Sunday, June 28, 2015

From the High to the Low: The problem with Right Wing Reactionary attitudes toward LGBT people

In an article:

In a fast-changing culture, can the GOP get in step with modern America?  

in today’s Washington Post, writers Philip Rucker and Robert Costa put some interesting bookends on their article that illustrate the essential problem with reactionary conservatism – an inability to see facts or recognize truth in the face of deeply-ingrained bigotry.

The first example is Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, at a pizza parlor in Iowa.  He’s set up by a local Baptist pastor:

(From the article:)

“America going down the wrong roads morally. . . . God decreed unchanging standards in Scripture, but society keeps changing — and fast. . . . I saw a commercial this morning about a transgender show, and everybody was praising it.”

Huckabee responded by declaring that the standard of all truth is the Bible. Distorting the laws of nature, he said, is akin to playing the piano without a tuning fork — or baking a cake without the proper measurements of salt, flour and sugar. “You’re going to have a disaster on your hands,” he said.

Huckabee, who has ministerial credentials himself, has proven himself willfully blind to the biblical message of acceptance toward transgender people.  Readers of my blog are familiar with Isaiah 56, Matthew 19:12 and Acts 8 – but apparently these don’t appear in Mike Huckabee’s bible.

The problem with Huckabee and other riders in the Republican presidential clown car who are striving to be just like him on LGBT issues, is that their expressed and very un-Christian bigotry only fans the flames of bigotry in their constituency.

The grass roots of conservative reactionaries are still a part of the problem – and the article closes with this:

The night before in Osceola, Tawny Waske, 49, was celebrating her eighth wedding anniversary with her husband, Tim, at Nana Greer’s Family Table restaurant when Huckabee walked in to shake hands and answer questions. She, too, fretted about cultural changes.

“It’s legalized here for gays [to marry], and we just bite our lips,” Waske said. “As a Christian, we’re taught to love the sinner, not the sin. But tolerance only goes so far.”

Waske brought up ABC’s prime-time special this spring on Jenner’s gender transition.

“Is it him? Her? It? I don’t even know what to call it,” she said. “You know, don’t shove this down my throat.”

Tawny’s blindness is typical.  There she is, wearing a wedding ring, and openly celebrating the anniversary of the celebration of her legally and religiously sanctioned right to freely and frequently copulate with her husband – after all, her marriage is all about breeder sex.  If I had her attitude and projected it back at her, I’d be disgusted by the fact that she flaunts a wedding ring and dares to shove her dirty but legally/religiously sanctioned sex relationship down everyone’s throat.  I’ll bet there were innocent children in that restaurant who should not have been exposed to any knowledge of that relationship built on sweaty, grunting, baby-making copulation.  Why, I’m sure people at other tables were afraid that she and her husband were going to start “doing it” right in front of everyone else! (Remember, those aren’t my thoughts and attitudes – I’m just adopting her attitude and turning it back at her.)

She calls Caitlin Jenner an “it?” Really? 

The sad thing is that Tawny Waske and her immoral ignorant bigotry is typical of those whose exposure to LGBT people has moved transgender people from oblivious invisibility to objects of derisive disgust.  It is very difficult for me as a transgender woman to understand Tawny’s uneducated ignorance. However, one can only hope that she, whose ugly thoughts expose her as an un-Christian ignorant breeder pig-creature bigot, can one day evolve into a decent human being.  I have hope in the possibility that she might learn something.

When an ignorant breeder sow like Tawny calls me an “it” it shows that she is willing to treat me as less than human. (Okay, I really do think of her as ignorant, and bigoted, but the farm animal references are only due to my angry and disgusted reaction to being called an “it.” How dare she go there!)

When ignorant breeder sows like Tawny vote, we end up with elected officials who are as ignorant and bigoted as they are (or pretend to be ignorant and bigoted to get elected) – and laws that treat me, and people like me, as less than human.

But I still harbor the hope that she can intellectually and spiritually evolve to a point where she and people like her can become human enough to be able to treat me as a human being.

I know I am not an “it.” And when Tawny can recognize me as a human being, maybe I might be able to characterize her as something more than the ugly animal she shows herself to be when she dehumanizes people like me.

What Tawny needs is an education.  She seems to think that gays and trans people are sinners, and that she has been taught to “hate the sin and not the sinner.” 

One problem is her Christianist religion (It’s not really Christian).  Her evil religion feeds that deeply-seated bigotry.  Unless the leaders of her religion change their tune, it will be that much more difficult for Tawny to have the grounding to be able to understand the truth.

When religious and political “leaders” like Mike Huckabee, who should know better, play to this audience and support its continued bigotry, it only delays the day when Tawny and her ilk ever “get it.”

