The news that the Supreme Court has struck down barriers to same-sex marriage nationwide is truly a victory for civil rights. While homosexuals haven’t faced the same sustained, institutionalized violent terrorism that black Americans suffered, they have suffered a more quiet form of oppression in recent decades of denial and humiliation and insult, often deprived basic human compassion and dignity. The ruling by SCOTUS does not achieve true equality under the law for gay people – they still can be legally discriminated against in housing, employment, and other facets of life that we would absolutely not accept as a society today were that same discrimination applied towards women or black people. This was a battle, but the civil rights campaign continues.
Muslims may look askance at the ruling and ask, how is this good? Isn’t this a legitimization of something that we consider morally wrong? The answer to that is simple: America is one extreme, and ISIS another. In one place, morality is not legislated for anyone, so that everyone has freedom to define their own culture, religion, life, values – and that freedom just became a little bit more universal today. In the other, morality is absolutely legislated down to the smallest detail, where even the slightest deviation is punished severely and brutally.
The simple truth is that if today one group can be discriminated against, tomorrow another can. We Muslim Americans as a community must always seek to preserve civil rights for others, and in so doing, preserve them for ourselves.
Just as the fight isn’t over for gay people, neither do we have all the equality we deserve. Remember Park 51? What about the Murfreesboro Mosque? Or opposition to the mosque project in Redmond, WA? Or the NYPD spying on Muslims? I’ve written about all of these things before and the common theme is this: freedom isn’t guaranteed by the constitution or the law. It’s only guaranteed by our neighbors. So, we must be good neighbors and fight for our neighbors rights – and they will fight for ours. No one group can do it alone.
Gay people today won the right to marry. We as muslims can have whatever opinion we like about that – but our morality and values are defined by what we do, not by what others do. Gay people, Jews, Black people – all of us are in this together. It’s one fight, not many.
Related: the best solution would be to get the State out of the business of defining marriage entirely.