During the past 48 hours, we have learned that the Uganda legislature has passed what is one of the most draconian anti-civil rights bills targeting sexual minorities in the world – bookended between announcements that two more US states – New Mexico and Utah – are constitutionally prohibited from excluding same gender couples from civil marriage.
A federal judge in Utah Friday struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, saying the law violates the U.S. Constitution’s guarantees of equal protection and due process.
“The state’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demean the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason,” wrote U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Shelby. “Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional.”
Meanwhile, Bryan Fischer, spokesperson for the American Family Association, was tweeting this about the situation in Uganda. I don’t know that we could have had a more timely and chilling reminder of the fact that as LGBTI people in the US move closer to attaining full civil rights, anti-gay activists who are rapidly losing ground here are focusing more of their lethal attention on our sisters and brothers in other countries.
It’s what many marriage supporters have been trying to point out for months: The redefinition of the institution could pave the path to legalized polygamy.
North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem filed a legal opinion Thursday basically saying that a man who married another man in another state, may obtain a marriage license — with a woman — in North Dakota. That’s because same-sex marriage is not recognized in North Dakota.
Quite true, that last part. North Dakota was one of the states to pass a constitutional amendment back in 2004 restricting civil marriage to “man-woman couples” (we may wish to return to a discussion of how that happened).
But it’s this framing, quoting a Breitbart columnist, that really impressed me with its capacity for expressing the exact opposite of reality by stating bald, incontrovertible facts. This is a work of art.
ACTIVIST JUDGE LEGALIZES POLYGAMY, JUST AS WE WARNED, screams the latest email from certified hate group “American Family Association” (mainly known at this time of year for their lucrative “war on Christmas” scam, in which they solicit donations by pretending the world will end if store clerks say “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”).
Not so fast, cupcake. U.S. District Court Judge Clark Waddoups ruled on Friday that a family, “reality TV stars Kody Brown and his four ‘wives’,” can’t be prosecuted under Utah’s anti-polygamy law. But what does this actually mean?
The AFA’s hysterical email notwithstanding, here is what it clearly does not mean: the “redefinition of marriage” in Utah.
Judge Waddoups explicitly ruled that the prohibition of bigamy – “the fraudulent or otherwise impermissible possession of two purportedly valid marriage licenses for the purpose of entering into more than one purportedly legal marriage” – is not overturned.
Furthermore, the plaintiffs were not even seeking legal recognition for plural marriage. I am tempted to wonder here whether the bright legal minds over at AFA even bothered to read the opinion…oh, never mind. Of course they read the opinion.
Bracketed by attorneys Craig Weintraub, left, and Jaye Schlachet, Ariel Castro awaits his Aug. 1 sentencing. (AP / TONY DEJAK)
Craig Weintraub (no relation) and Jay Schlachet, the lawyers who represented Ariel Castro, “the 53-year-old former school bus driver who kept Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight captive in his house for about a decade” have an exclusive interview in the Cleveland Jewish News. If you’d like to know what it’s like to be a defense lawyer in a big media case, read it. If you’d like to understand liberal Jewish faith, read it. Here are a few excerpts.
“Weintraub and Schlachet, who are Jewish, stressed that their faith figured in how they represented Castro in a case that ran 90 days from start to finish and continues to bring worldwide attention to Cleveland.”
Despite the “sensational allegations” against him, Castro was entitled to counsel, said Schlachet. “We knew that we picked an unpopular cause to champion, and frankly, from a personal standpoint, I think it’s important to represent unpopular causes because, first of all, it’s what we took an oath to do, and it’s completely consistent with my Jewish upbringing. We actually did a mitzvah representing this man.” Continue reading →
[The lawsuit] boils down to nothing more than an attempt to define my Biblical views against homosexuality as a crime..
..Clearly, this lawsuit is intended not only to silence me as an effective voice of opposition to the ‘gay’ agenda, it is also to intimidate everyone else who would dare to follow my example.
Now, who does that sound like? A certain disgraced and censured Sterling supervisor who fills his bank account by running a hate group at Loudoun taxpayers’ expense? And some of his shameless apologists?
Yes, but it’s actually another hate group director, Scott Lively. Mr. Lively is currently facing a federal lawsuit for his role in creating a deadly climate for the LGBTI community in Uganda. Readers may remember him also as the man who hired a known child rapist to run his fake “ministry” out of a coffeehouse designed to attract teenagers. But that was okay, because the predator had “accepted the salvation of Christ” (and of course, the children he preferred were female).
