Saturday, November 08, 2014

181.1 - Good News: Another one bites the dust

Good News: Another one bites the dust

Starting, as we do when we can, with Good News, we see that another one bites the dust: On Tuesday, November 4, federal District Court judge Daniel Crabtree ruled the ban on same-sex marriage by Kansas is unconstitutional.

Oral arguments had taken place the previous Friday, but Crabtree declined to make an immediate decision. Based on his ruling, the concern was over the legal technicalities the state tried to introduce with regard to the issue of "abstention," which is where federal courts should avoid  "interfering" with an issue in the state courts.

There is a case before the state Supreme Court involving a Kansas county judge who relied on the federal court precedent to order a court clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. However, Crabtree determined that the two cases were different enough that his ruling would not impact the other case. So he did the right thing and ordered that the state of Kansas cannot enforce its ban on same-sex marriage.

Crabtree, as is common in such cases, stayed his own ruling, in this case until November 11, to allow the state a chance to appeal. Hopefully, state officials will do what others have done: recognize the pointlessness of such an appeal to a court that has already ruled on the matter, and give it up.

Something which, it develops, some states are simply refusing to do.

South Carolina is now the only state in the Fourth Circuit still enforcing a ban on same-sex marriage. The state argues that the cases that were before the Appeals Court did not specifically address the provision of South Carolina's state constitution outlawing same-sex marriage, so the ruling doesn't apply to South Carolina.

There are now several suits in both state and federal court challenging the state's numbskull refusal to face reality.

That reality was reflected by the announcement last month from Attorney General Eric Holder that the federal government now recognizes same-sex couples from 33 states as legally married and therefore eligible for federal benefits.

Because indeed yes, things have changed.

For one example, just two years ago, Colorado's House Republican leadership twice torpedoed a civil unions bill.

This year, GOPper candidates for governor, US Senate and US House in the state said nothing when the US Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from a ruling by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals striking down bans on same-sex marriage, which effectively legalized same-sex marriage in Colorado. Same-sex marriage was a non-issue in this year's election.

GOPper insiders and political analysts in the state say say the rapid shift was necessary for the political survival of those candidates, as polls have gone from showing Colorado voters evenly split on recognizing same-sex marriage to favoring it by 61 percent - in the past three years. Even GOPpers in the state support at least civil unions.

Speaker of the House John Boner - Sir John of Orange - openly campaigned for an openly gay GOpper candidate in California, something that would have been unthinkable a few years ago. And bear in mind it's not just GOPpers, not just the right: Remember that among others, Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Hillary Clinton have all - in Obama's word - "evolved" on the issue over the past few years.

Meanwhile, Creighton University, a Jesuit school in Omaha, Nebraska has decided to provide health benefits to spouses of homosexual employees who were married in states where such marriages are recognized. This is despite the facts that a)Jesuits are Catholics and b)same-sex marriage is not recognized in Nebraska and it is not one of the states affected by recent court rulings.

What's more, it turns out that Creighton is one of 22 Jesuit universities that do the same thing.

The president of Creighton, Rev. Timothy Lannon, said the move was not meant to imply an endorsement of same-sex marriage but was merely a matter of treating employees fairly.

Which, when you come right down to it, is pretty much all anyone is asking for: basic human fairness.

But as I've said before, the dead-enders will not give up, even as they are sounding more and more desperate.

For example of that desperation, here's a headline at a right-wing site called the Daily Signal: "The Government Should Stop Waging War on Those Against Same-Sex Marriage."

Because now that they are losing, now that their bigotry is no longer the law of the land, now that their bigotry is rejected by a majority of the people of this country, they whine and cry and bleat about how "oppressed" they are. Because no one is quicker to cry and sniffle and mewl about how "mean" you are and how "unfair" it all is, no one is quicker to claim they are a victim, than a right-winger who is losing an argument.

One last thing on this: Since same-sex marriage was legalized in North Carolina, at least six judges in the state have resigned from the bench, saying they do not want to go against their Christian faith.

To which I say, good! If you have certain personal beliefs, that can prevent you from being able to do certain jobs. You can't be a Christian Scientist and be a surgeon. You can't be a pacifist and be a soldier. As a judge, your job, your role, is to interpret and follow the law, not to interpret and enforce your personal religious belief. If you can't do that, you can't be a judge.

As far as I'm concerned, the same applies to the arguments that have been raised claiming that people in private businesses such as, for one example that gets cited, florists, should be free to use their personal religious views to discriminate against same-sex couples. First off, if the same argument was made about interracial couples - which it was, just a few decades ago - if someone claimed the Bible is against interracial marriage so they are free to discriminate against interracial couples in their business, we would find it nonsensical on its face. "You don't get to do that," we'd immediately say. There is no reason the response should be different here.

If you are - still using the example of a florist - if you are a florist operating a public business who provides flowers for weddings, you don't get to say "Well, I'll sell to this couple getting legally married but not to that couple getting legally married because I don't like that they can get married." If you can't deal with that, you don't get to be a florist.

Bottom line: If you can't sell your product or service to anyone who legally comes to you to buy it, you can't do that job. Period. Freedom of religion is not freedom to discriminate.

Sources cited in links:

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