Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Marriage equality in the Palmetto State, where I took Army Basic in 1968

A federal judge has struck down the gay marriage ban in South Carolina.  The Charlotte Observer story is here.  The judge is Richard Gergel (the court is in Rhett Butler's Charleston).  The text of the opinion is here. The case sounds like an important “win” in the deep South, but the 4th Circuit had already ruled on this before.
While many of the arguments are based on equal protection, as that concept mixes with due process and the notion of fundamental rights, it’s apparent that “equality” is becoming even more important in resolving a fundamental rift in our society over individualism – when should an individual put others and the community over the self? 
In the past, anti-homosexual views and “heterosexism” were, in a sloppy or fuzzy sense, seen as related to the ability to build a relationship expressing complementarity, a concept more specific than psychological polarity and more directly related to openness to procreation, with all its uncertainties and risks.   Modernism has led to the view that you don’t need to base reaching out on gender complementarity, but you have to accept some other ideas or processes (like gay couples adopting children). Modernism has also led to a mixed view of gender equality within marriage, as with the controversy over paternity leave in the workplace.  
The notion that we have to respond to need that knocks on the door was behind a lot of my thinking on the military gay ban (before and including the 17-year-itch, that is, “don’t ask don’t tell”). Marriage equality in the 90s seemed much more distant.  Yet, the lack of it meant living with parity, not equality.  “Separate but equal” as always an oxymoron.  "S.C." is where I took Basic Combat Training when I was drafted in February 1968, Fort Jackson, just east of Columbia.  I remember that experience vividly. At night, as we buffed barracks floors, WCOS blared that it was first in "The Palmetto State".  

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