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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“Gay Marriage Polls Not Yet Reflected In Votes”

From David Crary on Huffington Post:

NEW YORK — Poll after poll shows public support for same-sex marriage steadily increasing, to the point where it’s now a majority viewpoint. Yet in all 32 states where gay marriage has been on the ballot, voters have rejected it. … For now, however, there remains a gap between the national polling results and the way states have voted. It’s a paradox with multiple explanations, from political geography to the likelihood that some conflicted voters tell pollsters one thing and then vote differently.

My comment:

“Still not with you people yet, but thinking about doing the right thing.” We’ve seen all this before with the civil rights movement, and then again with women’s rights. “Yes, we’re in favor of liberty and equality, but not just now, and not next door. But we’ll let you know.”

“Though the mills of God grind slowly, yet they grind exceeding small; Though with patience stands He waiting, with exactness grinds He all.” I think that about sums it up.

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Westboro Baptist Church’s View on 2012

Getting an endorsement from Westboro Baptist Church is like getting an endorsement from the KKK. We all know of Fred “God Hates Fags” Phelps and his off-the-wall little church in Topeka, Kansas. So who, if anyone, would those gay-hating churchgoers vote for in 2012? Since Bachmann is out of the race, I automatically assumed they’d pick Santorum.

I Googled it. The answer was a surprise, and not a welcome one. According to The Christian Post, citing an interview with The Huffington Post, Phelps’ gang would probably favor Obama.

This, from the same church that excoriates Obama as the Antichrist and embodiment of all evil. Why Westboro’s hatred for the gay-hating 2012 GOP lineup?

According to the Christian Post article, Timothy Phelps, youngest son of Fred Phelps, said:

“These people claim to be Christian, New Gingrich and Mitt Romney and some of them others. They aren’t pure followers of Jesus Christ. I wouldn’t trust [any] of them with a handful of change to go get me some bubble gum. There’s nothing of any value in [any] of those human beings.”

He said the current president would be a better choice despite his support of the LGBTQ community.

I noted that the Christian Post reporter could at no point in the article bring himself to refer to Phelps the elder as “Reverend.”

Everything we wanted to know. And less.

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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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Rick Santorum Calls ‘Saturday Night Live’ Sketch ‘Bullying’

According to a recent Huffington Post article, Rick Santorum reacted to a ‘Saturday Night Live’ sketch poking fun at his anti-Gay Marriage Views by calling it ‘Bullying’ … Santorum and Bachmann are the two most rabidly anti-gay candidates ever to float to the surface of the political septic tank. In reviewing this skit, which covered all the candidates, I didn’t think the Santorum segment went far enough. The skit is embedded here, courtesy of Huffington and Hulu. (It’s preceded by a 30-second ad.)

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2012 GOP Lineup: How Bad Is It?

UPDATED March 8, 2012; March 30, 2012

If you want the depressing overview, you couldn’t do much better than reading Hendrik Hertzberg of The New Yorker.

Hertzberg reports that GOP candidates all agree on the basics – NO TAX INCREASES (even if there were a 10:1 tradeoff in GOP’s favor). As he put it, there were no “substantive” differences: “Substance-wise, this was like watching Vladimir Putin debate himself on Russian state television.”

But he reports significant differences on military spending, abortion, and gays, none of which are presumed to be core ideological issues.

Perhaps you, as I do, view a candidate’s stand on gay equality as a litmus test on their stand on civil liberties in general. If civil liberties aren’t a core ideological issue, the strongest economy in the world isn’t going to help us. Civil liberties are the binding ties which explain why we can have an economy at all. If you don’t see it, maybe that’s because around 9.5 out of 10 Americans have little reason to put civil rights and civil liberty near the top of personal priority lists. But our rights are never really more secure than the rights of the least popular minority.

So to find out just how grim the GOP lineup is, I put together a little table summarizing the GOP candidates’ positions on my litmus test issue.

GOP “Straw Poll” for 2012 lineup
candidate Anti gay civil
liberty/homophobic?
Anti-gay marriage?
Mitt Romney no yes (note 1) yes
Michele Bachmann viral, defamatory. This candidate is a Jerry Falwell in drag. apoplectic rage
Rick Perry yes. In 2003 stated he does not believe consenting adults have a constitutional right to privacy, equates homosexuality to child molestation, incest, sodomy.* yes
Tim Pawlwenty probably not yes
Jon Huntsman no. “If you want to vote for a Republican, Huntsman is probably your best option,” said Richard Socarides, president of Equality Matters. — Daily Beast yes, but supports civil unions
Newt Gingrich yes. “I think there is a
gay and secular fascism in this country …”
yes
Ron Paul probably not. Libertarian theory: gays should have equality. Practice: But it’s up to the states to decide what civil liberties people get. yes, but let the States vote
against it
Rick Santorum yes. Long track record. In 2003 USA today interview, argues homosexuality is deviant behavior which undermines society and family. Analogies to incest, adultery, bigamy. “I have no problem with homosexuality. I have a problem with homosexual acts.” * yes
* source of
attributions: Wikipedia

UPDATED with detailed links:

Note 1: Romney’s PAC backed CA Prop 8 and NOM through a back-door Alabama feeder. Huffington Post 3/30/3012, “Mitt Romney’s PAC Funded Anti-Gay Marriage Group Under The Radar”

Santorum Links

1. http://video.foxnews.com/v/1366710583001/rick-santorum-enters-the-no-spin-zone. A bit of a slog.

