The most caustic line about Justice Antonin Scalia’s death came on Twitter last weekend within minutes, well under 140 characters:
“Justice Scalia asked to be cremated, but millions of women are now deciding whether that is best for his body.”
There is nothing scientific about his loss to LGBT America. Ding-dong, the evil witch is dead. Retirement to a dude ranch would have been a nicer fate, but the most strident voice against equality for gay people has been suddenly silenced.
Fortunately, despite his nastiness and negativity for the LGBT community, the derisive decisions he most recently authored echoed the frustrated voices of lonely dissenters. We beat him before he died.
“Many Americans,” he wrote, “ do not want persons who openly engage in homosexual conduct as partners in their businesses… they view this as protecting themselves from a lifestyle they believe to be immoral and destructive.”
Many Americans, I will tell you, did not want Negroes to drink from white water fountains or ride on the front of the bus. But America grew as a nation, and we came to respect that when the Constitutional originalists wrote that black people could be slaves and only counted as three-fifths of a person we were morally wrong as a nation.
Everything that you hear about Justice Antonin Scalia having been bright, intellectual, engaging, and a man of great wit and humor may have been true. Were he only to employ those talents to embrace equality for all and not the privileged few. He did not. His opinions were offensive to minorities, women, and the LGBT community. What were lawful rights to us were illegitimate entitlements to him.
Those of you who remember Archie Bunker from the TV show ‘All in the Family’ should know that Scalia patterned himself after Carol O’Connor’s character. The trouble is one was a television show, and Scalia, also from Queens, New York, was real life.
We mourn his loss but his decisions more. We look back at the way he reveled in disparaging the civil and constitutional rights of gay people and women, from his rulings banning gay athletes allowing them to conduct a ‘gay Olympics’ to last year’s dissent censuring gay marriage. All we can say is that it was time for a change in the Supreme Court.
On another page in this issue, SFGN is proud to run Lisa Keen’s thoughtful and incisive article on the legacy Justice Scalia leaves behind. Hopefully, it will stay there, in the past, an abandoned and anachronistic relic of a legal history that will shame future generations.
U.S. senators now have the duty to vote on a new nominee, but Republican leaders have already said they are prepared to filibuster against it. They have said only the new, popularly elected president should make that selection in his next term.
If the Republican candidates really stood for the U.S. Constitution instead of expediency and self-gratification, they would support the authority of a sitting president to make that nomination. Only Jeb Bush does. Our former governor, he knows something about being a decisive leader. Unfortunately for us, he is one that has never sided with the LGBT community. He led the fight for a constitutional amendment in Florida banning same sex marriage in our state.
President Obama was duly re-elected to a four-year term, and won that contest by five million votes. By advocating postponement of that vote in 2016, Republican presidential candidates are trading the here and now for the future. They are crippling the authority of future presidents; ironically at the same time they say the incumbent has not been strong enough.
The passing of Justice Scalia empowers President Obama to make a courageous appointment whose nomination will set into motion a national debate on the direction of America in the 21st century. As close as some of the Supreme Court votes have been on civil rights issue impacting LGBT citizens, it should give you pause as to how important your vote is this coming November.
Even if Mr. Obama’s nominee never gets a hearing, and given the dysfunction owning Washington, he or she very well may not, LGBT Americans will need to be heard, loud and proud. We will need to campaign again that our love is legitimate, and ought to be lawfully protected by our courts as it is celebrated in our communities.
We will be called again back to the ballot box to insure that tomorrow’s leaders do not repeal yesterday’s wins, but etch them in stone and into the firmament of our civilization.
We may have to stand up to a bombastic circus clown leading a Neanderthal right wing agenda, or a seasoned governor empowered by a presidential name. Whoever it is, none of the Republican candidates for the presidency support who you are or the rights you have won. So get ready. It’s time to engage the battle once again.