DOMA Goes Down

A reason to celebrate.

DOMA has been struck down. The Supreme Court found it unconstitutional to discriminate based on someone’s sexuality. No shit. While I’m not at all surprised to see it was a 5-4 decision, I do find some dissatisfaction with four Justices. To the dissenting Justices John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas: look, homosexuals are human beings. They deserve the same rights afforded to all human beings. I suppose it’s a moot point to make now that the ruling is complete. But…honestly? Four grown men?

What I’m about to express is based entirely on anecdotal evidence, primarily my observations of comment boards and Facebook posts, and conversations I’ve had with people about LGBT rights. I have been thinking for a long time about people who spew animosity (or negativity) towards gay marriage and, by extension, homosexuals in general. Personally, I don’t know  if some large percentage of homophobic people might actually be gay themselves and frightened by this. Quite obviously, being queer has been demystified. We’re aware of homosexuals in our communities and have a social atmosphere that allows more people to be openly gay. We’ve become more accepting and mellow. Gays are heading ever closer to becoming fully accepted citizens. This is an historical moment we should be celebrating.

There’s this assumption that the people who loved DOMA were primarily motivated by religious reasons. Personally, I found this to be a superficial understanding. What always strikes me about discussions (often raving mad arguments) with people critical of the LGBT community is the threat they feel from seeing the traditionally disenfranchised gain a bit of freedom or authority over their own lives. It’s like they believe there’s a finite amount of freedom in the universe. They perceive themselves as having some of this substance and, of course, they want more of it. If someone traditionally less free to make decisions about their lives suddenly gains some, they panic. Someone’s mining the same ore from the opposite side of the mountain. It’s the ore that makes someone “normal”.

No. Not them. Only I’m regular and normal. I’m the standard by which humanity is judged. If that definition changes, what the hell happens to me?  I don’t want to live in a world where the people I think are strange or sinful or perverted become normal. You’re taking authority away from me. You need to change your point of view. I’m regular. Those different from me are strange. 

The assumption that you’re regular, that your experience is standard, is perfectly fine if you’re a five year old. A twelve year old might also get away with it, but educators often wonder about that kid’s maturity and intelligence if they’re unable to start making the necessary gains by age thirteen. A thirteen year old should see that a room has four corners in it, and the view from all four corners is valid. When they don’t, we try to open their minds (and sometimes we judge them really harshly).

An adult should certainly see that there is no finite amount of freedom in the universe. That’s a delusion, a product of a mind that equates experience with possession. If something’s happening to me, I “have” it. If it’s happening to someone else, they “have” it and I don’t. I need to keep them from it.

We have been seeing, to our culture’s credit, how these points of view set us up for hypocrisy and blindness. We find ourselves led to the laws of Animal Farm: All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others. You cannot believe that discriminating based on race or gender is wrong, but sexuality is perfectly fine.

A majority of Americans are getting this. A majority of the Supreme Court got it. What I wish is for more of us to see that someone else’s liberation is not anyone’s loss. There’s no “freedom ore” in the mountain. You still get to have your religious views, your political views, and you can still believe your books, no matter how weird they are. In the meantime, some gay couple down the street—and they are exactly down the street or (if you prefer) up the road—will raise a family, file taxes or hire divorce lawyers in a house behind a white picket fence. Few people pay much attention to us straight people when we do these things. Few people will pay attention to homosexuals when they do the same. It’s just going to be an ordinary part of life.

by Karolis Zukauskas