[Marxism] No apartheid for gays, either (L.A. Times editorial)
walterlx at earthlink.net
Fri Nov 17 22:37:50 MST 2006
(While some on Marxmail are convinced that nothing of
significance happened with the fall of apartheid, opinions
aren't unanimous. South Africa continues to progress and
residents of the so-called "advanced capitalist countries"
can certainly learn something from what is going on today
in Souith Africa under the leadership of the ANC.)
No apartheid for gays, either
South Africa's experience with battling discrimination leads it to
become the first African nation to legalize same-sex marriage.
November 16, 2006
WHEN SOUTH AFRICAN lawmakers voted Tuesday to legalize same-sex
marriage, the former icon of unjust government reminded the world
that its break from colonial apartheid wasn't just about changing the
power structure. It was about conferring broad civil rights within
What makes the vote by South Africa's Parliament unique is that it
stems not from the gradual social liberalization that sparked similar
moves in such countries as Spain and Canada but from its very
constitution. Adopted in 1996, that document drew its inspiration
from a newfound hope of rights for all and, as a result, specifically
prohibited discrimination against homosexuals.
Under court order to follow its own constitution, Parliament was
forced into overriding old marriage laws and extending marriage
rights to same-sex couples, thus becoming an unlikely global beacon
of progressiveness. The vote is all the more extraordinary for its
contrast with much of Africa on the question of homosexuality, which
is illegal in most sub-Saharan countries.
It's regrettable that, unlike other countries that have legalized
same-sex unions, South Africa will allow civil officials to opt out
of performing gay-marriage ceremonies. It should not be up to
government functionaries to determine whether a nation's laws are to
their liking; it's simply their job to carry out the laws. Time might
cure what Parliament didn't. As same-sex marriage becomes more common
in South Africa, and people see it does nothing to hurt the nation or
heterosexual marriage, objections by officials may decline.
South Africa is far from a perfect democracy, and government action
alone, in South Africa as elsewhere, cannot end discrimination. Some
of its leaders, notably President Thabo Mbeki, have been less than
enlightened in their views on homosexuality and AIDS. (Only recently
has his government made antiretroviral drugs more widely available.)
But on Tuesday, the nation showed that it has shed the worst of its
past and is growing into a rights-based democracy.
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