Monday, June 11, 2007

Celebrating 40 Years of Marriage Freedom... For Some...

Forty years ago on June 12, 1967, the Supreme Court refused the illogic of the white supremacists, the right wing, and the just-plain racists and stated:

Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law. The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual and cannot be infringed by the State.
It seems so foreign a concept to me that people weren't allowed to marry outside their race! Of course, I grew up on the outskirts of the outskirts of Philadelphia, and was exposed to many differing types of couples growing up. Not at school, mind you. Limerick Chapel Christian Academy was certainly not known for its racially diverse student population, and when I reached Jr High and High school in the public school system, there still wasn't much of what you would call "diversity."

But as a paperboy, then as a cashier, and then as a stock boy at the local Redner's Supermarket, I met anyone and everyone that lived in neighborhood, and it never crossed my mind that somehow the "races" should be divided along color lines, whether to take a dump or to shop in a store. I didn't even realize that when my grandfather and great-grandfather referred to the "coons" that they were speaking of black persons--being the naive child that I was, surrounded by woods and fields, I thought they were actually talking about racoons. I actually applaud my mother for not allowing such obvious racial overtones to make a blip on our radar... The fact that she could outgrow such blatantly racist past speaks volumes to her worth in character.

Of course, even though my mother and father were never "flower children," they grew up hearing and learning about the civil rights movement, had to be very aware of the injustice inherent in the system perpetuated by the judge who originally forbade Richard and Mildred Loving from being married and residing in Virginia! What was the judges' logic, you ask, in forbidding two people who loved one another from wanting to share a life?

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, Malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.
Let's see... This sounds familiar... People using the bible to justify inequality in the United States... Of course, the old testament (oft quoted for preventing same-sex marriage) never stated that slavery was a bad thing, and therefore was oft cited to justify segregation, injustice, and slavery:

When a slave owner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner's property. (Exod. 21:20-21, KJV)

Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly. (Leviticus 25:44-46, NIV)
There are more, but you get the point: god didn't mind those "created in his image" being treated like knick-knacks and oxen... Even the New Testament never says a word about not owning slaves, but merely gives some "words of wisdom" as to how to treat them:

A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master (Matt. 10:24)

Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives. (Matt. 24:45-46)

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. (Eph. 6:5-6)

Tell slaves to be submissive to their masters and to give satisfaction in every respect; they are not to talk back, not to pilfer, but to show complete and perfect fidelity, so that in everything they may be an ornament to the doctrine of God our Savior. (Titus 2:9-10)

Slaves, accept the authority of your masters with all deference, not only those who are kind and gentle but also those who are harsh. For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God's approval. (1Pet. 2:18-29)
With a god who holds such high regard for those created in his image, one wonders why the concept of the devil even survived! But as culture and times have changed, most of today's Christians wouldn't dream of saying the bible condones such a condition for man--in fact, many have gone on to reinterpret their holy scripts to try to say god abhors the institution (again, having to overlook the obvious contradictions...) in an attempt to keep god relevant to the masses of the culture of the day. It must also be pointed out, though, that many people, Christian and non- alike, fought against the oppressive conservatives of the day to secure equal treatment in marriage for people of all colors, and many more fight today against the obvious cultural perspectives that have changed since the bible was written those 2000+ years ago, and I applaud every one fo them.

Sadly, though, many have not learned their lesson, and continue to use their "inspired" book to prevent equal rights and opportunities for other minorities. I dare say, some of them perhaps still would condone slavery if it weren't such a growing unpopular stance to take (hello, bible belt!!).

Unfortunately, this type of simplistic thinking is still alive and well today in various parts of the nation, which is just a sad testament to how far we have yet to go before people just see people as people.

Need I mention that the whole concept of races is really quite illogical. The term itself, races, implies a special separation that simply doesn't exist! And while various groups of humans sub-evolved and adapted to their climates, the DNA itself that we all share is 100% the same--superficial distinctions like the amount of melanin in one's skin, the shape of one's eyes, or the texture of one's hair are simply like the various colors a Great Dane comes in. Nothing more.

Much like I scratch my head now and wonder what was supposedly so terrible that people of differing races couldn't marry, people in the future will scratch their heads and wonder why gays and lesbians couldn't marry...

It's a long road, and we still have a ways to go--we may in fact never get there (especially if fundie wing-nuts of various religions have their way and bring about a self-fulfilled tribulation...), but I continue to have faith in most of mankind: in the love, compassion, sympathy and empathy inherent in our wiring... I ask you , America, forty years after one grave injustice that affected all races was rectified, what will it take to continue the fight against injustice and inequality? Will it take your son/daughter coming out? Your sibling or parent?

Or simply an open heart?

4 comments:

billy said...

Hi,
I was just browsing sites when I came across yours. Anyway, have a great day.

-Billy
www.goodpersontest.com

Journey_Wmn said...

I don't know what its going to take to wake up this country but it needs to come quick.

oh and you've been tagged
http://journey2enlightenment.blogspot.com/2007/06/8-things-about-me.html

Journey_Wmn said...

I don't know what its going to take to wake up this country but it needs to come quick.

oh and you've been tagged
http://journey2enlightenment.blogspot.com/2007/06/8-things-about-me.html

billy said...

Hi,
I was just browsing sites when I came across yours. Anyway, have a great day.

-Billy
www.goodpersontest.com