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Diana Ross


by: Memo Menos


It’s Grammy week in Los Angeles, when the music industry convenes for it’s big show. Everyone is here, from RIHANNA to the BEEB. The local sports teams, the LAKERS, CLIPPERS and KINGS have all embarked on their annual 6-game road swings. And, the SUPREMES are dominating the news.

Not DIANA ROSS & THE SUPREMES, though it’s about time, isn’t it? No I am referring to the US SUPREME COURT who may finally be looking at taking on a case about same-sex marriage after yesterday’s 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision striking down Proposition 8 as unconstitutional.

That news was less shocking, on the front page of today’s LA Times, as the reference to diva DIANA ROSS, who we learn, has not ever won a Grammy Award. I mean, who didn’t think that the notoriously liberal 9th Circuit would uphold a sweeping decision by District Court Judge VAUGHN WALKER invalidating California’s anti-gay marriage initiative, that was the rallying point for a revolutionary national movement for same-sex rights of all kinds, back in 2008. It was a CHAIN REACTION actually, that started the push not only for marriage rights, but it has seen “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” fall. And if gays can serve in the military, then surely AIN’T NO MOUNTAIN HIGH ENOUGH. Nothing will keep the rights of gays and lesbians from becoming a reality.

But, DIANA ROSS without a Grammy. Are you kidding me? Nominated 12 times, but passed over each time? Sure she’ll be getting a lifetime achievement award, but really. It’s a travesty. YOU CAN’T HURRY LOVE, but LADY SINGS THE BLUES needs some sugar. It’s gotta be LIKE AN ITCHIN IN HER HEART.

No female vocalist has done more to shape the path of music than Miss ROSS. And no event has done more to influence the arc of GLBT rights than Proposition 8.

It was a heady time. BARACK OBAMA was elected president. Democrats controlled all three branches of government. A liberal hero was The Boss. Surely we no longer had to feel I’M LIVING IN SHAME. But there it was. Proposition 8 in California had passed, taking away the right for same-sex couples to marry in California. It was truly a LOVE HANGOVER. They STONED LOVE. Everything was UPSIDE DOWN, and Californians with a flare for decorating, or fixing things, could only lament, WHERE DID OUR LOVE GO? STOP IN THE NAME OF LOVE. It was straight out of the ROSS songbook:

“You think that I don’t feel love,
What I feel for you is real love,
In others eyes I see reflected a hurt, scorned, rejected.
Love child, never meant to be
Love child, born in poverty,
Love child, never meant to be,
Love child, take a look at me.”

After that fateful, bittersweet result in 2008, California gays and lesbians, and those that love them, took to the streets. This NOTHING BUT HEARTACHES was not going to stand. They stopped traffic. They got people’s attention. And, the rest of the country watched and listened. Other states passed the right for same-sex couples to marry. President OBAMA put on a full court press, pushing for GLBT rights for federal employees, getting a hate crimes bill passed, and ending the divisive policy of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the military.

On the legal front, a remarkable thing occurred. The legal dream team of DAVID BOIS and TED OLSON, once diametrically opposed rivals, joined forces to challenge Proposition 8 in the federal court system. They put on a comprehensive trial at the District Court level which resulted in one of the most sweeping decisions gays and lesbians have ever been afforded by the legal system.

Judge VAUGHN WALKER struck down Prop 8 on nearly every concievable ground. He ruled it was unconstitutional as it violated both the equal protection clause and the due process clause. On THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW last night, TED OLSON would have us believe the Court of Appeals decision was just as “sweeping”, to use his word, but indeed it was not. And that may be a good thing.

First, no one can fault OLSON for trumpeting the decision, and seeing the most optimistic conclusion from it. Godspeed to that. But, the 9th Circuit has run afoul of the SUPREMES on many an occasion. They are the most liberal of the appellate circuits. Hence, it was no great surprise to see the ruling yesterday, yet it was a shocker to learn DIANA does not have Grammy swag. But I digress.

The ruling by three justices yesterday, split 2-1, was much more narrow. Indeed, the SUPREMES could elect to leave it alone altogether, in that it only applies to the unique set of circumstances in California, those being-the right to marry taken away from a group, after some of that group was able to be married, thus creating a seperate and unequal class. Those facts, coupled with the baseline environment in California, where gays and lesbians can avail themselves of domestic partnerships and can adopt and raise children, could make the precedential value of this ruling quite limited. (As for domestic partnerships and civil unions, let me just say-AIN’T NOTHIN LIKE THE REAL THING!) And hence, ROBERTS, SCALIA, and the like may not want to REACH OUT AND TOUCH it.

Without a doubt, it is a landmark achievement in the rights of the GLBT community to have an appellate court rule so squarely on the topic of equality. But we’ll have to see if this one goes UP THE LADDER TO THE ROOF, where we can see Heaven much brighter. There may be other cases, with better facts, for more encompassing precedent, with which to make law.

Proponents of Proposition 8 have two choices, to appeal to an en banc panel of the 9th Circuit, or to go directly to the SUPREMES. If the high court decides to hear the case, there could be a decision as early as next year. As far as bigots go, the sooner the better because, my friend, THE TIMES THEY ARE A CHANGIN. (It’s Grammy week, give me some leeway here.)

And, the bottom line, DIANA gets her long overdue Grammy this week. And, SOMEDAY, maybe someday soon, WE’LL BE TOGETHER.

Yes we will, yes we will!


Diana Ross