It is a gay day at the U.S. Supreme Court…

June 26, 2015

As a newspaper headline might have read back in the day: A gay time is had by all today in front of the Supreme Court.

That was back when “gay” meant happy. But of course now I’m talking about the U.S. Supreme Court’s majority decision to make gay (same-sex) marriage legal nationwide, meaning that states or jurisdictions that still ban it can no longer do so (at least that is what I am reading in this morning’s interpretations about the ruling just made).

Ultra conservatives and reactionaries must be perplexed. What is their predominantly conservative supreme court doing, upholding Obamacare yesterday (for the second time) and now this?

Interestingly, yesterday it was the conservative Chief Justice John Roberts delivering the majority opinion, but today he was with the dissent, and it was the more usual swing vote of Justice Anthony Kennedy, who also authored the majority opinion.

I’m not going to go into the law on this now, if ever, but as I have noted in the past when a favorable ruling was made by the high court majority on the issue of same-sex marriage, the court is just following a change in public opinion and culture and maybe just being practical. I mean same-sex marriage seems so much more acceptable nowadays, so why get in the way?

And how practical would it have been to put a wrench into the whole health care delivery system by effectively gutting Obamacare had the court held against a major provision in it?

What is my own opinion or feeling on today’s high court ruling? I’m ambivalent on it, except that maybe it is good to get this wedge issue out of the way so the reactionaries have one less weapon in their arsenal and that political debate can move onto other subjects, such as economics, defense and war policy, employment, and improving rather than destroying Obamacare.

I don’t mean to dismiss the importance of the same-sex marriage ruling to those same-sex partners who either want to be able to enjoy the benefits of marriage or want to preserve what they already have. At one time I might have thought separate civil unions would have sufficed, but since then I have seen that might not always guarantee equal protection. And the high court ruled long ago now that separate is not equal.

P.s.

Reactionaries go crazy when liberals use the high court to effectively make law that cannot be made through the legislative process at the time but they run to the court to tear down law that has been passed — go figure.


Conservatives turn liberal when it comes to money…

February 27, 2014

It’s interesting, amusing even, when usually conservative business interests suddenly become quite liberal when it comes to money issues.

I mean gay rights (I would prefer to say “homosexual rights” but gay seems to be the word in common usage) is usually a social issue connected with the liberal or progressive agenda. But the pressure from business interests on Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (of fame for signing into law the famous or infamous your-documents-please immigration law) was intense. She saw the light and vetoed the so-called anti-gay/pro religious rights bill. Business interests were terrified that such a law would have a negative effect on business. Companies said they would not locate their businesses in Arizona if it became the law and the Arizona tourism industry and the airlines were against it. I mean they want money from gays just as much as they want it from anyone else — it all spends the same. And in some lines of work gay workers are in demand (as my late mom used to say: “they’re always so talented”).

So much for morals.

No I don’t mean to say there was any real moral issue here. It’s just that the bill was being sold as a moral thing. The idea purportedly was that a business person would have a right not to serve a customer whose morals he or she disagreed with or I should say whose social arrangement was against their religious tenets.

Well there is freedom of religion guaranteed under our First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution but it does not trump individual rights. My religious beliefs (or lack of them) give me no right to somehow interfere with your personal rights.

If you are in business you are obligated to serve the public without discrimination. And if you do not care for that, then maybe you should not be in business. I think I heard there was an issue, somewhere along the line, of a wedding photographer refusing to take photos of a gay wedding. I have to say that is a tricky one. I mean on the one had it might seem that if the practice of homosexual marriage is repugnant to an individual he or she should not have to take any part in it. But maybe when you do business with the public that puts you in a different light. We could hardly have supermarkets, for example, refusing to sell groceries to gays on the grounds doing so would force them (the employees) to help promote the gay lifestyle.

But anyway, it seems economic activity is a good promoter of individual freedom and the tolerance of varied lifestyles.

Money does indeed talk.


High Court reacts to shift in attitude, realizes public acceptance of gay lifestyle…

June 26, 2013

Writing off the top of my head after just reading the news about the historic Supreme Court rulings on gay marriage I would say the court has reacted to a shift in mood among our modern society towards homosexuality. Now the court may have had to hide behind states’ rights in part of its ruling, but really the majority realizes that social values change over time.

(And I read enough to realize that the high court still left room for the matter to come before it again in a slightly revised form.)

