by The Opportunity Agenda, Fri May 29, 2009 at 07:55:48 AM EDT
The theme of equality was central to our nation’s founding, with the declaration that “all men are created equal.” Our country’s history has witnessed the gradual evolution of that core principle from a ruling class that countenanced slavery and subordination toward an egalitarian vision that embraces the inherent equality of all people. We fought a civil war in part to give life to this proposition. It is embodied in our Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection under law, and in the other Civil War amendments. And epic social movements of the past two centuries have moved our country, in fits and starts, further still toward the reality of truly equal opportunity. As Abraham Lincoln said of the Founders’ vision:
“They meant to set up a standard maxim for free society, which should be familiar to all, and revered by all; constantly looked to, constantly labored for, and even though never perfectly attained, constantly approximated, and thereby constantly spreading and deepening its influence, and augmenting the happiness and value of life to all people of all colors everywhere.”
It's because of this rich history that recent happenings in Nevada and California are so discouraging. First, the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8's ban on same-sex marriage. Meanwhile, this week Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons vetoed a law that would give domestic partners similar rights and benefits to those enjoyed by Nevada married couples.
In a statement (PDF) released by the Governor, he writes: "My disapproval of this bill should not be taken to suggest that domestic partners are in any way undeserving of rights and protections." But this is a canard. As Justice Carlos Moreno, the sole dissenter in this week's California Supreme Court ruling, said:
"Granting same-sex couples all of the rights enjoyed by opposite-sex couples, except the right to call their officially recognized and protected family relationship a marriage, still denies them equal treatment."
He continued to say the ruling "places at risk the state constitutional rights of all disfavored minorities."
Granting gay couples anything but the ability to marriage is fundamentally separate and unequal. These actions in California and Nevada are a troubling trend and particularly discouraging in light of the recent advances in gay rights in so many other states.
For more, visit The Opportunity Agenda's website.