Wednesday, May 27, 2009


So it's disgusting ... the wee 6 on the California Supreme Court could not bring themselves to understand that civil rights are not subject to a vote. There is much talk today that the decision is actually very narrow ... that it states that all rights of marriage are guaranteed to gays except that gay people cannot use the word "marriage." Some will say that that is an essential victory, and that the religious fanatics are left only with a word. One way (sorry, but I can't find the reference again) suggested that we should just take the word "mariage" ... one R, and cooler because it the French spelling.

All this is lovely, and everything, but it misses the point. The California supremes have made a classic "separate but equal" argument. And separate but equal is anathema not just to American law but more so to the concept of civil rights. It is not the place of judges to rule on theological questions, and the question of whether marriage is sacred or whether the Sodom myth actually has anything to say about homosexuality have no place in law or government. The issue is civil rights. No one is saying that religious bigots should be forced not to hate us. We are saying that this is about our civil rights.

The supremes did not see this. They cowered behind the idiotic argument that popular opinion defines civil rights.

I had a little excitement yesterday. I attended the largely student demonstration at MRU (the major research university that laid off my friend Kurt today), and marched with them as far the head of the circle on Palm Drive. They went on to a sit down in downtown Palo Alto, as I headed back to my duties. It was an exuberant, very lefto feeling event. Two professors whom I knew, and a few staffers. Perhaps a 100 or so people in total.

Later I had a silly exchange with some right winger on Twitter. Someone retweeted my tweet "It's a new Dred Scott decision - think how it will look in history - the 'justices' will be so ashamed". And then some evident right winger novelist wrote me to ask if I knew what the Dred Scott decision was. Of course, I do .. it was a decision that stated that a negro was not a person and therefore had not status to sue for his freedom. I think it is very a propos, but more importantly it is a decision that has come to define judicial cynicism. So a little later, this rightwinger tweeted "Yeah, imagine, they made a ruling based on the law and not on "empathy." Never would have expected it." So I replied to him "Dred Scott - 'a ruling based on the law and not on "empathy."'"

That's the way they are crowing ... they are seeing this as lawful, as opposed to empatheticc. They are wrong. This was a failure to see the larger principle of the law that all persons are equal. The decision substituted a specious and discredited theory that approximately similar accommodation is equality. That is bunk. One day the ludicrousness of this decision will earn the same derision we now shower on Dred Scott.

Another fascinating development ... Ted Olson and David Boies, opponents in the Supreme Court case of Bush v Gore, have joined forces to take gay marriage equality to the federal courts. This would have been unimaginable even a year or two ago. We have moved rapidly forward. But it is no time for complacency. Let us applaud and praise Olson and Boies. But let us also organize and prepare for the next battle against the bigots.

Photos by Arod of San Francisco art. Top photo a mural on Harrison (I think) around 20th; bottom photo is a sculpture on the Embarcadero at the foot of Market.

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