Friday, July 22, 2011

Following up on the hearing

At the DOMA hearing,the same, old, tired arguments were trotted out about how gays will destroy families (just how does my marriage stop straights from procreating?) and how kindergartners will be taught how to be gay (and this complete lie relates to marriage how?). Refreshingly, though, the adults in the room were able to speak about equality and why it matters.

From the Atlantic:
Except for the fact that some of the witnesses were talking about lawfully recognized same-sex spouses, no one said anything very different from what was being said 15 years ago, when DOMA was passed.

And yet the hearing was completely different from anything imaginable in 1996......

What a difference 15 years makes. According to testimony in today's hearings, approximately 80,000 same-sex couples have married under their states' laws -- and (I can say this from experience) neighbors, coworkers, and family members are asking the unmarried ones when to expect the wedding. ...

Just as important, by now almost all the other major antigay scaffolding extant in 1996 has been dismantled. In 2003's Lawrence v. Texas, the U.S. Supreme Court slapped down its earlier Bowers v. Hardwick decision, declaring it "was not correct when it was decided, and it is not correct today." Last year, Congress passed a repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell," which the military is steadily inching toward enacting. ....

And so while those who testified in the Judiciary Committee theater said very much the same things that were being said in 1996, the frame -- and therefore the meaning -- was completely different....
Back in 1996, no senator was calling the antigay forces on their lies, damn lies, and statistics. No senator approvingly quoted his state's married same-sex couples or invited white-bread suburban lawnmowing gay men and lesbians to tell the heartbreaking disaster stories about being excluded from full marriage recognition. This time, perhaps no Republican senator was yet willing to urge DOMA's repeal, but only Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) showed up to speak in support of it.

The moral panic of the late 1980s and early 1990s left behind three major legacies: Bowers v. Hardwick, "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," and DOMA. The first two have fallen. And while states' laws and constitutional amendments have to be repealed as well, the federal DOMA is the most important brick in the wall. Today I could see that wall shaking.

From the LA Times:
Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), who was invited to testify, compared it to his childhood during segregation in the South.

"My entire childhood, I followed signs that said, 'white restrooms, colored restrooms, white water fountains, colored water fountains,' " Lewis said. "We look back on that time now in disbelief, and one day we will look back on this period with that same sense of disbelief. … All across this nation, same-sex couples are denied the very rights that you and I enjoy."
From the Christian Science Monitor:
In emotional testimony, married gay and lesbian couples testified before a Senate committee as to the costs – financial and emotional – of the Defense of Marriage Act. The Senate is considering a repeal.

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