I became insane with long intervals of horrible sanity.
Edgar Allen Poe
The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one's time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.
- H. L. Mencken
Many people would sooner die than think; In fact, they do so
What I have been telling you, from alpha to omega, what is the one great thing the sigil taught me — that everything in life is miraculous. For the sigil taught me that it rests within the power of each of us to awaken at will from a dragging nightmare of life made up of unimportant tasks and tedious useless little habits, to see life as it really is, and to rejoice in its exquisite wonderfulness. If the sigil were proved to be the top of a tomato-can, it would not alter that big fact, nor my fixed faith. No Harrowby, the common names we call things by do not matter — except to show how very dull we are ...
-James Branch Cabell
June 26, 2015 - 6:13 p.m.
was in such a good mood and I had great news. I'm seeing Richard Thompson tonight. Yet I still couldn't get myself to do things I needed to do. Well at least I will write this. Welcome to my reaction to some big news stories edition of Wise Madness.
Unless you've been living under a rock you heard today that the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision on Obergefell v. Hodges that there's a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. I heard it today on WQXR then read a zillion articles on it in the New York Times and SCOTUSblog. It's the decision I expected with each judge voting the way I expected. But we didn't know for sure, it's why they play the games. An expected result can still be a big result. Two years ago the same justices came close to finding for the right but backed off. Scalia showed that he's intelligent even though totally wrong, said it was tantamount to making same-sex marriage legal and he was right. The other justices knew it was right but did not have the nerve then to pull the trigger. Support of marriage equality has just grown since then and this time they made it the law of the land.
In his dissent Justice John Roberts said that the ruling had no foundation in the constitution. But it does. Right in the 14th Amendment.
Are gays and lesbians citizens? Yes. Is marriage a rite or a privilege? Yes. Is not being allowed to be married a liberty? Yes. Before this did gays have equal protection? No. This is what the constitution is about.
Opponents of gay marriage called it a defense of marriage. But unless they are denying personhood to gays they are the ones that saying that marriage is not important enough to be considered something vital for if it were then denying it to people would be unconstitutional. Justice Anthony Kennedy put in beautifully in the majority opinion.
"It is now clear that the challenged laws burden the liberty of same-sex couples, and it must be further acknowledged that they abridge central precepts of equality . . . Especially against a long history of disapproval of their relationships, this denial to same-sex couples of the right to marry works a grave and continuing harm. The imposition of this disability on gays and lesbians serves to disrespect and subordinate them. And the Equal Protection Clause, like the Due Process Clause, prohibits this unjustified infringement of the fundamental right to marry."
I've written before about the rapid change in how people feel about same-sex marriage. It went from hardly anyone being in favor of it to being a large majority; of those under 30 80% favor it. What happened? It's an issue of perception. It was something new to the world. Nobody had even thought of it before so it seemed absurd, totally outside of experience. It took a while, but not that long for many people, for it to sink it. There really is no good reason to restrict it to opposite-sex marriages. That's just what people are used to, not a necessity. It wasn't that long ago that it was unthinkable for a woman to be a doctor or a lawyer, let alone a justice of the Supreme Court. But now we don't think twice about it. Some opponents are simply homophobes. But I think most of them are just having more difficulty making the perceptual switch. It's like the people in the picture that can only see the old woman or the young one but not both. But once you see both it becomes hard to remember what it was like to not be able to see it; it's so obvious. But it was not obvious before it was.
I have to quote the decision again because Kennedy put things so well.
No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.That should help people see both the vase and the faces. I've not had the privilege to form a bond like that. But I can tell you that I'd move heaven and hell if they existed, and the Supreme Court that does exist, if I found the right person and was denied the right.
What of the view that it should be up the voters and their elected representatives? The idea of having rights enshrined in the constitution is to protect minorities from temporary majorities. Could a legislature vote that left-handed people couldn't get married? It seems to the dissenters they could. The people that need protection can't rely the majority to get around to doing something and they should not be forced to wait. Protecting people from the majority is part of the job of the Supreme Court.
Justice Clarence Thomas says comparing marriage equality to banning mixed marriages is, "Offensive and inaccurate." Here's part of his dissent.
The suggestion of petitioners and their amici that antimiscegenation laws are akin to laws defining marriage as between one man and one woman is both offensive and inaccurate. “America’s earliest laws against interracial sex and marriage were spawned by slavery.” P. Pascoe, What Comes Naturally: Miscegenation Law and the Making of Race in America 19 (2009). For instance, Maryland’s 1664 law prohibiting marriages between ” ‘freeborne English women’ ” and ” ‘Negro Sla[v]es’ ” was passed as part of the very act that authorized lifelong Laws defining marriage as between one man and one woman do not share this sordid history. The traditional definition of marriage has prevailed in every society that has recognized marriage throughout history. Brief for Scholars of History and Related Disciplines as Amici Curiae 1. It arose not out of a desire to shore up an invidious institution like slavery, but out of a desire “to increase the likelihood that children will be born and raised in stable and enduring family units by both the mothers and the fathers who brought them into this world.”Seems to me like when it involves him, he's in a mixed marriage, it's a terrible thing. But when it doesn't involve him it's different, Slavery was morally wrong so the laws are wrong. So I guess he feels that discrimination against gays is not wrong. It was fine to criminalize it. He and Scalia should get married. They are perfect for each other.
I don't like writing about gay rights as I'm preaching to the choir. There are many issues that are ignored by too many of my friends. This is one of the few things that I know gets everyone's attention. Talking up gay rights to my crowd is as pointless as spreading cancer awareness? Who isn't aware of it? But today's a special event and I had things to say.
I have things to say about the Confederate Flag too but I also have dinner to make. You know that food always wins the arguments in my internal supreme court. In fact it's a unanimous decision.
Brother Brothers in Arms - October 01, 2017
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