Friday, May 13, 2005

A Law Too Far in Lincoln

In Nebraska, U.S. District Court Judge Joseph F. Bataillon ruled the state's DoMA law unconstitutional. In a 43-page commentary, he shredded it thoroughly, so much so that Nebraska should forget trying to get it to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It would be smarter to try to write a less restrictive and less anti-American law instead. It looks as though the law is so far out there that it was bound to fall.

The winners here were LAMBDA and civil-rights related groups, Citizens for Equal Protection Inc., Nebraska Advocates for Justice and Equality, Inc., and the ACLU Nebraska. Even though same-sex marriages are not against the law in Nebraska and the judge's rule permanently enjoins the state from enforcing its anti-same-sex marriage law, Attorney General Jon C. Bruning stated that he was not about to allow gay couples to wed.

The amendment in question came from Initiative 416, passed by 70% of voters in 2000. It looks like what happens when folks get too self-righteous and think they can get away with anything. The current D.C. culture seemed to have spread widely among cornhuskers.

According to ACLU's timeline on the initiative effort:
The amendment will ban same sex couples from being legally married in Nebraska as well as prohibit recognition of same sex relationships in any form. Organizers and donors to the initiative project include a coalition of Christian, Mormon and Catholic churches. Reports of the amount of money raised for their public campaign indicate they have nearly ten times the funds that opponents to the initiative have. The initiative's supporters launch a television, radio, newspaper, and direct mail campaign is launched across the state to promote the initiative.
The resulting amendment signed by the governor five years ago is:
Only marriage between a man and a woman shall be valid or recognized in Nebraska. The uniting of two persons of the same sex in a civil union, domestic partnership, or other similar same-sex relationship shall not be valid or recognized in Nebraska.
The second part went way too far, according to Bataillon. He ruled that it punished the class of homosexuals and forbade free speech and rights given to all citizens of majority. It was so broad that "(a)mong the threatened relationships would be those of roommates, co-tenants, foster parents, and related people who share living arrangements, expenses, custody of children, or ownership of property. Many of these associational relationships are constitutionally protected at some point along the spectrum from the most hallowed and intimate to the most trivial."

He found that Nebraska law "...also effectively disenfranchises lesbian, gay and bisexual people and their supporters as they can no longer petition their representatives and city and local governments for legislative changes that would protect their relationships."

The gist of his findings was that Nebraska started out to have DoMA legislation. Instead it ended up punishing homosexuals in ways that clearly violate rights due all citizens.

Let us pause to bless those who would stay the very heavy hand of majority rule that does not respect the freedom and humanity of the minority.


P-BS-Watcher said...

Is Judge Bataillon so stupid as to believe that anyone would buy his argument, or is he so stupid as to believe it himself? See Laws Are Illegal

Uncle said...

Haven't gone back to read my own stuff, but I recall writing on this some months ago. My wife had an aunt and uncle, brother and sister, who lived together for over 80 years. I hasten to mention they were devout Catholics, and would have greeted the filthy-minded speculations of today's anti-everything lot with hearty ridicule.

I did not and do not see why they should not have had the same civil benefits as any other cohabiting couple.

I did see, very clearly, what Judge Bataillon was getting at, not only in Nebraska but in nearly every state that went on its anti-gay rampage in November. The old expression for it is "throwing out the baby with the bath water." People who are half insane with hate don't stop to consider all the ramificiations of their actions. Hate has that effect on people. They also don't think about what their hate has to say about the fear and weakness within themselves.

The whole point of independent judiciaries is to put the brakes on people who act hastily, whether from political expediency or from plain raw hate. It's no wonder that the current administration and its most fervid supporters hate judges more than they hate anyone else. Even Jung would have a wet dream over the excesses of today's Amerikan right.

massmarrier said...

Good points. Also, I'm not sure how the legislators who push through laws and amendments in reaction to passions reconcile this with their own duties.

It's like the civilly disobeying protesters who can't believe that they face fines or jail. In their minds, they're right. So, the judges should give them a pass.

Then in the legislature, these kiddies push through extreme measures or laws with huge gaps. Then they are astounded when they get called on it. Again, self-righteousness seems to lead them to think that if most voters want something, no one can deny it to them.

That puts the duh in democracy.