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.