A little levity for the Supreme Court

Michelle Reuter

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Illustration by Jennifer Luxton/ Visual Editor

Illustration by Jennifer Luxton/ Visual Editor

This past week has been a big one for the supreme court. People who rarely pay attention to the goings-on in those marble-laden, hallowed halls have been paying very close attention to what is being said about same-sex marriage. I know, because I’m one of them and a recognition of basic rights is needed

This is one of those rare, probably historic, occasions where what these nine people decide will directly affect the lives of a large swath of our population. The federal government has over 1,100 laws on the books that deal with the rights of married people. There are some real life consequences here. Married folks expect to be able to do things like take time off of work to care for their sick spouse or qualify for social security benefits. It’s not even worth it to go into the fun and games that goes on every April 15 when taxes are due. Taxes get all kinds of interesting when the state recognizes your relationship as a marriage while the fed seems to think you’re roommates. Really affectionate roommates, but just roommates.

As a brief recap the Supreme court heard two separate cases last week. The first was about our state’s lovely Proposition 8 issue. The second had to do with the Defense Of Marriage Act or DOMA.

Here are a few choice quotes from Supreme Court justices who mumbled them during the hearings.

  • Samuel Alito during the Prop 8 arguments: “But you want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of the effects of this institution which is newer than cell phones or the Internet? I mean we…do not have the ability to see the future.”

I’m sorry, Justice Alito, did you just imply that gay people’s participation in committed relationships is somehow a more recent development than the ability to text my bestie another pointless meme? You seem to think that the gays just woke up one morning in the mid-80s and said to each other, “Y’know what would be fun? Let’s mess with the straights and demand marriage equality. That would be a hoot!”

Really, sir? Just because the government refuses to recognize something, doesn’t mean it isn’t going on right under your noses. Gay folks have been around as long as people have been walking upright and you can bet we’ve been trying to live together in stable, loving homes as long as you have. Oh, we might have had to be sneaky about it. Maybe we pretended to be just a couple of old, single ladies who liked to hold hands when we walked in the gloaming. Those hidden relationships of the past were just as sincere and were felt just as deeply as any state-sanctioned marriage.

Cell phones and the Internet? Please.

  • Anthony Kennedy during the Prop 8 arguments: “There are some 40,000 children in California, according to the red brief, that live with same-sex parents, and they want their parents to have full recognition and full status. The voice of those children is important in this case, don’t you think?”

Hi there Justice Kennedy! [waving excitedly] Yes, sir, I absolutely DO think the voices of those children are important and should be heard. Kids know what’s going on around them, even if the grown-ups like to think otherwise. They know the government is treating people unfairly because they see the real-life effects at home. If they aren’t the children of same-sex parents, then they have friends who are.

I mean, what little girl doesn’t want to get to be in a wedding? My step-daughter got to be in ours. Well, it wasn’t really a wedding because Prop 8 had passed in my home state of California. She got to be in a really dressy domestic partnership ceremony. And, if she’s ever hurt and in the hospital, I could very well be denied the right to see her. And one of her moms had to go through an expensive, months-long legal process to adopt her after she was born so she would have parental rights over her own child.

Could you maybe explain some of this to Justice Alito?

  • Elena Kagan during the DOMA arguments: “Well, what happened in 1996—and I’m going to quote from the House report here—is that “Congress decided to reflect an honor of collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality.”

Boy did they! And how times have changed…sort of.

Back then the arguments were all about how morally disagreeable gays were and how we were all going to recruit their children into the sexually promiscuous “gay lifestyle” and, I don’t know, make them snappier dressers. Congress had no problem coming right out and saying they thought the idea of gay marriage was icky. Okay, maybe not in so many words.

The words Tom Coburn (R-Ok) actually were. “I come from a district in Oklahoma who has very profound beliefs that homosexuality is wrong…We hear about diversity, but we do not hear about perversity.”

Since the Republicans tanked with youth voters in the last election cycle, they’ve been looking for any way to get young voters to look at them again. Easing up on their marriage equality rhetoric is a great way to appear more forward thinking. Public opinion has been moving away from their exclusionary, narrow-minded and down-right scared position on this for a while now.

But let’s not be fooled. Just because conservatives seem to be coming around doesn’t mean there isn’t going to be a nasty backlash when you fine Supreme Court justices make the right decision here. Just because some people are grossed out by the idea of a couple of guys kissing, it doesn’t mean they have the right to deny us those 1,100 rights under federal marriage law.

  • Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg during the DOMA arguments: You’re saying, no, the state said two kinds of marriage; the full marriage, and then this sort of skim-milk marriage.

I hate skim milk. It’s icky and perverse.

 

-Michelle Reuter’s domestic-partnered is a hot chick who remodels homes and once wore army boots. They would both like to experience what it feels like to have equal protection under the law.