Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Victory for Equality

Here's an unexpected fresh breeze of change:

The Obama administration says a federal law that bans recognition of same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and has directed the Justice Department not to defend the law anymore in court cases across the country.

The decision announced Wednesday represents a big victory for gay rights activists.
It's nice to see the Justice Department recognize that defending our system of laws requires opposing rather than advocating legalized inequality. Though the idiotic and patently unjust DOMA law remains in effect, this is a victory for actual justice.

As is my wont, I inject a small cavil: I wish news outlets (here, NPR) would pause before assigning such victories to "gay rights activists," or comparable victories for women's rights to "feminists," or comparable victories against racism to "civil rights activists." Not to say that activists aren't important -- they are tremendously important -- but the advances they struggle to attain for equality and human rights apply to everyone. It's not as though the Justice Department will take this pro-equality view of the law only if the claimants are activists, but continue advocating legalized inequality when the claimants are non-activists.

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