Update: This morning, the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, declaring it unconstitutional. It also held that the proponents of California’s Proposition 8 had no standing to defend the law in court and sent it back to the Ninth Circuit Court with instructions for it to dismiss the case.
This is a big week for equality. The Supreme Court is issuing rulings on cases it heard during its current term and some of them are all about equality. Also, the Texas State Senate closed out a special session last night where one of the bills being voted on concerned abortion rights.
First, the Supreme Court. The highest court in the U. S. heard several cases this term, but the ones everyone wants to know about are over voting rights and same-sex marriage. A decision has already been announced in the voting rights case, removing the requirement for nine states (mostly southern) to get federal permission before they change voting regulations. In the majority opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote “Our country has changed. While any racial discrimination in voting is too much, Congress must ensure that the legislation it passes to remedy that problem speaks to current conditions.” Hmm, makes me wonder if he’s been watching the news lately. Rulings on the cases concerning same-sex marriage should be announced today, as it’s the last day of the term. I don’t know about you, but I await them with bated breath.
In Texas, that bastion of conservative “thinking”, SB 5 would have effectively outlawed abortion in that state by criminalizing it after twenty weeks and closing all but 5 of the states women’s health clinics that also perform abortions, was up for a vote. Even though a majority of Texans opposed the bill, everyone thought this was a done deal. But Senator Wendy Davis filibustered it in an attempt to forestall a vote until after midnight when the special session ended. With 400 protesters looking on, Davis spoke non-stop for 11 hours, before being halted on procedural grounds just short of her goal. But, before the assembly could vote, the crowd staged what they called “a people’s filibuster”, halting proceedings for 15 minutes and preventing signing of the bill before the deadline. That’s democracy in action.
Now, you may be wondering why all this political stuff is showing up on what purports to be a religious blog. Well, there are two reasons. One, I am an American and Americans are all about some equality. Granted, we’ve not done a very good job with it, but equality is our raison d’etre. Our past is a bit spotty on the subject, but we’re getting better about it. Second, I am a Christian and, even though Christians have supported some pretty unequal things (slavery, Jim Crow, racism), equality is at the heart of the Jesus message. In the fourth chapter of Luke, Jesus walked into the synagogue of his hometown, took the scroll of Isaiah and read,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because the Lord has anointed me.
He has sent me to preach good news to the poor,
to proclaim release to the prisoners
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to liberate the oppressed,
and to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor”
Then, he rolled it up and said “Today, this scripture has been fulfilled just as you heard it.” For me, this story is the essence of the Gospel. Calling for equality, speaking out in favor of it whenever it is attacked and standing against those seek to marginalize others is one of the ways you can live out the commandment to love God and love your neighbor. I believe it is certainly one of which Jesus would approve.