Over the past few weeks, I've been spending a
bit of time with the latest book to make it to the top of my perpetual
must read pile before my somewhat languid brain loses its ability to
even process the written word. In this particular instance, I've
actually given an author's efforts something of an in-depth dabble as
opposed to my usual cursory perusal. Certainly this amounts to the
highest of praise for John Fabian Witt's Lincoln's Code.
This excellent narrative examines America's role in defining the rules
of government sanctioned armed conflict, with an emphasis on Abraham
Lincoln's input on the matter of trying to bring fair play, dignity, and
perchance even a touch of charity to the bloodied fields of combat.
While I do not discount the sincere intent of those who throughout
history have endeavored to bring a modicum of humanity to the
battlefield, there is that ever skeptical side of me that questions
their underlying motives—whether it be the likes of Lincoln, Jefferson,
Washington or any other supposedly enlightened and regarded individual.
I've always suspected that the call for order and civility in the midst
of organized carnage is as much about justice as it is about those that
started the fight trying to avoid retribution or the hangman's noose
when the fog of war finally lifts. And then of course there is the
political practicality of having something left above ground to exploit
and govern after the fallen have been properly placed below ground.
Perhaps the only thing that might appear to be somewhat more
disingenuous or hypocritical than our attempts to codify the institution
of war is our attempts to codify the institution of marriage. But at
some point during the current session of the Supreme Court, those
erudite legal minds seated in chambers across the street from the U.S.
Capitol will consider doing just that.
While I understand the level of discomfort expressed by those who argue
against gay marriage on moral and religious grounds, I have come to my
own conclusions based on personal experience. During my time behind the
bar, I have established close friendships with a number of long term
committed gay couples. In all instances, these loving people have
fostered positive changes in environments that normally would have been
less than accepting of any homosexual individual prior to them quietly
working their way toward establishing regular’s status. In fact, their
presence helped to bring about a greater degree of acceptance, patience,
tolerance and kindness toward all clientele, no matter what their
gender, political persuasion or sexual orientation might be.
In the text of his Second Inaugural Address, Lincoln reminded us to act
in accordance with the words of Matthew 7:1, “let us judge not that we
be not judged." It is time to award all who choose the bonds of
steadfast love an equal place at the bar— in hopes that we all may be
granted an equal place at that eternal table.