I’m not stating that I personally am for gay marriage or against it. In fact, I am neutral on the subject, except in the absence of a right to traditional marriage, I think it only practical and right that gay couples have a right to enjoy the same rights as heterosexuals. I had thought civil unions did that, except I did recognize that somehow they are not always equal to marriage in all jurisdictions.

As far as the religious aspect of it all, well religious people have a right to follow their own beliefs but they do not have a right to impose them on others. It occurs to me that they may just have to come up with a new term such as “religious marriage”, as opposed to civil marriage.

Now I don’t think it is a good idea for the government, at any level, to promote the gay lifestyle, but it has to recognize what is as it relates to guaranteeing equal rights.

People are born gay and cannot help it. That we know nowadays. Anyone reading this probably has a family member who is gay. And of course some of the readers are gay themselves (I usually just say homosexual instead of the euphemism “gay“, but gay as become the standard usage I guess).

I have taken quite a hiatus from this blogsite, but I thought this would be a good moment to re-enter the fray of public opinion and news commentary.

Hopefully I’ll have more later on this and other subjects. Not sure really.

P.s.

It’s ironic how states’ rights can be used in a liberal way, such as extending rights to gay people (or not too), or in the old, old conservative way in legalizing human slavery, as was done in the antebellum South (well actually in the Constitution too, but that is another point that confuses things here).


In the wake of Tuesday’s narrow same-sex marriage ruling, it seems that the issue may be decided as much by evolution in societal acceptance as by the courts….

February 8, 2012

There seems to be some question now whether Tuesday’s ruling by the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals striking down California’s ban on same-sex marriage will lead to a hearing before the U.S. Supreme Court. Because the 9th circuit made such a narrow ruling that does not decide the whole issue, the high court might not choose to bother with the case, it has been reported.

Meanwhile, the trend has been for more and more jurisdictions to recognize same-sex marriage in the United States and worldwide. It could be that society as a whole will make the decision instead of the courts. Of course societal opinion is often to a large extent what eventually moves courts to change their thinking or to decide on matters that come before it.

UPDATE: And as if to underscore what I said about the trend toward  allowing same-sex marriage, after I wrote that it was reported that both houses of the the Washington State legislature have now passed a pro-same-sex marriage bill and it is going to the governor, who supports it. This would be the seventh state to approve same-sex marriage. The vote was 55-45 in the Washington State House, and 28-21 in the Senate. One republican lawmaker who voted in favor indicated she came to support the concept after finding out her own daughter was homosexual (I realize the preferred word these days is “gay”). And that is the way it often goes. That is part of what has changed the thinking in society. Homosexuals have come out of the closet and their families are confronted with the fact that they are their loved ones.

——————–

In this post I give some admittedly sketchy background and then offer my opinion on the matter.  Most of this was written yesterday not long after I read of the decision that had just been handed down by the appeals court:

UPDATE (Tuesday, 2-7-12):

Earlier I had blogged that the same-sex marriage issue was getting ever closer to the U.S. Supreme Court with a ruling today by a federal court, but maybe not, at least not via the Prop. 8 case. But both sides on the issue continue their efforts. And it would seem that sooner or later the high court will have to decide the matter.

Or, it occurs to me, changing attitudes in society may already be at work and the issue might take care of itself, even without the courts, as more states move to make same-sex marriage legal.

——————-

CALIFORNIA BACKGROUND:

In May of 2008 a majority on the California State Supreme Court held that same-sex marriages were allowed under the state’s constitution. In November of 2008 voters in the state narrowly passed Prop. 8, banning same-sex marriage (52 percent to 48 percent ). The issue has been before the courts ever since and same-sex marriages have been put on hold in the state (I comment on that at the very bottom of the post).

———————–

There is an understandable resistance to change in our culture that accepts same-sex marriage and it makes a great political wedge issue too for conservatives who would like to use it as a weapon to fight anything that means change of the status quo.

The reports I have now read indicate that the question of same-sex marriage may not be headed to the U.S. Supreme Court even though a U.S. appellate court panel today ruled that California’s Prop. 8 ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. The ruling was narrow and basically said once given the rights, they cannot be taken away, at least that is what I seem to be reading. So in states and locales where it was not legal, things would remain the same. Meanwhile, a legal stay remains in effect preventing same-sex marriages in California from resuming while the issue is still in the appeals process. It could go on to a further appeals panel or directly on to the Supreme Court, although some expect now it may not go to the high court, at least not via the present case.

