It took less than two hours for Texas lawmakers to prove the Supreme Court made a mistake on Tuesday.
It’s also important to emphasize that it was Texas lawmakers who pushed to become the first to enact a voter identification law after the high court struck down Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.
“There is no doubt that these improvements are in large part because of the Voting Rights Act. The Act has proved immensely successful at redressing racial discrimination and integrating the voting process,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote in the 5-4 majority decision, which broke down along party lines. So the majority’s argument was that the VRA worked too well to be allowed to continue, despite being renewed by an overwhelming margin just seven years ago, for a 25-year extension.
“Congress approached the 2006 reauthorization of the VRA with great care and seriousness. The same cannot be said of the Court’s opinion today,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote in the dissenting opinion. “The Court makes no genuine attempt to engage with the massive legislative record that Congress assembled. Instead, it relies on increases in voter registration and turnout as if that were the whole story.” Continue reading →
The fight for marriage equality isn’t over yet. But Tuesday brought with it a huge win for opponents of California’s Proposition 8, as a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the law was unconstitutional, possibly sending the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Prop 8, which had banned same-sex marriages, was approved by California voters in 2008, overturning a California State Supreme Court ruling. In 2010, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled it was unconstitutional, a decision the panel upheld in a 2-1 vote. The panel also ruled Walker, now retired from the bench, did not have to vacate his decision for not revealing his own same-sex relationship at the time of his ruling. Walker’s decision to keep his ruling under a court seal was also upheld.
Despite the panel’s ruling, however, LGBT couples still cannot get married; the law will remain in place during a two-week period the law’s supporters have to determine whether they will appeal to a larger 9th Circuit panel, or go directly to the Supreme Court. Some legal experts have suggested the higher court might leave the case alone. Continue reading →
A good rumor is like a wild forest fire. It comes and goes mostly on its own grand will and terrorizes most in its presence, firefighters and rumormongers alike. The frenzy of speculation around Tyler Perry’s stated or implied sexuality is such a rumor, a sea of loud crackles and hazardous smoke, so forgive me for keeping my distance. Fire burns. This statement is about something different, albeit adjacent. After a viewing of Perry’s “Why Did I get Married, Too?” one cannot help but be struck by its somewhat blatant and unchecked homophobic moments. From “boys-being-boys” to boys in drag jumping out of cakes for no apparent reason the film strikes a discordant chord in some instances of comedy that mostly comes across as coded homophobia.
A good critique should always come with a healthy dose of confession, so here are a few to color your reading. My perspective is one of a black man in search of true love. “That all-consuming, can’t-live-without you love,” (forgive the borrowed phrase dear Carrie Bradshaw.) The kind of marriage I seek is expressly banned in about forty-one states in this great union of ours, and New York just barely legalized it. So aside from being an idealist I am also a bit of a fantasist. Suffice it to say that when I look at depictions of love, Black love in particular, I seek mirrors of myself by habit. Tyler Perry is the main focus here only because he has the biggest mirror – one that if it is not going to pay me any compliments should at least not distort my reflection. That’s all I’m saying.
With two movies in this vein under his belt, a look inside the contemporary Black marriage one might say, Perry has succeeded in saying absolutely nothing about Black gay marriage. Much has been explored when it comes to the committed heterosexual Black relationship; the physical cheating, the emotional cheating, the wanting the baby, the not wanting the baby, the death of the baby, the emotional and physical abuse, etc. And beyond the pathology one manages to glimpse quite a few moments of bliss; which is what keeps me coming back to the franchise maybe. The love portrayed for example between Louis Gossett Jr. and Cicely Tyson in the sequel is moving. And in all that exploration there is not a mention of girls who marry each other, or boys who are committed to one other, and how wonderful that might be. Not a sentence. Now this is of course expected, as it is status quo. If the president is allowed to have a constantly “evolving” perspective on the “issue.” Well, we can all also pretend it’s nothing to speak up about, I guess.
So beyond being a martyr for the cause the least one could expect from Perry would be not to put down being gay, right? Well, here come the spoilers. Continue reading →
Over the last few years mainstream gay advocacy groups have focused their efforts on one issue, a panacea to seemingly solve all forms of inequality that gays are faced with: marriage rights.
With the passage of Proposition 8 this summer in California, many people’s hopes that gays would achieve full equality in this country were dashed. What was even more distressing, however, was the wave of racist backlash against people of color in California, who were accused of being the cause of Prop 8’s passage (this is a completely unfounded claim, as studies have shown). When I look at the actions of HRC, GLAAD, and other mainstream gay advocacy groups from the past years, they make me sad to call myself queer. In particular, their perpetual focus on marriage rights as the most pressing issue facing queers, the only obstacle blocking the road to full equality, is an awfully myopic and misguided claim. To assume that marriage is the main issue all queers should be organizing around automatically constructs an essentialized version of a gay person, when the very existence of queer people should enough to contradict and confront any attempts to standardize our lives.
As anarchists say that “our dreams won’t fit in your ballot boxes,” queer bodies and experiences are too, well, queer, to fit in the state’s centuries-old definition of marriage. For queers to appeal for marriage is to desire assimilation into a heteronormative conception of sexuality, gender, and relationships, things which the government should have no business regulating or legislating in the first place. What scares me even more about assimilation is that it compels us to ignore the structures of power and interaction of power dynamics in this country. Supporting marriage is supporting a means of institutional oppression. Historically, marriage was never rooted in religion, but rather it was a way for the state to regulate the transfer of property from a womyn’s family to her husband. This effectively bound the wife into a slaveholding document – she too became part and parcel of the man’s life possessions. Consider the language that we use to describe when a womyn weds – Mrs. is a possessive form of Mr. For queers to appeal to an institution that has historically oppressed womyn (as well as non-whites – through miscegenation laws and the inability of slaves to exercise the so-called ‘human’ right of marriage, because, of course, it would humanize them in the face of their oppressors) baffles me. Continue reading →
An ugly blame game ensued after the passing of California’s Proposition 8, which restricted the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman. With exit polls reporting 70 percent of Blacks and 53 percent of Latinos/as supporting the ban on gay marriage, many white members of the LGBT community blamed people of color for the ban’s success.
The December issue of gay news magazine The Advocate stepped into the fray. The cover of the issue provocatively announced, “Gay is the New Black.” Although the cover story’s author, Michael Joseph Gross, dismissed blaming Black voters as a “false conclusion” and a “terrible mistake,” comments posted to the site took him to task for other reasons. Most comments strongly disagreed with Gross’ Black/gay comparison, but many others asked why communities of color and queer communities are still considered mutually exclusive in the mainstream LGBT rights movement.
A comment posted by “Greg J,” pointedly charged, “Gays of color, transgender, and yes, even lesbians are missing from the larger discourse of the gay rights struggle – primarily the gay marriage issue. The gay right’s movement was and remains the ‘gay, white, middle class’ movement!”
The Prop 8 fallout shows how much work remains to be done to connect the LGBT rights movement with other struggles for social justice across a spectrum of issues. Unfortunately, it may have taken the brutal murder of Ecuadoran immigrant Jose Oswaldo Sucuzhañay to highlight the invisibility of queer people of color – particularly queer immigrants – in LGBT rights discourse. His murder will hopefully provide an impetus for coalition building.
Jose Sucuzhañay and his brother Romel were attending a Sunday evening church party on December 7, 2008. They later decided to end the night with some drinks at a local bar in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. The two brothers left the bar at 3:30 a.m. and walked home arm-in-arm to support each other. Three men drove up to the Sucuzhañay brothers, one man got out of the car and began to shout anti-gay and anti-Latino slurs at them. Continue reading →
Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World