Saturday, June 27, 2015

Bye Bye Blog

That sound is the slamming of the bloggy door. Yesterday's SCOTUS decision pronouncing marriage equality as the Constitutional law of the land makes this blog unnecessary.

Yes, yes, the nasties and anti-gay types will still try every devious way they can to hurt homosexuals. I won't be railing against their impotent cruelty here.

If you have been a follower and regular reader, you can catch my panting and ranting at Harrumph, Left Ahead, and on occasion BlueMassGroup. I am delighted that as the Brits might say this blog was made redundant.

A self-absorbed good-bye podcast on the subject is a short 19 minutes here.

Friday, June 26, 2015

SCOTUS logic and lunacy on same-sex marriage

You won't believe what the SCOTUS justices wrote...alas, maybe you will. The 100-plus page majority and triple dissent decision clearly and cleanly illustrates the bifurcation of the Supreme Court into a logical side and an emotional one. On the five-member Spock side sit Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. The usual suspects are on the loony end — Roberts, Alito, Thomas, and Scalia.

With the Supremes' huge white space borders, each page is only half filled, so you're looking at only about 50 pages. Plus the majority's greatest hits are in the five-page syllabus, so you are left with the various crazy comments in three dissents (29 for Roberts, 9 for Scalia, and 8 for Thomas; they pig pile by joining each other's dissents).

Majority highlights

Do read every delicious, reasoned word of the decision syllabus, only five pages. It covers all the key points and major legal citations of the 33-page majority decision, which includes several pages of appendices.

Despite anti-gay claims that marriage has been immutable since prehistory, the majority eviscerates that with a quick overview of major changes just in American history (syllabus, p. 2).

A clear historic, legal parallel between gay rights and same-sex marriage led to this majority decision (syllabus, p. 2).

The groundwork for the decision, as in others such as Loving, reside in the 14th Amendment's Due Process Clause — "...certain personal choices central to individual dignity and autonomy...including intimate choices defining personal identity and beliefs." Also, "(h)istory and tradition guide and discipline the inquiry but do not set its outer boundaries." In the same section, citations for how the SCOTUS "has long held the right to marry is protected by the Constitution (syllabus, p. 2). Note that the latter is key to the dissenters, who pretend there is no legal background for this major conclusion.

On pages 3 and 4 of the syllabus, the majority set out the four principles and traditions "that the reasons marriage is fundamental under the Constitution apply with equal force to same-sex couples. Do read these, which include case-law citations.  Very briefly:

  1. "(T)he right to personal choice regarding marriage is inherent in the concept of individual autonomy."
  2. "(T)he right to marry is fundamental because it supports a two-person union unlike any other in its importance to the committed individuals."
  3. "(T)he right to marry...safeguards children and families and thus draws meaning from related rights of childbearing, procreation, and education." This has the corollary that (p)recedent protects the right of a married couple not to procreate, so the right to marry cannot be conditioned on the capacity or commitment to procreate."
  4. (M)arriage is a keystone of the Nation's social order." "It is demeaning to lock same-sex couples out of a central institution of the Nation's society, for they too may aspire to the transcendent purposes of marriage."

"Respondents' argument that allowing same-sex couples to wed will harm marriage as an institution rests on a counterintuitive view of opposite-sex couples' decisions about marriage and parenthood." (syllabus p. 5). Note that the majority decision, pp. 26-27, has a great time tearing apart this red herring.

The comity/full-faith-and-credit issue of states' recognizing SS marriages legal elsewhere is on the same page and dealt with fully on pages 27-28 of the main decision. "The Fourteenth Amendment requires States to recognize same-sex marriages validly performed out of State. Since same-sex couples may now exercise the fundamental right to marry in all States, there is no lawful basis for a State to refuse to recognize a lawful same-sex marriage performed in another State on the ground of its same-sex character."