WHAT I REALLY WANTED TO SAY, MINUS THE BACKGROUND:

But what this is all about really is two things: politics (left vs. right) and a resistance to culture change, and by saying the latter I am not at all implying that such resistance is wrong. To the contrary, I personally have a problem with the idea that homosexuality is to be simply treated as a normal part of life and should never be portrayed as abnormal.

By the same token it seems to me the clear evidence is that people are born homosexual or at least with homosexual tendencies and that they should not be denied rights given to any other group.

So there you have it, a dichotomy of sorts.

I personally would think that homosexual couples should be afforded the same rights as straight married couples, but only by way of official domestic partnerships or civil unions. But the problem, I guess, is that for some reason that has not always seemed to work. The domestic partnerships don’t always have the same status of marriage and may not be recognized universally among the states in the nation. In addition, homosexuals feel they are unconstitutionally discriminated against by not being allowed to be married or to be called “married” in the same sense as heterosexual couples.

Some have suggested that marriage ought to be restricted to a religious ceremony where appropriate, or for those who want a religious ceremony and sanction, but that the actual contract that gives each partner legal rights and protections ought to be a civil function and not called marriage, but something like civil union. But marriage, the term and practice, and so on, has a long history and is part of our culture and it would seem difficult to impossible to simply change it now.

I do also have a problem with government-enforced cultural change. I’m primarily talking about the school text books I hear so much about — actually have never seen one — that portray homosexuality as normal, when in fact it is abnormal, a fact of life in a certain percentage of the population, and more accepted these days by society as a whole, but a deviation from cultural and biological norms.

It’s a difficult subject. If a parent has a child and if that child is homosexual, the parent by all that is human and decent has no choice but to accept such and love the child as he or she would love a child who is not homosexual. But by the same token it would seem a parent should not be forced by public education to subject his or her straight children to the idea that homosexual practices are just a normal thing.

Like I said, it is a difficult subject to address — that is , without, on the one hand, sounding far-out liberal and throwing out all cultural values, and on the other hand, sounding as if one is some kind of bigot.

As a society I wished we, or some of us, would not spend so much time trying to control the lifestyles of others and at the same time I wished the government would stay out of the cultural brainwashing business.

P.s.

What I meant about politics being in this is that conservatives will fight anything that smacks of liberalism simply to discredit the movement on all issues, to include taxes, government regulation on business and the environment and so on.

P.s. P.s.

Another aspect of the legal battle was a challenge to the original appeals court ruling striking down Prop. 8 on the grounds that the justice who ruled on the decision was biased in that he was homosexual himself and did not reveal that until after his ruling. The appeals panel held that there was no conflict there. I’m having a hard time figuring out what they would consider to be a conflict. And I am really fairly neutral on all this nonetheless.

AND ONE MORE THING:

I find it curious that same-sex marriages already in existence are recognized, in California at least, at the same time the justice system in trying to decide whether it is okay for homosexuals to marry. It would seem the decision has already been made.


Gays can serve openly in the military — seems like the acts not the idea should have been illegal…

December 19, 2010

With the news that Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell has been repealed and that gays or homosexuals as I prefer to call them (I hate when a perfectly good word, used frequently in headlines and literature into the 1960s to mean happy, but now meaning homosexual, is ruined ), I’m wondering why anyone was ever kicked out of the military for being “gay”.

I can understand being kicked out for performing homosexual acts — especially while on duty — or for somehow using sexuality in a harassing or harmful or threatening way, but I cannot understand being kicked out simply because one has a certain sexual preference.

What I am trying to say is that a kind of obvious version of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell should have been in place all along. In other words, no one could be kicked out or blackmailed (because he or she would be subject to being kicked out) for having a certain sexual preference, but could be kicked out for overt acts that would hurt others and be harmful to the military in general. inappropriate sexual behavior is what should have been outlawed all along.

But all that is water under the bridge.

Apparently there are some procedural matters to be cleared first, but as far as anyone knows, within weeks or a few months, gays will be able to not only serve in the military but not be forced to lie about or otherwise withhold the fact that they are gay or homosexual, if you will.

Polling shows a substantial majority of the public (77 percent) sees no problem in this. Society evolves, for good or bad, as we all know. What was not accepted yesterday is accepted today.