I thank the writers of this article for exposing the deeply-seated sleaziness in the GOP leadership and base – now, what can we do about it?  There are a few Republicans who are working toward making it a kinder, gentler party – but the evil resistance is strong, and possibly getting even stronger.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Analyzing Chief Justice Roberts' lies and misstatements in his marriage dissent

It has been a long time since I've posted anything here!

I’ve taken the opportunity to analyze the lies, misstatements of fact, and incorrect assumptions contained in Chief Justice Roberts’ dissent in today’s marriage decision.

At numerous points, Chief Justice Roberts repeats one lie, over and over – as if by repeating it would somehow make it true.  This is a propaganda tactic, and should be recognized as such.

the meaning of marriage that has persisted in every culture throughout human history

to retain the historic definition

For all those millennia, across all those civilizations, “marriage” referred to only one relationship: the union of a man and a woman

“a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs.”

“This universal definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman is no historical coincidence.”

“The premises supporting this concept of marriage are so fundamental that they rarely require articulation.”

None of the laws at issue in those cases purported to change the core definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

the understanding of marriage that has existed for our entire history

One need only study some history to realize that the Romans had several different forms of marriage, the People of Israel and Judah had numerous different kinds of marriage.  Most cultures and civilizations have had all sorts of different kinds and forms of marriage, and different rules as to who could marry whom, and what the relative rights of the parties are.  And there is no universal “one man, one woman” rule, whether it be for life or otherwise, “throughout human history.”

And yet, this false and irrational lie is one of the central features of Chief Justice Roberts’ opinion.

Chief Justice Roberts writes “Although the policy arguments for extending marriage to same-sex couples may be compelling, the legal arguments for requiring such an extension are not.”  But it isn’t merely policy – it’s a matter of having a better understanding of the Constitution and of the evolution of marriage in this country since colonial times, than the Chief Justice is willing to admit.

He writes: “And a State’s decision to maintain the meaning of marriage that has persisted in every culture throughout human history can hardly be called irrational.”

It can certainly be called irrational as the central assumption is false – the meaning of marriage has changed over time and has differed greatly among different cultures and societies throughout human history,

He writes that “The people of a State are free to expand marriage to include same-sex couples, or to retain the historic definition.”

First, it’s really not an “historic definition.”  And when a state runs afoul of the 14th amendment, as it did in Loving v. Virginia, the SCOTUS does have a right to set things to rights. If we recognize the principles of due process and equal protection under the 14th Amendment, it’s really not possible to rationally decide against marriage equality.

“The majority’s decision is an act of will, not legal judgment. The right it announces has no basis in the Constitution or this Court’s precedent.” - Just because Chief Justice Roberts chooses to be willfully blind to the Constitution when the Constitution doesn’t suit his prejudices, his opinions should not be given any credence.  All the Chief Justice needed to do to grasp the constitutional basis for today’s decision, would be to read and understand his colleague Antonin Scalia’s Cassandra-like dissents in Lawrence and Windsor.  Justice Scalia has been predicting the inevitability of gender-neutral marriage being recognized as required under the Constitution since before the Massachusetts court decided to follow his reasoning.

Chief Justice Roberts exhibits a startling lack of knowledge of world history when he writes: “the Court . . .  orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs.”

He ignores the precedent of Loving when he writes “The majority today neglects that restrained conception of the judicial role. It seizes for itself a question the Constitution leaves to the people, at a time when the people are engaged in a vibrant debate on that question.”

When Loving was decided, a large majority of white Americans disapproved of interracial marriage – and it was not until the late 1990’s that a majority of white Americans became reconciled to the idea – thirty years after the decision.  It’s pretty clear to me that, had Chief Justice Roberts been on the Loving court, he would have tried to keep each race on its separate continent, and left anti-miscegenation laws to the states to mull over in due time.

“For all those millennia, across all those civilizations, “marriage” referred to only one relationship: the union of a man and a woman” – as we’ve seen, just repeating a lie does not make it true.

The human race must procreate to survive. Procreation occurs through sexual relations between a man and a woman.”

It appears that Chief Justice Roberts has never heard of artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, and other medical methodologies that eliminate the need for heterosexual copulation.

“When sexual relations result in the conception of a child, that child’s prospects are generally better if the mother and father stay together rather than going their separate ways.”

That assumes that there is a “mother and a father” in the first place, and not some random copulation resulting in a baby – and children do as well or better when they have two mommies, or two daddies – and other family constellations are also good for babies.

“Therefore, for the good of children and society, sexual relations that can lead to procreation should occur only between a man and a woman committed to a lasting bond.”

There is nothing wrong with that being a marriage – but it is a lie to call it the only constitutionally-protected kind of marriage –under the due process and equal protection provisions of the Constitution, the law of marriage must be applied in a gender-neutral manner as well as in a race-neutral manner.

And when he writes this:

“And by bestowing a respected status and material benefits on married couples, society encourages men and women to conduct sexual relations within marriage rather than without. As one prominent scholar put it, “Marriage is a socially arranged solution for the problem of getting people to stay together and care for children that the mere desire for children, and the sex that makes children possible, does not solve.””

Roberts would apparently in his premise that marriage is solely for the “be fruitful and multiply” crowd, forbid infertile people, post-menopausal women, and others who are unable to “procreate” from having the same equal protection under the law as everyone else. 

He glowingly writes about chattel slavery - “Early Americans drew heavily on legal scholars like William Blackstone, who regarded marriage between “husband and wife” as one of the “great relations in private life,””

Lovely – the Chief Justice holds to the ideal of common law marriage prior to 1848, that “the two become one – and that one is the husband.” Typical of a patriarchal misogynist, but not expected from the Chief Justice.

“The majority observes that these developments “were not mere superficial changes” in marriage, but rather “worked deep transformations in its structure.” Ante, at 6–7. They did not, however, work any transformation in the core structure of marriage as the union between a man and a woman.”

Not true – first, the “core structure” is a union of two people – possibly more, but multiparty unions are not the topic of the day (at least until Roberts brings them in).  At one time, the relative bundles or rights were based on whether one was a husband, or a wife.  By the 1970’s the sex-based “reproductive rights” issue was resolved by giving women control over their own bodies, regardless of whether they were married.  Then by the 1980’s, marriage laws had become largely gender-neutral – i.e., the same rights and responsibilities, regardless of whether one was “husband” or “wife.” At that point, it became obvious that even the connubial right – the right to marry, ought to be gender-neutral under the Constitution.  Indeed – at the point at which marriage became a union of equals, it first became possible to understand the constitutional implications to which the Chief Justice and the other dissenters are blind.

When Chief Justice Roberts approvingly cites Baker V. Nelson, the appeal of which which was summarily dismissed by SCOTUS in 1972 – he does not take into account the fact that it was 1972, marriage laws at the time did not create a union of equals.  It was not possible for the SCOTUS at that time to even see the issue on its radar. 

Then Roberts whimpers that “They argue instead that the laws violate a right implied by the Fourteenth Amendment’s requirement that “liberty” may not be deprived without “due process of law.”

Well, that IS true – and that right is exactly what drove the Loving court.  As Justice Scalia correctly predicted in his dissent in Lawrence, striking down statutes against same-sex relations would inexorably lead to marriage rights – as there was no longer any reason to deny connubium.

I am appalled at Roberts’ citation comparing the majority decision to Dred Scott (I am not quoting it here) – does he have no shred of decency?  That is the SCOTUS equivalent of calling the majority “Nazis” in violation of Godwin’s Law  it appears that since Roberts has no argument except those based on lies, he feels free to descend to that level, but cloaked in enough legalese to make it seem erudite.

Here is something true – but not as Roberts seems to imply: “Expanding a right suddenly and dramatically is likely to require tearing it up from its roots.

What is untrue is applying this principle in the current case.  The common law of marriage in America has been changing gradually since 1848 – and over time, the rights of the parties have been made gender neutral.  By the late 1980’s,  it first became possible to recognize even connubium as gender-neutral – but this took another 20 or more years before Justice Scalia first recognized it in his dissent in Lawrence.

Making connubium gender-neutral isn’t something sudden or dramatic.  It has been inevitable since the 1980’s that marriage rights are no longer sex-based – and one can thanke Roe v. Wade as much as the evolutionary changes over time started by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Ernestine Rose in 1836.  The fact is that when it isn’t criminal to be gay, or to have same sex relations, and when the bundles of rights and responsibilities in marriage are identical on a gender neutral basis, it no longer becomes possible to defend against the right to marriage being gender neutral – to deny the right would be to violate due process and equal protection.

In discussing the ‘right to marry’ cases, Roberts clains “In short, the “right to marry” cases stand for the important but limited proposition that particular restrictions on access to marriage as traditionally defined violate due process.

Roberts interpolates the “as traditionally defined” in an effort to make a distinction when in fact there is none.  None of the cases prior to the late 1980’s could have contemplated gender-neutral marriage, because until that time, marriage rights were inherently unequal. And we’ve already established that there is no “traditionally defined” marriage “thoughout human history.”