For brevity, I won't break out the majority decision in detail. It's well written and worth reading. It does offer many specific citations in support of their finding. It also anticipates most of the dissents and puts the lie to them, although that does not stop the four loons from hooting. However, note that from page 6, there are long passages detailing the transformations and evolution of marriage from Colonial to recent times, from when marriages were about property transfer and women were property too...key background that snorts at the myth that marriage has been fixed for hundreds or thousands of years.

Also, check the majority, page 18, on debunking "tradition" as the abiding rule of rights. "If rights were defined by who exercised them in the past, then received practices could serve as their own continued justification and new groups could not invoke rights once denied. This Court has rejected that approach, both with respect to the right to marry and the rights of gays and lesbians."

The next page features an extremely generous nod to the anti-gay bigots. "Many who deem same-sex marriage to be wrong reach that conclusion based on decent and honorable religious or philosophical premises, and neither they nor their beliefs are disparaged here. But when that sincere, personal opposition becomes enacted law and public policy, the necessary consequence is to put the imprimatur of the State itself on an exclusion that soon demeans or stigmatizes those whose own liberty is then denied. Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right." I would not have been so kind to such cruel folk, but the Kennedy, sane, wing of the court has reconciliation in mind apparently.

Page 22 includes exposition on how from Lawrence, homosexuals legally have the same right as heterosexuals to intimacy (see marriage).

Page 23 deals neatly with reasons why to finally act. Instead of waiting indefinitely for yet more court case, more state legislature actions and more plebiscites. A keen punchline comes on page 24 — "The dynamic of our constitutional system is that individuals need not await legislative action before asserting a fundamental right."

Dissenting Lowlights

The three separate, but incestuous in co-support, dissents show deceit and emotion over reason. Roberts' big, honking 29 pager is a states rights screed. If you read the majority syllabus and then just the Roberts intro you'd think he didn't pay any attention orally or on paper to the majority. Yet if you wade through it all, you find he outright lies and contorts.

The 18-page Thomas dissent is terribly embarrassing for both him and the Court. He clearly is the only truly stupid member of the SCOTUS. He pounds away repeatedly at 18th Century definitions of liberty, as though life and law froze then. He pretneds that the old trumps all development in society and law. You can sense why he doesn't speak from the bench or ask questions. He is too ignorant to make decent points.

Finally, the Alito 8 pager is puerile. He revels in cheap insults of the majority and what he sees as their legal and even moral shortcomings. He's the nasty kid catcalling from the back of the auditorium.

If you only read one dissent, slog through the Roberts one. It represents the loony SCOTUS wing at its most illogical and emotional. More telling though, he starts on page 2 and repeats in several places that judges, even at his level, have to know their place. He uses winger terms and depicts SCOTUS justices who would do their job of interpreting law as activists, as unelected and unaccountable, and as pseudo-legislators.

Note on page 2 that he views public pleading with state legislatures and courts is OK in his book. Again, know your place. He seems unclear on the SCOTUS as a co-equal branch of the government with duties.

He spreads out a series of red herrings, starting on page 3 with "The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this Court’s precedent." You see later if you have the patience that he has in fact read the majority decision, and that he has to know that they are very plain in why the five ruled on the constitutionality.

Likewise, from page 4, he uses other anti-gay and winger concepts, such as marriage being immutable for millennia. That is legally and historically inaccurate, and there has never been a universal definition of marriage, as the majority decision so clearly stated and cited.Yet, he panders to SSM opponents.

Furthermore, he slings the procreation canard around repeatedly, starting on page 5. Forget what an insult that is to those who cannot or choose not to reproduce as well as the IVF and adoptive millions. There is no legal support for requiring having children to marry or stay married. Not relevant, Johnny. He ends the page with a quote, "Marriage is a socially arranged solution for the problem of getting people to stay together and care for children that the mere desire for children, and the sex that makes children possible, does not solve." He seems oblivious that this pertains as much to two homosexuals as to two straights. In fact, the pro-family, pro-marriage position encourages SS marriages, parenting and adoptions.

