Standing Atop A Mountain, Looking Down On Other Mountains
by Belinda Dronkers-Laureta on May 11th, 2016

Keeping Families Together

The Asian And Pacific Islander Family Pride Blog

June 21, 2013

Standing Atop A Mountain, Looking Down On Other Mountains


Next week is THE week. The Supreme Court reshapes America’s social landscape with decisions about marriage, education, and voting. Did you notice how the media is picking up the pace reporting on what is going to happen? The New York Times’ Supreme Court reporter, Adam Liptak, wrote an article that the court’s decisions would redefine the meaning of legal equality. There are two types of equality, Mr. Liptak writes, formal equality and dynamic equality.

Formal equality means that same gender couples are treated exactly the same as opposite gender couples. The LGBT community does not have formal equality. However, not all justices favor formal equality; some prefer dynamic equality, “one that takes account of the weight of history and of modern disparities.” The LGBT community doesn’t have that type of equality either, but attaining that type of equality relies more on the political process than a judicial fiat.

We sat around the dinner table and speculated right along with everybody else. What if. . . What if . . . What if the Supreme Court confines its decision to just DOMA and Prop 8 and rules both unconstitutional? If that were to happen, we believe the federal government must accept same gender marriages in states where such marriages are allowed and in California same gender marriages can once again be celebrated. That would be dynamic equality, because there are thirty-seven states that define marriage as only between a man and a woman and the ruling wouldn’t touch those laws. To change the laws in those 37 states requires a determined political push that in turn requires changing hearts and minds.

Ruling DOMA and Prop 8 unconstitutional would be a triumph, but like an army advancing too rapidly, there would be much work left to mop up large pockets of resistance. Embedded in our way of life are many state laws that contain prohibitions against LGBTs and prevent LGBTs from enjoying America’s most sublime promise: equal protection under the law. Then there are still the deeply rooted beliefs that will last for generations. At the very least, with equal protection laws to support us, these habits will become increasingly more difficult to cling to. Almost 50 years after the passing of the Civil Rights Act, Paula Deen is still a racist but the cost to her for being one is great.

Belinda said that having the Supreme Court rule DOMA and Prop 8 unconstitutional means that we scaled the top of a high mountain and while there will be many more mountains to scale, we can see their peaks from this one.

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride

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