“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” – The United States Constitution, Amendment 14, Section 1.
We used to have something in this country called miscegenation laws, which would have made it illegal for a Black man and a White woman to be married. My grandfather was Black and my grandmother is White and they lived married through this unfortunate period in our country’s history. When riding in a car together, sometimes it was necessary for my grandmother to get down on the floor of the car while my grandfather drove, in order to be unseen by people who might object to their relationship on the grounds that they shared different racial backgrounds. In fact, they had to move north from Virginia to Ohio in order to escape those laws (See Loving v. Virginia 1967). People used to use the Bible to call marriage between different races “an abomination.” (Among other things people used the Bible to call abominations like women having the right to speak in church based on 1 Corinthians 14:34, and women wearing pants based on Deuteronomy 22:5.)
President Barack Obama’s comment in an interview with ABC news, in which he stated “I think same-sex couples should be able to get married,” has furthered the debate on the issue of same-sex marriage. The president’s comment was preceded by Vice President Joe Biden’s statement on NBC’s Meet the Press, in which he said he was “comfortable” with same-sex marriage, just days before North Carolina voters decided in favor of a constitutional amendment banning it. The president had sad in the past that his thinking on the issue had “evolved.” The elation on the faces of people in the LGBT community on television was plainly evident after the president made his unprecedented statement. And for good reason. After all, how do you tell someone who to love, or who not to love?
The comments of both President Obama and Vice President Biden are commendable. It’s a step in the right direction. But until there is either further federal legislation passed to prevent states from violating the rights and privileges of American citizens, or forthcoming Supreme Court rulings to overturn same-sex marriage restrictions, such affirmations may ultimately, unfortunately, prove to be mere political posturing. I applauded President Obama’s signing the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: the policy of banning openly gay, lesbian or bisexual individuals from serving in the military. Now the time has come for Congress, the judiciary and the president to once again rise to the occasion, and ensure that here in the United States of America, everyone is treated equally.