So bereft of facts, he frequently turns to 19th Century writings including a dictionary to bolster his antediluvian marriage view (as on pages 6 and 7).

He is at his worst though in avoiding his duty as not only a member but the chief justice of the SCOTUS. He seems to fear interpreting law and the Constitution. Consider on page 10, "Stripped of its shiny rhetorical gloss, the majority’s argument is that the Due Process Clause gives same-sex couples a fundamental right to marry because it will be good for them and for society. If I were a legislator, I would certainly consider that view as a matter of social policy. But as a judge, I find the majority’s position indefensible as a matter of constitutional law." He attempts to set himself up as superior to the other justices when the effect is to say he is hiding from the hard judgment.

In numerous places in his dissent, Robert worries the 1905 Lochner v. New York, which overruled a state law to limit oppressive work hours in bakeries. He could have it (starting on page 13) that the case epitomizes the SCOTUS' excesses. "But to avoid repeating Lochner’s error of converting personal preferences into constitutional mandates, our modern substantive due process cases have stressed the need for 'judicial self-restraint.'" This repreent his main forum for calling out states rights!

On page 16 among other places, he tries and fails to draw distinctions with Loving v. Virginia as well as segregated schools and the SS marriage issues at hand. He too glibly writes, "Removing racial barriers to marriage therefore did not change what a marriage was any more than integrating schools changed what a school was." That is wrong on many levels, not the least of which is ignoring the evil intents and effects of the related state laws.

He can't stop himself from bigoted cliché. He even turns to the specter of plural marriage as the next logical, perhaps inevitable step (pages 20-21). He mires himself in the lingo of anti-gay wingers on he next page in passages that pile on the stereotypes, as in, "The purpose of insisting that implied fundamental rights have roots in the history and tradition of our people is to ensure that when unelected judges strike down democratically enacted laws, they do so based on something more than their own beliefs. The Court today not only overlooks our country’s entire history and tradition but actively repudiates it, preferring to live only in the heady days of the here and now."

Throughout, he also conflates religious rituals and civil ceremonies (look at p. 27 for examples). He surely knows better and surely doesn't care. He doubles and triples down on that on the next page. He poo-poos the harm and hindrance gay couples experienced for decades, as he plays Chicken Little by pretending that religious institutions and clerics are not thoroughly protected in speech and action by Constitution and statute. Shameless

Lesser dissents

Scalia is far too clever for other humans. He must have a real lickspittle clerk to write up his drivel. He uses loaded terms throughout, such as "today's decree," in multiple places.He gets into it on page 2 with "This practice of constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine, always accompanied (as it is today) by extravagant praise of liberty, robs the People of the most important liberty they asserted in the Declaration of Independence and won in the Revolution of 1776: the freedom to govern themselves." He shows no subtlety or legal basis.

He asserts wildly. For example, on page 4, he writes, "But the Court ends this debate, in an opinion lacking even a thin veneer of law." Unlike his rant, the majority decision is full of citations and reasoning for each of its points.

He may have been at his weakest on page 6, when he implies that the right way to get to marriage equality is through Constitutional amendment. Yes, that onerous process that is both unsure and that takes decades, if it ever finishes. At the bottom of the same page, he shows he is unclear that the judiciary is a co-equal branch of government with clear duties to interpret the law.

Let us leave aside his two offenses on page 7. One is a deep slur on California and how it does not count. Another makes a Nazi reference to "today's judicial Putsch." Alas, Scalia thinking he is too, too clever doesn't play well.

Least is Thomas' dull-witted display of ignorance and obfuscation. He spends much of his dissent with a straw man of his view of liberty as defined in the 18th Century. Honestly, and it starts on his page 1.

