May 18, 2004
May 17, 2004, will go down in the history books as a banner day in the great American movement for civil rights.
This was the day that gay couples and lesbian couples won the right to marry in Massachusetts, the first state to recognize the obvious moral and legal claim that same-sex couples have asserted.
There simply is no legitimate secular reason why same-sex couples cannot be married. Denying that right is discrimination plain and simple, and it rests on a religious code, which our government is not supposed to impose on people, according to the First Amendment.
The 900 couples that joyously took their vows on May 17, the 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board, are pioneers of freedom.
So, too, are the justices of the Massachusetts supreme court, who understood discrimination when they saw it.
How George Bush could praise the Warren Court for its decision in Brown and then, on the same day, denounce "a few activist judges" in Massachusetts is baffling to me. (And note that the "activist judges" line doesn't work for San Francisco, where the elected mayor gave his approval to same-sex marriages.)
Governor Mitt Romney also was harkening back to a racist age when he said same-sex couples from other states could not come to Massachusetts to get married. The precedent he cited for that was "a 1913 state law, adopted in part to block interracial marriages," The New York Times noted. Some same-sex couples came anyway, and the elected officials (not "activist judges") in a few cities and towns granted them their marriage licenses, despite the governor's edict.
Bush, in his statement, repeated his demand for a Constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. This is a crass political move to try to gain a political advantage in November. No matter that it could stir up some of the ugliest bigotry, no matter that it is a low cause for toying with the Constitution.
With the exception of Prohibition, this country has amended the Constitution to add rights, not to take them away, and we have never amended the Constitution to discriminate against a specific group of people.
Let's not start now.