If you’ve been watching the news today, the headlines have been dominated by one subject on two fronts – Equality. Equality is one of the cornerstones that our country was built on, but has always been one of the primary points of contention between Americans. Today, we see the promise of equality playing out as the Supreme Court hears arguments about same sex marriages and the despair of inequality displayed in the rioting in the streets of Baltimore. Watching this I can’t help but feel heartened and heartbroken at the same time.
Obergefell v. Hodges
Here in Washington, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the Obergefell v. Hodges case to determine whether the Constitution requires states to allow same sex marriages and if same sex marriages should be recognized in states that currently do not allow same sex marriage. I am certainly not an expert in Constitutional law, but I happen to really like people. And since I do, I happen to think that folks ought to be able to get married if they want to. It’s not for me to decide whether there should be limits on their happiness or their pursuit of it.
So, I’ve been watching with interest, the debate going on today. You can get a really good flavor of how it unfolded live from SCOTUSBlog’s live coverage. You can also get a flavor from a few of these other stories that will get you caught up:
- No Clear Answers on Same Sex Marriage: In Plain English on SCOTUSBlog
- Justice Kennedy May Swing the Supreme Court to Back Marriage Equality with This Argument on Vox
- Supreme Court Closely Divided on Same-Sex Marriage in Historic Case in Talking Points Memo
We are in an interesting time for social change in this country. There is momentum to evolve as a country, and yet there are other forces that would try to roll back some of our progress. Bloomberg recently did an excellent data exercise that showed the quickening pace of social change. Here’s what they found.
Though the pattern of social change may have remained largely the same over the years, change is happening faster now. It took almost 200 years before the Supreme Court disposed of the last state laws banning interracial marriage. The prohibition movement spanned seven decades before passage of the 18th Amendment. If the Supreme Court finds that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, gay couples will have gone from not being able to marry in any state to being able to marry in all 50 in little more than a decade.
The time from the trigger point to federal action is even shorter. It took 19 years for the Supreme Court to follow a California court in striking down interracial marriage bans. The Supreme Court is now revisiting same-sex marriage only two years after its pivotal decision on the issue.
They do an excellent job of visualizing the data in comparing a handful of the largest social changes in the last 200+ years.
At the site, you can see each issue individually and find other interesting tidbits about the changes we’ve seen. It’s fascinating.
I’m hoping that the speeding pace of change means equality for all of my friends and loved ones who simply want to be able to love like anyone else.
In Baltimore, the streets are on fire again tonight. After a couple of days of peaceful protests, long-standing tensions finally burst forth in a violent wave across the city. When you grow up in the suburbs, it’s hard to understand what’s happening in America’s aging inner cities. It’s not hard to understand, though, that our first duty as human beings is to each other – whether you’re a policeman acting in the line of duty or a disenfranchised youth brimming with frustration. Somewhere along the line, we quit giving other people the benefit of the doubt, and we are all poorer for it.
To try and understand what’s happening in Baltimore, you must look at things from a new perspective. Michael Fletcher at Wonkblog has written a must-read post that helps bring the tension in Baltimore into focus. His story, What you really need to know about Baltimore, from a reporter who’s lived there for over 30 years, provides the local eye that you might be missing on the issue. Here are some things you should probably know…
You might think you understand a thing or two about what it means to be young, African American, poor and living in Baltimore, but these statistics tell me that you probably don’t. Be sure that you’ve taken that into consideration before you judge the children, mothers & fathers, activists and religious leaders on the ground.
My heart breaks for those experiencing these terrifying days and nights in Baltimore. It also aches for my many friends that love that city, despite its flaws. I hope that their passion for Baltimore can help it rebuild into something better than it was today.
April 28, 2015 will probably not be a date that people will remember, but it’s a day that I won’t soon forget.