'Separate But Equal?' Same-Gender Marriage Parallels Racist Jim Crow Laws

SCOTUS is weighing overturning the Defense of Marriage Act. Are comparisons to racism and civil-rights laws helping?

The Supreme Court appears much closer to ending the federal Defense of Marriage Act than overturning California's Proposition 8 and interfering with state's rights. What's the difference and how are parallels to racism and Jim Crow influencing the case?


Separate But Equal? 'Full & Skim-Milk Marriages'

The Supreme Court's stance on DOMA leaned favorably toward marriage equality after almost two hours of oral arguments on March 27. A majority of the justices voiced concerns for the constitutionality of a federally mandated definition of marriage, which currently is defined and recognized as being between a man and a woman only. As such, only heterosexual married couples are eligible to receive benefits like Social Security and tax breaks, while married same-gender couples, in states that have approved such unions, still are not recognized by the federal government.

Having two kinds of marriages, according to Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, is likened to having "separate but equal" tiers, inferring a direct parallel to the faulted rationality the government once upheld in Jim-Crow-era laws. Ginsberg said:

They're not--they're not a question of additional benefits. I mean, they touch every aspect of life. Your partner is sick. Social Security. I mean, it's pervasive. It's not as though, well, there's this little Federal sphere and it's only a tax question. It's -- it's -- as Justice Kennedy said, 1100 statutes, and it affects every area of life. And so he was really diminishing what the State has said is marriage. You're saying, no, State said two kinds of marriage; the full marriage, and then this sort of skim milk marriage.

Additionally, questions surrounding the original motives behind DOMA arose: "Well, is what happened in 1996–and I'm going to quote from the House Report here–is that "Congress decided to reflect an honor of collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality." Is that what happened in 1996?" asked Justice Elena Kagan.

Comparisons between same-gender-marriage bans and racism have become an increasing argument for the supporters of LGBT-rights. For example, pro-LGBT group Every1Against1 previously used Jim-Crow imagery in its campaign in support of marriage equality, and Howard University School of Law's Civil Rights Clinic recently filed an amicus brief that compared both Prop 8 and DOMA, and similar same-gender-marriage bans with Jim-Crow era laws that prohibited interracial marriage and reinforced continuing discrimination against Blacks.

"Without acknowledging the racial provenance of these discredited arguments, opponents of marriage equality have attacked same-sex couples as a threat to American society, American families and heterosexual marriage, as an affront to the laws of God and nature, and as a menace to their children," read the brief.

The Supreme Court is expected to make a decision on DOMA and Prop 8 sometime this summer.

REUTERS

Salary History Cannot Justify Sex-Based Pay Gaps: U.S. Appeals Court

Women made 82 cents for every dollar earned by men in 2016, according to U.S. Labor Department data.

(Reuters) — A U.S. appeals court on Monday ruled employers cannot use workers' salary histories to justify gender-based pay disparities, saying that would perpetuate a wage gap that is "an embarrassing reality of our economy."

Read More Show Less
REUTERS

Fox News Settles Gender Discrimination Suit with Female Reporter, Says Lawyer

Diana Falzone said she was abruptly taken off air by Fox News after writing an article about her struggle with endometriosis, a medical condition that would likely leave her infertile.

(Reuters) — Journalist Diana Falzone has settled a gender discrimination lawsuit she filed against Fox News and left the company, her lawyer said on Thursday.

Read More Show Less

Ben Carson's HUD to Scrub Anti-Discrimination Language from Mission Statement

As the Trump administration seeks to cut HUD's funding, the agency is aligning its mission with "the secretary's priorities."

A year after beginning his position of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) secretary, Ben Carson has decided that it's time to update the agency's mission statement and remove words and phrases like "inclusion" and "free from discrimination."

Read More Show Less

BBC Denies Gender Bias as Women Staff Denounce Unequal Pay

The BBC has been struggling to quell anger among female employees since it had to name its best-paid on-air staff last July and disclose their pay bands.

(Reuters) — Women working for the BBC have complained they are paid less than men in equivalent jobs and accused managers of misleading them about their pay to hide widespread gender discrimination at Britain's public broadcaster.

Read More Show Less
REUTERS

Gay Basher Brownback Wins Confirmation as Ambassador for International Religious Freedom

Tireless bedroom busybody goes international as the champion of religion from the five-children-from-three-women-porn-star-payoff administration.

Sam Brownback, the unpopular Republican governor of Kansas and an enemy of LGBT rights, will be leaving his post to take on a role as international religious freedom ambassador for President Donald Trump's administration.

Read More Show Less

Trump's Administration to Further the Health Care Divide

"The government is set to create a division within Office of Civil Rights to protect conservative medical professionals."

By Alana Winns and Christian Carew

Read More Show Less