Supreme Court’s Same-Sex Marriage and Voting Rights Act Rulings in Conflict on Civil Rights

same-sex-marriage

While Health Power applauds the greatly needed Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage of June 27, 2013, the Court’s Voting Rights Act ruling just one day earlier, is already having a very damaging effect in minorities/multicultural populations. Our key concern: Living with free access to civil, or human, rights, is closely linked to the physical, mental and spiritual health of minorities/multicultural populations.
Although both of the same-sex related rulings are indeed historic, the simultaneous and very damaging ruling on the Voting Rights Act is at least as historic, especially given the nation’s long and painful pre-Voting Rights Act era, extending back to the time of slavery. The immediate actions and declarations of some previously covered states, as well as others, are early evidence of the damaging effects of the Court’s Voting Rights ruling. Further, based on barriers that were experienced during the 2012 elections, removal of previous voting protections may well encourage other states that were not covered by the Voting Rights Act to now adopt politically motivated barriers to voting.
 
Key Problems Related to the Supreme Court’s Voting Rights Act Ruling 
  1.  While we can all agree that in principle, the Voting Rights Act (VRA) should apply to the entire nation, the long-standing protections in the states that were covered by the VRA  until  June 26, 2013 should not have been removed by the Court until acceptable replacement legislation was adopted by the U. S. Congress.
  2.  Adoption of bi-partisan legislation on this controversial issue is unlikely by the current deeply partisan and divided Congress.Therefore, it was impractical for the Court to remove the current protections before definitive Congressional action was taken.
  3. The much higher African American, Hispanic and Asian national voting records in 2008 and 2012 were undoubtedly related in great part to voting protections that were in effect, as well as other issues. Consider this: If an umbrella offers protection from rainstorms (the VRA), one should not remove the umbrella so that its damaging effects can return – unless one can document that ongoing rainstorms have stopped.
  4. Although much progress has been made in the nation regarding human/civil rights, a striking example that the U.S. is not “post-racial” is the widespread existence of well documented and longstanding racial and ethnic health disparities in the nation.
The Path Forward Commenting on the path forward, Norma J. Goodwin, MD, Founder, President & CEO of Health Power, emphasized that “As those who were protected by the Voting Rights Act before the Court’s action move forward, as well as minorities in non-covered states go forward, four priority actions are greatly needed, just as they were in the conditions that led up to the Voting Rights Act:
  • Greater vigilance from those most affected as well as other advocates of voting rights;
  • Intensive and ongoing monitoring, documentation and participation in electoral planning and actions at all geographic levels;
  • Detailed, serious and ongoing planning for needed electoral changes;and
  • Active and sustained advocacy and action, wherever indicated.
About Health Power for Minorities (Health Power)
Health Power, the No. 1 source of minority health information, worldwide – per Google, Yahoo and Bing – is a nationally unique organization committed to minority/multicultural health, primarily through the provision of customized digital and other multimedia consumer focused minority health information that is authoritative, user-friendly, and culturally relevant. For more information, visit www.healthpowerforminorities.com .
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