratic party being the real party of hate. But as I understand it, at the time, the Democratic party in the south was the party that defended slavery, and only later did the conservatives abandon the Democratic party and side with the Republican party (reference here). So yes, it was the democrats, but it was the same people and ideology behind that as is behind the current wave of conservative furor, whether they call themselves Democrats or Republicans. I hate to say it, but this seems like another case of a conservative rewriting of history to make people think they are always on the correct side of history from the modern point of view.
      I hope you don’t think I was “fanning the flames of retribution”, as that was not my point. I agree with you that we should deal with things as they are. But it seems to me that those posting and liking the things I mentioned in this post are the ones who are having a hard time dealing with things. And it seems they are doing it in the same way that they did it back in the sixties. Thanks for the comment.

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