Supreme Court: Same-Sex Marriage a Right

Friday, June 26, 2015. Marriage Equality is the law of the land. I never thought I’d live long enough to see this hoped-for day. Congratulations to all American couples who finally wont legal recognition for a cherished legal and moral right … Not to quibble excessively about something we’d looked forward to for half a century, but there was something disturbing about the 5-4 split on the court. Is marriage a right, or a privilege?

Our full post is proudly featured on our HOME page.

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‘step in and define morality for them’

According to Daily KOS, the widely publicized anti-NFL-gays bill pushed by lobbyist Jack Burkman, CEO of Burkman Associates LLC, would give the Department of Justice the power to enforce the ban. He calls it “The American Decency Act of 2014.”

“I felt that if the NFL doesn’t have any morals, and people like [Commissioner] Roger Goodell, who are just go-along-get-along guys, just want to appease advertisers, appease corporate America and all that stuff,” he said earlier this week, “I figured, well, it is time for conservatives in Congress to step in and define morality for them.” [emphasis added]

It is rare for religious bigots to be so open about their unconstitutional agenda.

According to the Huffington Post, Burkman also has a gay brother.

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Arizona’s New Anti-Gay Law

My cousin wrote me today expressing shock at the Arizona legislature’s passage of a blatantly rabid anti-gay bill. The bill has not been signed by the Governor, and it is not yet law. The bill would allow business owners asserting their religious beliefs to refuse service to gays and others.

If somehow you missed it, you can read about the legislation any most anywhere. But here is The New York Times link.

I wrote back to my cousin:

Thanks for your support! AZ Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed a similar bill a few years back, and I suspect she’ll veto this one. I understand there are already a very few anticipatory signs up in shop windows. There are so many places to eat and shop in big cities like Phoenix that a merchant with such a sign is just advertising, “we aren’t much interested in staying in business” or maybe even “I hate my plate glass window.” In small towns, and AZ has lots of those, there is bigger potential for harm and hurtfulness.

In the Phoenix Metro area (and in Tucson) there are large Democratic and moderate Republican populations and they are pretty good places for everyone to live. As for the bill itself, if actually passed into law, I think it would be struck down in the higher courts. That is not to say it isn’t dangerous, but that mindset belongs to a shrinking and discredited minority.”

And here, from the New York Daily News, is what one Tucson businessman did in response to the bill: “Arizona pizzeria’s amazing response to state’s anti-gay bill.”

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Christie Drops Same Sex Marriage Appeal


“Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey announced on Monday that his administration would drop its legal challenge to allowing gay marriage in the state, hours after same-sex couples started exchanging vows.
Mr. Christie’s decision to withdraw his appeal before the state’s Supreme Court, a reversal from his long-held position that the question of gay marriage should be decided by voters, effectively removes the last hurdle from making same-sex marriage legal in New Jersey.”

~~ New York Times Oct 21

Christie left unresolved the question of whether he thinks New Jersey voters should allow we gays and lesbians to vote, attend or teach in public school, use the same restroom facilities as “normal” New Jersey voters, own property, or be counted as whole persons for the purpose of the lawful census.

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Judging the Supreme Court on Same-Sex Marriage

From The Atlantic article “History Won’t Be Kind to the Supreme Court on Same-Sex Marriage” by Andrew Cohen, March 28:

Chief Justice Roberts attributed this “sea change” — nine states now recognize same-sex marriage — not to our society’s natural evolution toward empathy and compassion, not to our growing unease about judging our neighbors, not to the libertarian ideal that all consenting adults should be free to enjoy the benefits of civil rights, but to the “politically powerful” lobby and to “the political force and effectiveness of people representing, supporting your side of the case.”

Many commentators notes the SCOTUS performance in the last two days was weak-kneed, lacked conviction and pandered to popular sentiment and stereotypes.

I, one more gay person who is definitely unimpressed with the conservative block of SCOTUS, was nevertheless stunned by the appalling lack of principled legal argument or discussion among the defending and litigating parties, or, most particularly, by the Justices themselves. As far as I could see from media reporting, completely missing were discussions of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, or basic law and  constitutional principles of equal protection and non-discrimination.

Defending parties and some of the justices seemed to be arguing that, well, maybe we ought to let the States decide this — just as the states had decided that with slavery and Jim Crow laws before extraordinary measures had to be taken to stop them.

