Voting Out the Constitution

People usually remember the 1960s as a time of great strife over civil rights. If you were alive back in the day, the images of police dogs ripping into lines of civil rights marchers or white-sheeted thugs dancing around a burning cross is still a chilling thing and proof that America was indeed going through wrenching social change.

Many would also like to believe that the country has made great strides in the interim, and we have. But, there’s more to accomplish and the nation now finds itself spending much of its energy on fighting to simply hold onto the advances already made. Civil rights advancement is now threatened by organizations and morally dishonest politicians bent on carrying us back to 1864.

Yesterday’s decision to strike down California’s Prop 8 anti-gay marriage law was sound. The judge did an impressive job of listing all the factual and legal reasons – 80 in all – showing that the law is unconstitutional. A improvement to celebrate, but also an event that highlights anti-civil rights crudaders’ thinking.

Tim Wildmon of the sarcastically named American Family Association reacted with shocking vitriol, calling the court’s decision, “a tyrannical, abusive and utterly unconstitutional display of judicial arrogance.”

Wildmon Is Has a Queer Notion
Wildmon believes one of the principles at stake is ignoring the California voters, which he sees as unconstitutional. In doing so, Wildmon – who uses the 10th Amendment as a fig leaf himself – introduces the queer notion that the Constitution is up for a vote whenever you don’t like what it says.

Similar to the rabble rousing for amending the 14th Amendment in the immigration battle, what Wildmon is proposing is that the Constitution – designed to be difficult to amend – should change to bend to the will of the latest ideological blowhard to come on the scene.

Mr. Wildmon, I ask you…if Californians voted to outlaw heterosexual marriage would you express the same fondness to the validity of their vote?

Wildmon also believes the “tyrannical and abusive”, Bush-the-Elder-appointed, judge should have recused himself from the case.

“It’s also extremely problematic that Judge Walker is a practicing homosexual himself, ” Wildmon said. “He should have recused himself from this case, because his judgment is clearly compromised by his own sexual proclivity.”

What I find “problematic” about Wildmon’s charge is that he is exhibiting his  own “proclivity” to act as a heterosexual, homophobic, quasi-religious leader. In other words – or more correctly Wildmon’s – “[Wildmon] should have recused himself from this case, because his judgment is clearly compromised by his own sexual [and religious] proclivity.”

I suspect the only judge Wildmon would find acceptable is an ordained Christian minister with a demonstrated track record of ignoring the Constitution in favor of a Christian Sharia-like theocracy – or a teabagger – whichever pinhead stepped forward first.

Americans are becoming increasingly unfamiliar with the basic tennents of the Constitution.They apparently believe that any hot head’s cause can simply be enacted by a simple vote. The Constitution is not the “McConstitution”. You can’t vote cheeseburgers off the menu because you don’t like them.

They believe that if there is a “war” on, the President, under no one’s authority other than his own, is permitted to suspend the Constitution’s guarantees against warrantless search or to hold prisoners indefinitely without charge.

Many Americans believe that the Constitution guarantees them freedom of religion, but also support depriving anyone other than Christians (they’re aren’t too hot on the Catholics either) of their similar freedom. Don’t like mosques too close to your shrine? Protest and file suit as Pat Robertson’s minions have done, but don’t be honest enough to mention that if it had been a Christian church you would’ve been praising the idea like it came from, well, God.

From Constitutional Ignorance, Instability Flows
From Constitutional ignorance, great instability flows. Unfortunately, those with such beliefs fail to see the unintended blow back from their muddled position.

Teabaggers and their similar-thinking ilk, like to wear tri-cornered hats and screech about keeping Big Gummint off their backs. If allowing someone to marry the person of their choosing is too much government involvement, then why isn’t government being on a gay person’s back equally bad?

Bush the Lesser did much to chip away at many civil rights during his reign and in areas like the conduct of our misbegotten wars and gay rights,  The Messiah™ continues walking the same swampy path.