Mr. Lively has tried to have the lawsuit against him dismissed on First Amendment grounds. But it turns out that there are limits even to free expression when that expression is an integral part of criminal activity, and the criminal activity of which Mr. Lively is accused is aiding and abetting in the commission of a crime against humanity.
In 2003, as surely everyone knows, Virginia’s archaic and nearly universally ignored “Crimes Against Nature” law was rendered unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Lawrence v Texas. Because it is unconstitutional, because it is a blanket prohibition of oral and anal sex for everyone, it can’t be used to prosecute anyone. Case in point: When the law was used in 2005 to prosecute a 47-year-old man for soliciting a 17-year-old girl to perform oral sex, the conviction was overturned.
That outcome was perfectly predictable – and avoidable. In 2004, there was a bipartisan effort in the Virginia legislature to fix the law by eliminating the part that makes it unconstitutional:
§ 18.2-361. Crimes against nature.
A. Any person who (i) carnally knows in any manner any brute animal is guilty of a Class 6 felony, or (ii) carnally knows any male or female person by the anus or by or with the mouth, or voluntarily submits to such carnal knowledge, is guilty of a Class 6 felony 3 misdemeanor, except as provided in subsection B. B. The provisions of clause (ii) of this subsection shall not apply where all persons are consenting adults who are not in a public place and who are not aiding, abetting, procuring, engaging in or performing any act in furtherance of prostitution.
and leaving in place a statute that would be viable in the prosecution of adult predators: Continue reading →
Today, realistic Republicans are secretly praying that the Supreme Court will respond to the arguments presented in the Prop 8 and DOMA cases before it with a broad ruling finding a constitutional right for all Americans to marry the person they love.
That is the only way of avoiding a foreseeable future in which Republicans will be forced to either repeatedly alienate the rapidly growing supermajority of Americans who support equality, or repeatedly betray their own aging base, that angry 36% demanding the “right” to forcibly shove society into still the coat which fitted him when a boy.
If the Court announces a sweeping ruling in June that makes marriage for all the law of the land, GOP strategists can breathe a sigh of relief – they will then be able to deflect the rage of their base toward those nine rogue “unelected judges.”
The alternative future will be a punishing series of state battles over the next four, eight, twelve years and beyond, in which they will not have the luxury of avoiding the issue, however much they might wish they could do so.
By contrast, when same-sex couples decide to have children, “substantial advance planning is required,” said Paul D. Clement, a lawyer for House Republicans.
In their opening briefs, this was the reasoning offered by both Clement in defense of Section 3 of the “Defense of Marriage” Act and Charles Cooper in defense of Prop 8: Because opposite sex couples are burdened with the “unique social difficulty” of frequently producing children by accident, and same sex couples “don’t present a threat of irresponsible procreation,” same sex couples and their children should be excluded from the security and benefits of marriage. This is what anti-equality American taxpayers are getting for $3 million in public funds?
The Board of Supervisors last night unanimously adopted my amendment to temporarily ban those ugly atheist billboards on the Courthouse lawn (and other ‘unattended displays’ ) until the Supervisors issue a new policy on religious and other holiday displays. This is not a ban on the creche of Christmas tree, as the Board also issued a request that its Finance Committee (on which I serve) devise a new policy to allow government sponsored holiday displays, including the nativity scene and Christmas tree — but NO private displays, which would allow for things like the skeleton Santa nailed to a cross. It is my hope the full Board will adopt a new policy by spring.
Mr. Reid had previously stated his support (along with Scott York) for the constitutionally permissible policy of a single, county-sponsored Christmas tree. This is a solution that almost everyone could support, including the Atheist groups. The reason is that a Christmas tree has been found by courts to have a legitimate secular purpose related to the federal holiday, and is not a religious symbol. It could be a joyful community focus for the holiday season, and would eliminate both the antagonism associated with the limited public forum and the risk of lawsuits.
I gave Mr. Reid the benefit of the doubt. I didn’t express my suspicion that he would do exactly what he is now doing. I sincerely hoped that I was wrong. I defended him publicly for supporting a sensible solution, in spite of his sometimes inflammatory rhetoric in doing so. I can’t say I told you so this time, because I refrained from telling you.
What Mr. Reid is now telling us is that he doesn’t want a solution, he wants a lawsuit. It’s unfortunate and disappointing.