John McCain thinks letting gays serve openly in the military is a bad idea. But I have the impression he is worried because he takes pride in the macho image of the military he knew and that he likes to think still exists. I don’t mean to disparage machoness. I think it may survive in certain units and that may work well for them. But the fact is that society has evolved and women, who by definition are not macho, do more of a variety of jobs and closer to combat and sometimes in combat and anyway these modern wars do not seem to have front lines or the front line is everywhere at once. So anyway, the worry that soldiers might be too effeminate, either because they are females or because they are gay (and of course you can be both (as in lesbian or even manly but female — and geesh this gets confusing) no longer seems a reason for concern or relevant to the issue of military preparedness or effectiveness or unit cohesion.

But I will say this, a photo that shocked and even kind of revolted me was one I saw in a news magazine (remember those?) some years ago showing two male and gay sailors in their traditional sailor outfits, standing one behind the other with one with his arms around the other in some kind of pose that looked like husband and wife.

McCain was in the Navy. Yeah, I can see how you might feel Mr. McCain.

P.s.

There is always the question of the military’s allowable reach into the private lives of its members and what constitutes duty and off duty, I think. My experience with the military, though, is that it’s members do not have the exact same rights as do civilians, being as how its members are under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. And to some extent, those in the military are always on duty.

P.s. P.s.

I did not mean to suggest in this post that allowing gays or homosexuals to serve openly in the military is either a good thing or a bad thing. But actually it is or was kind of inevitable with society’s changed attitude and knowledge toward homosexuality. Most reasonably intelligent people see the obvious evidence that people are born homosexual and accept that fact no matter what their personal feelings or comfort zone with homosexuality might be.


Homosexuals should be allowed to serve openly in the military; they have to behave themselves just as others must…

May 28, 2010

With the prospect of homosexuals, or gays as they are now called, being allowed to serve openly in the military getting closer to a reality as the result of a favorable congressional vote this week (but not in the law yet and more procedures to go through), I have some thoughts on the subject.

It seems to me that the time has come for this. Society as a whole over the past decade in particular has become quite tolerant of the fact that some, well quite a few, in fact, of its members are homosexual. Not just the people themselves, but the whole issue is out of the closet if you will.

You don’t have to be a doctor or have a degree in psychology to make the simple observation that some people are just born with their sexual orientation wired different from the standard boy/girl relationship model.

I know at least two guys who probably think of themselves as macho men. One of them has a gay son and one a gay daughter. Both of them probably tried to deny it at first, but then realized what is what is and accepted it (whether they personally like it or not). They love their own offspring because they are their own blood.

And for those who oppose the whole idea of someone being homosexual on religious grounds, I like the notion that would mean they are questioning God’s own creation. And again, I really think that since the whole idea of admitting that so many people are homosexual around us has come into fashion (like I said, over the past decade), most people now realize from their own observation of family members or friends and acquaintances that people are born that way. As far as being influenced by other gays, I would only think that might have an effect if one had some inborn gay tendencies already.

While back a decade or more for people to be openly gay in the military might have hurt morale (or seem to have)  in what had been essentially a he-man or all boys club with females serving only in support roles and in totally separate units and quarters, things are different today. The military is more integrated with women (they’ve even been okayed to serve on submarines).

So why can’t gays serve openly? It is behavior on the part of individuals that should be watched, and would be regardless of sexual orientation. What I mean is if a soldier or sailor or marine was doing something untoward or improper with or against another individual, disciplinary action, to include involuntary discharge from the service, would be in order.

The recruits of today have grown up in a world where homosexuality is accepted as a fact of life (by the vast majority).

No one would suggest that superiors, or even just individual service members, forcing or urging others to practice a homosexual lifestyle would be proper and in fact anyone would suggest that such would be wrong.

I suppose some might think that there could be improper sexual activity going on in field and combat or in barracks situations. To that I could only say such has been a fact of life forever. Soldiers in and outside war have been involved in illicit sexual behavior and have raped women. There always has to be enforcement against improper and illegal behavior, regardless of the homosexual issue.

The current don’t ask, don’t tell policy in which known or rather obvious homosexuals are allowed to serve just as long as they lie either outright or by omission of the truth about being homosexual but can be booted out at any time if word slips out is both absurd and costly in loss of personnel and training costs.

If it could be proved (and it could not I think) homosexuals actually imperil the services, then they should not be allowed to serve at all.

But the idea that if they simply keep quiet about their sexual orientation others will not realize the truth and will be saved from dangerous influences is also absurd on its face.