2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rick_Santorum%27s_views_on_homosexuality (article includes 39 linked footnotes with supporting original documentation)

The AP also quoted Santorum as saying, “If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.” and “Whether it’s polygamy, whether it’s adultery, whether it’s sodomy, all of those things, are antithetical to a healthy, stable, traditional family.”
from: http://articles.cnn.com/2003-04-22/politics/santorum.gays_1_statement-on-individual-lifestyles-senator-santorum-bigamy-and-adultery?_s=PM:ALLPOLITICS

3. Santorum, R-Pennsylvania, was questioned about his comments at a town hall meeting by a 23-year-old man who identified himself as “a proud, gay Pennsylvanian” and said he was offended by the remarks — part of an interview with The Associated Press — in which Santorum appeared to compare homosexuality to incest, bigamy and adultery. [see http://articles.cnn.com/2003-04-23/politics/santorum.gays_1_santorum-traditional-heterosexual-relationships-homosexuality?_s=PM:ALLPOLITICS]

4. “He suggests to a New Hampshire audience that an imprisoned father is preferable to a same-sex parent.” see http://articles.latimes.com/2012/jan/07/nation/la-na-campaign-20120107

5. Santorum Anti-Gay Comments On Fox News: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3YEnS5WXW8 attitude shows. It is then satirized, somewhat humorously, by a pro-gay commentator.

6.Rick Santorum’s 12 Most Offensive Statements http://thinkprogress.org/lgbt/2011/06/06/237112/rick-santorums-top-12-most-offensive-statements/

“In every society, the definition of marriage has not ever to my knowledge included homosexuality. That’s not to pick on homosexuality. It’s not, you know, man on child, man on dog, or whatever the case may be….If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything.” [4/2003]

7. ABC: Rick Santorum in the Hot Seat Again for Gay Marriage Stance (1-6-2012)
http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/01/rick-santorum-in-the-hot-seat-again-for-gay-marriage-stance/

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Michele Bachmann, Immoral and Disgusting?

I’d already had my fill of Bachmann after recent her television gaffes and embarrassingly infantile “rebuttal” of the President’s State of the Union address. I already agreed with most of what the President had to say, but it IS nationally embarrassing when a spokesperson for the loyal opposition makes such an unprincipled hash of principled debate. As concerned Europeans look across the ocean to see how America will handle the largely USA-triggered global financial crisis, when they see creatures like Bachmann announcing for the most powerful executive office in the world, what can they be thinking?

I’d dismissed Bachmann as just another lightweight candidate, but I was wrong there.

Being opposed or strongly opposed to gay marriage is still not specific to just one or more individual candidate or political party. What separates Bachmann from Sarah Palin, that other supermarket tabloid sensation, is the singular intensity of her opposition to gay marriage, gay unions, or anything else to do with gays and lesbians, period.

Not following all the Republican wannabe announcements religiously, I was unaware Bachmann is rabidly homophobic.

From the New York Times comes a Sunday feature article “For Bachmann, Gay Rights Stand Reflects Mix of Issues and Faith” by Sheryl Stolberg. How many things can you find wrong with the following statement?

We will have immediate loss of civil liberties for five million Minnesotans,” Mrs. Bachmann, then a state senator, told a Christian television network as thousands gathered on the steps of the Capitol to rally for a same-sex marriage ban she proposed. “In our public schools, whether they want to or not, they’ll be forced to start teaching that same-sex marriage is equal, that it is normal and that children should try it.”

Off the top, what I come up with is:

  1. Civil liberties allegedly includes the right to deprive others of their civil liberties. Teaching civil rights equality allegedly equals loss of “civil liberties” for people who presently enjoy them.
  2. Schools will allegedly be forced to start teaching equality. Horrors!
  3. Schools will allegedly be forced to start teaching that students should try same-sex marriage. Oh, sure!

For the record, Bachmann seems to actually believe in a homosexual agenda to indoctrinate children into adopting a gay lifestyle — presumably, thereby, swapping sexual identities. Bachmann is said to be a “Christian conservative.”

She stood up as a Christian,” said Bob Battle, pastor of the Berean Church of God in Christ here. “She made her point of view known, and she gave Christians a voice.”

I think it’s time for mainstream Christians to take back the name “Christian,” which has been hijacked by religious conservatives and political bigots hiding behind undebatable religious artifacts. Bachmann may represent the biggest inroad into national politics yet made by prejudiced anti-gay religious fundamentalists, as typified by the homophobic rantings of “God Hates Fags” Rev. Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church. But she is not the only one.