Like Roberts, he too falls on states rights as a prime virtue. Consider page 3 where he points to 30 states that passed DOMA-style laws to preclude SS marriage. In other words, a majority of states, if you use his lingo redefined or really defined for political aims marriage. He says the majority decision " wiping out with a stroke of the keyboard the results of the political process in over 30 States, based on a provision that guarantees only 'due process' is but further evidence of the danger of substantive due process." Yet, even as dull a human as Thomas, or at least his clerk, had to know there was a great deal of solid evidence behind the majority ruling.

Thomas returned several times to the Locke and 18th and 19th Century definitions of liberty. See pages 9-11 for examples. Unless someone is held captive and deprived of locomotion, there's no problem, writes he. Instead, he (page 10) claims those who brought the suit in this case want "government entitlements" not liberty.

He even tries (pages 14 and 15) to delve into our Colonial past. He cites those who came for religious freedom, seeming to overlook that religious freedom for others, such as Roman Catholics, was meaningless and could instead lead to banishment or even death.

Thomas' dullness may be at its worst when he tries to ridicule the finding of the majority that same-sex couples are due dignity. He pulls the literal, left-brained routine. That word does not appear in the Constitution, therefore it is not relevant here (pages 16 and 17). Then he shows want an ass he is by gross historical slanders — "Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away." Legally, historically and morally, he could hardly be more wrong.

The majority decision is clear, clean, well reasoned and well cited. The dissents are not and show the loony wing of the Court at its basest and dumbest.

SCOTUS finds SSM right

Cue the songs of praise...and relief, as the SCOTUS rules five-to-four that same-sex marriage is a right. (Good immediate and obviously prepared NYT coverage here. and some analysis at Yahoo news here.)

[It's getting to be about time to shut down this marriage-equality blog.]

I'll pour through the pro and con decisions.

Meanwhile, let's listen for more absurd claims that anti-gay clerics will be censored, censured and then forced to perform weddings for homosexual couples. That has never been true, will never be and there are Constitutional protections as well as statutes and case law. That has not kept wingers and loons from doing their best Chicken Little. Sigh.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Irish Gay Marriages by Fall

We can forgive a short pun period following the Irish plebiscite putting marriage equality in the constitution. I've heard the likes of sods on the auld sod. I do not hear anti-gay meanness, just spill-over giddiness.

[By the bye, all constituencies but one, Roscommon–South Leitrim, voted in favor of equality. That exurban area was close, 51.42% to 48.58% against. Surprisingly, there was little difference by age, but as a rule, the more urban, the more in favor.]

Now implementation turns out to be trivial. After all, the constitution did not forbid same-sex marriage. Instead, the vote this weekend added only, "Marriage may be contracted in accordance with law by two persons without distinction as to their sex."

Putting that into reality, likely by September, seems to require:

  1. President Michael D. HIggins signing the Marriage Equality Bill into law.
  2. Legal genuflection to religious lobbyists to put in unnecessary religious-protection redundancies as has happened throughout the United States.
  3. Similarly even though same-sex marriages will have equal footing and requirements, the new law will also state specifically that the same consanguinity (incest) strictures apply to gay couples.
  4. Civil forms and the resulting ceremonies will allow couples to be husband and wife or spouses of each other.
  5. And...and...nothing. Done and done.

In that very Catholic nation, that church got support from Protestants and Muslims for its literal demand that the law state explicitly that no cleric will have to perform a same-sex wedding. That red herring is so tiresome and so irrational and so unnecessary. Yet, it seems to make the anti-gay types feel better about their other tradition, that of harming, hampering and hindering homosexuals.

With this false and silly "victory," will they shut up about this? Probably not.

As we have seen and heard in the socially slow United States and even in spots in Canada, anti-gay sorts fixate on religious oppression certain to befall clerics and laity. It doesn't happen and won't happen. It is forbidden by law. The mere passage of marriage-equality does not clear out the statutes and case law protecting the, nominally at least, religious. They can continue to be nasty, spiteful and slanderous. How very sad that must be.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Ireland's Newest Beacon

Less than a year ago, we headed to Ireland for two weeks, arriving on the Dublin leg coincidentally on Pride Day. While most of the marchers and those at the Pride concerts were young, it's no exaggeration to note that the city was delighted.

