Soulforce Board Chair Christopher Carr on the SCOTUS Voting Rights Act Ruling

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06/25/13

By Soulforce Board Chair Christopher Carr

Today the Supreme Court of the United States struck down a section of the Voting Rights Act that assists groups of voters in States with historical ties to institutionalized racism in elections. Many voices are crying out in consternation about the decision. Even Justice Ginsberg delivered her scathing dissent from the bench, seen by many as the ultimate show of her displeasure. One voice that has been missing from the conversations surrounding this decision is the LGBT Rights movement. I recently received an email from a major LGBT Advocacy organization discussing the decisions impacting the LGBT community. Using passionate language discussing “laws born out of hatred and fear,” one might think they were also being inclusive in the fight for the representation of another discriminated group. This “other” group has also been standing in front of the United States Supreme Court while their rights were being discussed in abstract terms, as if they don’t affect real people.

This Supreme Court decision sits uneasily in the belly of many who work in civil rights. Many of us anxiously awaited the decision regarding the immigration bill and stood in front of the Supreme Court today for the Voting Rights Act. Many of us will also show up tomorrow to show our support. Because the belief that discrimination against people because of their pursuit of citizenship, color of their skin, or the sex of who they love, is unlawful and should be universal. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. famously stated that “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” We will not be able to overcome the systematic discrimination against underrepresented groups unless we form a common bond. One that states that we support one another in our universal struggle; that we have friends and allies who also believe as we believe.

I hope the decision is favorable for the LGBT community tomorrow. I sincerely think that the Supreme Court recognizes that there are numerous unconstitutional items in these laws and strikes them down. But if the result is a positive as we all hope, there is still work to be done. There is such a thing as intersectional justice. And we must live it. We must be one another ally and supporter. We must be out there on the stairs of the Supreme Court, at the Congressional hearings, in the White House press room, and all over State and local municipalities.

So while I stand with you Wednesday, I hope and pray that on Thursday you are back with me petitioning Congress for redesigned legislation for the pre-clearance requirement. I am ready to join in the universal song celebrating the freedom from oppression. And while this isn’t quite High School Musical, we are all in this together.

Christopher Carr is the incoming Board Chair for Soulforce. A consistent advocate for intersectional justice, He has sat on numerous panels for CRES Multifaith Resources and the Greater KC Interfaith Council. He served on boards for the National Conference for Community and Justice of Greater Kansas City, Public Achievement, and Harmony. Christopher is now based in Washington, D.C. He can be reached at ChristopherCarr@soulforce.edu.