As we welcome the New Year we can be sure that there will be a Supreme Court decision on our right to marry. We know the justices agreed to hear two cases: one on DOMA Section 3 and the other on California’s Proposition 8. Everyone and their uncle will be dissecting these cases and trying to predict an outcome. Lawyers will be giving us every possible scenario on each of them until the day the decision is rendered, which will most likely be the last possible day in June.
As a layman I see the court upholding the right to marry in California and overturning Section 3 of DOMA, with both decisions based on states’ rights. This seems to be the simplest thing for them to do if they are not prepared to take the final step and decide that under the 14th Amendment, same-sex marriages are protected by the Constitution. Of course, hope springs eternal that they will agree to invalidate all those obscene state constitutional amendments claiming that marriage can only be between a man and a woman.
Setting aside the jokes made after Colorado and Washington State legalized marijuana and people said they now understood the Bible where it says, “if man lies down with man they must be stoned,” the reality is that these anti-marriage equality amendments were passed because people wouldn’t acknowledge the fact that marriage in the United States is a civil right, not a religious one. It is granted in a license by the state and the decision to follow that up with a religious ceremony is a personal one. I am not convinced the court is willing to tell all those people they are wrong just yet. That feeling is heightened when listening to Ruth Bader Ginsburg say she thinks the court may have ruled on Roe v. Wade before the country was ready for it. But then it is nearly impossible to predict what the court will do, as we saw in the decision on the Affordable Care Act.
Congress should be able to move on some social legislation in 2013 — possibly a fair and equitable immigration bill and maybe with Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) in the Senate even ENDA can move if we put enough pressure on the Congress. Surely in the first quarter of 2013 we can put enough pressure on the president to sign an executive order banning discrimination in federal contracting.
There will be more than enough happening in 2013 to keep us all talking and debating. Anyone in Dupont Circle should feel free to stop by the Java House coffee shop on 17th and ‘Q’ Street any morning to partake in a conversation/debate. Patrons there have fun anticipating the possible Hillary Clinton run in 2016 and analyze everything she does or says from a new haircut to talk of buying a new house to where she will accept speaking engagements to see how it might play into a candidacy. Speculation on what President Obama will do after his second term began even before the term has begun. Topics of conversation will surely include continued fascination with Michelle Obama’s wardrobe and guessing games over new Cabinet members, ambassadors and high-level appointments in the White House. Since your opinion is as valid as anyone else’s sitting at the table, feel free to join in the fun.
The more serious issues that will play out in 2013 include what happens in Afghanistan, Syria, Egypt, Iran, Israel and to the Palestinian people. How many more people will lose their lives as these fights continue? Most agree that 2013 will not see the end of the turmoil in any of those places but we can and must pray that our leaders will find equitable solutions that will allow people to live in peace.
As we rejoice at the swearing in of the new Congress, especially members like Sen. Baldwin, and bid adieu to others like Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.) we must all remain vigilant and active if we are to advance the causes we believe in. As the president is sworn in to his second term we must continue to pressure him to stay strong in moving a progressive agenda forward as we stand strong at his side and pressure the members of Congress to do the same.
2013 could become one of the most exciting political years in a long time. We will surely be able to claim some victories if each and every one of us remains involved and continues to speak out for what we believe.