I can't say I was surprised that the country voted strongly to put marriage equality in its constitution. It's the first nation to do so, putting yet another rock on the trash can filled with anti-gay sorts.

When this country or that state legalized same-sex marriage, the anti sorts did their damnedest to qualify it. Oh, that was a court of unelected activist judges. Then, oh, well the legislature forced this on the voters. And the ever serviceable, let the people vote!

Now thanks to Ireland, it's all ways now, including plebiscite.

On Dublin Pride 2014, they out-Boston-ed us. It seemed every private and public building and business had the banners, flags and posters. Meanwhile, here there were still loud debates about whether gay groups would be able to march in the St. Patrick's Day parade. Well, in all Irish cities, that had long been settled in favor on inclusion.

Sure there are things that are public business and others that affect only those directly involved. Ireland is in the camp of marriage between two adults is their business and not yours or mine. Good on 'em.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

1st Amendment Games in Indiana

Yes, indeed, we can be too clever for our own ends. We're seeing it now in Indiana, where the poorly drafted and worse defined Religious Freedom Restoration Act has blown up. The Republican legislature should be embarrassed but is not. The Republican Gov. Mike Pence (a POTUS hopeful) should claw back the openly discriminatory law, but won't.

On today's Left Ahead show, I went on about it all. Assuming it comes over, the player below should have the 19-minute show.

Foolish attempts at cleverness constantly backfire, and not only at dinner parties. The most common and to the worst effects must be politically. In this case, numerous major companies and non-profits are pulling back on investments there. I also predict that this debacle ends Pence's shot at being the GOP POTUS nominee. He has been pitching himself as the guy who can appeal to moderates, independents and conservative Dems as well as his own party. Forget it, Mikey.

I talked about the winger media lie that the IN law is the same as the Federal version and those in many other red states. I noted the major differences, and which made it unacceptable to so many people and businesses.

I also predicted that wingers in and beyond IN won't stop, even after what should be a most obvious failure. They did this with marriage equality and continue to do so, even with the wide, dark shadow of the pending SCOTUS ruling making all their anti-gay paranoia and lies moot. They shall continue until there is no legal option for deceit...and cleverness.

With same-sex marriage battle lost — waiting only for the SCOTUS cymbal clap in June, wingers are pig piling on a new ploy. In numerous states, legislatures are pretending to protect religious freedom from the inevitable and fearful persecution from dem damn gays.

I kicked around Indiana's worst-in-class blunders in trying this ruse.

POTUS hopeful, Gov. Mike Pence (R, of course) signed a bill into law that pretty much lets anyone for any reason discriminate against LGBT potential customers. Poorly disguised as protecting citizen's First Amendment rights to exercise religion, it instead is an atavistic license to ignore statutes, case law and morality.

Pence seemed to figure the Hoosier lawmakers were being oh, so clever in patterning the bill after the 1993 federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Wrong there. The RFRA was yet another cowardly and ill-considered Pres. Bill Clinton effort to appease wingers.Yet Indiana's version is worse, even legislatively malignant.

I got into the concepts of balancing exercise of religion with both commerce and respect as required by federal law. We can be very sure Pence and his minions are having similar discussions following the nationwide blowback to Indiana's overreach.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I was wrong on gay marriage; thank heavens

With two common dumb comments we humans often make, one is from the jejune and the other from the lazy. The first is truly stupid and really inexcusable. That is to respond to a concept or fact in the air with, "I wasn't even born yet!" That, of course, is absolutely no excuse for ignorance, History does not start with your birth. When you discover an idea, event or technology you don't know, your job is to learn about that and be ready...and smarter than you were before.

The other even more of us succumb to using — "It's only common sense," or "Let's not reinvent the wheel." This is for when we are too lazy to think or analyze.

