Equal under the law


Apparently, Minnesota’s DFL leadership is reluctant to take action to repeal the state’s DOMA law and legalize same-sex marriage, because they fear losing the majority if we focus too much on “social issues” as the GOP did last session. The only promise made by DFL leadership is that we will continue to “talk” about this issue.

Although “talking” led to the defeat of the anti-marriage amendment and changed some minds about gay marriage, I don’t think that it’s appropriate for the legislature to label gay marriage as purely a “social issue” and wait until same-sex relationships become socially acceptable before taking action. Discrimination against the LGBT community is partly a social issue and talking may help to alleviate prejudice, but denying gay and lesbian couples the freedom to marry is unequal treatment under the law. In his inaugural address, President Obama called for action when he spoke about equality under the law for gay and lesbian couples. He stated: “Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law – for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.”

President Obama’s speech reminded me of Steven Spielberg’s “Lincoln,” in which President Lincoln (or Daniel Day-Lewis) states, in part: “Euclid’s first common notion is this: Things which are equal to the same things are equal to each other. That’s a rule of mathematical reasoning and it’s true because it works – has done and always will do. In his book Euclid says this is self-evident.” It’s also blatantly obvious that marriage should be redefined to include same-sex couples.

I believe that we have waited long enough for legislation that treats gay and lesbian couples who choose to get married as equal under state law and that “talking” about our prejudices is important, but it is not enough. We need to act now. Talking is something that will need to continue long after we repeal the state DOMA law and legalize same-sex marriage. In Spielberg’s Lincoln, Thaddeus Stevens ultimately concedes that he could not change the hearts of his fellow legislators, but he could change the law by proclaiming: “I don’t hold with equality in all things, just equality before the law, nothing more.”