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Obergefell v. Hodges decided: Same-sex marriage is made legal nationwide

June 23, 2020 in History

By Editors

June 26, 2015 marks a major milestone for civil rights in the United States, as the Supreme Court announces its decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. By one vote, the court rules that same-sex marriage cannot be banned in the United States and that all same-sex marriages must be recognized nationwide, finally granting same-sex couples equal rights to heterosexual couples under the law.

In 1971, just two years after the Stonewall Riots that unofficially marked the beginning of the struggle for gay rights and marriage equality, the Minnesota Supreme Court had found same-sex marriage bans constitutional, a precedent which the Supreme Court had never challenged. As homosexuality gradually became more accepted in American culture, the conservative backlash was strong enough to force President Bill Clinton to sign the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), prohibiting the recognition of same-sex marriages at the federal level, into law in 1996.

READ MORE: The Supreme Court Rulings That Have Shaped Gay Rights in America

Over the next decade, many states banned same-sex marriage, while Vermont instituted same-sex civil unions in 2000 and Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2003. Gay marriage was the predominant “culture war” issue of George W. Bush‘s presidency, and even his successor Barack Obama, elected on a platform of liberal change in 2008, did not fully endorse same-sex marriage at the time of his election. Obama did state his opposition to DOMA and instructed his Justice Department to stop defending it in 2011. In 2013, the Supreme Court ruled DOMA unconstitutional and declined to rule on a case regarding a California ban, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage there.

Obergefell originated with a gay couple, Jim Obergefell and John Arthur, who were married in Maryland, where same-sex marriage was legal, but whose marriage was not recognized by Ohio authorities. As often happens with Supreme Court cases, a number of similar cases in Ohio and elsewhere were consolidated into what became Obergefell v. Hodges. The Supreme Court heard arguments on April 28, 2015. On June 26, the court ruled 5-4 in favor of the plaintiffs, stating that both bans on same-sex marriages and bans on recognizing same-sex marriages were unconstitutional.

READ MORE: The Tragic Love Stories Behind the Supreme Court’s Landmark Same-Sex Marriage Rulings

Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said, …read more


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11 Anthems of Black Pride and Protest Through American History

June 23, 2020 in History

By Thad Morgan

From spirituals to ballads, funk and hip hop, these songs have provided a sound track to the pride and struggle of African Americans through the centuries.

For centuries, Black Americans have used music as a powerful tool. In the antebellum South, enslaved people sang spirituals to covertly plan their escape to freedom. Poems were put to music and performed to celebrate the eradication of slavery, and ballads and hip hop have been leveraged to protest violence and discrimination against Black Americans.

Below are 11 songs through history that have given voice to African American progress, protest and pride.

1. ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ — Unknown

J. Wesley Jones, choral director, leads 600 Black singers through a rehearsal in Chicago, August 1935. The group was rehearsing for the upcoming Chicagoland Music Festival where they would sing “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” at Soldier Field.

Throughout the antebellum South, spirituals became a vital form of folksong among enslaved people. Some were also used as a , “It’s our legacy here in America with the police department and any kind of authority figures that have to deal with us on a day-to-day basis. There’s usually abuse and violence connected to that interaction, so when ‘F*** tha Police’ was made in 1989, it was 400 years in the making.”

11. ‘Fight the Power’ — Public Enemy, 1989

(L-R) Rapper Flavor Flav, director Spike Lee and Chuck D of the rap group ‘Public Enemy’ film a video for their song ‘Fight The Power’ directed by Spike Lee in New York, 1989.

In addition to music, films in the late 1980s and 1990s spoke to the Black experience like never before. Movies like Boyz n the Hood and Menace II Society offered a lens into underprivileged Black communities in the country. And Spike Lee’s quintessential 1989 film, Do the Right Thing, depicted racial tensions reaching a boiling point during a hot Brooklyn summer. Lee enlisted Public Enemy to write a song for the movie and originally suggested they remake “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.” Instead, the group crafted a theme song that pulled from the work of other Black artists:

“Got to give us what we want,
Gotta give us what we need,
Our freedom of speech is freedom of death,
We got to fight the powers that be,
Lemme hear you say,
Fight the power!”

The title “Fight the Power” was inspired by a 1975 song of the same name by …read more


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How the WWII Tehran Conference Tested the Unity of the 'Big Three' Allies

June 23, 2020 in History

By Greg Daugherty

They had dueling agendas—and just four days to resolve them.

For four days in November-December 1943, as , and tune in Sundays at 9/8c for all-new episodes.

Roosevelt not only wanted Stalin to stay the course against Hitler, but to expand Russian operations into the Pacific and join the fight against Japan. The Soviet Union had held off declaring war on Japan, but it finally would in 1945.

Roosevelt was also thinking past the defeat of Germany and Japan. He wanted both Churchill and Stalin to sign onto his vision for a very different postwar world, with the Big Three plus China serving as “four policemen,” empowered to keep the peace. He brought with him plans for the United Nations, an organization he had named and would, according to a journalist who interviewed him shortly before his death, “consider the crowning act of his career.”

READ MORE: 9 Things You May Not Know About Franklin D. Roosevelt

What Churchill wanted

Winston Churchill with President Roosevelt and Stalin at a dinner party at the British Legation in Tehran on the occasion of Churchill’s 69th birthday, on November 30, 1943.

Churchill was considerably less enthusiastic about Operation Overlord, at least with the timing Roosevelt was pushing for (and that the British had agreed to the previous May). He also maintained that diverting resources from the Mediterranean theater would be premature; while Italy had officially surrendered, Rome remained in the Germans’ grasp. But the reasons for his apparent change of heart have been a matter of historical debate ever since.

In Closing the Ring, the fifth volume of his war memoirs, published in 1951, Churchill tried to defend himself against the charge that he had attempted to kill Operation Overlord, which he said had “become a legend in America.” He called the charge as “nonsense” and dismissed those who disagreed with his Mediterranean strategy as “simpletons.”

While some historians have accepted Churchill’s version of events, many later ones, drawing on more recently released documents, have challenged it. Cambridge historian David Reynolds, for example, writes in his 2005 book, In Command of History, that, “Churchill suppresses or doctors key pieces of evidence” regarding his opposition to Operation Overlord in his memoirs. Hamilton maintains that Churchill did “everything possible to subvert, sabotage and postpone D-Day.”

Precisely why Churchill would have opposed D-Day at that point may never be known, but there are any …read more