Almost invariably, when the words are, "It's only common sense," the real message is, "I have nothing. I'm making wild, unsupported assertions and don't want to be corrected or challenged."

The latest poll on same-sex marriage (NBC/Wall Street Journal) continues the findings of the seemingly inexorable trend toward national support for marriage equality. It also reminds me of the frailty of my judgment and forecasting on the whole matter.

The gist is that 59% of us favor same-sex marriage, 33% oppose and 8% waffle. Only Republicans who identify with the Tea Party are strongly opposed. The WSJ video heads discussing this reckoned that this has been the fastest, most decisive cultural shift ever, much more so than changing attitudes about interracial marriage.

The personal messages here for me are not in any shifting support. Long before MA's Goodridge decision, I was a champion for marriage equality. Instead, I had it dreadfully wrong — in two ways — about how fast we'd get there as a nation.

First, I fell into that common-sense trap. When VT allowed civil unions and then MA full marriage, it was patently obvious to me that the Chicken Little doomsayers would have to reverse themselves quickly. The anti-gay sillies went on about such unions "redefining marriage," a misinformed concept. With great confidence, many of them predicted chaos at city halls, draconian prosecution and persecution of the clergy, and wholesale abandonment of the institution by straight couples.

One would think when absolutely none of those occurred in the first two years, five years, decade of marriage equality here would first admit their errors, perhaps with relief and empathy. Second, we might suppose they would work with the new reality. After all, virtually all religions, including all flavors of Christianity, have a version of the golden rule. As the Talmud so perfectly puts it, "That which is hateful to you, do not do to another. That is all the law. The rest is commentary."

I can slap my forehead. I honestly believed that the success of MA and then this state or that with same-sex marriage would convert the haters or at the very least stifle them. Of course, that didn't happen. Even though their numbers dwindle, the anti-gay/anti-same-sex marriage minions snarl and howl. They have been reduced to saying, "Well, it hasn't happened yet, but just you wait." Claudicated reasoning.

On the other hand, after I finally accepted that the march toward marriage equality would be slow and fitful, I fell into a pit limbo. I said and wrote, here, at Left Ahead, and elsewhere that the U.S. was 10 or even 20 years away from equality.

Well, the obvious to me was wrong, very wrong, again. Progress has been extremely fast. I now expect a favorable SCOTUS ruling this spring or summer, wiping the legal restrictions if not cleansing the evil hearts of all Americans.

I don't have to get into how wong I was on both counts. My record is on the tubes. I simply revel in where we have arrived.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Hillary Hovers and Hedges

Hillary Clinton will surely have a states-rights problem come the campaign for Prez. The clearest evidence of that is in — of all subjects — same-sex marriage.

This should certainly be a Dem gimme. Many GOP pols, including Presidental hopefuls, have chosen to admit defeat here. While the deft and delusional keep at it, half of Republican bigs accept it's  a done deal. On the other side, many Dems pushed for marriage equality and get to claim the high ground with the recent, very recent, sweeping victories. Plus, the SCOTUS seems poised to mandate nationwide marriage equality this summer.

So it's all too obvious that she should join the victory lap, even though she only stepped into the race in the last few yards. Instead, she stupidly clings to her adopted Southern heritage of states rights. That's a bad sign in several ways. Not only is that no longer relevant to this particular issue. It also puts her at odds with most Dem and independent voters, most notably those her daughter's age and younger. Moreover, it reflects poorly on what we might expect in policy should she become President.

You can check for yourself. Start with last June's interview by Terry Gross on NPR. While Gross fairly demanded that Clinton admit she'd been wrong on marriage equality, only changing for expedience, Clinton would have none of it. Much has been made of her continuing defensive posture

Yet lost in the personal here, Clinton's statements on states rights are astounding. Consider from that interview:
.... So for me, marriage had always been a matter left to the states. And in many of the conversations that I and my colleagues and supporters had I fully endorsed the efforts by activists to work state by state. And in fact that is what is working.... And then leaving that (Secretary of State) position I was able to very quickly announce that I was fully in support of gay marriage. And that it is now continuing to succeed state by state. I am very hopeful that we will make progress and see even more change and acceptance...

