… the President’s brother and former Florida governor Jeb Bush would not have been permitted to marry his wife Columba Gallo. Former Secretary of State William Cohen could not have legally wed his wife Janet Langhart and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas would never have been permitted to propose to his wife.
Are you detecting a pattern? These and thousands upon thousands of other marriages were illegal in many states just 40 years ago.
Aside from having my own wedding anniversary this month (13 years and counting!), this month marks the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision in Loving v. Virginia, the case that ended the ban on interracial marriage in the United States.
In thinking about it today, it’s hard to comprehend that people were banned from making one of the most personal of decisions — whom to marry — based solely on different skin colors.
But I wonder what would happen if the same case came before the current Supreme Court today? Would the court as it is currently composed make the same ruling that heterosexual couples have a constitutional privacy right to marry whomever we wish?
I’m not so sure.
In the last few months, SCOTUS has ruled, in essence, that women should not be permitted to make a serious medical decision in conjunction with her doctor, a decision that no woman I know would enter into lightly.
Plus, the majority of Supreme Court justices held that if a woman can’t discover and prove within months of a salary decision that she was discriminated against because of gender, she’s legally out of luck.
In this pattern of paternalistic decisions, is it too far beyond the pale to wonder, and worry, what decisions will come next that compromise women’s choices of any type? It’s a slippery slope — one that I hope doesn’t become more slippery between now and January 2009.