By the way, did I shout “Uruguay” at any point? If not… Uruguay!
New Zealand, indeed.
While they watch their hopes for victory slide away, opponents of same-sex marriage have been working on a strategy, switching to a we-lost-but-we-were-proven-right strategy. You can see this in Ross Douthat’s column, where he explains that various declines in marriage in recent years are the fault of those who argued for legalizing same-sex marriage, and thus wrested it away from all its traditional moorings that made people desire it.
Of course, he misses that he and the other opponents have been spending all that time painting marriage in a horribly unenticing light – as something that exists solely to perpetuate responsible procreation, demanding that it was first and foremost a religious institution, and even when they were not simultaneously denouncing homosexuality, insisting that it was vital that this be a right that was denied them. Is it any wonder that this love-bereft vision of marriage as something that was not there to help the couple being married was unappealing to the younger generations who are ever less into organized religion and ever less into discriminating against homosexuals?
That’s the central lie of groups like the National Organization For Marriage – they aren’t for marriage. NOM was formed not out of any desire to support marriage, but by a desire to stop its availability to gay couples. Their goals are to prevent marriages and even to rescind them… and they’ve been willing to rip apart marriage and its protections to do so.
As interesting as today’s Supreme Court arguments over California Proposition 8 were, with all of the different options of what arguments to take and what effect they would have, it’s tomorrow’s arguments over DOMA which are likely to have a bigger impact on the status of gay couples in the US, I reckon.
It seems like the likely outcomes of today’s case will, at most, restore access to same-sex marriage in California and, perhaps, other states with marriage-in-all-but-name-only civil unions. Now this is important, a significant step against the concept of “separate but equal” institutions, but it will grant no actual additional benefits on anyone (besides perhaps foreign recognition of their marital status.)
For tomorrow’s arguments, the most likely change-the-status-quo result seems (to these non-lawyerly eyes) to be striking down section 3 of DOMA, the section that says that the federal government will not recognized same-sex marriages. After all, deciding who is married has traditionally been the role of the states, and choosing what to recognize is the sort of federal power grab that conservative judges have traditionally looked down on. So what happens if it gets struck down? Instantly, all the people who live in the various US jurisdictions that grant same-sex marriage will have access to the full federal benefits of marriage, and they are considerable. Next, all of those states that offer civil unions on a separate-but-equal argument will find that they are no longer as equal as they can make things, as granting “married” status also grants the federal benefits. It shouldn’t be hard to use that as a strong argument in legislatures that legal marriage should take the place of civil unions.
And for states that don’t even have civil unions, suddenly what they are doing is failing to give their citizens access to a federal benefit that citizens of other states get. That’s not something that will win over the most confirmed anti-same-sex-marriage states, but it’s another argument to be made in building the case.
Interesting times, my friends. Interesting times.
So I’m walking by the pizza place, and I notice that the bright red CLOSED sign is lit up, which seems a little odd, because it is the noon hour. Yes, a Saturday, but still… so I check the HOURS sign, and it says that they’re supposed to be open at 11 AM. Then I peer inside, and yes, there are people at work there, and even customers there. So I stride in and quickly spot the manager.
Me: Hey, did you know your “closed” sign is on?
Manager: What do you mean? We’re open.
Me: Yes, I can see you’re open.
Me: But your sign says you’re closed.
Me: Your “closed” sign.
Manager: We don’t have a “closed” sign.
I look over my shoulder, and even though the black backing is blocking the sign from my direct view, I can see the ED reflected in the window.
Me: Right there.
Manager: That’s our “open” sign.
Employee: It also says “closed”. (Walks over, flips a switch or two, changing the sign.)
Me: I just thought you should know, so people don’t think you’re closed.
Manager: Oh. Thanks.
I suppose that the free pizza that I deserve will come only in karmic payback.
MY SERIOUS REACTION ON THE DEATH OF DR. KOOP:
The recent passage of former Surgeon General Koop has many people reflecting on his good practical nature when it came to healthcare, generally citing his putting aside politically popular agendas to actually deal with the problem at hand. The example generally being cited is his strong support for proper safe sex education and information, rather than facing down AIDS with calls for abstinence or simply ignoring it altogether.
For me, however, what I carry with me is a moment on a TV show. He was on one of Fred Friendly’s great panel discussion shows, either The Constitution: That Delicate Balance or more likely the other one, the name of which eludes me at the moment. The panelists were discussing a hypothetical about being approached by a panhandler, one who made clear that he was seeking money for booze. A female journalist explained that he would not give the guy money, as he would use that on booze, which was his problem; instead, she would buy him a sandwich. All good and upright, right? But Koop countered that he would give the guy money for booze. He’d offer him help finding a clinic if he wanted it, but this guy is an alcoholic, and as much as we may hate the disease, if he is stuck without booze he will be facing very real physical symptoms, very real consequences. That was the practical situation on the ground, to be dealt with. He gained a lot of respect from me in that moment.
MY OTHER REACTION ON THE DEATH OF DR. KOOP:
In less than a year, we’ve lost both Bork and Koop. We’re running out of the sound effects that people make when suddenly astonished. I sure hope Paul Begala is okay!