Although it’s been years since I’ve gone – or have had any desire to go – to San Francisco Gay Pride, I’m making an exception today. The SCOTUS ruling on DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act) is worth celebrating, even though the Court’s inability to utter the words “discrimination against lesbians and gays, period, violates the Equal Protection Clause of the 5th and 14th Amendments,” gives me great pause. The same goes as well for the Court’s failure to state that any ban on gay marriage violates the Due Process clauses of those amendments.
I guess I shouldn’t expect much from a Court that deems those long lines of African American and Latino voters during the 2012 election as democracy at its best. Where were the Bull Connors? the Court asks. The fire hoses and bombed churches? The violent white mobs? (I imagine some of them might very well be holding office or working at the polls. Times have changed, after all, and why wield a metal pipe when you could simply press a button and eliminate voters with the last name of Lopez? Or come up with a genius redistricting plan)?
Racism-blindness – the Court’s true stance on questions of race, and which those who remain invested in racial subordination insist on calling “color-blindness” – continues to serve as the backdrop against which the Court expands or contracts the rights of others, as has historically been the case. The cynic in me believes that, had the justices been asked to consider the case of an old black lesbian forced to pay over $300,000 in estate taxes upon the death of her loved one (a truly unlikely scenario, by the way), Justice Kennedy – fresh from his Voting Rights Act concurrence – would have been hard pressed to recognize the “harm” or “dignity” interests that made him veer to the other side when it came to DOMA.
Let’s not fool ourselves: the wealth/property and whiteness interests that informed Citizens United lurks somewhere in Kennedy’s DOMA opinion, just as surely as they serve the color-blindness doctrine by which the Court gutted the Voting Rights Act.
I'm just sayin'.
But I’m going to Pride, nevertheless, because when I marry my partner (from time to time she likes to say “if” – if I marry you), I can at least look forward to her social security when she’s dead and gone. Assuming, of course, that the Republicans won’t have succeeded in raiding the Treasury by then.
And as inclined as I am to party my ass off today, I’m going to take it easy because today is also Sunday, a day that I refuse to eat. Since May 16th – the 100th day of the Guantanamo Bay hunger strike – I’ve dedicated my Sundays to no food, a choice I've made to express my solidarity with the prisoners at Guantanamo.
The 150th day of the strike is fast approaching, and with all the promises about prison closure coming from President Obama and my representative, Senator Dianne Feinstein, there seems to be no end in sight to the terrible injustice that is Guantanamo. So I’ll be celebrating Pride, though on an empty and wailing stomach.
And since we’re on the subject of Gay Pride:
I wonder if there are any gay prisoners in Guantanamo, if any of the men on strike is negotiating the terror of the closet with the terror of everyday life in that awful prison.
I wonder if any of the soldiers guarding the prison are gay. In my mind’s eye I can see a young, white working class soldier reflecting on a phone conversation that he had with his partner earlier in the week about the SCOTUS decision on DOMA. I can hear their excitement about the decision and then their somber discussion about what it might mean if he’s deployed to another dangerous part of the world. I can hear them become suddenly disappointed when they both realize that, as Oklahoma boys who want to remain in Oklahoma, they’re not quite within the decision’s reach.
I wonder if any of the guards is a Mexican American lesbian, and if she wonders whether or not her family in Texas will be able to vote. Or whether she’ll be able to vote when she returns.
I wonder if any of the guards is an African American gay man, who’s ecstatic that he and his partner – recently married in D.C. – will finally reap the benefits provided by the federal government to heterosexual married couples. I see him worry for his grandmothers – both of whom live in Florida, both of whom waited eight hours on a hot day in November to vote for Baraka Obama – who say that they plan to vote in the next election.
I wonder what the prisoner and the soldiers would say to each other -- privately, of course, and perhaps out of earshot of the NSA -- about freedom, democracy, and pride in America.
But I digress.
Happy LGBT Pride.