Saturday, November 8, 2014

Marriage Equality in Western Missouri - Wow!!!!!

In the last few years, I read of other states and their quest to give the right to vote to people of the same gender, with admiration and a little envy.  I love Kansas City and almost everything about it. Sure, we can have extreme weather, sometimes the coldest of the cold in winters and the hottest of the hot in summer.  But, the thing that has always bothered me about the Heart of America (which, if Ohio is the midwest, I think we are more appropriately called the Heart of America), is the lack of "heart" for the LGBT community.  About ten years ago, Missouri passed a constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage.  Sigh.....  When a judge in St. Louis declared that the amendment was unconstitutional, just a couple of days ago, I was encouraged.  But, St. Louis is a long way from here - 250 miles.  However, yesterday, when federal judge Ortrie Smith declared the amendment to be unconstitutional, you could have knocked me over with a feather, and I was overjoyed!

For years, I practiced primarily in federal court and I learned to respect Judge Smith, who had been a small town lawyer from Nevada, MO, a nice town but perhaps not the hotbed of progressive thought. Judge Smith has always been fair, thoughtful and honorable.  I was so delighted that it was he who was the first federal judge in Missouri to recognize marriage equality.

And then to my surprise, upon emerging from a meeting, I discovered that gays were already getting marriage licenses and being married in Jackson County by retired Judge Vernon Scoville.  Judge Scoville oversaw the marriage of my daughter and son-in-law.  How nice and fitting that he would be the first judge to officiate at marriages of same sex couples!

I am awed by how quickly support for equality for the LGBT community has spread through the country, after such a long time of bigotry and discrimination.  This turnaround, particularly in the Heart of America, is so heartening.  I have always thought that people in the future would dumbfounded by the bigotry this country has shown toward gays and how years in the future, people would be embarrassed by the conduct of their predecessors.  Even President Obama just recently saw the light.

Perhaps, when I go on my rants about injustice and inequality, I can get some solace about this country's about-face on this important issue.  I only hope that the attitude of acceptance continues. Right now I am have a case in the Court of Appeals hoping the Court will recognize discrimination based on sexual orientation as sex discrimination, since our state discrimination statute does not specifically prohibit sexual orientation discrimination.  Wow!  What is this world coming to?  Maybe something good!  I hate to sound so jaded, but what Judges Smith and Scoville did yesterday helps to restore my faith in humanity and reduce my cynicism in a significant way.  Whoa.

Everything's up to date (almost, anyway) in Kansas City!

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