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Mon, 27 Jun 2011 22:53:14 -0400
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When Florida, Like New York State, Joins the Ranks of
the Civilized on Gay Marriage 

by Pierre Tristam

Published on Saturday, June 25, 2011 by FlaglerLive.com
http://flaglerlive.com/24090/pt-florida-gay-marriage

Distributed by Common Dreams
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2011/06/25-3

In the early morning of June 28, 1969--just after 3
a.m.--a posse of plainclothes cops raided the Stonewall
Inn, a gay bar at 53 Christopher Street in Manhattan's
Village. The cops' pretext: the bar was selling liquor
illegally. That was bogus. It was just another night of
gay harassment. There were 200 people in the bar. They
were evicted. On the street, they grew to 400. They'd
had enough. They threw bricks, bottles and garbage at
the cops. They rioted again the next night. Cops
charged the rioters several times, beat and clubbed
them as if Manhattan's Sheridan Square area had turned
into a Bull Connor corner of Alabama. The Stonewall
Inn's shattered windows were boarded up and covered in
graffiti: "Support gay power." "Legalize gay bars."

The gay movement was born. [It's not complicated.
(Brocco Lee)] It's not complicated. (Brocco Lee)

At 10:30 p.m. Friday, the Republican-majority New York
Senate voted 33 to 29 to legalize gay marriage, making
New York the largest state by far to ratify the most
important and belated civil right since the Voting
Rights Act of 1965. New York joins Connecticut, Iowa,
Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and the District
of Columbia in that minority of civilized states where
gays and lesbians are no longer treated as second-class
citizens, and where the religious establishment is no
longer allowed, hideously and unconstitutionally, to
dictate doctrine and discrimination.

There'll be a time in the future when people will look
back at the barbed-wired bans on gay marriage in place
today and wonder how this nation, so big on liberty and
rights, could have suffered idiotic bigotry on such a
scale for so long. Then again, this same nation was
founded as much on the pretensions of the Declaration
of Independence as it was on the repression of slaves,
the genocide of Indians and the marginalization, until
1920, of women. American enlightenment has at times had
the DNA of carob molasses.

So the question isn't when will Florida and the rest of
the union join the ranks of the civilized regarding gay
marriage. That's bound to happen. The question is how
unnecessarily late Florida will choose to do so.

In 2004, 14.3 million people in 11 states, with
combined majorities of 67 percent, voted in
constitutional bans of one sort or another against gay
marriage. Florida already had a ban in place in
statute. Not content with that much explicit
discrimination on the books, voters enshrined their
intolerance in the constitution when 62 percent
approved Amendment 2 in 2008, putting this medieval
verbiage in a 21st century constitution: "Inasmuch as
marriage is the legal union of only one man and one
woman as husband and wife, no other legal union that is
treated as marriage or the substantial equivalent
thereof shall be valid or recognized."

Where can such baseless assertions as marriage being
the "legal union of only one man and one woman" have so
much as a throb of credibility other than in the
harebrained fictions of scriptures and other codes of
cults that have, or should have, absolutely no bearing
on the civil laws of civil society? Since when do
scriptures dictate to constitutional principles? And
how long will the U.S. Supreme Court allow these
unconstitutional state amendments to fly in the face of
the 14th Amendment to the Constitution? Civil unions
aren't the answer. That's the separate-but-equal
standard in play these days that gives gay-marriage
opponents cover the same way Plessy v. Ferguson gave
institutional racism a half century's boost with its
separate-but-equal slam on blacks. Astoundingly, Barack
Obama still clings to the gay version of Plessy v.
Ferguson, though he's retreated from enforcing the
crock of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and
abolished the folly of the military's
don't-ask-don't-tell.

New York State is celebrating. We should celebrate
along. There is nothing in gay marriage that offends
anymore than straight marriage does, marriage
itself--not the sexual nature of its participants--having
its issues, often because of the religious shackles
imposed on it: if there is a problem with marriage,
let's start with, for example, some churches' and
mosques' and synagogues' revolting impositions on women
to submit to their husbands, to endure their violence,
to defer to their judgments, to persist in the
superstitious beliefs in patriarchy, which have as much
validity as inherited or divine right.

But let's also remember that in gay matters, Florida
remains closer to Iran than to New York State. Florida
pioneered the anti-gay movement with the likes of Anita
Bryant and her war on gay adoption, a war finally ended
only when Charlie Crist put an end to the charade last
year. As the 2008 vote shows, Floridians revel in
putting down en entire class of people behind the cloak
of religious authority and its sickly, opportunistic
twin: tradition. If it's traditional to discriminate,
to hurt, to hate, oppress, and in Florida it still is,
it's also just as traditional, in the American sense
anyway, to revolt. New York State just did. Florida
will, too, one day, though like a brigand clinging to
his loot, Florida won't do it willingly: the Supreme
Court will drag it out of its backwardness, if it can
still read the 14th Amendment. (c) 2011 FlaglerLive.com
Pierre Tristam

Pierre Tristam is the editor at FlaglerLive.com. Reach
him at [log in to unmask] or through his personal Web
site at www.pierretristam.com .

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