What we need to do now is to look at the totality of what has just happened at the Supreme Court. And for those heartbroken over what happened to the Voting Rights Act whose minds are still somehow so narrow that they can’t celebrate the defeat of the Defense of Marriage Act because it is a victory for gays, they need to understand that these two decisions are intertwined. Like it or not. And then when you add the heroic actions of Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis, who led an 11-hour filibuster which forced the defeat of a bill that would have closed nearly all the abortion clinics in that state, you can begin to see the rise of the progressive troops.
This is war, folks, and the battlefield is the year 2014. Progressives and Democrats sat on their hands pouting in 2010 because too many believed President Barack Obama wasn’t being progressive enough for their tastes. Yeah, well, we all see where that got us. Next year is the year we cannot afford to lose come November, because if we do then it’s hard to calculate the extent of the damage coming our way.
Yesterday the Supreme Court delivered a hammer blow to more than a half century of civil rights progress when they effectively neutered the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which has stood as the centerpiece of what the movement was about. When African Americans finally got the right to vote, thanks in large part to some ingenious legislative maneuvering and arm-twisting by President Lyndon Johnson, it said that black people were equal citizens just like everyone else, and that we had a right to equal representation in government just like everyone else. We helped build this country, so we deserved to have our voices heard in how it was governed. Yesterday the Supreme Court said that all is now well in the year 2013, so no more need for civil rights protections. Immediately the voter suppression machine kicked into gear, revving up to disenfranchise all those voters in 2014 that it couldn’t legally keep away in 2012. This was what they were waiting for.
So yes, that decision hurt like hell. But then came the next day, and thousands of gay Americans were finally recognized as human beings, and even the conservative SCOTUS recognized that the institution of marriage really didn’t need to be defended from anyone because it was never under attack. When two people who love one another want to be married and spend the rest of their lives together, that is what defends the sanctity of marriage. Meanwhile, in Texas, one lone female State Senator stood her ground in the face of a room full of knuckle draggers and ankle biters to defend the right of women to choose. But then wait, she wasn’t really alone was she? Because right there in the room with her during the closing hours were hundreds of protesters chanting “shame, shame” who lodged what was called a “people’s filibuster’ in support of Sen. Davis, helping her to keep the vote from taking place before the clock struck midnight. They succeeded, and the bill failed to become law.
From the Huffington Post:
Lawmakers had to vote on Senate Bill 5 before the special session’s end at 12 a.m. local time. However, more than 400 protesters halted the proceedings 15 minutes before the roll call could be completed with what they called “a people’s filibuster,”The Associated Press reported.
The crowd of demonstrators in the capitol cried “Shame! Shame!” when Davis’ filibuster was halted by Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, who ruled that her discussion of mandatory ultrasound testing was off-topic. Then the protesters roared after state Sen. Leticia Van De Putte asked, “At what point must a female senator raise her hand or her voice to be recognized over her male colleagues?”
People stood up. And when people stand up and refuse to take it any longer, things change. History has proven that, especially here in America, time and time again. And what that proves is that this is still our country and will always be our country. But only for so long as we are willing to fight for it. And then fight some more.
Keith Owens (AKA Black Liberal Boomer) is a Detroit-based writer who has worked for The Detroit Free Press, Detroit’s alternative newsweekly the Metro Times, the Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel, and other newspapers. He was also a nationally syndicated columnist with Universal Press Syndicate for three years beginning in 1993.