We’re not there yet.

Despite landmark decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court this week and new state legislation earlier this year creating or upholding marriage equality rights for gays, we’ve got a long ways to go.

June 27, 2013

Decisions by the high court this week were profound and far reaching. Most importantly, the Supreme Court on a 5-4 decision struck down a key part of the offensive U.S. Defense of Marriage Act. A gay couple was successful in persuading the court that it is unfair that legally married heterosexual couples would get federal benefits that legally married gay couples could not. Besides making an informed and meaningful ruling about equity for gays in receiving marriage benefits, the decision was even more profound because to get there, the high court had to agree or at least stipulate that there could be such a thing as a legally married gay couple.

In the last few years, a growing number of states have either by design or default permitted gay marriages or civil unions. With the landmark decision this week, California becomes the 13th state to legitimize gay marriage. Another handful of states, including Colorado, offer homosexuals the opportunity for civil unions, bestowing some, but not all, marriage benefits upon the betrothed.

That’s unfair, and even the country’s high court now recognizes that. In the eyes of the feds, a civil union between gays is not the same as marriage between gays. That means a gay married couple in New York is eligible for all kinds of federal benefits that a gay couple in Colorado can’t have.

We warned earlier this year that euphoria over the state’s hard-won civil unions bill was bittersweet for just this reason.

There are easy remedies to at least some of these issues. First, Congress can make it implicit that for the purpose of the 1,049 express federal rights and benefits bestowed upon married couples, those same rights must be guaranteed to those in civil unions.

Another easy fix would be to recognize that gay marriages sealed in states that permit them are honored by the federal government even if the couple resides in a state that doesn’t recognize gay marriages.

Clearly, these contrived fixes point out the inevitable: States cannot discriminate against citizens because of sexual preference.

Here in Colorado, we can start by repealing the state’s odious ban on gay marriage. It’s illegal. It’s immoral. It was ill gained. Given that California’s ban on gay marriage has fallen, those in other states will also be dissolved. Now is the time to do just that. Either a friendly state lawmaker or motivated group of citizens need to allow all of us to correct at the polls that egregious constitutional mistake.

The tide has turned in America when it comes to the rights of homosexuals. Those rights are recognized by the U.S. military, by a vast collection of companies and municipalities, by major religions, by a growing number of states, and now, by the federal government and top court. As it was with the demise of slavery and guarantee of civil rights for racial minorities, there can be no turning back.

While there may be no sense of urgency among heterosexuals to complete the inevitable, that, too, is unfair to the country’s gays and lesbians.

People get but one opportunity for their American pursuit of happiness, and “some day” just isn’t good enough. Renowned American poet Mary Oliver made that clear with her famous question, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

Wait? No.

3 replies on “EDITORIAL: The time to complete work on extending equality to homosexuals is right now”

  1. I think a better idea is to remove federal benefits from any married couple. Straight or gay. The gov’t should have no business in any marriage.

  2. I will agree that president, house and senate have not done much to benefit average American citizens, but I doubt you or anyone else will get them to stop their federal benefits, and they for sure will continue taxing you and me and everyone else. But you can try, since there is a shortage of windmills to tilt at these days.

  3. Saint Catherine of Siena, a religious mystic of the 14th century, relays words of Our Lord Jesus Christ about the vice against nature, which contaminated part of the clergy in her time. Referring to sacred ministers, He says:

    “They not only fail from resisting this frailty [of fallen human nature] . . . but do even worse as they commit the cursed sin against nature. Like the blind and stupid, having dimmed the light of their understanding, they do not recognize the disease and misery in which they find themselves. For this not only causes Me nausea, but displeases even the demons themselves, whom these miserable creatures have chosen as their lords. For Me, this sin against nature is so abominable that, for it alone, five cities were submersed, by virtue of the judgment of My Divine Justice, which could no longer bear them. . . . It is disagreeable to the demons, not because evil displeases them and they find pleasure in good, but because their nature is angelic and thus is repulsed upon seeing such an enormous sin being committed. It is true that it is the demon who hits the sinner with the poisoned arrow of lust, but when a man carries out such a sinful act, the demon leaves.”

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