Day 223 of 365 Days of Silver ~~ Grateful for Justice

southernfried

“The right to marry is fundamental because it supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals… …It is demeaning to lock same-sex couples out of a central institution of the Nation’s society, for they too may aspire to the transcendent purposes of marriage.”
~~ Justice Anthony Kennedy

People talk about how much injustice there is in the world—and I don’t deny that. But I also see the gestalt of our planet and what I see are more and more instances where the collective consciousness of the human race is growing and aligning itself more and more with what true Love expects and demands.

We’re not perfect. We make mistakes. But I look at what has happened in just my lifetime and I am filled with wonder and joy.

For instance, in 1967—I was alive, although quite young—people actually sited religious reasons why people of two races should not marry (and I don’t like that word “race” but in this instance, labels are not what this essay is about).

Richard P. Loving and Mildred Jeter were in love and got married. The problem, as everyone surely knows, is that he was white and she was black. They were arrested and charged with “cohabiting as man and wife, against the peace and dignity of the Commonwealth” as well as marrying outside their state of Virginia and miscegenation, which was punishable for up to one to five years in prison! Imagine!

How here’s the thing. Religion was the basis for the hatred shown to this couple! Religion.

Leon M. Bazile, the trial judge, actually said this:

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

The mind reels!

What especially makes me sit back with my mouth open in disbelief is this: I grew up in a Bible reading home. I was taught that at one time we were all one people. But the ego of man, in wanting to reach heaven, got us into trouble. A tower was being built, the infamous Tower of Babel. God struck it down and caused all the people to speak different languages so they couldn’t understand each other. Then the peoples that spoke the same languages grouped together and spread out over the earth.

In other words, if this story is to be believed, God did not place the races and place them on separate continents. So by quoting some kind of religious reason why two people should not get married, the judge wasn’t paying attention to the Bible he claimed to believe in.

In the case of interracial marriage, the Supreme Court ruled on June 12, 1967:

Marriage is one of the “basic civil rights of man,” fundamental to our very existence and survival…. To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State’s citizens of liberty without due process of law.

Now despite this ruling several states left laws on the books saying that the different races should not be allowed to marry, although they were unenforceable. It wasn’t until 2000 that this last state, Alabama, adapted its laws to abide to the Supreme Court’s decision.

Justice ruled.

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that all states must allow same-sex marriage. Justice Anthony Kennedy stated:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family,” Kennedy wrote. “In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were… … “Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

Justice ruled.

But then an Ohio judge stated that he didn’t have to obey the law of the land. He declared that it didn’t make a difference that in the United States there is a separation of church and state. Toledo Municipal Judge Allen McConnell refused to perform a same-sex marriage. This was his reason:

I declined to marry a non-traditional couple during my duties assignment,” McConnell said in a statement. “The declination was based upon my personal and Christian beliefs established over many years. I apologize to the couple for the delay they experienced and wish them the best.

He then went on to ask the Ohio Supreme Court if he could opt out of performing his duties to avoid violating his religious beliefs. And here is something sad. Judge Allen McConnell is Afriacan-American.

Well guess what McConnell? The answer to your request is a resounding, “No!”

The professional conduct board announced August 10, 2015, that refusing to perform the ceremony for religious reasons amounts to a violation of a judge’s oath of office!

The oath represents the judge’s solemn and personal vow that he or she will impartially perform all duties incumbent on the office and do so without regard to the status or class of persons or parties who come before the court. The oath is a reflection of the self-evident principle that the personal, moral, and religious beliefs of a judicial officer should never factor into the performance of any judicial duty.”

The Board of Professional Responsibility went on to say:

A judge’s decision to decline to perform some or all marriage ceremonies, when grounded on the judge’s personal beliefs, may reflect adversely on perceptions regarding the judge’s performance of other judicial duties,” the board’s opinion states. “A judge may reasonably be perceived as having a personal bias or prejudice based on sexual orientation if he or she elects to perform opposite-sex marriages, but declines to perform same-sex marriages.

Justice has been served.

This brings happy tears to my eyes and a soaring love to my heart. It has taken a long time, but yes, bit by bit, justice is being served.

There are still many injustices happening in the United States and across the globe. However, that is changing, and I am a living witness. It is thrilling beyond words to see that, yes, love always wins. And disguising hatred under such excuses as religious freedom is exactly that—hate.

Hey, there’s a good chance I’ve got at least twenty more years—what else am I going to get to witness?

It makes the heart race!

Namasté,
B.G. Thomas

.
Scales of Justice photograph by Southernfriend and Same-Sex Marriage photograph by Mensatic from and Eye and Earth photograph by Jdurham, all from morgueFile.

Photograph of Richard and Mildred Loving (AP photo) used without permission.

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