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Disparate rulings and intersectionality

by Frederick Sparks

After gutting the preclearance requirement of the Voting Rights Act, sending the Texas Affirmative Action case back to the lower court with instructions that almost surely guarantee a ruling against the University of Texas’ diversity admissions program, and raising the bar for demonstrating workplace discrimination, today the Supreme Court ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional and the plaintiffs in the Proposition 8 case lacked standing, leaving in place the lower court ruling invalidating California’s ban on gay marriage. Now same-sex couples can marry in California, and same-sex couples in states who recognize their marriages will now receive equal federal benefits as other married couples.

Yet sadly I think a colleague of mine is correct when she says that these “disparate” rulings will inspire more black vs gay resentment, in a way that of course marginalizes black gays and lesbians. When perhaps the more cogent analysis is that marriage equality doesn’t threaten the oligarchy in the way that full voting, employment and educational access do.

Now it is important for the (white) LGBT community to stand with communities of color and other marginalized people on the broader issues of social justice.

 

Comments

  1. jamessweet says

    Posted this to FB as soon as I read it. Very interesting (and provocative!) take on the last two days of rulings. Being a white, middle-class, heterosexual cis male, I’m embarrassed to say I sometimes need these things pointed out to me :) Will be thinking on this over the coming day…

  2. CaitieCat says

    Now it is important for the (white) LGBT community to stand with communities of color and other marginalized people on the broader issues of social justice.

    You said it, sir. Brought my teaspoon and ready to get bailing. :)

  3. says

    I keep seeing a meme about being an ally and supporting equal rights for all on FB today. Just don’t let us forget that everyone means everyone, melanin count notwithstanding.

    • fredericksparks says

      “Just don’t let us forget that everyone means everyone, melanin count notwithstanding.” Ok…I don’t have any ownership over whatever memes you are seeing on Facebook, but I’m not sure what you think you read in this post that implies that I don’t know that or need to be reminded of that.

      • says

        Ok that obviously came across wrong, please allow me to apologize.
        All that I intended to do was state that, like many others here, I stand at a different intersection and sometimes need the traffic at yours pointed out to me.
        Again I apologize for sounding so pompous.

  4. Joe G. says

    I wondered the same thing as you blogged about. I really see the recent spate of SCOTUS rulings as being very mixed. Yesterday was a very troubling day of rulings while today was better. I know my lgbt friends who are POC certainly see things that way right now.

  5. Jor G. says

    Here’s a tweet I just saw while watching All In w/ Chris Hayes. Thought that said about it all for me:

    If you havent had a moment in the last 48 hours when you wanted to cheer, cry, or break something youve been comatose #inners*

    *#inners is hashtag for live tweeting during broadcast of the show

  6. Vicki says

    Some combination of not threatening the oligarchy, and being told that it’s okay to be gay, lesbian, or even bisexual (though not trans*), as long as you’re white, middle to upper class, and monogamous, and consider those traits to be defining virtues.

  7. double-m says

    First of all, thanks again to the people who run this blog, for raising awareness of these issues. Any accomplishment toward equality black people is also an accomplishment for my fellow Roma people (Gypsies for those who don’t know what that is). And any setback for one group is a setback for the other (I wouldn’t even guess how many of my older relatives who still live in the U.S. would pass a complex literacy test).

    That said, yesterday, today and the rest of the week belong to all the bisexual, lesbian and gay people, and the last thing I’ll to do is spoil their joy by complaining. They’ve more than earned their time of happiness, and right now I just want to be happy with them. We’ve waited centuries for equality (not speaking for black people, just gypsies), we can take this one week to celebrate a wonderful accomplishment by our LGB brothers, sisters and in-between siblings in arms.

    • says

      Gotta argue with you there, double-m. The DOMA ruling is good, don’t get me wrong, but frankly, the momentum is trending heavily that way right now anyway. The electoral fuckery that the VRA ruling allows is going to end up fucking over a lot more people than the DOMA ruling helps. It probably won’t do gay rights any good either, being that the prime purpose of the electoral fuckery is to get more Republicans in office.

      • double-m says

        Dalillama, on the VRA mess, I completely agree that it has serious long-term repercussions. More than that, it’s only one of many issues in that area, some of which are even graver. A system with two parties, both of which would qualify as conservative by the standards of most Western countries, comes to mind here. The lack of a genuinely progressive party that’s visible beyond the local level, is a massive obstacle to any kind of advancement. Yes, there are Democrats who fight for minority rights, LGBTQ rights, women’s rights, blue collar rights, secularity and so on. But the party as a whole? Not really. That doesn’t mean suspension of preclearance isn’t a major issue, of course.

        Now, with all that in mind, people who work toward a civilized world shouldn’t forget to celebrate their victories. If you don’t allow yourself to do that, if all you ever focus on is the mountain of unsolved problems, then you’ll burn out eventually. At least I do.

        Random example: we had a meet&greet between our local freethought group for immigrants, and the local trans community last year. The plan was to discuss strategies for fighting prejudice among asylum seeker communities. But then, the trans people realized that for the first time, they were with an entire group of people, who recognized their gender identities unconditionally. And we realized, we were with the highest concentration of beautiful people we’d ever been with. So we skipped the solemn debate and had a party instead.

        Does that mean we forgot about all our unfinished work? I guess for one night we did. Because for that one night, in that one room, the civilized world we were all fighting for became a reality, and that was a victory. A small one, granted, but still a victory. Does it mean we neglected our duty to humanity? On the contrary. It brought us a lot of hope and inspiration, that ultimately made our work more productive. Of course it’s important – no matter if you’re a high profile activist, or someone who just does a few hours of community work every week – to analyze and understand what’s wrong. But I’ve learned that it’s equally important to experience it to the fullest, when something wrong is set right. And the DOMA ruling certainly righted one hell of a wrong.