One day, the blow back from their actions will come to haunt them and the people who cheered them. One day an administration will take office that isn’t so tolerant of their cavalier positions and decides to warrantlessly tap their phones, close their churches, or collect deep background on twerps like Wildmon.

And when they do, they’ll claim the same Constitutional protections because they changed the Constitution to allow it.

Cross posted at The Omnipotent Poobah Speaks!

 

 

Petraeus Hints At Support For DADT Repeal

What a headline from The Hill: “Petraeus offers first public support for change to 'Don't ask'":

Gen. David Petraeus, the head of U.S. Central Command, said Tuesday that the time has come to consider changing the controversial law barring openly gay from people serving in the U.S. military.

It was the general’s most direct answer to date on the issue. A few weeks ago on NBC's "Meet the Press," Petraeus did not answer a question about his position on the repeal, but said he would provide his opinion on Capitol Hill if asked. Petraeus said on the program that he supported the review process and that he had served in combat situations with gays and lesbians.

While Petraeus’ answer to Carl Levin’s question is hardly fully-throttled support, it’s also hardly the visceral opposition General Colin Powell (also now a DADT opponent) showed in 1993. This is huge news, and takes away a major conservative argument. When Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced support for a review of DADT, Repubs abandoned that position, and some no claim they’ll support a repeal once the brass does to they’d support a repeal once the brass “in the field” does. Well flash forward two months and guess what.

It’ll be interesting to see if Petraeus’ statement gives newly elected Repub Sen. Scott Brown pause. Brown said in January: “I’d like to hear from the generals in the field — in the field — the people that actually work with these soldiers to make sure that, you know, the social change is not going to disrupt our ability to finish the job and complete the wars.” Well, sir, his appearance before Congress this week may not have caused the stir it did last year, but Petraeus, that folk hero to so many Repubs, certainly counts as “in the field.” What say you now?

Brown’s new enough that there’s still hope he could wind up in the Collins-Snowe wing. Not much hope, but still some. It’ll also be interesting to see what rhetorical slight-of-hand the rest of his party comes up with now that the military has pulled the rug out from under them a second time on this issue.

Prop. 8 Federal Lawsuit Begins, Cue Right-Wing Media Hysteria

This week in a San Francisco Federal District Court, a legal odd couple will be on display. Attorney David Boies, who represented Al Gore before the U.S. Supreme Court in the infamous 2000 case ofBush v. Gore, and conservative attorney Ted Olson, who represented George W. Bush, are joining forces to overturn California's Proposition 8. It will be their contention that the initiative passed by voters in 2008 banning same-sex marriage in the Golden State violates the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the U.S. Constitution, singles out gays and lesbians for a disfavored legal status, and discriminates on the basis of gender and sexual orientation.

Regardless of which side prevails, experts agree the case is likely to be appealed all the way to the highest court in the land.

Cue right-wing media hysteria and homophobia.

There's more...

The Episcopal Church Elects A Second Gay Bishop

Though this is a religious rather than political story, I thought it might be one many of you involved with the struggle for LGBT rights might be interested in. Organized religion, including (especially?) the world's Christians, has long been hostile to the LGBT community, but many churches are slowly moving from being homosexuality's biggest enemy to its biggest ally. The Episcopal Church, whose motto is "The Episcopal Church welcomes you," may just be leading the way. Earlier today, a second Episcopal diocese elected an openly gay person bishop, six years after New Hampshire became the first. (Disclaimer: I am currently working for an Episcopal parish in Omaha, my fourth job with the Episcopal Church.)

The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles elected the Rev. Mary Douglas Glasspool of Baltimore as bishop suffragan (assistant bishop) today. If confirmed, she will be the second openly gay bishop in the Episcopal Church and the second lesbian bishop in global Christianity.  Her election comes a day after the diocese elected another bishop suffragan, the Rev. Canon Diane M. Jardine Bruce, its first female bishop.

