Dig Baton Rouge

State’s Rights < Human Rights

By Nick BeJeaux

The fight for marriage equality in Louisiana has befallen the gravest destroyers of any cause:  cowardice, stupidity and political BS.

Judge Martin L. C. Feldman is the first federal judge to uphold a state’s ban on marriage equality since appeals began after the Defense of Marriage Act was declared unconstitutional in 2013. Surely for one judge to disagree with 19 other federal judges on such an important issue, there must be a compelling reason. and Feldman does have compelling reasons – if you’re a bigot, an idiot or a coward.

Feldman, like many politically correct, naive or misguided opponents of marriage equality, claims that the struggle for same sex marriage is a clash over the recognition of “personal genuine, and sincere lifestyle choices;” i.e, being homosexual, and everything else not heterosexual, is a choice. This assertion is convenient for people who oppose “non-traditional” sexualities on the basis of faith or pseudoscience because they cannot allow themselves to view the universe in a larger perspective that cannot be contained in a single book. But, as Jackson Browne once said, it can be terribly inconvenient, who you fall in love with; you can’t really control it.

Because of this assertion, be it genuine or political, Feldman ruled that this is an issue for the states themselves to settle without the meddling of the federal government, and under most circumstances, I would agree. However, history has shown that when fundamental human rights are left in the hands of individual states – especially Southern states – there are tragic shortfalls. Louisiana, and basically all of its neighbors, ignored the existence of the Fourteenth Amendment (ratified in 1868) until the early 1970s and even to this day, the language of that amendment is twisted to perpetuate discrimination.

Feldman specifically cited Loving v. Virginia in claiming that the Fourteenth Amendment “expressly condemns racial discrimination as a constitutional evil” and guarantees no protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation. What it actually condemns is denying any person life, liberty, and property without due process of law or denying any person with the jurisdiction of the Constitution (American citizens) the equal protection of the law. Inconveniently for Feldman, that’s exactly what his decision does. He obviously isn’t a great practitioner of law because he might as well have pointed to the hole in his argument with flashing signs and a parade of festively feathered male go-go dancers.

Keeping with the subject of history, Feldman also asserted that same-sex marriage is a relatively new phenomenon – that it was “inconceivable until very recently” – and as such there is no existing fundamental right for homosexual couples to wed. False. Homosexuality has existed since the dawn of humanity and same-sex marriage has existed, at least, since the Dark Ages. The Catholic Church itself performed the right called Adelphopoiesis, which essentially was a marriage between two men. It was even sealed with a kiss!  The saints Serge and Bacchus – Roman soldiers who were martyred – are believed to have been bound in this way. This rite continued until 1306, when the Byzantine emperor Andronicus II (who, by the way, had two illegitimate daughters) had the practice banned, along with sorcery and incest, due to the sex occurring as a result of these marriages.

All in all, there is no legal, historical or constitutional precedent that defends Feldman’s decision; still, it isn’t surprising that Louisiana would be the first state to uphold its ban. Louisiana is a state that suffers from self-serving politics based on emotional reactions from the bigoted and/or uneducated solicited by invoking misinterpreted Bible verses and lies. Unfortunately, arguing with someone about the role of religion in policy is like running on a treadmill – it’s exhausting and it gets you nowhere. However, there is one solution in which everyone can be happy and even coexist. You believe that being gay is a sin, you can believe that your marriage has more merit than someone else’s (mine is still better than yours), and you can even believe that your lesbian neighbor will burn in hell for simply being who she is. But even if you believe all of that it doesn’t give you the right to dictate to another person how to live your life. In short, mind your own damn business.

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