There you have it, politics fans. As late as the middle of last year, she wanted it all ways. Moreover, she based it on states rights. We know historically how incredibly poorly that works for civil rights.

There is, of course, the personal irony here of her upbringing. From Illinois and then to undergrad in MA and law in CT, she didn't get to the states-rights turf until she was nearly 30. While she and future husband Bill Clinton dates at Yale Law, she didn't agree to marry him until she moved with him to Arkansas when she was 28. 

States rights have been and continue to be big in AR. When her hubby was Gov. then President Clinton, he played the let-the-states-decide card many times. She has been in tune.

So there you have it. Come the SCOTUS decision, she'll be able to do the cliché of it's settled law. Yet I suspect she'll continue by adding unnecessarily that she would have preferred if the states individually could continue to legislate marriage to suit each.

We deserve a President with more courage and vision and, well, morality. The correct answer is, "I support this and we are doing this because it is right." If she feels the need to waffle on such important and fundamental issues, she should stifle it. 

Monday, February 09, 2015

Aw, do you need some attention, Roy Moore?

Looking for the dummies and crazies, we invariably find them in the same states — Idaho, Utah, and of course the likes of Mississippi and Alabama. The once and now again Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Stewart Moore is at it and as loony as ever.

Apparently unchasted at having been removed from office in 2003, he's doing pretty much the same. Back then, he had commissioned a Ten Commandments display at a court house and then refused to let it be removed when federal courts ruled it was unconstitutional. Now he's done the same with same-sex marriage.

He ordered judges not to issue licenses to gay couples, in defiance of federal court rulings.

[If you really can't believe his arrogance and stupidity, start with his Wikipedia article. It has about 50 footnotes and external links to let you check truth and knowledge.]]

This time though, in his late Sunday night ruling, Moore showed a glimmer of restraint. He ford not threaten direct punishment to any judges who do issue licenses. Instead, he orders them to obey Alabama one-man/one-woman law, despite the federal overrides, and writes that seeing they do so falls on the governor of the state.

To ensure the orderly administration of justice
within the State of Alabama, to alleviate a situation
adversely affecting the administration of justice within
the State, and to harmonize the administration of justice
between the Alabama judicial branch and the federal
courts in Alabama:
Effective immediately, no Probate Judge of the State
of Alabama nor any agent or employee of any Alabama
Probate Judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license
that is inconsistent with Article 1, Section 36.03, of
the Alabama Constitution or § 30-1-19, Ala. Code 1975.
Should any Probate Judge of this state fail to
follow the Constitution and statutes of Alabama as
stated, it would be the responsibility of the Chief
Executive Officer of the State of Alabama, Governor
Robert Bentley, in whom the Constitution vests "the
supreme executive power of this state," Art. V, § 113,
Ala. Const. 1901, to ensure the execution of the law.
"The Governor shall take care that the laws be faithfully

As has been his wont, he plays political cards. He's showing he will take a lowest-common-denominator position as he perceives it. He also shows he no respect for law or the legal process.

This has served him both poorly and well. He was removed from office for his previous shenanigans. Undeterred, he tried running for higher office. He failed in several attempts to become governor and once tried with no public interest in running for POTUS.

However, the people did re-elect him as head of the state's high court. That surely is proof we should judges for their experience, expertise and integrity, and not elect them.

We have the intertwined issues of anti-gay sentiment, anti-federalism and of course the rawer states rights ones. As in so many other states that passed one-man/one-woman laws or amendments, Alabama seems to enjoy the sentiment that outsiders can't tell them what to do.

While it's true that outsiders, even federal courts and Congress can't tell tell them what to think, what to do can be another matter.

