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MUHAMMAD: LGBT=Sí; Afro=NO

Askia Muhammad | 7/2/2013, 3 p.m.
Askia Muhammad

Can there be any doubt about the duplicity of White America after the final decisions in the Supreme Court’s 2013 term were announced?

Many people of all races and nationalities celebrated the decision by the court overturning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) thus declaring that same-sex married couples are entitled to all the benefits for which any other married couples are eligible. The LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) community was “delirious.” They were really happy.

On the other hand, Black people, Hispanics, Asian Americans mostly were “devastated” by the court’s decision invalidating Title V of the Voting Rights Act. They were really disappointed.

Just a few months ago, members of the LGBT community were arguing that theirs was a “civil rights” issue, likening prohibitions against their getting “married” in the eyes of the law, with the legal prohibitions against inter-racial marriage half a century ago. But as the “real” Civil Rights movement was knocked back on its heels in the Voting Rights case, and knocked down (but not out) for “an eight-count” by the SCOTUS decision which further weakened (without totally invalidating) affirmative action, it’s clear to me that the LGBT movement has stepped on, and now over the Civil Rights movement to find its own place in the sun. Of course, individuals in committed long-term monogamous relationships deserve the same rights regardless of gender attraction.

What likely really happened, in my opinion, is that Gay White males (and females) woke up one morning and discovered that they were not able to enjoy all the “White privileges” enjoyed by heterosexuals, and they didn’t like it, and went to work to get what was coming to them. That outcome is similar to the huge advances – outpacing Black folks in receiving benefits, contracts, employment, etc. – White females gained from affirmative action enforcement. They kept stepping on, Blacks were left behind.

What irks me most about the developments on the high court, however, is the sheer hubris, the duplicity, the rampant hypocrisy of one Justice Antonin Scalia, who voted with the majority to dismember the Voting Rights Act one day, and then voted with the minority, unable to preserve DOMA.

Justice Scalia was apoplectic. He said in his dissent in the DOMA case which he read aloud from the bench, “That is jaw-dropping. It is an assertion of judicial supremacy over the people’s Representatives in Congress and the Executive,” adding that the framers of the Constitution created a judicial branch with limited power in order to “guard their right to self-rule against the black-robed supremacy that today’s majority finds so attractive.

“We have no power under the Constitution to invalidate this democratically adopted legislation.” But that’s what conservatives always say: liberal judges are “legislating from the bench” when they overturn laws conservatives don’t like.

And yet in the case of the Voting Rights Act, Justice Scalia voted to overturn legislation that was passed in 2006 by a 98-0 vote in the Senate and 390-33 in the House, with 15,000 pages of Congressional data compiled over a period of 20 months of rigorous hearings. The Voting Rights Act was signed into law by Republican President George W. (for worst in history) Bush. If that combination does not constitute an expression of “the people’s Representatives in Congress and the Executive” then I don’t know what possibly could be more demonstrative of the will of the peoples’ representatives.

Justice Scalia was perfectly comfortable voting to assert “judicial supremacy” in that case which might have benefited Black people, who he considers a coterie trying to force the society to grant undeserved entitlements.

The final irony in the DOMA case is the litigant. She is Edith Windsor, who went to court because when her wife died she had to pay an additional $360,000 in federal taxes on the estate. Most folks I know will never see $360,000 in their entire lifetime of earnings. And that’s just the amount of the taxes, not the value of the entire estate. I’ve never known any real Civil Rights “victims” fretting over and going to court to settle a $360,000 tax beef.

So here we are. Thanks to our friends on the Supreme Court, it’s plain to me that America has declared in its recent decisions concerning DOMA and the Voting Rights Act, that the message being sent out is unambiguous: LGBT=Sí; Afro=No.