Friday, October 27, 2006

110 Years, Zero Lessons.

You may recall my earlier post regarding how the whole "marriage protection" movement was entirely too reminiscent of the blatant civil rights travesties that have left an indelible mark on the United States. Well, now New Jersey's Supreme Court has declared that participants in same-sex unions are entitled to the same rights as "married folk." It has been widely reported that this decision allows the state legislature to decide whether to declare same-sex unions as a type of marriage, or whether to establish some sort of separate-but-equal categorization. Unfortunately, the justices failed to pay any attention to the events that transpired after the 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision (ah, that's where that "110 years" reference comes from); they certainly failed to read the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision [*]. Cleary, these justices are unaware of the inequities and iniquities that continue to this day. Nice to know that my little illustration continues to "hold water."

* (I have chosen to redact liberally to strip out the direct race and education references in my quotes below; look here for the un-cut text of the Brown decision):

In Sweatt v. Painter, ..., this Court relied in large part on "those qualities which are incapable of objective measurement ..."

...To separate them ... generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone.

...The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law, for the policy of separating ... is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the [minority] group.

...Whatever may have been the extent of psychological knowledge at the time of Plessy v. Ferguson, this finding is amply supported by modern authority. Any language in Plessy v. Ferguson contrary to this finding is rejected.

We conclude that, ..., the doctrine of "separate but equal" has no place. Separate ... facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. This disposition makes unnecessary any discussion whether such segregation also violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.