The last few weeks, the Supreme Court handed down decisions that highly favored Progressives. That itself isn’t too surprising as President Obama is on a good streak lately. What’s surprising is the angry Republican reaction. With each embittered response to each social change and progress, they are handing over the keys to the White House to the Democrats. In the last 10 years or so, it’s clear American society has moved on from the traditions of the 1950s’. Gay relationships are no longer frowned upon, even Don’t Ask Don’t Tell has been repealed, transgender rights have improved along with gay rights so legalizing gay marriage is the logical next step. Even the more conservative bloc of Gen X and Gen Yers do not wish to oppose or interfere with the personal choice of others, regardless if they agree with it themselves or not.
I am a typical Gen X, though not a LGBTQ rights activist and I don’t much think about LGBTQ issues except that they should have the same rights as I do, whatever they may be. They shouldn’t be discriminated based just because they are a member of the LGBTQ community. I don’t know many LGBTQ members, I do not have close ties with that community but I do care about their rights and it matters to me that they get treated equally and fairly under the law. To all the people that are so grossed out and offended by the lifestyle of LGBTQ, they are here to stay, and if you dislike them so much, which is within your rights too, you can easily stay away LGBTQ people and activities. Whether they marry or not does not affect the sanctity of your ‘traditional’ marriage. And most of the people railing against the Supreme Court decisions, politicians and regular civilians alike, they themselves have probably behaved badly in their ‘traditional’ marriages, and I don’t just mean infidelity; I mean the full range of bad and unacceptable behavior, anger, passive aggressiveness, emotional blackmail, emotional manipulation, financial blackmail, acting with bitterness and resentment, all while being in a ‘traditional’ marriage. And last but not least, divorce rate is still hovering over 50% in this country with silver marriages (age 50 and over) crumbling faster than any other age group, so grandma and grandpa are getting divorced too. It’s about time to get off that pedestal.
Historically (since written history at least), a legal marriage is recognized as between a man and a woman. It’s been such for millennia but it’s more to do with social power structure than what God did or didn’t say about what constitutes a marriage. Also, if we must get technical, the institution of marriage initially wasn’t about God or spirituality or even love, marriage originally created for economic reasons, for powerful and influential families to consolidate their power, wealth and influence for the next generation. For the average folk (the non-wealthy, influential and connected), marriage was a social and economic contract, men married women so that someone would bear his children and maintain his home while he brought home the bacon to feed and maintain said children and home. And the goal is generally to marry ‘up’ or at least marry the same social class as yourself so that when you move from daddy’s house to husband’s house, not much changes. It’s all very technical and unromantic.
Most marriages until the 18th century were arranged by parents, and people generally prefer to marry up, to make sure their sons or daughters are in a better economic position or social position, very few people married for love. In fact the whole idea that one married for love was ridiculous until 17th and 18th century. And marriage between a man and woman is so that they could have offspring, which obviously same-sex couples can’t naturally do. Many gay and lesbian people in antiquity continued with same-sex relationships after their marriages to the opposite sex, and it would appall them to leave their spouses so they could ‘marry’ or cohabitate with their same-sex lover, it just wasn’t done, they’d lose their social standing, which is more important than any love affair same sex or not. This was especially common in the Greek and Roman Empire, there were many same-sex relationships were going on while married and it was not seen to be a big deal if conducted discreetly and the social order was not upset. When Christianity entered the picture and as the Roman Empire slowly became evangelized, same sex relationships became a sin, but it was at the dictum of the Pope, not the Bible and Christians prior to the Reformation didn’t read the Bible for themselves, it was preached to them in church. The Bible specifically speaks out against adultery but only made inferences to homosexuality. It was just assumed by scholars that Christ or God condemned homosexuality where almost no Biblical text specifically refers to same-sex relationships. God talks about man and woman becoming one and going forth to multiply etc., and the Bible speak plenty about cheating on your opposite sex spouse though, the conservatives might want to read up on that part in the Bible. The Bible just about warned mankind everything to do with sex, marriage and women. The Samson and Delilah story, Delilah being a maneater and took Samson’s powers away. And to be wary of seductive, attractive beautiful women, for those women are the ones that bring you to sin, etc., there is plenty of sexist crap in the Bible but very few passages specifically refer to homosexual relationships, it certainly doesn’t deny that they exist but there is no strong condemnation of them either, it didn’t make the Ten Commandments.
On June 25, 2015, the Supreme Court further affirmed the Affordable Care Act by allowing residents of states that refuse to adopt the ACA to apply for health insurance with the Federal Insurance Exchange (healthcare.gov), this ruling is significant in that over 6 million people got to keep their health insurance. There were so many asinine challenges to the ACA that I lost track, but this one got my attention because the 34 states that refused to adopt ACA, which would mean that their medi-caid wouldn’t be expanded to cover the people that couldn’t afford health insurance otherwise but at the same time they are forbidding them to sign up with the Federal Exchange because it infringes on states’ rights? Chief Justice Roberts came through for Obama on this one again and was the swing vote to affirm the ACA. These 34 states, all of them led by Republican governors, most have high levels of poverty in their state where many people are in need of health coverage, yet these governors deny them federal subsidies yet they won’t provide for the citizens in their states. It’s just another way to shame and humiliate the poor. Now many conservatives and Republicans question the motives and intentions of the Chief Justice.
The last win and one that got the least attention but equally important was affirming the Fair Housing Act in its original form, which tenants don’t have to provide specific incidents of discrimination in order to file suit and get compensation, this was huge win for minorities and poverty campaigners because it’s very difficult to prove specific incidents of housing discrimination, most landlords are not so dumb to be explicitly discriminatory. America is rapidly becoming more self-segregated, white flight is at epidemic levels, in the face of it, it looks like it’s about race but it’s really about class, though race and class are intertwined due to centuries of oppression and discrimination against black people. America likes to fancy itself a country that is a melting pot and tolerant and is welcoming this wonderful mix of cultures and customs in our communities, and to a certain extent that is true, as long as it doesn’t encroach in the backyard of white people. There is a very strong ‘not in my backyard’ mentality in America. Helping the homeless is great, organizing outdoor picnics for them on weekends is a great and charitable idea, as long as it’s not in MY neighborhood park or in MY public beach. We, as a nation, want to be inclusive of all people, regardless of race, color or class but not in my backyard, not in my public school, not in the areas that I used my tax dollars to pay for.
Everyone except the top 1% got squeezed in the Great Recession, the question is just how much, the families that didn’t experience unemployment and downgrading of lifestyle and hanging on to their old live by their fingernails and thus are less inclined to ‘share’ or feel charitable with their ‘tax dollars’. The Republicans and Fox News waste no time telling people that poor people don’t pay taxes, therefore they don’t get to enjoy the things that people who do pay taxes enjoy. People in poor neighborhoods mostly likely don’t pay taxes so when their roads go to ruin, they don’t deserve to be repaved or fixed. The fact is the poor do pay taxes – sales tax, they just don’t pay ‘income tax’ because they don’t make any income.
This is a pivotal time in our politics and policies, do we want to create policies that empower everyone to get ahead or keep the status quo where only some can get ahead. There is a long tradition in our history of which the belief God helps those who help themselves, and while that’s valid but some people need more help than others in the form of opportunities, information, knowledge and access. Minority communities who are racially segregated and isolated do not have the same access to the aforementioned as a well funded affluent (most likely white) communities and those said affluent communities are less inclined to share than before.