Marriage Equality Essential But Insufficient

Statement by the DSA National Political Committee on the Supreme Court’s Rulings on Marriage Equality

Democratic Socialists of America celebrates the two Supreme Court rulings on marriage equality as a major step in the unending struggle for equal rights for the LGBTQ community.  A reactionary Supreme Court has had to recognize that most Americans now accept marriage equality. The Court’s decision will enable married same-sex couples to access federal benefits and strikes down Proposition 8’s ban on same-sex marriage in California.  

These rulings do not end the struggle for equal marital rights for the LGBTQ community. Although both decisions of the Court reference the Fifth Amendment’s guarantee of “equal protection” and “due process before the law,” the Court failed to establish a federal right to same sex marriage by holding state bans on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. Nor did the Court explicitly state that recalcitrant states must recognize, under the “full faith and credit” clause of the Constitution, the legally married status of LGBT couples married in other states. This could affect whether same-sex couples married in one state, but residing in a state without same-sex marriage, could access all federal benefits. And LGBT couples married in one state, but resident in one in which same-sex marriage does not exist, might still be denied the legal rights of a spouse (e.g., to hospital visitation, legal power of attorney, inheritance, child custody).

Just as marriage rights should not be tied to procreation, the right to bear and raise children should not be tied solely to the institution of marriage. Couples who choose to legally codify their mutual commitment by civil unions should have exactly the same child custody, inheritance, and social rights as married couples. Many individuals identify the institution of marriage with religious institutions or with binary conceptions of gender and sexual identity. Thus, the legal spread of the practice of civil unions, as exists in much of Europe, would expand   the options for those who wish to express mutual, loving commitments.

Furthermore, most of the human rights violations that the LGBTQ persons experience are not tied up with the issue of marriage nor are they addressed by the Court’s decision. In most states and localities, LGBTQ persons have no legal redress to employment discrimination nor is the frequent violence against the community recognized as a hate crime. We still live in a country where violence is visited upon LGBTQ persons daily and where employers can legally fire (or not hire) persons simply based on an aversion to their sexual orientation. Nor does a gain in civil rights guarantee that those rights will last forever; they must constantly be defended and expanded through struggle.

LGBTQ activists and their allies recognize that basic human rights such as health care should not be tied to one’s marital (or employment) status – all people should have quality healthcare and old-age income security regardless of their marital status, economic status, or employment history. Therefore even as we celebrate these gains in LGBTQ rights, we also recognize how far we still have to go as a society and world, and reaffirm our commitment to the struggle for equal rights for all.

 

Film Discussion: The Price We Pay

January 30, 2017
· 44 rsvps
The Price We Pay blows the lid off the dirty world of corporate malfeasance — the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, tax havens - and what we need to do to stop this.  DSA member Bill Barclay, who has a cameo role in the film, will facilitate the discussion. Watch the film prior to the discussion.

Full film available on Vimeo.

How to Plug in New Members

February 01, 2017
· 12 rsvps

Is your DSA chapter growing quickly and you're trying desperately to find ways to plug new members into your chapter's work? Never fear! On this conference call an experienced DSA organizer will go over the basics of new member outreach and developing a plan for plugging new members into your chapter's work. Most of the call will be devoted to troubleshooting specific issues you're facing, so please brainstorm some issues beforehand that you want to bring up on the call.  8 PM ET; 7 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 7 PM PT.

Film Discussion: Salt of the Earth

February 05, 2017
· 9 rsvps

Join DSA members Shelby Murphy and Deborah Rosenfelt in discussing Salt of the Earth, a captivating film made in 1954 by blacklisted writers and actors about a strike at a New Mexico zinc mine. Well before the resurgence of feminism in the 1960s, these filmmakers were exploring gender inequality and solidarity. Available on Netflix.

Shelby Murphy is a Latina from Texas and former Young Democratic Socialists co-chair. Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, Deborah Rosenfelt researched the making of the film and its aftermath for the reissued screenplay. Here is her blogpost about the film.

 

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 3 rsvps

Join DSA members Glenn Scott and Richard Croxdale to discuss videos produced by People’s History in Texas (PHIT), a project that brings to life the stories of ordinary people in significant socio-political movements in Texas. They will discuss The Rag, their newest documentary, which tells the story of an influential underground paper based in Austin, Texas, from 1966-77. Click here to view Part I (the early years as an all-volunteer paper covering the student, anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements), Part II (the impact of Women’s Liberation on the paper) and Part III (building community: covering local politics, nukes, co-ops, feminist institutions). But check out their short the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 2 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion.