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Two more – Ninth Circuit Strikes Down Idaho and Nevada Marriage Bans

Read the ruling here.

I may be mis-remembering but I think this ruling has the clearest smack down of the reproduction argument I’ve seen in any of these rulings:

Additionally, as plaintiffs argue persuasively, Idaho and Nevada’s laws are
grossly over- and under-inclusive with respect to procreative capacity. Both states
give marriage licenses to many opposite-sex couples who cannot or will not
reproduce—as Justice Scalia put it, in dissent, “the sterile and the elderly are
allowed to marry,” Lawrence, 539 U.S. at 604–05—but not to same-sex couples
who already have children or are in the process of having or adopting them.14

A few of Idaho and Nevada’s other laws, if altered, would directly increase
the number of children raised by their married biological parents. We mention
them to illustrate, by contrast, just how tenuous any potential connection between a
ban on same-sex marriage and defendants’ asserted aims is. For that reason alone,
laws so poorly tailored as those before us cannot survive heightened scrutiny.
If defendants really wished to ensure that as many children as possible had
married parents, they would do well to rescind the right to no-fault divorce, or to
divorce altogether. Neither has done so. Such reforms might face constitutional
difficulties of their own, but they would at least further the states’ asserted interest
in solidifying marriage. Likewise, if Idaho and Nevada want to increase the
percentage of children being raised by their two biological parents, they might do
better to ban assisted reproduction using donor sperm or eggs, gestational
surrogacy, and adoption, by both opposite-sex and same-sex couples, as well as by singe people.

My favorite part of this discussion is the footnote:

14Defendants acknowledge this, but argue that it would be unconstitutionally
intrusive to determine procreative capacity or intent for opposite-sex couples, and
that the states must therefore paint with a broad brush to ensure that any couple
that could possibly procreate can marry. However, Idaho and Nevada grant the
right to marry even to those whose inability to procreate is obvious, such as the

Page after page, the ruling smacks down the various arguments offered to defend marriage bans. Almost everyone of Utah’s much touted arguments gets smacked around pretty persuasively.

The ruling is fun to read and is worth your time.

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Well that was less dramatic than expected

I’m not sure there’s much to say that hasn’t already been said. The Supreme Court’s decision this morning not to review the various marriage equality cases is both surprising and unsurprising. Surprising in that the Court had an opportunity to settle the issue once and for all and unsurprising in that there’s no current reason for the Court to rule. Thus far the lower courts are in agreement.

Indiana started issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples almost immediately. Virginia will apparently start issuing marriage licenses later today. The 10th Circuit has lifted the stay for Oklahoma, meaning OK will soon start issues licenses.

Marriage licenses will be issued to same-sex starting this morning in Utah. Colorado’s AG has already said:

“We have consistently maintained that we will abide by the Supreme Court’s determination on the constitutionality of marriage laws. By choosing not to take up the matter, the court has left the 10th Circuit ruling in place. We expect the 10th Circuit will issue a final order governing Colorado very shortly. Once the formalities are resolved, clerks across the state must begin issuing marriage licenses to all same-sex couples.

We will file motions to expedite the lifting of the stays in the federal and state courts and will advise the clerks when to issue licenses.”

The broad outline remains the same – equality in some states, not in others. It’s just marriage equality exists in more states now than it did yesterday.


Supreme Court Quietly Gives US Marriage Equality

Becoming increasingly difficult to see a way forward for the bigots after the Supreme Court simply says they won’t bother.

As befits a conservative and slow to react to reality court, this quiet victory comes well after a majority of Americans have already accepted the idea. But still, glad they could catch up. Should only be about 15 more years before they realize that companies are not people…

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Teabagger Constitutional Scholar NFL Fans Unclear on First Amendment

And we pray to our Lord
Who we know is American
He reigns from on high
He speaks to us through middlemen
And He shepherds His flock
We sing out and we praise His name
He supports us in war
He presides over football games

-The Eagles

Those of you actually watch football may have seen this news much earlier, but there was some controversy over public prayer at an NFL a little while back. When the Kansas City Chiefs safety intercepted a pass a returned it for a touchdown, he seemed to have been flagged for a prayer after scoring. Which is clearly just a part of the war on religion by that bastion of liberal thinking, the NFL!
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Fuck cancer

Just in case you’re curious.

Fuck cancer.

