Friday, June 28, 2013

Left Side of the Aisle #114 - Part 1

SCOTUS smacks down DOMA, leaves PropHate in the dust

To paraphrase Gabriel Heater, ah, there's good news this afternoon. Or whenever you're watching this.

The Supreme Court watchers got it right: The Court has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA. DOMA was the bill that denied marriage-related federal benefits to same-sex couples even if they were legally married in their state. Now, those couples have access to those benefits. The decision does not expand same-sex marriage, it does not increase the number of same-sex couples who can be legally married, but it is a very real step toward same-sex marriage justice.

Anthony Kennedy, writing for the majority, wrote that the law "violates basic due process and equal protection principles" and that "no legitimate purpose" could justify its effect, which, he said, was "to disparage and to injure those whom the state, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity."

What's more, the Supreme Court watchers got it right both ways: The Court punted on California's Proposition 8, saying the people filing the suit lacked standing to bring it after the state government very pointedly declined to appeal the decision of the Appeals Court that struck the provision down. The result of the Supreme Court's decision is to leave the Appeals Court ruling in place.

The Appeals Court had stayed the effect of its ruling until the Supreme Court ruled on the appeal. Now it has and the Appeals Court is expected to lift the stay very soon. Gov. Jerry Brown has said county clerks must be ready to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

These decisions were, to put it simply, as good as anyone could have rationally hoped for. We could dream of SCOTUS using the Prop8 case to strike down all such provisions in all states, but it was precisely that: a dream. Nice to imagine, but not realistic.

As a footnote, Justice Antonin Scalia read parts of his dissent about the DOMA decision from the bench. He described the majority ruling as "a lecture on how superior the majority's moral judgment in favor of same-sex marriage is." To which my answer is "uh, yeah."

He also said the court should have deferred to Congress's wishes. Remember that. It becomes important later.

Of course this doesn't mean it's over, not by a long shot. Even before the decisions were announced, the bigots and bozos were pledging themselves to the preservation of their prejudice, even throwing around words like "revolution" and "civil war."

In a letter released last Thursday, more than 200 conservative activists vowed to ignore any ruling in favor of same-sex couples, claiming marriage - which of course they insist means one man and one woman, how could it be anything else because "the Bible says" even though the Bible actually says it could be a lot of different things including polygamy - claiming marriage is defined by "Natural Moral Law" and what's more, the Supreme Court doesn't have the authority to say otherwise, nyah, nyah.

The letter ends with a clear threat that conservatives will refuse to comply with any court ruling in support of marriage equality, although it's not clear just what that could involve or what the group intended to do if the Court ruled that way, which of course it now has.

One possibility could be some TV appearances, which could be at least part of the point, since the signers are mostly anti-LGBT Christian conservatives, many of whom have fallen from prominence in recent years and likely miss the attention.


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