Celebrate, but Remain Vigilant!

by William Skink

Yesterday SCOTUS made it unambiguously clear that two people with the same under-the-belt mechanics can be legally recognized in all the ways us heterosexual married couples take for granted. That is huge.

Yesterday’s victory took decades to accomplish and shouldn’t be minimized, though pandering politicians and old testament zealots obsessed with sex will try. They will try, and they will fail.

My wife and I talked with our kids about this, and they sorta nodded their heads like, so what? And that is huge. It won’t be nearly as big of a deal for them as they grow up because of the sacrifices and bravery of so many before them.

As much as celebration is warranted, political talons are being sharpened and the news cycle is packed with the dire consequences of racism and terrorism. On the political front, Hillary Clinton is publicly cheering the SCOTUS decision while those without political attention deficit disorder recall a not-so-distant position Clinton had to evolve, as pointed out last year in this Atlantic piece.

In that article, written after Terri Gross’ interview with Clinton exposed a deep vein of defensiveness, Andrew Sullivan is quoted from this piece:

She was the second most powerful person in an administration in a critical era for gay rights. And in that era, her husband signed the HIV travel ban into law (it remained on the books for 22 years thereafter), making it the only medical condition ever legislated as a bar to even a tourist entering the US. Clinton also left gay service-members in the lurch, doubling the rate of their discharges from the military, and signed DOMA, the high watermark of anti-gay legislation in American history. Where and when it counted, the Clintons gave critical credibility to the religious right’s jihad against us. And on the day we testified against DOMA in 1996, their Justice Department argued that there were no constitutional problems with DOMA at all (the Supreme Court eventually disagreed).

What I’d like to hear her answer is whether she regrets that period and whether she will ever take responsibility for it. But she got pissed when merely asked how calculated her position on this was. Here’s my guess: Unlike Obama, she was personally deeply uncomfortable with this for a long time and politically believed the issue was a Republican wedge issue to torment the Clintons rather than a core civil rights cause. I was editor of TNR for five years of the Clintons, aggressively writing and publishing articles in favor of marriage equality and military service, and saw the Clintons’ irritation with and hostility to gay activists up close. Under my editorship, we were a very early 1991 backer of Clinton – so I sure didn’t start out prejudiced against them. They taught me that skepticism all by themselves, and mainly by lying all the time.

On the racism front, there are services and speeches and political opportunities for rhetoric against the Confederate flag. Then, this morning, a beautiful direct action from Bree Newsome removed the symbol of hate flying outside the statehouse in Columbia, SC.

And on the terrorism front, there were attacks across the globe. A tweet from @rConflictNews summed up two days of violence like this:

2 Days of Terror:
156 killed in #Kobane
24 killed in #Kuwait
1 killed in #France
27 killed in #Tunisia
30 killed in #Somalia

There are so many hot spots of war around the world, the amount of refugees fleeing violence have hit levels not seen since WWII.

While it’s important to acknowledge glimmers of hope that we humans can be more humane and inclusive with each other, it’s equally important to recognize how far we need to go to address the violence American foreign policy produces.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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6 Responses to Celebrate, but Remain Vigilant!

  1. JC says:

    It’s not just the violence that American foreign policy creates. American domestic policy (which is but a mirror of our foreign policy) bears much responsibility that: “more than 41,000 people died by suicide in the United States in 2013. Homicide claimed another 16,000 people.” That’s 44 homicides a day, or almost 2 per hour.

    Our country is sick. We can celebrate this week the small victories like equality of rights for marriage, and the continuation of subsidies to the health insurance cartel to insure moderately poor folks. But it’s one small step forward, amongst many large steps back.

  2. Big Swede says:

    Remaining Vigilant. Sums it up nicely.

    1 “All we want is to be out of the shadows.”
    2 “All we want is acceptance”
    3 “All we want is equality”
    4 “Your view belongs in the shadows.”

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