Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Newt, and Why I Heart Judge Walker

Newt G has put forward his view on the Judge Walker decision in CA about gay marriage.
Calling Judge Walker's decision:
"an outrageous disrespect for our Constitution and for the majority of people of the United States who believe marriage is the union of husband and wife. ...marriage is the union of one man and one woman. ... judges who oppose the American people are a growing threat to our society.”
One man and one woman, surely he jests, he's been married 3 times. Maybe he meant one woman at a time? Oh, wait, he cheated on his first two wives, so that can't be what he meant either... Hypocrites like this, trying to discriminate against Americans because of their sexual orientation make me sick. "ooooh the sanctity of marriage!!!" Give me a break, which of his 3 marriages and numerous liaisons was the sacred one? The man is slimy and gives a bad name to real newts.

Constitutional disrespect? Has he even read the 14th Amendment? Passed, per the law of the land with ratification by 3/4ths of the states back in 1868 when debates about a person's rights included the same arguments except the bigots were trying to deny personhood based on skin color. Its Equal Protection Clause requires each state to provide equal protection under the law to ALL people.

All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Marriage is, at it's core, all about protection. Protection of wealth, protection of children and protection against the ravages of age/illness/hard times. A marriage, in spite of the modern religious trappings is a contract between adults. The 14th Amendment says States cannot deprive a citizen of that right, no matter how a particular faith views the arrangement that person wants to enter into. And to borrow a line from one of my 1 year old's books, a person's a person, no matter how small. (or gay)

Some points from Judge Walker's ruling that I particularly like:

9. Marriage in the United States has always been a civil matter.
Civil authorities may permit religious leaders to solemnize
marriages but not to determine who may enter or leave a civil
marriage. Religious leaders may determine independently
whether to recognize a civil marriage or divorce but that
recognition or lack thereof has no effect on the relationship
under state law.
Recap: You know that line that preachers use at the end of the ceremony, "by the power vested in me by the state of Blah, I now pronounce you.." Their power to solemnize a contract signing between two adults is granted to them by the State, not the other way around. And, because we're such a great country, we don't even require that they do ceremonies they don't agree with, they can respectfully decline to marry a couple, but that couple CAN STILL MARRY, because the power to recognize that marriage, thankfully, does not rest with one faith or church.

21. California, like every other state, has never required that
individuals entering a marriage be willing or able to
Self explanatory, but I hate the, "oooh they can't have kids, so they shouldn't be allowed to marry" trash. Nice to see a judge slap that one on it's butt. It's offensive to anyone who's ever tried and failed to have children, it's offensive to the thousands of gays/lesbians happily raising children and, quite frankly, it's offensive to me and I'm a happily married hetero with a kid.

33. Eliminating gender and race restrictions in marriage has not
deprived the institution of marriage of its vitality.
Used to be a woman was property and not legally allowed to leave a marriage or hold her own wealth as both her and her property were owned by her husband. That particular notion thankfully no longer resides in the law books, and yet marriage survived the blow. At one point 41 states had laws restricting the marriage between different colored people. Again, that quaint bit of nonsense was overturned and yet marriage survived. There's absolutely no reason that allowing gays and lesbians to marry will in any way harm the institution of marriage.

36. States and the federal government channel benefits, rights and
responsibilities through marital status. Marital status
affects immigration and citizenship, tax policy, property and
inheritance rules and social benefit programs.
"Why don't they just get civil unions?" What on earth are people thinking when they ask that? Did the thought of a civil union go through their head when their lover got down on a knee and asked to spend the rest of their lives with them? No. Civil Unions are not the same as marriage, and that separate but equal bullsh*t doesn't fly anymore. It's never equal. Civil Unions do not grant the same benefits, nor do they adequately express the love and commitment that same sex couples wish to express.

58. Proposition 8 places the force of law behind stigmas against
gays and lesbians, including: gays and lesbians do not have
intimate relationships similar to heterosexual couples; gays
and lesbians are not as good as heterosexuals; and gay and
lesbian relationships do not deserve the full recognition of
f. Tr 972:14-17 (Meyer: “Laws are perhaps the strongest of social structures that uphold and enforce stigma.”);
g. Tr 2053:8-18 (Herek: Structural stigma provides the context and identifies which members of society are devalued. It also gives a level of permission to denigrate or attack particular groups, or those who are perceived to be members of certain groups in society.);
h. Tr 2054:7-11 (Herek: Proposition 8 is an instance of structural stigma.).

59. Proposition 8 requires California to treat same-sex couples
differently from opposite-sex couples.
There it is, in not so plain English. Prop 8 REQUIRES the state to treat a set of citizens differently than the majority and is thus not only morally repugnant but illegal. It places a government stamp of approval on inequality and that is NOT what this nation was founded on. Say what you will about the rights of states and the rights of citizens to vote, but they do NOT get to vote for discriminatory treatment of other citizens and every state in the union has agreed to that.

Read the rest of his ruling, it's great. He rips apart Prop 8 piece by piece, touching on the stereotypes against gays/lesbians and enumerating the studies that find those stereotypes to be wrong, stereotypes like children raised by gay parents are less well adjusted, or that gays and lesbians recruit children to be gay. He points out the entrenched religious views on the "sinfulness" of homosexuality and how intrinsic those religious views were throughout the Prop 8 proponents. He highlights the campaign propaganda that swings between misleading and outright falsehoods, playing on people fears with phrases like,"Save our children" and "falling to Satan."

I'm sure we'll see more about this issue. It will probably be argued all the way to the Supreme Court. I firmly believe that this issue is my generation's civil rights battle. If you're one of the 52% that voted for Prop 8, or might have voted for it were you living in CA, I'm asking you to look at that view rationally. Get beyond the hatred propaganda, have a conversation with a gay couple about how the discrimination affects their lives, compare some of what's being said and done with some of the things said and done during the desegregation era or women's suffrage. This is not a nuanced issue with more than one right answer, as so many issues in politics are. This is an issue about equal rights, rights guaranteed to EVERY American.

Happily I'll be back to the regularly scheduled garden goodness for my next post. Expect to hear more about my tomato vines. :-D

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