I just read an article about a woman who said, “I will die in a few weeks, but life is still beautiful.” She has two daughters, 5 and 9, and a loving husband. She’s 38. She’ll be dead in a few weeks.

Seriously. Fuck cancer.

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700 Words?

Looking over some of my personal favorite posts, I realized I tend to think in long form – many of my favorite posts have run into the 3000 to 5000 words range. There’s nothing wrong with that, per se, but I’ve decided to practice writing some shorter posts – in 700 to 1000 word range, focusing narrowly on a single topic.

I think the discipline of shorter posts will be good for me.

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700 Words

In an article published in 2005, historian and author Stephanie Coontz observed:

Marriage is no longer the main way in which societies regulate sexuality and parenting or organize the division of labor between men and women. And although some people hope to turn back the tide by promoting traditional values, making divorce harder or outlawing gay marriage, they are having to confront a startling irony: The very factors that have made marriage more satisfying in modern times have also made it more optional.

In its simplest terms, marriage as practiced by heterosexuals the last few centuries has made same-sex marriage socially and legally viable. As more and more straight couples have sought marriages that are emotionally fulfilling partnerships, they have also sought more freedom to end those partnerships when they stopped being fulfilling. Procreation, securing property or social status have ceased to be the primary reasons straight people marry. Child-bearing increasingly takes place outside of marriage. Many social and religious conservative bemoan these trends, but rather than use their energy to redress them, these some conservatives seek to continue banning same sex marriage.

The contemporary model of marriage as a mutually supportive partnership of a loving, couple is the product of the last couple centuries. In leading this revolution in the institution of marriage, heterosexuals have created the cultural environment in which gay and lesbian couples seek marriage.

Marriage may or may not confer upon same-sex couples social approval but it will confer important legal protections and responsibilities. Without the legal protections of marriage, same-sex couples are subject to a variety of injustices and hardships that their heterosexuals brothers and sisters do not face. The legal protections include such simple things as not losing one’s house if your spouse dies and the right to make medical decisions for your spouse. Too many gay and lesbian couples have found themselves, after years and sometimes decades of partnership, legally estranged by hostile family members, suddenly dispossessed of houses, bank accounts, businesses because they have been denied the simple protections of legal marriage.

Marriage is also a public celebration with friends and family, a proclamation by the couple to their community, that they are a partnership and are building a life together. Gay or straight, that public celebration and acknowledgement of marriage is part of our culture. Gay and lesbians persons are asking to marry because they have been raised in our culture, have shared in its celebration of love and partnership and they want to build very normal lives as couples. Most same-sex couples want the white picket fence, the fights, the make-ups, the vacations, the day to day sharing of housekeeping and the day to day companionship of a loving partner.

From a legal standpoint, enacting marriage equality, will result in one outcome – same-sex couples will be able to legally marry. Treating those couples equally to married, heterosexual couples may be difficult for some persons. The courts have, at this point, generally sided with nondiscrimination laws in holding that public accommodations are subject to generally applicable laws and cannot discriminate against same-sex couples. As with resistance to treaing inter-racial couples equally a few decades ago, this part of the social change will very likely quickly fade as the normalcy of same-sex marriage becomes part of day to day life.

Religious questions about marriage will and must be settled internally by each church and denomination. Many churches will have members on both sides of the issue. But, American law protects the rights of churches to determine how they live out their teachings. The fear that churches will be “forced” to perform same-sex marriages will not be realized. At the end of the day, marriage equality poses no threat to persons of faith or the practices of churches.

It may take a few years, but legal same-sex marriage with quickly become a non-issue for almost all Americans. At the time of Loving decision, a majority of Americans opposed inter-racial marriage. Today, for the majority of Americans, it’s a non-issue. There’s no reason to believe same-sex marriage won’t follow the same path. Opponents of same-sex marriage will quickly see they are required to simply accept as legal same-sex marriage. Beyond that, their lives will not change.


Scottish Independence

I’m curious – does anyone think Cameron’s government will survive if Scotland votes for independence tomorrow?

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Destroy ISIS – That’s The Objective?


President Obama is now the fourth President in a row who’s leading us into war in Iraq. Additionally, he again wants to attack Syria (but Washington seems to have switched sides in the Syrian civil war since a year ago). Considering the outcomes of previous American military adventures in the Middle East, is this really a good idea? The plan, such as it is, will consist of using mostly air power and special operations forces in cooperation with allied ground forces. The stated objective is to “degrade, and ultimately destroy” ISIS. However, we’ve failed to “destroy” any of the Islamic insurgent forces we’ve fought against over the past 13 years – they are all still thriving, including ISIS (which started out as al-Qaeda in Iraq).

