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News ::
20 Nov 2003

By Preston Wood
Via Workers World News Service
Reprinted from the Nov. 27, 2003
issue of Workers World newspaper


By Preston Wood

Just months after a milestone decision in the U.S. Supreme Court
striking down anti-sodomy laws, the highest court in Massachusetts ruled on Nov. 18 that the state's ban on same-sex marriage is
unconstitutional. The court gave state lawmakers 180 days to come up
with a way for same-sex couples to marry.

This landmark victory is the result of decades of struggle by the
lesbian, gay, bi and trans movement for equality and fundamental
democratic rights. The decision strikes a blow against bigotry and
represents a major setback for the whole racist, sexist, anti-gay and anti-labor right-wing movement in the U.S., which enjoys the full backing of the Bush administration.

The court's ruling cannot be appealed. Its strong words speak for
themselves: "Whether and whom to marry, how to express sexual intimacy, and whether and how to establish a family--these are among the most basic of every individual's liberty and due process rights."

In addition, the court also specified that creating a separate class of marriage, such as "civil unions," would not be valid and is

The ruling will be far reaching and opens the door for advancing the
fight for equality for LGBT people. Unless somehow defeated by right-
wing forces in Massa chu setts, same-sex couples would be able to marry in that state, then fight for recognition of their union outside of Massachusetts, thus setting the stage for more struggles around the country.

While marriage is usually portrayed in movies and on television as pure romance and love, many civil and human rights are involved. Can the male lover of a man dying inside a hospital remain at his side till the end? Can a lesbian mother have her children taken away by the courts simply because of her sexuality? Will a transgender couple be allowed to buy a home together or rent an apartment? Can same-sex couples share company benefits, such as health insurance and retirement funds? Can one partner leave a house to the other partner when he or she dies?

These and other questions are at stake around the issue of same-sex

The reaction of the Bush administration to the ruling was as fast as it was predictable. "Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman," Bush said, and vowed to work with Congress to "defend the sanctity of marriage."

Right-wing zealots, who have been pressuring the White House to support a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage, were also quick to call the decision an assault on the "American way of life" that threatens "the history and very soul of the country." (BBC News, Nov. 18)

Typically, the Bush administration characterizes this and other issues in sanctimonious religious terms, and even most liberal Democrats love to refer to the "sanctity" of marriage.

In reality, though, marriage is a civil union that exists under the
principle of separation of church and state. The intentional blurring of this confuses many who support LGBT rights and abhor right-wing violence against LGBT people. Upcoming struggles to defend the meaning of this ruling, though, will demonstrate that supporting same-sex marriage rights helps build unity and thus strengthens all progressive and working-class struggles against the bosses.

It is well known that many of the wealthiest U.S. corporations donate millions to right-wing organizations each year, just to hammer away at working-class unity and the progressive movement by sponsoring bigotry, racism, sexism and anti-labor campaigns.

While this ruling will no doubt provoke a right-wing campaign against it, it will also spur others to unite in favor of equal rights for all. Just as women everywhere are mobilizing to fight back against attacks on a woman's right to choose, the LGBT movement and its allies will continue to push back the right wing.

- END -

(Copyright Workers World Service: Everyone is permitted to copy and
distribute verbatim copies of this document, but changing it is not
allowed. For more information contact Workers World, 55 W. 17 St., NY, NY 10011; via e-mail: ww (at) Subscribe wwnews-
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