Daily News correspondent Ann Bradley reported today that California Supreme Court Justice Carol Corrigan, a lesbian, wrote one of the two dissenting opinions in the just-won case for gay marriage. Siding with the hetero-supremists she wrote:
“Requiring the same substantive legal rights is, in my view, a matter of equal protection. But this does not mean the traditional definition of marriage is unconstitutional.” And further, “The people are entitled to preserve this traditional understanding in the terminology of the law, recognizing that same-sex and opposite-sex unions are different. What they are not entitled to do is treat them differently under the law.”
However the majority opinion found instead that language influences treatment, and therefore – as in the historic overturn of separate-but-equal legislation for African Americans – denying the status of “married” to gays
“poses a risk that the different name itself will have the effect of denying such couple’s relationship the equal respect and dignity to which the couple is constitutionally entitled.”
The Daily News as well as other media sites are arguing the legal points of this. But what seems clear to me is that at this point in history and given that a majority of her colleagues argued convincingly in favor of a significant advance of human rights, Justice Corrigan failed her community.
Probably not through cowardice, nor self-hate even, but instead through identification with a social tradition that denies her own self worth and goodness as a person. We LGBT are very much at times hostages of a society that as a matter of course denigrates and demeans us. It’s sad to see that even those who can overcome so many obstacles as Justice Corrigan can lose track of what is happening. For she might find herself, as I believe, on the wrong side of an historic divide.