Monday AM: MSNBC has been doing legwork here. It reports most probate judges will follow federal ruling, not Moore's caprice. Plus the anti-gay Liberty Counsel folk are stirring the pot, representing judges who follow Moore and claiming those judges don't have to follow federal rulings.

Friday, January 16, 2015

At long last, the Supremes will speak

Okay, kiddies, the SCOTUS seems to be tired of hiding. It shall hear arguments in multiple cases simultaneously to settle the right to same-sex marriage, in April. A months later, likely the end of June, their decision will emerge.

There are many, many new stories on this. The NYT has a good and not too long recap here.

The gist is that as we have noted here before and many others have commented on, one rogue US District court (the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit) bucked their many peers. The other courts found bans on marriage equality unconstitutional. The Sixth's judge pulled ye olde states' rights routine, ruling it was up to state legislatures and voters to decide.

All the observers I've read immediately state that one can never predict the SCOTUS rulings. So, I'll ignore that. I say here and now that the four SCOTUS justices who lean anti-gay rights will listen carefully to arguments, interspersing their disdain for marriage equality during questioning. Afterward by a five-to-four or six-to-three vote, they'll declare marriage as a fundamental right and that denying it to a class of citizen is unconstitutional.

The SCOTUS has proven too many times in recent decades that when public sentiment finally is undeniable, they'll go with it, despite their preference to avoid controversy.

There will be weeping, gnashing of teeth and prophesies of doom for the nation in and out of court. The dissenting opinions will be vile and illogical. The dwindling parties of anti-gay groups will swear vengeance through the magical thinking that they will totally flip public opinion. Ho hum

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Gone with the obituary

Cross-post note: This appears at my non-political blog, Harrumph! As it is marriage related, it seems apt here too.

A college chum made his family vanish in his self-written obit. A wife and four daughters vanished in his detailed recap of life and kin.
I feel a double connection. I introduced, really connected, him and the woman he’d marry….first Then over 20 years later, he’d ask me to be a witness in the bizarre and hypocritical Roman Catholic annulment tribunal.
It’s not my thought to demean any religion’s dogma or processes. Yet from a post written at the time of the declaration-of-nullity proceeding, I clearly was stunned at the acrobatics involved. Likewise, reading the obit he wrote, I marvel at the duplicity.
His second wife, also Roman Catholic, insisted on an annulment, so they could marry in their church. Her will be done. Meanwhile, while he pressured em to fill in the complex tribunal questionnaire from the Savannah diocese, I was and remain uneasy.
As requested in the cover material, I did check the papers and answers with a local priest. He heads one of the region’s largest parishes and certainly understands his church’s rules, if not MA history.  He nimbly clarified the how and why of the process. To this UU, he was an animated FAQ on nullity. While I still see it very much as a game and a fund raiser, annulment is not otherwise part of my life and that is not my church.
The puzzlement comes when the theater extended to my friend’s death statements. The RC Church is careful to claim a nullified marriage did in fact exist when it occurred and that any children resulting did not become illegitimate as a result of the declaration. With his heart conditions and knowing his end was at hand, he could not drop the ruse.
The longest paragraph in his obit lists his relatives, sort of. His second wife’s folk abound. She is s”the great love of his life.” Her parents, children, grandchildren, siblings and appendices all appear. On his side, his late father appears in the previous résumé-style paragraph. At the very bottom of the survivors he mentions his late brother.
Invisible are his aged mother, his very alive sister, his first wife and his four daughters. I can surmise that he was estranged from his family, perhaps as a result of his leaving, divorcing and getting that annulment from wife #1. I can imaging wife #2 insisting he drop contact with his birth and previous family.
I’ll likely track down and call his first wife. That will mean confessing my role in the nullity process. That would probably be good for my psyche.
My erstwhile chum seems to prove the idea in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon that “There are no second acts in American Lives.” He avoided the complications and development of personal play, going directly to the resolution, comfortable if delusional.

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