There is a reason I say "if" confirmed rather than "when" confirmed. In the Episcopal Church, bishops are elected by the members of their diocese but are subject to approval of the larger national church. A majority of the church's 110 diocesan standing committees (elected committees of both laity and clergy that assist the bishop with the governance of a diocese) must then approve the election. Very rarely do standing committees reject bishop-elects, and on those rare occasions that they do, it is usually because of technicalities and problems with the rules. Nevertheless, I am not at all confident that Mother Glasspool will be confirmed.

There are three key differences between Mother Glasspool's election and Bishop Robinson's 2003 election. The first is the timing. Because Bishop Robinson was elected shortly before the triennial meeting of the General Convention, the church's primary governing body (an elected, bicameral institution), he merely needed to be confirmed by a majority of the bishops at Convention. Because this Los Angeles election was held nearly three years before the next General Convention, Mother Glasspool will have to go through the standing committee process I described above, which is a bit more rigorous and impersonal. Second, Bishop Robinson's election put the issue of LGBT inclusion before the church. Now that it is an issue we have been grappling with for six years, there may be more concerns about unity than there were before the divisions had begun to grow. Finally, and this may help Mother Glasspool but I doubt it, she has been elected a bishop suffragan, which is basically an "assistant bishop," whereas Bishop Robinson was elected the bishop of his diocese.

It's hard to tell where the national church's mood lies. Many of those who are the most angry about these issues have left and so this past summer's meeting of the General Convention was a very encouraging one. Nevertheless, we're talking about 109 different elected bodies here, many of whose members were elected at annual diocesan meetings held after General Convention. If I had to make an uneducated guess, I'd put the odds of Mother Glasspool being confirmed at slightly over 50%.

One final word about LGBT battles in the Anglican Communion and the Episcopal Church, its American body: schism is not nearly as likely as the MSM has described it in recent years. Yes, some American Episcopal bishops do reject the authority of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori and some have left the church for other, unofficial Anglican bodies - but no more than 8 of the 110. And yes, some of the other Anglican archbishops and presiding bishops also reject her authority - but no more than 10 of the 38. The Communion and its many member churches are dedicated to working this out together in the traditional Anglican way, and I'm sorry if that's not sexy enough of a story for most journalists. If Mother Glasspool is confirmed, many in the larger Anglican Communion will see it as yet another example of America taking action before the rest of the Communion is ready. While that can only serve to exacerbate tension, I am not worried about schism. Realignment, perhaps, but not schism.

I have refrained from commenting on theology in this post. While I do believe that a contextual reading changes the meaning of St. Paul's seemingly anti-homosexual words, this post is for informing, not opinionating. And the information is this: The Episcopal Church has just elected its second gay bishop, this time, a woman.

There's more...

It's Illegal To Get Married In Texas

Not just gay marriage, mind you - all marriage. From the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:

Barbara Ann Radnofsky, a Houston lawyer and Democratic candidate for attorney general, says that a 22-word clause in a 2005 constitutional amendment designed to ban gay marriages erroneously endangers the legal status of all marriages in the state.

The amendment, approved by the Legislature and overwhelmingly ratified by voters, declares that "marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman." But the troublemaking phrase, as Radnofsky sees it, is Subsection B, which declares:

"This state or a political subdivision of this state may not create or recognize any legal status identical or similar to marriage."

Architects of the amendment included the clause to ban same-sex civil unions and domestic partnerships... "It's a silly argument," said Kelly Shackelford, president of the Liberty Legal Institute in Plano. Any lawsuit based on the wording of Subsection B, he said, would have "about one chance in a trillion" of being successful.

Oooooops.

Talk about your marriage equality! Practically speaking, Shackelford is probably right, but the wording is the wording, and I almost hope that Radnofsky is correct. I'm of the mind that replacing government marriages with civil unions for all, thus leaving the word and "tradition" of marriage solely to religion, might just be the right way to go. It would be absolutely hilarious if Rick Perry and Co. were the ones to accidentally open that door. Irony is a dish best served cold, with finger sandwiches and wedding cake.

There's more...

Diaries

Advertise Blogads