Archive for March, 2013
by Andrew Sullivan, The Dish, 3/21/13
How amazing that marriage equality, once wielded by Ken Mehlman and Karl Rove as their key weapon in winning Ohio and the presidency in 2004, now threatens to kill the GOP as a national brand. With every year that passes, every attack on gays is now felt by growing numbers of their own family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors. There’s a multiplier effect here. And gerry-mandering has enabled the GOP to control the House without ever having to grapple with those voters.
If I were Karl Rove, I’d be praying for Anthony Kennedy to write the gay Loving vs Virginia. It would take the issue off the political table for good, and leave them a nice juicy judicial tyranny argument instead. But a mixed verdict – say one that allows for federal recognition of civil marriages in the nine states and DC that has them, and that mandates that civil unions with all the substantive benefits of civil marriage must be called marriage – would keep the issue alive, violate no federalist principles, and leave the GOP’s fundamentalist intransigence in place – as a dead weight around their necks as they try to stay afloat.
by Michelangelo Signorile, Huffpost Gay Voices, 3/21/13
So there I was a few weeks ago, making an argument for why we might expect the hypothetical new pope to be even more anti-gay than the old one. Now that there actually is a new pope, that would seem to have turned out to be true, at least on the surface, given his public decrees. Pope Francis, as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, has made statements that seem even more off-the-rails than Pope Benedict’s most virulently anti-gay remarks: In 2010 he equated gay people, gay marriage and adoption by gay couples with the devil, which was enough to have Argentina’s president call his statements “medieval.”
But, although I wouldn’t wager big money on it, I’m thinking it’s quite possible that we won’t hear that kind of rhetoric from him again.
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Another view: “Pope’s Message: Embrace All People Except the Gays,” by Wayne Besen, Truth Wins Out, 3/19/21.
BREAKING: The American Academy of Pediatrics finally endorses same-sex unions — for the sake of the children
by Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon, 3/21/13
In a very satisfyingly worded statement Thursday, the American Academy of Pediatrics – that’s “60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults” – officially made policy its endorsement of same-sex marriage. Citing its support for couples “regardless of sexual orientation” as “the best way to guarantee benefits and security for their children,” the AAP’s Benjamin Siegel issued a statement that “there should be equal opportunity for every couple to access the economic stability and federal supports provided to married couples to raise children.” Fancy that. Stability. It’s good for children.
I had a conversation with a man not long ago who has the unenviable task of sorting through his mother’s considerable estate, deciding what to keep, what to sell and what to throw away. While sorting, in an act of extraordinary self-awareness, he stopped to consider just what his three adult daughters might like to keep when they find themselves going through his stuff after he’s gone.
During this moment of reflection, my friend had an epiphany: What if his kids don’t want all the stuff he’s worked so hard to acquire?
From Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Dish:
Rob Tisinai identifies one reason various conservative politicians are suddenly voicing their support for marriage equality:
Imagine you’re a conservative. And you support marriage equality. And you’ve been silent. But now you realize this may be your last chance to say you supported same-sex marriage before it becomes the law of the land. How mortifying must it be to know you sided the angels with the great civil rights struggle of our day, but that no one will ever believe you? To know you’re on the right side of moral history, but might be seen for the rest of your life as one of its opponents? To know you believe in the American ideals of freedom and human dignity, but sat out this historic struggle to turn America into a more perfect union?
How mortifying must it be to know you are right, but your silence now could brand you forever as having been deeply and morally wrong?
As promised in my last post, here is a list of several Supreme Court decisions that may have some bearing on the two cases that the Court will begin hearing next week (March 26): U.S. v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry. This list is culled from Robert R. Reilly’s article (reviewed below) and from Paul McGuire’s response.
Griswold v. Connecticut (1965): Invalidated a law prohibiting the sale of contraceptives to married individuals.
Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972): Invalidated a law prohibiting the sale of contraceptives to unmarried individuals.
Boddie v. Connecticut (1971): Prohibited fee barriers to divorce—barriers that might seem desirable if the right to marry were tied to the state’s interest in responsible marital procreation.
Roe v. Wade (1973): The right to privacy encompasses a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy.
Carey v. Population Services International (1977): Held that it was unconstitutional to prohibit the sale of contraceptives to minors, the advertisements or displays of contraceptives, and the sale of contraceptives to adults except through a pharmacist. (Wikipedia)
Zablocki v. Redhail (1978): Residents will child support obligations may marry. (The right to marry is separate from procreation, childbirth, child rearing, and family relationships.)
Turner v. Safely (1987): Incarcerated prisoners, even those with no right to conjugal visits, may marry.
Lawrence v. Texas (2003): Overturned Bowers v. Hardwick (1986), which had declared Alabama’s law against sodomy constitutional.
