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  BLACKLINES

Supremes Sing Our Song
by Earnest Edward Hite
2003-08-01

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The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, decided against sodomy laws in Lawrence and Garner vs. Texas. The Supremes ( no not Ms. Ross and her crew ) but the Supreme Court of these United States determined unconstitutional the Texas 'Homosexual Conduct' law which criminalizes sexual intimacy by same-sex couples, but not identical behavior by different-sex couples. Its impact will remove the remaining sodomy laws from other states and may pave the way for other issues such as same-sex unions, military service, and the fall of other practices against the GLBT family.

It has awakened some segments of the community and invigorated those who have been active. A significant page has been turned that validates the lives of GLBT citizens. Check out some of the thinking of the majority decision opinion from Justice Kennedy: 'Liberty presumes an autonomy of self that includes freedom of thought, belief, expression, and certain intimate conduct. The instant case involves liberty of the person both in its special and more transcendent dimension.'

Listen to a comments from Justice Sandra Day O'Connor: 'when homosexual conduct is made criminal by the law of the State, that declaration in and of itself is an invitation to subject homosexual persons to discrimination both in the public and in the private spheres.' Government should not and must not rule our intimate, personal and consensual life by laws that violate our privacy or are unequal in their protection of us.

The Supremes' based their majority decision on Article 14 of the constitution 'all persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.'

Simply stated by O'Connor, the Equal Protection Clause 'is essentially a direction that all persons similarly situated should be treated alike.'

We have come a long way from the wrong-headed thinking of our forefathers, who actually only considered white males who were landowners. Let us not forget African freemen and slaves who where only considered property for the purposes of the census to determine how white landowners would fare in position, placement and power in the 13 original colonies. And most egregious is the treatment of tribal native people who have been assimilated or left to languish on reservations.

Now we should be ecstatic when the Supreme Court levels the playing field decriminalizing heterosexual and homosexual sodomy. Kennedy: 'the State cannot demean their ( homosexuals persons ) existence or control their destiny by making their private sexual conduct a crime. Their right to liberty under the Due Process Clause gives them the full right to engage in their conduct without intervention of the government. It is a promise of the Constitution that there is a realm of personal liberty which the government may not enter.' Sweet ... and now the task that lay before us as same-gender-loving persons is what will each of us do to bring life and liberty a real thing to our lives.

The Constitution may be flawed, but we must make the wrong right. We must be transparent in our daily lives so others will see and understand and be transformed by our truth. This decision is not just about the right to be left alone, to be free from oppressive laws or have the government cease its interference with our private acts.

No, it is about the continued struggle to be recognized as part of the human family and citizens of this country. George W. Bush has another line in the sands of marriage in the face of the Supremes' decision: 'What I do support is a notion that marriage is between a man and a woman.' Sen. Bill Frist said he 'absolutely' supported a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as being between a man and a woman.

What choices will you make and what will you do to change the political and economic landscape? Can you really party when your rights and the rights of others are being violated or get your 'groove on' when racism and white supremacy run rampant? The challenges of stigma, fear, guilt and shame especially in communities of color must be addressed every day.

earnesthite@sbcglobal.net


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