In Mississippi, it is reportedly still legal for a landlord to evict a gay person, and for an employer to fire a gay person. If this means the states can decide who gets basic civil liberties and how much of them they can get (and it does mean that), then the states are still doling out rights like party favors. Why is anyone waiting for the Supreme Court to put the “all” back into “all men are created equal?”

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Excerpted Huffington Post Comments

I’ve recently become active in the Huffington Post registered comment community. Summitlake.com readers may find in my comments some good talking points and “intellectual ammunition” on a number of currently topical issues. I’ve mostly commented on news about the dangerous Santorum, the growing extremist religious right political movements, gay issues, women’s reproductive rights, and other recent news show-stoppers. Boldface subtitles are the titles of the HuffPost article being commented upon.

Alexander Forbes’s Comments

Dear America: You Have a Gay Problem
Commented Mar 15, 2012 at 00:50:57 in Canada
“Of course you have a right to your opinion, and we have a right to disagree, as you say. The issue is that statutory law is being used to deprive certain minorities of certain basic rights afforded all other classes of Americans (which you may call huge collections of individuals, or just ‘groups’). The most likely remedy would be the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, but, if you read the text; you’ll see it enumerates what the _States_may not abridge, which of course many states are doing anyway. Hence the push to ban Same-Sex Marriage on the federal level. Constitutional protections deal imperfectly with issues the founding fathers never heard of or anticipated. Many of your all-caps arguments are found in the Libertarian Party Platform. Sounds like your heart is in the right place even if you don’t understand “gay,” anyway.”

Social Justice: Is Marriage Equality a Civil Right?
Commented Mar 15, 2012 at 00:08:43 in Religion
“Outstanding! Thank you! Marriage equality is a civil right and should be protected under the “equal protection” 14th Amendment.”

British Lesbians Denied Valentine’s Rose By Waitress Because They Were Not A ‘Real Couple’
Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 01:18:21 in Gay Voices
“Boo Boo Bob is right; the establishment should have been called out. But, you know, that establishment wasn’t hiring ‘real’ waitresses.”

Chick-Fil-A Speaks Out On Viral Controversial Employment ‘Flyer’ (VIDEO)
Commented Mar 11, 2012 at 00:47:03 in Gay Voices
“Thanks, and you’ve raised great points in the thread too. I was “no preference” in the army, and I was never asked about religion or sexual preference in any of many careers between 1964 and 2009. “4F” draft status could be awarded for flat feet, bad eyesight or disability, not just homosexuality. But you are correct that, empirically, many employers still had covert interest in personal info that was none of their business, and rumor was often as dangerous as confirmation.”

Chick-Fil-A Speaks Out On Viral Controversial Employment ‘Flyer’ (VIDEO)
Commented Mar 10, 2012 at 23:41:19 in Gay Voices
“I’m not counting on it. I read the whole thread and researched this on Kos’ 2007 article (most links broken) and elsewhere. I don’t think I could eat at a place with a name like that anyway. I’m not even religious, but being Christian isn’t on trial here. Practicing discrimination – or trying to enact it into statute – is. The franchisee question seems legit to me until a pervasive pattern of actual discriminatory behavior is shown.”

Chick-Fil-A Speaks Out On Viral Controversial Employment ‘Flyer’ (VIDEO)
Commented Mar 10, 2012 at 22:52:27 in Gay Voices
“Wikipedia has more current info, in more detail, than you’ll find in standard paper references, AND its articles are usually better footnoted. It’s NOT a substitute for doing your own research; your teachers are right. See what you can find on “social conservatism” in Webster’s or Britannica, and then check Wikipedia. Excerpt: “Social conservatism is a form of authoritarianism often associated with the position that the national government, or the state, should have a greater role in the social and moral affairs of its citizens, generally supporting whatever it sees as morally correct choices and discouraging or outright forbidding those it considers morally wrong ones.”” Continue reading

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Church vs. State: Religious Freedom vs. Freedom of Speech

Just when we thought the HHS “Contraceptive Kerfuffle” was resolved! So-called “social conservatives” from the religious right are attempting to hijack the issue from the Catholic Bishops to put a two-pronged political and religious spin on it. This followup article continues our February 7 story “Contraception: Controversial Health Care Mandate” in Commentary. Read our latest followup on church vs. state, also in Commentary.

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“Straw Man” Arguments For Proposition 8

LOS ANGELES – A federal appeals court panel ruled on Tuesday that a voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage in California violated the Constitution, all but ensuring that the case will proceed to the United States Supreme Court. — New York Times.

