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Posts Tagged ‘DOMA’

Haven’t been blogging in a while because all anyone can talk about is the fiscal cliff and its just so stupid I can’t bring myself to do it. Luckily for you, I’ve managed to find a couple of non-cliff topics. Justice Scalia was promoting his book* in Princeton yesterday and was asked by a gay student why he sees equivalence between banning sodomy and banning murder. Scalia responds:

“I don’t think it’s necessary, but I think it’s effective,” Scalia said, adding that legislative bodies can ban what they believe to be immoral.

According to Article 1, section 8, congress can make laws which it considers “Neccesary and Proper” to carrying out its powers. But according to Scalia, this law is not neccesary! Scalia may also be interested to learn that, as a Supreme Court Justice, he is not a member of a legislative body! His job is not to ban what he believes to be immoral. I agree that a legislative body can ban what it considers to be immoral, but the job of the Supreme Court is not to point that out, its to make sure such bans are constitutional. The necessary and proper clause can be used here (a ban on murder is not based on moral grounds for example, but is necessary and proper to protect the public at large) but Scalia has admitted directly that a sodomy ban would fail this test. Scalia should articulate why he finds such a ban acceptable, rather than just making absurd arguments about bestiality and murder and then saying its a moral thing.

*Something about a Justice running around promoting a book seems a bit off to me. I get that it happens, it just seems odd. Maybe they should retire earlier, then write their books.

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This is part 2 of my thoughts on the GOP platform. Part 1 is here

The second part of the GOP platform is entitled We The People: A Restoration of Constitutional Government. It opens:

In the spirit of the Constitution, we consider discrimination based on sex, race, age, religion, creed, disability, or national origin unacceptable and immoral.
Discrimination based on sexual orientation, however, is fair game. In fact, the rest of this particular plank makes clear that the GOP doesn’t actually believe a word of that. They start out early, appealing to racist fears that Barack Obama is going to impose Sharia Law, or the black people equivalent of it, or something like that. I don’t the hell know, they wrote this, not me:
As a matter of principle, we oppose the creation of any new race-based governments within the United States.
So there you go. Now let’s start the fun:
A serious threat to our country’s constitutional order, perhaps even more dangerous than presidential malfeasance, is an activist judiciary, in which some judges usurp the powers reserved to other branches of government. A blatant example has been the court-ordered redefinition of marriage in several States. This is more than a matter of warring legal concepts and ideals. It is an assault on the foundations of our society, challenging the institution which, for thousands of years in virtually every civilization, has been entrusted with the rearing of children and the transmission of cultural values.
Wow! Hear that, gay people? Your marriages constitute an existential threat to our society. Pretty impressive. Do I need to point out that the definition of marriage has changed many, many times? That it has not existed in its present form “for thousands of years in virtually every civilization”?
We reaffirm our support for a Constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
 Of course you do.
The Republican Party, born in opposition to the denial of liberty, stands for the rights of individuals, families, faith communities, institutions – and of the States which are their instruments of self government.
…how do you square this with the above? You just can’t.
I’m going to skip the bit about the preserving the electoral college and preventing voter fraud because really it just boils down to “Voter ID is KICKASS!”
Now, on to the first amendment! This section makes me want to scream and throw things, its truly astounding. They open by quoting Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, citing it as evidence that religious belief should be used as the foundation of public policy! But in that document, Jefferson acknowledges:
that our civil rights have no dependance on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry
Jefferson further acknowledges:
that the opinions of men are not the object of civil government, nor under its jurisdiction; that to suffer the civil magistrate to intrude his powers into the field of opinion and to restrain the profession or propagation of principles on supposition of their ill tendency is a dangerous falacy, which at once destroys all religious liberty, because he being of course judge of that tendency will make his opinions the rule of judgment, and approve or condemn the sentiments of others only as they shall square with or differ from his own
Jefferson is concerned here that “the civil magistrate” (ie the government) will extend his religious opinions into policy, thus forcing them on others. He argued for precisely the opposite of this platform! He would later write, in a letter to the Baptist Association of Danbury, Connecticut:
“Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between Man & his God, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, & not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should ‘make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,’ thus building a wall of separation between Church & State.
And so originates the phrase. After using Jefferson as an excuse to talk about how awesome the Boy Scouts are for their gay bashing, the GOP gives us this:

We condemn the hate campaigns, threats of violence, and vandalism by proponents of same-sex marriage against advocates of traditional marriage and call for a federal investigation into attempts to deny religious believers their civil rights.

In what way does allowing a gay couple to marry violate the rights of “advocates of traditional marriage”? They would still be allowed to marry traditionally. They would remain married. Nothing at all would change! Thomas Jefferson, who I will continue to quote as this plank seems entirely based on an absurd twisting of his views, stated:

But it does me no injury for my neighbour to say there are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.

This is directly applicable. A gay marriage has exactly zero impact on any other marriage! Not allowing the gay couple to marry, however, does actively deny them their rights. This is just purely an alternate reality. It is the most asshole-ish statement I have yet seen in a prepared document so far during this election. It reeks of bigotry, fear, resentment, and hatred. It has no place in this country, and certainly not in it’s government.

