Jan Brewer, thank you.
I’m going to admit it, I was worried.
I studied all kinds of strange cases while I was in school. One of those cases was Plessy v. Ferguson. Plessy, is a Supreme Court case from 1896 that basically allowed and reinforced segregation. Plessy is the backbone of the legal ideals behind the “separate but equal” farce of the early part of the last century that was at the core of segregation.
From today we can look back and see it as being completely stupid…but in 1896 it was law. A broken and corrupt law that stayed in place until it was challenged by Brown v. Board nearly 60 years later.
Our country kind of has a habit of making bad civil rights decisions. We correct them, eventually, but usually only after extensive and widespread subjugation, terror, humiliation, and violence.
Women couldn’t vote until the 1920’s, we still don’t get equal pay. The history of the way we currently treat, and have previously treated, blacks is well documented. Look at how we treated Americans of Asian descent during WWII; these were our countrymen and we held them captive based on something they might, maybe, eventually, think of doing. Look at the way half of Americans still treat Muslims. And don’t even get me started on the whole immigration mess.
We try to pretend otherwise, but we’re really not any better at equality than most other nations.
I’ll bet right now, a lot of you are thinking about the financial impact of signing something like that would make, that’s been in the news a bunch the past few days. The idea started peeking out that it wouldn’t pass because it would be expensive.
I wasn’t buying it.
How much more did it cost train companies to carry an entire extra car (on every one of their trains) on the off chance that even a single person of color may want to ride that particular train? Putting three bathrooms in everywhere? Building every theater with two floors so that you can have a colored balcony. Extra plumbing for the “colored” water fountain. Extra schools, extra space, extra everything in order to meet the “separate but equal” ideal that was laid out in Plessy. That had to cost a lot of money. The financial arguments were really good ones, but I wasn’t holding my breath.
No one cared before, no one was going to care now.
So I sat on the edge of my seat. I was between my husband and our youngest, while the newly adult daughter stood close to the TV, because yes, I have one of those families that all watch stuff like this together.
Here we go, I thought, this will be the Plessy of the gay rights movement.
Our country’s history has already dictated how this would go. There’d be a big yes to discrimination that would take half a century, or more, to sort back out again. There’d be escalated strife and suffering. There’d be more hate, more violence, and more problems. Gov. Brewer started speaking and all I could think was, here it comes. Here comes the Plessy of my generation. Here comes a complete replay of history. Here comes the violence, the suffering, the torment…
Did she just say veto?
We finally learned from history.
The move was a neat trick. Republicans less in favor of this legislation used the money issue as the reason they couldn’t let it pass. Senator John McCain based his entire argument against the issue as being a monetary one, instead of a social or civil rights issue. And surprisingly, it actually worked!
It’s kind of pissing me off though that McCain was actually on board in trying to stop this law…I was really enjoying disliking him.