Tonight’s Senate vote passes the gay marriage bill to the Band-Aid

Is the current gay marriage bill a beacon of brighter days? About, as the more optimistic gays say, things “getting better”?

Or is this bill a terrible compromise rooted in our collective desperation?

We’ll soon find out, as on Tuesday the Senate voted to pass the “Respect for Marriage Act.” The legislation now goes back to the Democratic-controlled House, where it is expected to pass, and then sit on President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

At best, it is a preemptive treatment should the Supreme Court try to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges.

At face value, this act appears to be a step forward by codifying federal same-sex and interracial marriage rights. At best, it’s a stopgap should the Supreme Court try to overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, which invoked the Fourteenth Amendment to legalize same-sex marriage. If Obergefell falls, bans in 35 states would go back into effect. But same-sex couples already married would not lose their benefits, and same-sex couples could continue to marry in states where it remained legal, traveling to another state if necessary.

But in no way does this act federally legalize “marriage equality” in the United States. It is mostly insurance for existing marriages. As Cornell University Law School professor Michael C. Dorf explained, “Same-sex couples living in states that do not automatically recognize the legality of their marriages would have to go to the trouble and expense of traveling to a state that does not to receive full recognition in their home state.”

Even John Cornyn, the conservative Republican senator from Texas, agreed that the act “doesn’t move the needle on same-sex marriage.”

Dig a little deeper and what this act really represents is the inflexibility of our nation’s institutions and the national entrenchment—despite constitutional assurances to the contrary—of religion.

At worst, the legislation is a Trojan horse that introduces protections that allow religious institutions — from churches to mosques, religious nonprofits to religious schools — the right to refuse services, facilities and goods for any marriage ceremony or celebration. Effectively, this act codifies discrimination.

Religious freedom protections were late additions to the bill to secure support from Senate Republicans like Mitt Romney of Utah. Romney released a statement in mid-November applauding the legislation for providing “important protections for religious freedom — measures that are especially important to protect the religious freedoms of our faith-based institutions.”

At worst, the legislation is a Trojan horse that introduces protections that allow religious institutions the right to refuse services, facilities and goods for any marriage ceremony or celebration.

This kind of support obviously comes with big trade-offs. Indeed, what is particularly insidious about this act – from its language to the way they are elected toting it’s at air of celebration surrounding him on social media — is how it capitalizes on the collective despair of racially marginalized and LGBT people. That we are so in need of basic security and protection—a roof over our heads, affordable health care—we have come to seek reassurance in the very institutions that legally codify and condone discrimination against us. Our basic civil rights, including the recognition of our human dignity and our very human desire for societal respect, remain bound by outdated patriarchal institutions. That we are somehow deemed more worthy of public services and tax exemptions if we join this institution.

We operate from such a deep place of fear and oppression that we happily swallow this crumb and feign satiety.

More and more states are legislating against our bodily autonomy and existence—surveilling our movement, criminalizing our bodies, erasing us from textbooks. But with less than a month left in this session of Congress — the final month of Democratic control of the House of Representatives — is that what liberal lawmakers are focusing on? A rhetorical bone to thank gays and blacks for voting for them? A nod to the ‘Rainbow Wave’ of tenure – the most LGBT people elected to office?

The “Respect for Marriage Act” is a fear-based reaction to the Supreme Court’s Dobbs decision, in which Justice Samuel Alito, for the majority, repeatedly stated that because abortion is not mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, not only is it is not legal, but according to the very selective set of sources he drew from, it is criminal. The fear is that this conservative-majority court will marry further as part of a larger interrogation of the rights afforded by the due process and equal protection clauses.

But, right now, the Supreme Court hears two cases of racial manipulation and two cases challenging affirmative action, more specifically, challenging the right of public and private institutions of higher education to consider race as a factor in admissions. Meanwhile, epidemics of gun violence and violence against trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming people are destroying our lives. Migrants and refugees seeking shelter are imprisoned, abused and exploited by politicians as political pawns.

What Congress’s priorities, and apparently our collective interest, point to are the deep limits not just of our institutions, but of what I call the “equality mode”—generations of social conditioning that have limited the reach of our political and social imaginations to the wishes of the patriarchy. white supremacist, so that we seek equality within the very institutions designed to oppress us.

Of course, the irony in this situation is that federal marriage equality isn’t even guaranteed by the Respect for Marriage Act. But the mentality is so pervasive, the desire for equality under patriarchy so deeply ingrained in us, that we seek equal rights and protection – here, that your same-sex marriage will be “recognized” in a state that bans same-sex marriage – that we don’t we succeed. to question the capacity of these measures. We are not looking for anything else but invoking the “chess game” logic of political strategy, which is just shorthand for accepting ineffectiveness or government.

As we have seen time and time again, laws can be made and undone, rights can be given and taken away, but only in their practice can they be experienced. The constitutional right to vote, for example, exists in name but means very little when gun-wielding extremists have the right to patrol a polling station. Recognition and inclusion in institutions is not equivalent to respecting the human dignity of your neighbor.

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