June 27, 2013
Surely the U.S. Supreme Court didn't wait for gay pride week to chop the Defense of Marriage Act into bits.
It just worked out that way.
The Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that defining marriage as an institution between a man and a woman was discriminatory.
And now the issue goes back to the states, where it truly belongs, so we can fight, argue, squabble and heap insults upon each other — like "bigot" and "inhuman" — in the name of love.
And one of those states is dark-blue Illinois.
Those fixated on national politics should remember that Illinois is the birthplace (either actual or metaphorical) of two of the leading political figures in our country, both of whom applauded the demise of the Defense of Marriage Act on Wednesday: President Barack Obama and his anointed successor, former Secretary of State Hillary "What Difference Does It Make?" Clinton.
Obama once campaigned for the White House as something of a moral traditionalist. But he was ecstatic Wednesday that the Supreme Court ruled DOMA was wrong.
Marriage has been defined as a union between a man and a woman for thousands upon thousands of years, in cultures great and small, advanced and barbaric, from pre-Christian times onward.
But Obama and the court majority held it was discriminatory, and by their language they suggest that those who support such traditional views are actively engaged in discriminatory behavior.
"This was discrimination enshrined in law," Obama said. "We are a people who declared that we are all created equal — and the love we commit to one another must be equal as well."
Clinton was ecstatic as well. She released a joint statement with her husband, Bill, the former president and presumptive First Laddie in what could be a Hillary administration.
Both Clintons congratulated the Supreme Court majority and ridiculed DOMA.
"By overturning the Defense of Marriage Act, the court recognized that discrimination towards any group holds us all back in our efforts to form a more perfect union," Bill and Hillary said in their statement.
Perfect union. Nice.
But they forgot to mention the name of the president who signed the Defense of Marriage Act into law in 1996. His name? Bill Clinton.
I'm sure someone will write the editors to complain that stubborn consistency is also discriminatory, or at least that it is the hobgoblin of my little mind.
But I've evolved too. As an Orthodox Christian, I'm compelled not to support gay marriage. Yet as an American who reveres the Constitution — and one who won't try to bend it to my whims as do some on the political left — I figure that everyone is entitled to equal protection.
That includes gay couples.
So the fight over what is and what is not a marriage moves back to the states, to be subjected to the energies of democratic federalism. Let's see what happens.
If you think marriage should be between a man and a woman, tell your legislators. If you don't, tell them. Elections are at hand. Let the states, meaning the people, decide this.
And when the Supreme Court believes the people are wrong, it will slap them again. The only way to stop that is for a constitutional amendment to define marriage. But neither Republicans nor Democrats will go there.
As the debate returns to the states, will Obama and Clinton return to Illinois to actively fight for gay marriage?
They're not strangers. Illinois is the birthplace of Hillary Rodham Clinton, who once described herself as a "lifelong Yankees fan" from Park Ridge.
Obama wasn't born here, but his politics were. Remember that he was the candidate who vowed to transcend the broken politics of the past, before importing future Mayor Rahm Emanuel and perhaps-future-gubernatorial-candidate Billy Daley to Washington to run his White House.
One thing both Obama and Clinton understand:
Illinois is a blue Democratic-machine state with a liberal Democratic governor and machine Democrat bosses controlling veto-proof supermajorities in both houses of the state legislature.
Yet with all that blue Democratic muscle, Illinois hasn't passed a law allowing gay marriage. Despite the ravings of a few dreamers, this isn't the fault of the Republicans. They control nothing.
The politician who controls things here is the boss of Illinois, the state Democratic Party Chairman and House Speaker Michael Madigan.
Madigan didn't push for the gay marriage bill. It didn't get enough votes. In real terms, he killed it. But he's also the most meticulous planner and best strategic political thinker in the state.
He doesn't do a thing without a reason.
Madigan angered gay activists. But he wouldn't risk his members, particularly African-Americans, in a final vote. Without them, he has no power, no fortune, no reach.
Many African-American politicians represent socially conservative districts. Democratic activists have no difficulty condemning conservative Republican Christians as "bigots." But a loud shame game targeting socially conservative, religious black voters who are the backbone of the Democratic Party is a different story.
So let's see what happens next on gay marriage in blue Illinois, where the machine Democrats rule.
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