Three good things: refrigerator, DOMA, Proposition 8

refrigerator doma prop 8

My poor heart can’t stand it. Three good things happened in one day!



First of all: our old feeble refrigerator got replaced. I wrote a mild email to our landlords two nights ago about how the food in our freezer didn’t seem to be freezing properly, and the landlords replaced the fridge the very next day! And it’s lovely, and they’re lovely people over at the landlord’s office, and we love them and thank them.



Also: the lovely folks in the Supreme Court – five of them, anyway – believe that they should not overturn the California Supreme Court’s rejection of Proposition 8, and as a result, gay marriage is once again legal in the great state of California (as of July 25, 2013, at any rate).



This is nothing to me really, because I’m not a citizen of California. I’m delighted, however, for the gay people who married in California while it was legal, and who are legal again; I’m also delighted for the other gay Californians who can now line up for marriage licenses. And I’m delighted to see one more state added to the illustrious roster of states (including Little Rhody) which have legalized gay marriage.



The third good thing that happened today was this: DOMA – the Defense of Marriage Act – was found, in essence, unconstitutional.



This is key.



Partner and I have long debated the issue of marriage. We’ve lived together for fourteen years, which makes us married in the eyes of any deity who matters. Rhode Island legalized gay marriage a few months ago – hooray! But would it be of any advantage to us to get married? Not if the federal government doesn’t recognize it. It would have no tax advantages, or estate advantages.



But now, after the Supreme Court’s snappy 5-4 decision, it’s a different story.



Do I hear wedding bells?



Or is it just our new (and more efficient) refrigerator humming?




The Supreme Court heard arguments about two gay-marriage issues last week: California’s Proposition 8, which declares (by popular vote) that gay marriage is out of the question, and the Defense of Marriage Act, enacted by the usually-smarter Bill Clinton, which declares that (for federal purposes) marriage can only ever be between a man and a woman.



The passage of Proposition 8 implies that voters can grant or deny civil rights.



DOMA creates a situation in which married gay couples can still be denied federal benefits.



You can guess (if you don’t already know) where I stand on both issues, but here are some thoughts:



–         Can a referendum really decide a civil rights issue? I’m fine with the voters electing representatives, and deciding on bonds issues, and so forth. But I’m pretty sure that, if civil rights for black people had been put to a vote in the sovereign state of Mississippi in 1964, the vote would have gone badly for black people.

–         Much has been said and written about “marriage.” Isn’t “civil union” enough for gay people (in the states which grant it)? Well, not so much, since “civil union” almost never grants the same rights as “marriage.” If Partner and I were in a civil union, most or all of the local hospitals would be within their rights to deny either of us the right to visit the other. (Most or all of them don’t – Rhode Island is surprisingly gay-friendly – but the law permits them to be far more restrictive than they are. And the Catholic Diocese of Providence is extraordinarily gay-unfriendly.)

–         Someone on Facebook suggested “holy matrimony” as a substitute for the Catholic / Baptist / etc. word “marriage.” After all, pretty much every City Hall grants “marriage licenses,” and City Hall is no place for religious ceremony. So: if the Holy Roman Catholic Church doesn’t like gay marriage, it doesn’t have to perform them; that would be allowing two men to enter “holy matrimony.” But it must acknowledge that two men are civilly and legally “married,” just as they acknowledge Protestant marriages and Jewish marriages and Muslim marriages and purely-City-Hall marriages.



Over the past few weeks, a lot of my straight Facebook friends have posted pro-gay marriage messages and images. People at work whom I’ve known casually for five, or ten, or twenty years, have suddenly come forward and hugged me. (Partner reports similar behavior in his office.)



These are “allies”: straight people, people whose rights are not in question, who are coming forward to say that they support our right to marry.



I thank all our allies: Mary, and Diane, and Paul, and the rest. They are wonderful people.



And who cares what the Supreme Court decides?



We know we’re right.



And we will win in the end.


The Supreme Court’s health care decision


Yesterday morning I was at the office, crawling under a desk to connect a telephone wire, when Partner called me. “The Supreme Court upheld health care!” he crowed. “Roberts voted with the liberals!”



I was so excited that I got up too quickly and bumped my head.



Seriously: I’m delighted. Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act was a landmark piece of legislation, which finally put health care into the same category as education: everyone should have access to it, in the same way. No more marching poor people off to emergency rooms, where they can wait patiently like the paupers they are. No more hospitals amortizing the money they lose on emergency-room care by charging more for standard services. No more insurance companies charging inflated premiums because hospitals charge inflated rates.



Well, maybe not all at once. But a huge step in the right direction: the biggest step since Medicare.



The Right’s attempt to overturn the health care act was, for me, sick-making. They couched it as a moral and political issue: how dare the government tell us what to do?



Honey, they do it all the time: law enforcement, income tax. Get used to it. And this is for something good and well-intentioned.


I have seen, just last evening online, images of Obama burning the Constution. I also read online that a number of angry conservatives are Tweeting about moving to Canada, to escape the communist tyrant Obama. (Canada, get it? That place with free health care?) When it was pointed out to them that this made no sense, they claimed it was a joke. Really?  “I’m moving to Canada” means, to me, “I like the idea of free health care.” One said: “At least in Canada they’re openly socialist, unlike Obama who pretends to be a democratic leader.”



Yikes yikes yikes.



And here’s the best part: even if the Mayans are right and Romney becomes President, he will have a hell of a time overturning Obama’s legislation; he will never have a supermajority in either house, and Democrats will filibuster him to death on the issue.



And the American people, in the meantime, will discover that it’s nice to have health care, and the polls will turn in favor of health care.



And you know how Mitt Romney feels about polls, and about agreeing with the majority.



I got up yesterday morning thinking it was going to be a sucky day. And it turned out to be a great day for America.



Who knew?


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