PBS interviews with proponents of the same-sex marriage ban revealed they still argue that “marriage” is linked to “one man, one woman” by the biological necessity of procreation. As outlined on ProtectMarriage.com, they also claim, among other things, that

  • “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
  • “Proposition 8 is about preserving marriage; it’s not an attack on the gay lifestyle.”
  • [Proposition 8] “restored the definition of marriage to what the vast majority of California voters already approved and human history has understood marriage to be.”
  • “It protects our children from being taught in public schools that “same-sex marriage” is the same as traditional marriage.”

The historical laundry list of injustices approved by voters and legislators beggars description. We even fought a civil war over some of those.  So let’s not pretend that a popular vote can actually legitimatize overt legal discrimination.

We even heard an argument by one PBS interviewee, John Eastman of National Organization for Marriage, that California Proposition 8 doesn’t discriminate; it merely defines marriage as between one man and one woman, thus preventing polygamy. But existing law doesn’t permit polygamy.

No one reading this column is likely to be fooled by such arguments. But we shouldn’t allow their outrageous claims to distract or side-track us, either.

Let’s just look at a very pertinent definition, a rhetorical tactic, discussed in Wikipedia:

A straw man is a component of an argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent’s position. To “attack a straw man” is to create the illusion of having refuted a proposition by replacing it with a superficially similar yet unequivalent proposition (the “straw man”), and refuting it, without ever having actually refuted the original position.

Anti-gay-marriage proponents are simply redefining the legal definition of marriage with their manufacture of spurious additional attributes, then demolishing their “straw man.” There is nothing in any legal definition of civic marriage that ties it to procreation, protection of the “family,” ancient tradition, or any of the other attributes ascribed by people who wish to discriminate against gays and lesbians. Any 80-year-old couple can tell us they aren’t in it for the procreative value of marriage.

So let’s not allow the debate to be derailed by “straw man” fundamentalist smoke-screens. Like similar laws elsewhere, California’s Proposition 8 sought to permanently classify same-sex partners as second-class American citizens. Our fight is for full equality before the law and equal access to all its fundamental protections. Period.

No matter how much we cherish the idealized “mom and pop” version of marriage that we grew up with, fewer and fewer Americans remain willing to shame the American ideal of equality by supporting discrimination. There is no way opponents can evade the simple fact Proposition 8 preserves pervasive and systematic legal discrimination against one class of American citizens. Keep the faith. Ultimately we must and shall prevail.

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BBC: Hillary Clinton declares ‘gay rights are human rights’

BBC News ran a post on Hillary Clinton’s declaration that the US will fight discrimination abroad using diplomacy and foreign aid.

Last week Nigerian became the latest African country attempting to tighten homosexuality laws, with the Senate passing a bill banning same-sex marriages.”

My question: to which “Senate” was the article referring?

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Perry v. Schwarzenegger: Prop 8 Shot Down

BBC post: “A US federal judge has overturned California’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.”

PFLAG alert: “Washington, D.C. – Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays – PFLAG National – celebrated the U.S. District Court decision that strikes down California’s discriminatory Proposition 8 which denied the right to marry to same-sex couples in the state, stating that the measure violates the U.S Constitution.”

You can get the full text of the news releases by following the links provided above.

The ruling is expected to be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.  The Roberts court rulings have followed a markedly narrower conservative ideology than in recent previous courts. With arch-conservative Justice Antonin Scalia likely to continue dominating a court majority, this important case is far from over.

The PFLAG release summarized the district court ruling as excerpted below:

The decision issued today in the case of Perry v. Schwarzenegger contends that Proposition 8 violates the Constitutional rights of equal protection and due process. In the decision, U.S. District Judge Vaughan Walker concludes that, “Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license., the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same-sex couples.”

PFLAG also provides a link to the full court decision. The document is a massive legal form in PDF format. In the preamble, District Judge Vaughn Walker of the United States District Court for the Northern District of California states:

Having considered the trial evidence and the arguments of counsel, the court pursuant to FRCP 52(a) finds that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional and that its enforcement must be enjoined.

Governor Schwarzenegger is said to have welcomed the decision. One homophobic conservative group, “SaveCalifornia.com”, has accused Judge Walker of advancing the “homosexual agenda”, calling it a “terrible blow” to voter rights.

There has never been any explanation, however feeble, why so many “conservative” groups think that we can advance individual rights by voting to deny them to others. While Justice Walker apparently did not (and probably could not) address the broader question of whether civil rights can constitutionally even be subject to popular vote, this ruling is a step in the right direction.

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