Moving right along, the GOP mentions briefly the fourth ammendment:

Affirming “the right of the people to be secure in their houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures,” we support pending legislation to prevent unwarranted or unreasonable governmental intrusion through the use of aerial surveillance or flyovers on U.S. soil, with the exception of patrolling our national borders. All security measures and police actions should be viewed through the lens of the Fourth Amendment; for if we trade liberty for security, we shall have neither.

This I very much agree with. I truly hope they actually believe it! If so, they could show that by proposing repeal of the PATRIOT act. I suppose I shouldn’t hold my breath. I also agree with the proposal, in the section on the fifth amendment, that seeks to ensure adequate compensation in the case that private property is taken “for a compelling public use”. I should state that I know very little about this issue, but I can foresee the devil being in the details as to what constitutes “compelling”.

Next, while discussing a constitutional amendment to define life as beginning at conception (and hence banning all abortions), they state:

We support the appointment of judges who respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life.

But recall just a few pages earlier, and quoted above:

A serious threat to our country’s constitutional order, perhaps even more dangerous than presidential malfeasance, is an activist judiciary

So keep this in mind. An “activist judiciary” only refers to judges with whom you disagree. Speaking of activist judges:

The symbol of our constitutional unity, to which we all pledge allegiance, is the flag of the United States of America. By whatever legislative method is most feasible, Old Glory should be given legal protection against desecration. We condemn decisions by activist judges to deny children the opportunity to say the Pledge of Allegiance in its entirety, including “Under God,” in public schools and encourage States to promote the pledge.

So flag burning, which I would argue constitutes free speech, should be outlawed. How does that square with the section on freedom of speech?

we oppose governmental censorship of speech through the so-called Fairness Doctrine or by government enforcement of speech codes, free speech zones, or other forms of “political correctness” on campus.

How can you simultaneously oppose the “enforcement of political correctness” and support the banning of flag burning? This is just yet another example, much like the activist judges, of a principle applied only to those things with which the GOP agrees.

The GOP professes a reverence for the constitution and for the founding fathers. And yet, when it comes time to demonstrate those things, they fail utterly. They apply the constitution only in situations where it supports their views, and freely disregard it when it is no longer convenient. To show their reverence for the founders, they twist their words into the polar opposite of their originally intended meaning.

This platform isn’t a responsible set of governing philosophies and policy proposals, its a Christianist manifesto.

That’s all for Part 2. Energy, Agriculture, and The Environment is up next. Maybe tomorrow.

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It’s About Time

DOMA was ruled unconstitutional today, by well a respected conservative judge, in such a way that makes it easier for SCOTUS to concur.

A good day for anyone that thinks equality is a thing we should care about.

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The House GOP wants to separate bi-national gay couples:

House Republicans will intervene in a lawsuit that would keep same-sex couples from being pulled apart — even separated to different countries — by immigration authorities under the Defense of Marriage Act, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner confirmed on Wednesday.

Yet DOMA is a federal law that trumps legal same-sex marriages in the states, including in immigration matters. House Republicans are defending it in a number of challenges, but told advocacy group Immigration Equality on Friday that they would step in to defend DOMA against the organization’s suit about binational same-sex couples.

Funny, when it comes to making sure folks can have access to healthcare, they’re all “tyranny!” and “state’s rights!”. But screwing over some gay people, totally fine.

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In an interview, the President defended his administration’s crackdown on medical marijuana:

“I can’t nullify congressional law. I can’t ask the Justice Department to say, ‘Ignore completely a federal law that’s on the books.’ What I can say is, ‘Use your prosecutorial discretion and properly prioritize your resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage.’ As a consequence, there haven’t been prosecutions of users of marijuana for medical purposes.”

But isn’t this basically what he did with DOMA, when he instructed the DOJ not to defend it (a decision I support, if a bit uneasily)? The circumstances are a bit different to be sure, but I don’t think this really jives with his earlier statements the way he wants us to think it does. You can’t have it both ways.

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A lot of links today since I haven’t had a lot of time to write recently.

To start off, Energy and Climate:

Marriage Equality:

  • The government won’t defend the section of DOMA that applies to the military
  • Andrew Sullivan has a must-read on equality opponents constantly yanking away the football

The absurd shouting match on Birth Control and “Religious Liberty”:

General Interest:

Anything else?

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How Many More?

Today I heard yet another report of a gay teen that committed suicide as a result of intense bullying. Just a brief thought on this: when people bully kids for being gay, there is a core assumption being made that the victim is somehow less than the aggressor. Prerequisite to viewing someone as lessor than yourself is the belief that they are, in some way, different. I don’t think that government can (or should) prevent people from holding this view. But what government can do is not reinforce it. And reinforcing it is exactly what it does with laws like DOMA, or any other “anti-gay” law. They have to be repealed. Will getting rid of these solve this problem? Of course not. But its a step in the right direction.

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