We live in a time when respected moderates are vilified as evil, unprincipled and indecisive, when people who fly the American Flag are automatically associated with “my country right or wrong” yahoos, and where people who are different, or perhaps go to a different church, are demonized as disgusting and immoral, and xenophobically branded as “threats to freedom.”

It’s time to take back our flag, our symbols and our language of morality. The folks who are truly immoral and disgusting are people who persecute others, people who deprive others of their civil liberties, and people who twist and hijack American principles toward myopic and exclusionary agendas. For my money, that’s Michele Bachmann in a nutshell.

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Perry v. Schwarzenegger

Alex Forbes and Bob Sibley - link to memoriam

1990-2005 forever

When I’ve talked about the wonderful fifteen years I spent with my partner Bob Sibley (Bob passed away of cancer in 2005), that’s just “anecdotal“.

When I’ve written of our own hard-won California State Registered Domestic Partnership (SRDP), and about our legal inability to bind those ties with a contract having the same constitutional force of law as a marriage, that’s just the way things have always been for two hundred and thirty-four years.

The times they are a-changin’. Many believe this is all about state sanction of “approved” sexual orientation, and who may “regulate” that approval. Put that way, it is. All of which inescapably leads to the broader understanding: it’s really about equality and  civil rights.

In Perry v. Schwarzenegger the big legal guns are appearing before the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. The case is likely to wind up in the Supreme Court.

Once again, this case challenges the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 (which overturned a previous state Supreme Court ruling allowing gay marriage). Many in the LGBT community are fearful that a defeat in Perry v. Schwarzenegger could upset the applecart – that long, drawn-out slow process of winning full civil and legal equality from the existing reactionary and uncharitable entrenched political establishment.

The prospect of the United States Supreme Court effectively validating gay marriage (as long as Scalia is seated) is universally conceded to be a long shot.

The Perry v. Schwarzenegger defense – the pro-Prop-8 lobby – has filed with the court to prevent live filming of the proceedings.

Decades ago, gays and lesbians mortally feared exposure of their identities by the press. In an ironic reversal, it’s now the anti-gay forces who seek legal shelter from press disclosure.  Perhaps this is the surest sign yet the establishment is on the defensive.

So there’s no guarantee Perry v. Schwarzenegger won’t prove a setback for LGBT civil rights – as some fear.

What has changed over the decades is the new perception of gays and lesbians as the underdogs. Even within the anti-gay lobbies and political action groups,  rank-and-file citizens  increasingly aren’t especially anti-gay at all. They may harbor a certain sympathy for the legal plight of gays and lesbians, but simply aren’t ready for the “marriage” word.

If Perry v. Schwarzenegger fails, this will be understood as further proof that the law still sanctions selective discrimination in the United States. We’re still excluding what’s probably America’s last minority group, a target group which still lacks recognition and standing before the very courts and legislatures sworn to uphold the constitutional rights of all.

Here in La Parola, we’d argued for years that we didn’t care whether it was called “marriage” or “civil union”; we wanted equal rights. Unfortunately, as long as it’s called something else, it’s legally distinguishable from “marriage”, and will suffer from the same old exclusionary discrimination.

One man cannot hold another man down in the ditch without remaining down in the ditch with him. — Booker T. Washington

We need to suck it up and do what we can to save our Liberty Bell. When some citizens are allowed to let rights be dispensed like so many party favors, or a reserved chair in “musical chairs”, we thereby undermine the foundation of  rights for all citizens.

It’s time for all of us to get over the “m” word and eliminate partisan dispensation of constitutional rights to favored groups of American citizens.

Links:

No matter where you thought you stood on “gay marriage”, it’s time to brush up on the constitutional issues and new legal developments. We recommend these two postings:

  • A Risky Proposal – by Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker
  • Perry v. Schwarzenegger – Wikipedia briefing
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    NJ Senate defeats gay marriage bill

    New Jersey gay rights activists said: we want the same constitutional protections as everybody else. We’re United States citizens seeking legal classification as United States citizens. We want legal recognition of our permanent partnerships.

    A majority of New Jersey’s state senators said: “Oh no you don’t.”

    The AP news release follows.

    NJ Senate defeats gay marriage bill; NJ gay marriage law unlikely in near future

    01-07-2010 03:00 PM MST
    TRENTON, N.J. (Associated Press) —

    New Jersey’s state Senate has defeated a bill to legalize gay marriage, leaving it unlikely the state will have a gay marriage law in the very near future.

    The bill needed 21 votes to pass; only 14 senators approved the measure Thursday.

    Gay rights advocates had pushed hard to get the bill passed before Jan. 19, when Republican Chris Christie becomes governor. Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine promised to sign the bill if approved by the Legislature but Christie has said he would veto it.

    New Jersey offers civil unions that grant the legal rights of marriage to gay couples. Five states _ Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont _ allow gay marriage.

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