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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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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“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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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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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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Voters Dismantle Iowa Supreme Court Over Same-Sex Marriage

From the New York Times:

DES MOINES — An unprecedented vote to remove three Iowa Supreme Court justices who were part of the unanimous decision that legalized same-sex marriage in the state was celebrated by conservatives as a popular rebuke of judicial overreach, even as it alarmed proponents of an independent judiciary…

That’s just further evidence of what happens when fundamental constitutional civil rights and equality issues can legally be subject to arbitrary and capricious nullification by an electorate …

The next time you hear someone complain their Second Amendment (gun) rights are being eroded, remind them it’s the same mechanism they wholeheartedly support when they go to the polls to make sure others’ oxes are gored.

The Iowa action is a stunning reminder how consistently “Red State” voters remain vigilantly opposed to equal rights for all Americans.

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