Rajiv Chandrasekaran in the WaPo:

“Harder than anything we’ve tried to do thus far in Iraq or Afghanistan” is how one U.S. general involved in war planning described the challenges ahead… “This is the most complex problem we’ve faced since 9/11. We don’t have a precedent for this.”

Adding to the level of difficulty is the fact that the USA will be fighting on the same side as Bashir al-Assad, al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Iran. And the nascent Iraqi government of of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is an uncertain ally at best. Probably half the Iraqi Army has been rendered combat-ineffective as a result of ISIS advances.

More info:
5 Questions About The War Against ISIS That No One Should Be Embarrassed To Ask

John Kerry Says U.S. Is ‘At War’ With ISIS. Last week he claimed just the opposite.


America’s Political Autism and Obama’s ISIS Response

The President’s approach to ISIS is a symptom of national failure, intellectual, institutional and leadership fatigue engulfing the US. The idea that we can do something, anything, about ISIS is an illusion.

Johan Galtung:

There are other factors, but the common denominator is us, US.

Change that policy and the world would be easier to cope with.

But, the problem is whether Washington is too autistic to think thoughts beyond its bombing-droning-sniping obsession.

The Guardian, 9 July 2014: “Pentagon preparing for mass civil breakdown. Social science is being militarized to develop social tools to target peaceful activists and protest movements.” The US military is turning inward, obviously to protect the white 1% who feeds them.

Galtung sees the phenomenon of mass shootings in the US as a symptom of our political problems:

Moreover, it comes on top of another sad phenomenon in the USA: the increasing collective shootings all over the country, geographically and socially, in addition to the usual homicides and suicides, bad enough. The standard analysis is to psychiatrize the murderer, searching for a profile and its likes in society to prevent more shootings.

Another approach would focus on the shootings as a collective, slow suicide of a US incapable of solving its countless problems, even addressing them, to the point that people simply give a damn, kill what they see as the problem including, often, themselves. General demoralization has such consequences, like the suicide epidemic at the end of the Austrian-Hungarian empire and beyond, lasting to our days.

The US can solve the problems facing us. We have to admit that the problems exist before we can solve them. The end of empire is a delicate time. We have the wit, the innovation, the intellect to navigate successfully. Do we have the will?

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Undoing Citizens United

Citizens United was a disastrously bad Supreme Court decision. The Senate is voting today on a Constitutional Amendment that would restore the right of Congress to regulate campaigns.

Anyone betting Republicans vote against it?


President Obama’s Endless Summer

The Endless Summer (1966)
“The Endless Summer” (1966)

This is the perfect time to pay homage to the classic documentary by Bruce Brown. I love summer, and every year it ends too soon. However, the point of this post is to criticize President Obama for political cowardice, again. Last June, the President postponed the possibility of executive action on immigration until the end of summer.

The right-wing noise machine and the Tea-GOP loudly reacted as if Obama had actually done something. They threatened impeachment proceedings, and then another government shutdown over the immigration issue.

Now the rumor from the White House is that maybe, maybe, something will be done after the November election. This is typical nonsense we are used to from the Democrats. I get it in the form of fundraising pitches over the phone. “Support our candidates,” the script goes, “and then later, someday, you might get some good policy.” I always tell them: “Do something good NOW, and later, if I’m happy about it, I might vote for a Democrat.”

The demoralizing spectacle of a President and his party in retreat on the immigration issue isn’t going to get them many progressive voters in November. We’ll be reading about the “enthusiasm gap” again, and the reason for it won’t be a mystery.

Worst of all, President Obama has set records as the “Deporter in Chief.” The Obama administration took just over five years to exceed the 2 million deportations that took place under all eight years of the Bush administration, which held the previous record after ramping up deportations following the 9/11 attacks. Every month of delay brings thousands more deportations and broken families.

President Obama caves to Tea-GOP threats, does nothing to stop deportations

WASHINGTON (AP) — Abandoning his pledge to act by the end of summer, President Barack Obama has decided to delay any executive action on immigration until after the November congressional elections, White House officials said.

After the Dems lose the Senate, will they wonder why there was an “enthusiasm gap” and progressives didn’t come out to vote?


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