Tuesday, July 2, 2013

You Win Some, You Lose Some

Last week's decisions by the Supreme Court were a mixed bag. The court's decisions on marriage equality will work to move the nation towards the Constitution's stated goal of a more perfect union. All married couples will now be treated equally by the federal government and marriage equality is now a reality in one more state. The fight against marriage equality will, sadly, go on with the heterosexists among us trotting out all the discredited claims about danger to children and to the institution of marriage and complaining about the discrimination that they are enduring. It will take time, but it is clear to me that marriage equality will be achieved in every state, sometimes through legislation and sometimes in the courts.

What is much less clear to me is how voting rights will be protected after the court's striking down of one section of the Voting Rights Act. Within hours of the decision, Republicans announced their intention to enact new voting rules that had been blocked by the Justice Department. Picture ID requirements will be passed in some states, making it much harder for poor citizens, many of whom are people of color, to vote. What is remarkable about this attempt to disenfranchise thousands of voters has been how honest some of the Republicans have been about their real goal - to make it harder for Democrats to get elected.

Because I have a fairly realistic view of human nature, I don't hold out much hope that the members of Congress will replace the invalidated section of the Voting Rights Act with one that is not likely to be struck down in court. Nor am I optimistic about a change of heart for those Republicans who are working to disenfranchise voters. I think we will have to protect voting rights through the courts, challenging every new attempt to limit citizens' franchise. The Supreme Court's decision has made that harder and more costly, but it has not made it impossible. The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.

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