When Roberts lies with “the marriage laws at issue here involve no government intrusion” it seems to glibly fall from his pen onto the paper – but it’s yet another lie.  Government licenses marriage, and often licenses those who can perform weddings.  Government creates and recognizes bundles of rights and responsibilities that are associated with marriage.  If “marriage” was merely a Catholic sacrament with no government involvement, [perhaps he could have a point – but in the real world?

With the following, Roberts dips into playing a Cassandra role – will polygamy be next?

One immediate question invited by the majority’s position is whether States may retain the definition of marriage as a union of two people. Cf. Brown v. Buhman, 947 F. Supp. 2d 1170 (Utah 2013), appeal pending, No. 14-4117 (CA10). Although the majority randomly inserts the adjective “two” in various places, it offers no reason at all why the two-person element of the core definition of marriage may be preserved while the man-woman element may not. Indeed, from the standpoint of history and tradition, a leap from opposite-sex marriage to same-sex marriage is much greater than one from a two-person union to plural unions, which have deep roots in some cultures around the world. If the majority is willing to take the big leap, it is hard to see how it can say no to the shorter one.

You’ll note that he trips himself here – far from being universally “one man, one woman” throughout history, he writes “plural unions . . .  have deep roots in some cultures around the world” as if we haven’t been reading abous this “universal; definition” thing through his entire opinion.

At least he didn’t bring in marriages to dogs, other animals, trees or inanimate objects.  And he also steps back from the Cassandra precipice, but only slightly, with “do not mean to equate marriage between same-sex couples with plural marriages in all respects. There may well be relevant differences that compel different legal analysis.”  He does imply that perhaps there might be no difference.

So while we’re at this point, let’s address plural marriages.  The principles would be different, and unlike merely extending connubium on a gender-neutral basis, plural marriages would require a whole host of legal changes.  It could be done – and there are models that could be based on various kinds of business arrangements or religious orders.  This isn’t the topic here, but since Chief Justice Roberts chose to go there, I’m perfectly willing to discuss this with him one day.

This case deals with gender, not number.  I’m surprised he didn’t bring up duration, but that, too, is an issue that isn’t on today’s table.

Once we get past the lies about “universal definition” and polygamy, we get to a “religious liberty” argument that could have come straight from the pages of Chuck Colson and Robbie George’s Manhattan Declaration.

Today’s decision, for example, creates serious questions about religious liberty. Many good and decent people oppose same-sex marriage as a tenet of faith, and their freedom to exercise religion is—unlike the right imagined by the majority—actually spelled out in the Constitution.

What Roberts does not understand is that the religious liberty issue cuts both ways.  Why should my religious liberty to marry my wife be infringed?  The right to religious liberty means the right to believe – but not the right to act on those beliefs to harm others.  Catholics like Roberts don’t have to marry same-sex partners, and no one should force them.  Catholic priests should not have to perform same sex weddings in their churches (though they shouldn’t be acting on behalf of the state or licensed by the state in any event, that ought to be held to violate the first amendment, unless they do nto discriminate – they should be limited to prerforming their religious rites without state molestation or interference, but in some future case, when the issue comes up, they should be free from government licensing or authority).

He then proceeds to defend the haters and bigots - “the tens of millions of people who voted to reaffirm their States’ enduring definition of marriage—have acted to “lock . . . out,” “disparage,” “disrespect and subordinate,” and inflict “[d]ignitary wounds” upon their gay and lesbian neighbors. Ante, at 17, 19, 22, 25. These apparent assaults on the character of fairminded people will have an effect, in society and in court.

Fairminded people?  Really? Perhaps Roberts is the one who would have joined with the majority in Dred Scott­ – after all, if he thinks the people who have worked to deny rights to a minority to be “fair-minded people” there is not a scintilla of evidence that he wouldn’t side with property-owning slaveowners against their property. And as the majority in Citizens United proved, the Court has a habit of protecting the rich against the poor and disadvantaged, most of the time.

He writes “It is one thing for the majority to conclude that the Constitution protects a right to
same-sex marriage; it is something else to portray everyone who does not share the majority’s “better informed understanding” as bigoted.

But they are – bigoted, that is.  It’s no difference from the enduring beliefs of white supremacists. Perhaps Chief Justice Roberts is guilty of the very thing that he accuses the majority of doing – letting his personal prejudices interfere with his ability to render an impartial decision.  His expression of sympathy to people who are no better than slaveowners or segregationists is jut one more indication of his willful blindness. 

This is a constitutional issue, not a matter of sentiment.

He closes out with the sour grapes “Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not
celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.

Sorry, Chief Justice Roberts, the Constitution has everything to do with it,  It’s sad that you don’t “get it.”