Now that the Supreme Court has struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional, thus paving the way for gay marriages, arguments persist that the Court has become too ideological. The Court has overruled Congress and buried the histories of misery, suffering and gallant sacrifices of the Civil Rights era with not even a fitting eulogy, while at the same time opened the floodgates for same sex couples to be treated equally under the law.
Unequivocally, legal same sex couples are now entitled to claim the same 1,100 benefits as heterosexual couples. All couples are equal in the eyes of the federal law. California’s prop 8 is dismissed, clearing the way for same sex couples to marry.
On the other hand, with a 5-4 vote, the Court has invalidated the Voting Rights Act, evoking dissatisfaction that the United States does not protect the right to vote, that the Voting Rights Act has a more robust congressional history than DOMA and masking much criticism that the Supreme Court is a political and ideological tool.
Critics lament that ‘dismantling the victories of the civil rights movement is a blow to democracy, conjures suggestion of a racist government and that America has become an example of backward progress in social and racial justice.’
But it is of essence to note that it is from the wounded veins of the civil rights era that flowed the blood of equal rights for all. It was in seeking to establish gender and racial equality for all Americans by eliminating racial discrimination and restoring political and economic self-sufficiency by the Civil Rights movement that gave birth to the climax of the gay rights movement.
Even as Congressman John Lewis contends that ‘the Supreme Court decision put a dagger in the heart of the Voting Rights Act and the ruling is the worst voting rights decision in a century’, the line that separates reality from the surreal must also be comprehended.
The wrath of the Marxist dictum that ‘ideology is one of the key concepts in understanding the cultural transmission of ideas, values and assumptions in any given society’ cannot be forsaken.
Political, social and economic thought are influenced by the spirit of the times and while the Supreme Court ruling has made it more difficult for all Americans to secure their voting rights, it has at the same time shown an originality that is not only comprised of one element but in a central hypothesis that is intricately interwoven with the other.
Rabbi Michael Lerner writes that “the deeper reason why the Supreme Court could be moved to support gay rights and not the rights of African Americans lies in how great a challenge the movement poses to the neoliberal, political and economic order.”
The point of this description is that every age is characterized by its major trait. Social paradigm shifts are continually exemplifying the perception of major changes in thought patterns and sweeping changes in personal beliefs and complex systems and organizations, hence replacing the former way of thinking with a profoundly different one.
Postmodern society has now claimed its entrance into the political, legal and social power structures, and like the Marxism of a new era, the Supreme Court substantiates a new way of thinking about social, political and cultural economy. Despite the penchant of African Americans lengthy diatribes on racism, the Supreme Court chose to appeal to the idealist feelings of the masses because ‘ideology represents the production of conception and consciousness.’
History shows it to be thus.
The contention by chief counsel for the lawyers committee for civil rights under law, Jon Greenbaum, that ‘minorities are now at a greater risk of being disenfranchised than they have been in decades’, and the adamant efforts in devising new congressional legislations to minority voters by various groups is heavily substantiated, but at the same time the tragic part is that everyone has a right to be here and everyone has a right to be heard. ‘The right to equality is the right of all human beings to be equal in dignity, to be treated with respect and to participate in an equal basis with others in all perimeters of economic, social, political, cultural and civil life.’ All human beings are equal before the law and have the right to equal protection and benefit of the law.
The Supreme Court may be divided along ideological lines but the music of human rights and equality chimes the same provocative melody today as it was in the French Revolution of 1789 and the Civil Rights era of the 60’s.
But it seems we are not all prepared to dance.