Robert R. Reilly, writing for Crisis Magazine (“The Logic of the Court and the Prospect of Homosexual Marriage”, 3/19/13), finds grievous fault with a succession of Supreme Court decisions made over the past 40 years—decisions that have separated sex from procreation in civil law and prepared the way for the ante-penultimate horror that is same-sex marriage. (Polygamy and bestiality follow.) His article is timely, as the SCOTUS will next week begin hearing two major cases testing the constitutionality of laws prohibiting such marriages. (U.S. v. Windsor, testing the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, and Hollingsworth v. Perry, testing California’s Proposition 8)
There’s an undeniable tendency among conservative Catholics to rely heavily on the authority of long-dead white Christian males when arguing everything from sex to statecraft. The more distant in time, the more the authority is respected. In their world, Thomas Aquinas’s “Summa” has never been surpassed, and should rightly form the basis of both legislation and jurisprudence in modern pluralistic democracies. Dean Hansen has put it nicely:
It’s part of the tight, intellectual box that freezes inquiry and stifles forward momentum. Imagine where we’d be today if we rejected Einstein because he contradicted Copernicus, or rejected any medical advice that contradicted Galen of ancient Rome.
Paradoxically, I would encourage them in this tendency, because I have observed that it leaves them ill-equipped to argue their cases in courts of law, where the opinions of expert witnesses (who can be cross-examined) are greatly favored over quotations from dead savants.
Reilly quotes 18th-century English legal scholar William Blackstone to remind us that proscriptions against sodomy have a noble pedigree.
Sodomy? Reilly has gotten it wrong right off the bat, and doubly so. First, lesbians don’t generally practice sodomy, many heterosexuals do, and many homosexual men do not. Second, and more important, same-sex marriage (the subject of his article) is not about sodomy or even necessarily about sex. It’s about love, companionship, and commitment.
If attorneys defending DOMA and Prop 8 enter the Supreme Court expecting to talk about the evils of sodomy, they will have a rude awakening: the Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas (2003) assures our freedom from government intrusion into our bedrooms, and in 1987, the Court declared that sex is not a necessary component of marriage (Turner v. Safely: incarcerated prisoners may marry, even if they have no right to conjugal visits.)
Reilly squanders hundreds of precious keystrokes telling us how abjectly wrong Lawrence v. Texas was: It “cast aside millennia of moral teaching,” it demonstrated “the intellectual poverty of the legal profession,” and it showed “no grasp of the relationship between morality and the law.”
Now, if we can just persuade the attorneys defending DOMA and Prop 8 to lecture the Supreme Court on the law and “explain” to them why legal precedents are in error, we’ll have a clear path to victory.
Reilly is very big on tradition, as long as it pre-dates the sexual revolution of the sixties and seventies. Roman law, the English Reformation, 18th-century legal philosophy, the Bible—all are good. But don’t mention modern science, medicine, sociological and psychological research, or secular law and jurisprudence. They are only passing fashions parading self-importantly against the millennial backdrop of Judeo-Christian history.
For many secular progressives, the word “tradition” is value-neutral but highly suspect when it is used to justify practices that are patently unjust. People who have spent their lives steeped in theology may have a hard time understanding this. To them, a practice grounded in millennia of tradition is self-evidently moral, because it has stood the test of time. Take genocide, for example … or slavery.
Like many other contributors to Crisis Magazine, Reilly has a hard time “hearing” the word “tradition” in the way that Supreme Court justices and policy-makers do. Ironically, he is using it to assert an authority superior to theirs, while they are well-aware that it is used this way. And here, having already accused the court of casting aside millennia of moral teaching, he gives a slight, momentary nod to Justice Kennedy’s reasoning in the Lawrence v. Texas decision:
The Court stated that, “the fact that the governing majority in a state has traditionally viewed a particular practice as immoral is not a sufficient reason for upholding a law prohibiting the practice.” That may be well and good, but at least such a tradition should invite an examination of whether the “practice” in question is, in fact, immoral. [emphasis mine]
Reilly himself clearly thinks the practice in question is “immoral,” because, as he said earlier, it has long been regarded as “a gravely disordered act” and has been proscribed throughout history. So Reilly’s own reasoning would have only led the Court in circles.
Reilly is right about one thing. “The Court,” he writes, “has already done much to prepare the ground work for the legalization of homosexual marriage.” Though he condemns the relevant rulings variously as “extraordinarily misconceived,” (Lawrence v. Texas) and “an act of barbarity” (Roe v. Wade), he at least does provide a useful overview of them, which is then supplemented by one of the commenters, Paul McGuire. I will list these in my next post.
Reilly makes no secret of his low opinion of the Court’s rulings on contraception, abortion, and intimate sexual practices. These rulings are indeed logically compelling, he says, but only if one accepts a premise that is “insane,” i.e., that marriage and sex can be separated from procreation.
Brethern and sistern, let us fervently pray that attorneys arguing to uphold DOMA and Proposition 8 next week will adopt arguments similar to the ones Robert R. Reilly has so eloquently presented. Amen.