Dear Barbara:

I'm going to put aside my fury. I'm going to operate from a place of love. The lack of logic within the recent state Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage is downright embarrassing. But Justice Barbara Madsen, your honor, I love you. Even if your opinion was from outer space.

What were you thinking, sweetie?

While the lack of history and tradition of equality was never the basis of any landmark civil rights case, you're right, there's no denying we have had little in the marriage department. In fact, as late as 1967, people of different races couldn't marry in 16 states. I mean, if one of them was white.

I forgive you for giving more credence to Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens' unrelated speech at a Bar Association luncheon, and tap-dancing through what I think is the most important case about love and marriage, ever: "Loving v. Virginia" (1967).

What happened in Loving vs. Virginia? You cited it, but from your opinion it didn't appear you'd read it. You see, in June 1958, Mildred Jeter, an African-American woman, and Richard Loving, who was white, fell in love and got married. But Virginia, where they wanted to live, had a ban on such a mixed-race marriage.

Virginia was so full of hate, fear and bitterness that Mildred and Richard were indicted by a grand jury. But they were in love and wanted to stay married, so they pled guilty.

The judge said they had a choice of either going to jail for a year or leaving Virginia for 25 years. He said that the fact that Almighty God had separated the races showed that He didn't intend Mildred and Richard to ever get married and be Loving.

They moved away and they appealed, so that maybe they could move back. But the Virginia Supreme Court said that Virginia had the right to tell them they shouldn't be Loving in Virginia. Then they appealed it as a class action suit. The court told them it was a big decision, and decided they'd rather not decide.

Then what happened?

Something amazing! The case finally got to the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices, led by Chief Justice Warren, listened to the Loving story. They then looked at the U.S. Constitution and all agreed that Virginia was wrong. They declared that Richard Loving could officially marry Mildred if he wanted, and Mildred could officially be Loving if she wanted. In any state. It was a unanimous decision.

Remember, Justice Madsen, justice sometimes takes some time. But when it comes, it happens fast, and with its own kind of fury.

The state's decision about the Lovings didn't mention the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and its justification of maintaining heterosexual supremacy, because that hadn't come along yet. But the civil rights acts have long been interpreted to abolish supremacy of many kinds.

The 14th Amendment doesn't specify any particular person, or type of deprivation of liberty or protection of law. It just says it shall not happen to any citizen. In addition, the Equal Rights Amendment states that, "Equality of rights and responsibilities under the law shall not be denied or abridged on account of sex," which is (literally) the crux of this debate.

"But DOMA treats both sexes the same. After all, neither a man nor a woman may marry a person of the same sex," you might say.

Mm-hmm, and if you exchange race for gender, that was specifically the reasoning the justices blew out of the water in Loving.

"But DOMA bears a 'reasonable relationship to legitimate state interests -procreation and child-rearing," you might say.

But many, many gay people have procreated naturally, without the state's permission, and Washington has allowed homosexual individuals or couples to be foster parents or adopt for many years. The state of Washington has already recognized you can be a good parent whether you're gay or not. That's actually a bigger deal, don't you think? I mean, you can split with your spouse, but children are truly a lifelong commitment.

But you know that. You cited the multitude of statutory and social factors that make life harder for same-sex parents than others; still, you said you couldn't consider them in your decision, because, well, the big, bad county asked you all not to. You were afraid. Who wouldn't be, sugar? Of course you want the legislature to decide this one. So we'll just remember next time you're up for election (along with justices Gerry Alexander and Charles Johnson).

America remains a place where only heterosexuals are free to hook up for money, to nationalize their cousins or, because they got too drunk in Vegas, then divorce. But some day, Justice Madsen, I think it's only right that we all get an equal chance to do that.

Please, Barbara, sing along: "What the world needs now, is love, sweet love...."

Former Capitol Hill resident Christal Wood ran for mayor in 2005. She now attends law school at the University of Washington.

[[In-content Ad]]