Inevitability

As we speak, twelve human beings, fraught with fallibility and riddled with bias, will decide whether or not an approximate tenth of our nation’s citizens are entitled to the protections afforded all Americans by the 14th Amendment: “No State shall… deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Despite my knowledge of and interest in constitutional law, I really can’t merit a guess as to how the Supreme Court will rule. With eight justices probably already decided, my gut tells me that Justice Kennedy is leaning towards overturning Prop 8. Whether or not that leads to an end to the discrimination against our gay brothers and sisters for simply being who they are remains to be seen.

However, come June, we will await our Brown v. Board despite the very real possibility that we are only at Plessy v. Ferguson.

That is, however, my point. Our nation’s history has not been a pretty one, but the theme of inclusiveness and the expansion of rights to new groups of people is unmistakable. It never goes as fast as we wish, or it should. It’s never painless. But in the end, justice prevails.

A hundred years ago, women battled for the right to vote. “We are at war!” “Women belong at home!” “Let the states decide!”

In my classroom, it takes a pretty good HBO film to hook students on women’s suffrage. Not because students are sexist, but because it’s so obvious. Of course women should be able to vote.

Why was this a thing?

Fifty years ago, Blacks, Hispanics, and American-Indians struggled for equal protection under the law. They couldn’t vote. They were denied jobs and housing on account of their race. Everything was segregated. “States rights!” “No one can tell us how to live our lives!” “It’s tradition!” “The Negros prefer it this way!”

In my classroom, we spend more time on the various Civil Rights movements than many students wish. It’s not because they are racist, but because they don’t understand that these issues still exist today and because the basic legal idea is so obvious. Of course you can’t have laws separating everything based on race.

Why was this a thing?

Today, homosexuals struggle for the right to marry and all the privileges and benefits that come with it. “States rights!” “You’re changing the definition of marriage!” “The Bible says so!”

If the Supreme Court decides against the spirit of the Constitution and our moral obligations, it will only be a temporary defeat. In 50 years, regardless of this decision, American high school students will be bored learning about it. Of course people who have no control over their sexual orientation should be able to get married.

Why was this a thing?

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