« Unity Coalition to offer free immigration workshops in Wilton Manors and Miami for same-sex couples | Main | Hialeah cop turns filmmaker to focus on inequality faced by gay and lesbian couples »

FIU law professor: Marriage equality a step to end bigotry toward gays


You’d never accuse the Supreme Court, led by Chief Justice John Roberts, of liberal activism. Not even now. This year’s decisions made it easier for states to discriminate in voting practices, harder for employees to sue their bosses for discrimination, and easier for property owners to resist government takings for public ends.

Faced with rising opposition to discrimination against gays and lesbians, though, the court struck down DOMA’s federal marriage ban in Windsor v. United States. The federal government will now treat legally married same-sex couples the same as straight couples. Same-sex couples in discrimination states like Florida face ambiguity and more litigation.

Apart from new rights for some and hope for others, Windsor reframes the public debate by conceding what anyone familiar with the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) knew: the statute was about irrational hostility towards a minority rather than the ludicrous argument that gay marriage could harm straight people.

Hostility is easy to spot with the Westboro Baptist Church — a small group in Kansas that seeks media attention by holding anti-gay protests at military funerals even when the dead soldiers are not gay. At least the Westboro group owns up to its hostility when it protests.

Legislators are wilier in their hostility. When demeaning a group, they weave their hostility into statutory provisions that impose stigma in the name of some authority. Courts call hostility through this kind of legal know-how “animus.” It is the dark side of democracy.

Discrimination advocates like our own Sen. Marco Rubio (he promoted marriage discrimination in immigration reform) avoid facing how their actions attack the dignity of gays and lesbians. The Windsor ruling makes it harder to pull this off. It shows the country how to recognize the illogical thinking in hostility against gays, especially when it is gussied up as something else by elected officials, Catholic cardinals, or Justice Antonin Scalia.

So it just became harder to act like a bigot without being called out as one. And it just became easier for the new silent majority to speak up for their gay and lesbian family, friends and co-workers. As a result, some are already wailing that — like Rodney Dangerfield — they don’t get any respect when they try to treat gays and lesbians as morally inferior.

What exactly have discrimination advocates lost?

Their churches can still praise straight superiority, tarring gays and lesbians as diabolical mistakes of an angry God. Parents can still compel their kids to be or act straight on pain of punishment. Many radio, television, and Internet programs talk about gays and lesbians as second-class citizens or worse. Politicians still trip over themselves to defend “traditional” marriage. In more than half the states, an employer can even fire any gay or lesbian staff, even if they are star employees.

If you want to discriminate against gays and lesbians, you’ve lost no right to do so. Just don’t expect others to approve. And it’s going to get worse. Expect more full-throated support for marriage equality.

Look at how the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals implemented the Supreme Court’s other gay marriage case, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, the case about Prop. 8. Perry ordered the Ninth Circuit to lift its stay on a lower court case that had found the Prop. 8 marriage ban unconstitutional in California. The Ninth Circuit complied at once, even before Prop. 8 backers could request reconsideration.

Why the rush to equality? The appellate court was signaling that Prop. 8 — like DOMA — reeked of animus, unworthy of respect even an instant longer.

The discrimination states may hold out for years, but Windsor moves social stigma to where it belongs — in the category of irrational attacks on the equal dignity of gays and lesbians. Sexual minorities can’t recover their dignity alone, however. Some of us have gotten used to being treated as morally inferior by parents, teachers, bosses, judges, doctors and clerics. These folks have done such a magnificent job at stunting expectations that not everyone may snap out of it as quickly as the Ninth Circuit did.

Thankfully, Windsor and Perry have made it respectable for anyone to show their moral clarity on this question. Please do.

José Gabilondo is a professor at the College of Law, Florida International University.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

A vote by the legislature or in a referendum to legalize gay marriage would be a win for gays.

A court decision declaring gay marriage a fundamental "right" would provoke a backlash.

It looks as if the left hasn't learned a thing since Roe v Wade...

Homosexuality should be criminalized. Homosexuals commit crimes against God, against nature, against the Holy Bible and against the human race.
After reading FIU law professor: Marriage equality a step to end bigotry toward gays, I now know why God wrote:
Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
Romans 1:24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:
:26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature:
:27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

That's right, everybody won with this decision because the opposition had nothing to lose.
Kramartini, voter referendums for gay marriage have passed in three states. They have learned from Roe V Wade, as this wasn't a sweeping decision. It's only recognizing same-sex marriages in states where it's legal.
Donald, "God" didn't write any of that and the bible is not a salad bar. You can't pick and choose what archaic edict suits your bigotry today.

People love to quote the Bible when they have not one logic argument or an original idea in their heads. Fortunately, most young people and the majority of the intelligent beings in our Society know better than to repeat outdated – 2000 years old – words from a very old book which, BTW, has nothing to do with the original script!
Do you want to live by the Scriptures? Then tell the Supreme Court we also need a new Law to force rape victims marry their rapists, as the Old book tells us to do!
Wake up ... Nature is all about change. Life is all about learning and adapting to those changes. If a person cannot see religion or the Law under those terms, then that person is incapable of understanding the world we live in. In other words, and as always, ignorance leads to irrational fear of the unfamiliar.
Gay marriage is a legal issue, not religious. Gay marriage will become the law of the land, sooner than later. Obsolete minds will never get over it, but most of the world will!
Thank you Mr Gabolingo for a will written article.

Found a nice list on WIKIPEDIA which really demonstrates how outdated this book is ... Definitely food for thought ...

The Bible prescribes the death penalty for the following activities, among others:
*A betrothed woman who does not cry out while being raped[17]
*A woman who is found not to have been a virgin on the night of her wedding[18]
*Worshiping other gods[19][20]
*Witchcraft (Exodus 22:18)
*Taking the LORD's name in vain or cursing his name[21]
*Cursing a parent[22][23][24]

Rev. (sic) Spitz’s opinion on the beliefs or behavior of others should carry no weight whatsoever. He uses his own website to try to make heroes out of murdering terrorists like Paul Hill, Eric Rudolph, John Salvi, James Kopp, and Scott Roeder. Therefore, the designation of his Army of God group as a domestic terrorist group by the Virginia State Police is very appropriate. Spitz is so delusional that he thinks that he was ordained by the International Gospel Crusade, a denomination that only exists in his imagination. This makes Spitz even more of a concern.

The comments to this entry are closed.