A storm-carrying cold front yesterday left behind absolutely flawless weather for today. And you might have heard yesterday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that states’ same-sex marriage bans cannot stand under the 14th Amendment’s command of equal treatment by the law.
“No longer may this liberty be denied,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority decision. “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”
I’d say the parade itself was two or three times as big this year as last, with happy people of every age and rainbow flags in every direction; organizers say more than 2,000 people attended, a record.
Friday’s ruling means two non-related adults of any gender can legally commit themselves to each other and enjoy such rights and responsibilities as jointly filed taxes, shared child custody and unquestioned hospital visitation, medical and familial rights. As Kennedy said, it also means something a bit more intangible, right? The joy at the decision was immediate here in Arkansas and across the country, and photographing that happiness today — along with some quieter onlookers — was a joy on its own.
Concern, anger, even fear quickly followed as well. The four dissenting Supreme Court justices gave grave warnings the ruling would be used to “vilify” the opposition, and other writers and public figures took up the alarm.
Their words and feelings are very serious, but here’s a few things to keep in mind. For much of U.S. history, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and otherwise non-straight people have been bashed, killed, rooted out of government and private-sector jobs and kicked out of families, if they dared reveal themselves at all. These problems are less common, but they remain in some form, despite credible research that finds LGBT people are telling the truth when they say they’ve chosen only to accept their orientation, not the orientation itself.
That conservative Christians (many Christians support the decision) have lost some of their sway over policies like civil marriage is probably undeniable, but in this instance it’s largely because more and more people personally know someone who isn’t straight and hear about that person’s experiences. The Supreme Court decision essentially says religious objections alone aren’t enough to justify public government’s marriage policies.
The U.S. is still mostly Christian, and discrimination based on religion in business or government is explicitly illegal except in limited circumstances. That’s not true in most states for LGBT people, including in Arkansas.
Anyway, I didn’t see anybody unhappy at the parade, so on with the photos!