It has been a good summer for progressives, not so much for those who fear progress will upset their personal applecart.

In a span of just a few weeks:

The Supreme Court of the United States upheld the Affordable Care Act.

The highest court also ruled same-sex-marriages are legal, state bans be damned.

The Confederate battle flag was lowered, finally and for good, from the South Carolina state Capitol grounds.

Many are upset, no surprise, and are pushing back. The inevitable only seems to make them more entrenched in their views, more active in their futility. They apparently never studied the game of chess.

As for the high court’s upholding the ACA, those who oppose affordable health care for Americans vow to find a new legal crevice to drive a wedge into. If only they would put as much energy into humanity as to ideology.

Republican governors, who have vowed to fight national health coverage within their own borders, didn’t pay attention in high school when the Constitution was taught. They will wind up spending energy and public money in no-win legal tilts instead of on roads, public education, public safety, and so forth.

As for the establishment of gay marriage, I remember many years ago a rambling conversation with friends when the question was raised whether gay people should be allowed to marry. At that time, I couldn’t imagine the question would become a national debate, much less reach the Supreme Court of the United States. Plus, at that time I was in an unhappy marriage.

So I gave a flippant answer: “Sure. Why shouldn’t they (gays) be as miserable as the rest of us?”

Now that gays can marry, and are marrying, it seems six Supreme Court justices, plus the majority of Americans who aren’t bothered by the ruling, will have to answer to God one day. That’s what I keep hearing anyway, on social media, as well as mainstream opinion pages and airwaves.

The acceptance of homosexuality in this country has reached a level I never expected. Admittedly, I never cared about the cause until right-wing moralists started lecturing the rest of us.

Same-sex marriage is now the law of the land. Don’t tell that to a certain Baptist religious group, which quickly and defiantly issued a promise to defy the ruling. Here’s a memo to the Baptist ministers: Gay folks left your ranks a long time ago, and aren’t clamoring to be married by you.

David Ralston, Georgia’s Speaker of the House in the General Assembly, was quick to play the God card, too. He plans to introduce a “pastor protection” law in the General Assembly which would outlaw litigation against pastors who refuse to officiate at gay marriages. He says he’s been contacted by many constituents concerned over that very impossibility – impossible because those pastors are already protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

Besides, who would insist on being married by someone who didn’t approve of their union?

My father was a Southern Baptist preacher and confided late in life that he wished he hadn’t married some couples because he knew they were just young, full of lust, and they would wind up divorced shortly. But, he never knew that the choir director at his last church was gay, and that was the reason his bride divorced him after just three months.

Well, enough of irony, and the Baptist institution.

The United Methodist Church, with its motto, “Open Doors, Open Minds, Open Hearts,” just forced The Rev, Benjamin Hudson to resign in Cassopolis, Mich., for having a male partner. He was beloved by his congregation, but that wasn’t taken into account.

The Episcopal Church, by way of contrast, happened to be ensconced in its triennial General Convention when the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage came down. The bishops and deputies then quickly approved gay marriages within its churches.

I might have been mulling over the Supreme Court rulings while I was out riding with my love on the Fourth of July, and she suddenly asked, “What’s with all the Confederate flags?” I looked up from checking my email. We were on Turner McCall Boulevard, and everywhere were pickup trucks with the Confederate battle flag flapping in the breeze. On the Fourth of July!

This, of course, was a reaction to renewed calls for the lowering of The Southern Cross, as the battle flag is properly known, following the premeditated slayings in Charleston, S.C., of nine black people by a crazed racist kid – who had not passed a background check before purchasing his murder weapon – while they were in worship.

I don’t understand why this particular atrocity, compared to numerous other gruesome ones in American history, would be the spark that lifted the cry against the Confederate flag to action. Maybe it was the murders combined with the incredible athleticism of a young woman named Bree Newsome, who scaled the 30-foot flag pole in front of the state capitol and removed the offending symbol.

Now even NASCAR has asked its all-things-Southern fans to leave their Confederate flags at home when attending races. I can guess the reaction to that will be much like that drive down Turner McCall on Independence Day.

We confuse our contemporary defiance with the freedom that our ancestors idealistically struggled to win.


Weren’t those pictures of Pluto relayed back to us by the New Horizons spacecraft breathtaking? It is wondrous what humans can accomplish with a singleness of purpose. Sort of like when rich guys snuggle up to politicians – except when that happens, the little guy, the taxpayer, gets left out of the singleness of purpose.

That philosophical rant is just to point out that we got within snapshot distance of Pluto for some $240 million less than it is costing to build a deluxe new home for the Atlanta Falcons. But that’s OK, because fans will have a swell new place to watch football. Except the little guys won’t be able to afford tickets.

Did you follow the Tour de France this year? I didn’t think so. Americans didn’t much follow it until Lance Armstrong became Superman on two wheels. We lost interest when Lance Armstrong was exposed as a fraud. Cheating and lying turned out to be his Kryptonite. He wasn’t the first sports star, thou me, Henry Aaron is the real home run champion.

J. Bryant Steele has won awards for business reporting, feature writing and opinion columns, and is based in Rome.

*The views expressed in this column are those of the writer, and do not represent the opinions of V3 Magazine.

J. Bryant Steele was first published when he was 14 and has made a living stringing words together for 40 years. But the main reason he writes is to avoid housework. He has won 50 or so writing awards. He is a graduate of the Grady School of Journalism (The University of Georgia) and of Education for Ministry (The University of the South). He also publishes poetry and fiction. He is the proud father of two magnificent adult children. He is also very opinionated.