DELIRANT, MISSISSIPPI — When Justice Clarence Thomas wrote his dissent in the 5-4 landmark Supreme Court decision that struck down same-sex marriage bans in all 50 states, he bolstered much of his argument on the premise of inherent rights, and more specifically the inherent dignity of all human beings. In his dissent, Thomas borrows from abolitionists tone and language, reminding the country that despite being whipped, chained, sold at auction and treated like an inanimate object slaves could never be stripped of their innate human dignity. Therefore, argued Thomas, anti-gay marriage laws weren’t unconstitutional because they didn’t strip members of the LGBT community of their sense of self worth.
To many in the country, it was a strange bastardizing of the point that abolitionists were making during their push to end slavery in the 19th century. Their point, say Thomas’ detractors, was that the innate humanity within the slaves is precisely what made the slave trade not just immoral, but incongruous with the Constitution’s Bill of Rights. Many proponents of marriage equality point to Thomas’ dissent as legal smoke and mirrors — cover for codified bigotry, cloaked in legalese. Sure, the slaves could hold within themselves the knowledge and faith in their own humanity, but what good did dignity do anyone who couldn’t go to the store and buy a loaf of bread with that dignity?
As it turns out though, one gay man in Mississippi has managed to turn his dignity in cold, hard cash. Harold Richards of Delirant, Mississippi says that for nearly all of his 45 years on Earth, he has hidden his homosexuality. Richards told The Political Garbage Chute that “living in Mississippi as a gay man” meant that he was discriminated against both verbally on subtly as long as he could remember. In high school, Harold joined the drama club instead of playing football like most of the boys did, and he was labeled a “Drama Fag.” In college, he majored in liberal arts and wound-up getting a job as the town’s librarian, but he says that “a lot of the Christian, church-goin’ folk never bring their kids into [his] library because a few years ago they started calling it my Big Gay Library” though he admits “the fact that this is a library in Mississippi doesn’t help foot traffic to begin with.”
It was just after the ruling was made that Richards read Justice Thomas’ dissent, as well as a slew of op-ed columns from the likes of conservative pundits like Rich Lowry, chiding liberals for not understanding the profound profundity of Thomas’ words. “At first,” Richards said, “I wanted to just scream. I mean, what kind of dumb ass says that civil liberties can be traded for dignity in a free society? Further, what black man actually takes the words of abolitionists and twists them to mean the exact opposite?”
“But then, one day later I logged into my bank’s website to check my account balance, and I was totally blown away,” Richards told our reporter. “There, one line down under my deposits was an entry called ‘DIGNITY AFTER BEING TREATED LIKE A SECOND CLASS CITIZEN ALL YOUR LIFE’ and the dollar amount was staggering, six billion dollars!” Richards said he called the bank and was told “every gay person in states that had same-sex marriage bans is getting six billion dollars put into their accounts to cover their innate dignity.” Richards was told that “Dick Lowry and Clarence Thomas convinced rich conservative backers to do this in order to have Thomas’ point make any sense in the real world whatsoever.”
So Richards went down to his friend’s real estate office and started shopping for a home. “My dignity mansion was going to be the biggest, best mansion ever,” he told us, “all purchased and financed through nothing but my innate dignity…and the money that someone gave me.”
Richards says that shortly after the money was put into his account he got an email from Lowery telling him that the money was his “with no strings attached” as long as he dd as the letter instructed him to do and “tell everyone [he] encounters that [he] would be fine without being able to get married again as long as [he] gets to keep his dignity.” The letter was very clear to state “and of course by dignity we mean the fat wad of cash we just put in your wallet.”
“You know, I was really kind of bummed for a long time about being gay in a deep red state,” Richards told us as he was ending the interview. “I mean, I knew deep down I wasn’t a piece of shit, degenerate amoral stooge trying to bring down America. I knew I had dignity, but I didn’t know what good that did me when I couldn’t be as free as my neighbors were to marry and love whomever they wanted to. I was a second class citizen. I had nothing but my dignity and whatever semblance of a comfortable life I could make for myself living where I was so clearly not wanted.
But hey, I guess my dignity is worth something in the real world after all — six billion dollars…as long as some rich conservative guy gives me six billion dollars, that is.”