        • says

          My enthusiasm for the DOMA decision is tempered by the fact that it doesn’t actually have any effect on my husband and I, because we live in a civil union state. The two-party system is a problem, but it’s not one that’s solvable without a Constitutional amendment changing how seats are apportioned; first past the post electoral systems pretty much inevitably result in a two party situation. The solution would appear to be for progressives to take over the Dems the way that batshit conservatives took over the Republicans, by getting their people in at the lower levels of the party apparatus, allowing them more and more voice in the higher levels. OTOH, if they keep alienating voters, the Repubs might lose their place on the national stage, and the Dems could take their place as the right wing party while the WFP or someone moves into the left. I honestly don’t see that as all that likely right now, but one can hope.

          • CaitieCat says

            That’s an interesting contentioin, Dalillama; I’ve lived my whole life in FPTP systems, first in the Uk and then here in America Lite, and in each case there have been at least three main parties, and usually a number of other parties who are special-issue, or single-issue, joke parties.

            In my recent local by-election for the Provincial Government of Ontario, there were Tory, Liberal, NDP, and a few fringe parties (CPC Communist, Marxist-Leninist, Green Party (becoming less fringe every election), Family Heritage Party (uberChristians). In a close vote, my own leftist NDP took the riding.

            In Canada’s Parliament, for the last…twenty years or so? We’ve had the Tories (Conservative), the Liberals (centre), the New Democrats (left/progressive), and a regional party in Quebec, the Bloc Quebecois (social liberal fiscal centrists). Each of these parties gains a respectable number of seats, and all four are pretty stable.

            The UK has the same system, more or less, only their parties are slightly different: Conservative (Tories), and :Labour provides the leftist/working-class viewpoint from a centre-leftish position, with the Liberal Democrats being a centralist group.

            So I’m not sure that it’s the FPTP keeping the US in a two-party deadlock; it’s the two parties themselves, who regularly cook up laws to ensure that the race will stay a two-horse event.

            Personally, I tend to expect that sometime in the next 20 years of neverending depression/recession, the 99% will end up starting their own third party, and possibly break the US logjam into a working government again. Because the hyperpartisan behaviour of the Congressional GOP is making sure that the US government doesn’t function right now, and the Dems are getting almost as much of the same money from the same people, and so have little impetus to break the deadlock.

          • says

            The ascendancy of the Lib Dems in the UK is an unusual situation, and will probably resolve itself by one of the others fading from the national stage. The presence of lots of minor parties is largely irrelevant; the U.S. has them too, but they only ever get anywhere when one of the big ones is dying. As I said above, it’s quite possible that we’ll see the Republicans keep shrinking and fracturing, and one of the smaller parties will muscle in on the Left. I personally am a member of the Working Families Party, but there are other who could stand up as well.

          • CaitieCat says

            Right…but as I said, there are three national parties in Canada, the same three there have been for about 40 years, and even though one of them went (at one point) down to TWO Members of Parliament, they eventually came back and now run the country (PM: The Wrong Dishonourable Fucking Harpertron 2000, Robot of Retrogression, MP for Uncanny Valley).

            It’s simply not true to say that a FPTP system MUST devolve to a two-party system. That it has done so in the US is because of the number of government-defining functions which are controlled by partisans, such as redistricting and choosing committee members, judgeships on federal courts, and so on. These tools, which are not generally in the hands of the parties in most Westminster systems, have allowed calcification of the system such that trying to break out of it has significant (and for most, unsurpassable) startup costs. It’s not inherent to FPTP, it’s inherent to the insidiously corrupt US democratic machinery.

          • says

            I honestly can’t speak to the situation in Canada. It is considered one of the principles of political science the FPTP systems tend to develop two major parties, and this is generally the case in practice, allowing for differences between the various flavors of FPTP. Certainly the U.S. system is worse han many, notably the Westminster system, but I really think that a complete overhaul of the electoral system from the ground up is needed to get more than two major parties around here . Mind, I’m in favor of doing that,I like Condorcet voting myself, but I’m just saying it’ll take a lot of changes.

          • double-m says

            My enthusiasm for the DOMA decision is tempered by the fact that it doesn’t actually have any effect on my husband and I, because we live in a civil union state.

            Just to clarify, the civil union for same-sex couples, as defined by your state, is not the same as a common law marriage for opposite-sex couples? Then, of course, I understand that you’re not entirely inclined to have a party over this. I could say “it removed an obstacle”, but you’re completely right, that that is not enough. Anything short of one equal marriage for all is still unacceptable.

            The two-party system is a problem, but it’s not one that’s solvable without a Constitutional amendment changing how seats are apportioned; first past the post electoral systems pretty much inevitably result in a two party situation. The solution would appear to be for progressives to take over the Dems the way that batshit conservatives took over the Republicans, by getting their people in at the lower levels of the party apparatus, allowing them more and more voice in the higher levels. OTOH, if they keep alienating voters, the Repubs might lose their place on the national stage, and the Dems could take their place as the right wing party while the WFP or someone moves into the left. I honestly don’t see that as all that likely right now, but one can hope.

            I suspect even a smaller progressive party, that would only win a few seats on state legislatures, would already make a huge difference. Pressure from the progressive side may just be what it takes to enable the Democratic Party to assume a more determined pro-equality stance in a number of areas. I’ve only really understood how that works, since my family moved to Europe. The green party phenomenon here is a parade example. They’re rarely elected into governments, but their activism has caused mainstream, even a few conservative, parties to adopt pro-environment positions where you wouldn’t have expected it.

  8. xyz says

    Thank you. It’s really hard to have this mixture of victory and defeat washing over us at the same time.

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