Gay marriage ban separate, but not equal…

November 6, 2008

(Copyright 2008)


By Tony Walther

Today my wife and I celebrate our 41st wedding anniversary, proving that all teenage marriages don’t end in failure. And they said it was only puppy love.

And now that I’ve been sweet by starting off my blog on that note I will no doubt make the other half of this long-lasting marriage shake her head as I go into my near daily political thing:

So Proposition 8 in California that bans gay (homosexual) marriage has apparently passed, and this only months after the state Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage was allowed under the state’s constitution. Proposition 8 amended that constitution.

There was a split in my household over the voting on that one.

It is not in my usual character to be a champion of so-called gay rights. But I did some study of constitutional law in obtaining a BA degree in political science and it seems to me that to deny a class of people rights that all others have is a violation of equal protection under the law.

Of course, I suppose, the first challenge to that in most people’s minds might be whether homosexuals are truly a different class of people in the sense that, say, black people have been considered a different class, a class that in the past was heavily discriminated against.

Black people were born with a darker skin pigment. Society as a whole – not everyone – I think has come to the conclusion now into the 21st Century that homosexuality is a natural condition some people have at birth (and while I understand there is still some division of thought on this in the scientific community, don’t most of us have gay people in our families and realize they were born that way and did not just hang out with the wrong crowd?). A homosexual can no more help his or her condition than a black person can help his or her condition, and I quickly add that I do not mean that either class of people should want to change their condition. But both have and do suffer discrimination from society as a whole.

Now the favorite argument as to whether gays should have a right to marry is that no they should not, that marriage by tradition, primarily religious tradition, but also by secular tradition, has been considered to be a union of a man and a woman, and that if gays are concerned that they are being  discriminated against they can have so-called civil unions or domestic partnerships, which are supposedly to take the place of marriage.

The problem with that is that civil unions are not marriage in name and do not necessarily carry the same status as marriage. They are not recognized in all jurisdictions and I am not sure that even under the best of circumstances they offer the same protections as marriage.

And the very idea that you can get around the tag of discrimination by offering one brand of something to one class and another supposedly separate but equal brand to another was shot down in the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of Brown vs. the Board of Education (1954). That ruling directly dealt with discriminating against black people by making them attend separate public schools. But the ruling covers all such supposedly separate but equal practices. That ruling overturned the Supreme Court’s Plessy vs. Ferguson ruling (1896) that held separate but equal was permissible. In that one the issue at hand was whether blacks could be made to ride in separate passenger railway cars.

Now this is not a lawyerly analysis, but basically we all know that separate is never equal, otherwise there would be no need for being separate. The fact is that in the case of schools, black schools were almost always starved of funding and maintenance. In the case of separate passenger accommodations, the idea was to shun black people from the rest of society, due to white prejudice of the time.

So, I have a problem with all of that. But moreover, I think what galls me are the single-issue people. I read in my local newspaper about one 34-year-old guy who voted for the first time in his life just so he could vote yes on Proposition 8 to ban gay marriage. So, no other issues – war, the economy, taxation, health care, etc. ever mattered to him, but by gosh running other folks’ lives, imposing his morality on someone else, that mattered. And if he felt a religious compulsion to do so that only indicates that such measures violate the First Amendment which forbids government intrusion into matters religious.

Having said all the above, I am not totally comfortable myself with gay marriage. I think I just see the idea of banning it to be a conflict in my sense of personal liberty. Personal liberties sometimes are restricted if they can be construed to hinder the personal liberties of others, but how that applies in this case I am not sure.

In California the status of current gay marriages is in limbo. That issue will probably go to court. As I understand it, civil unions are still allowed.

And now, the rest of my blog:

A parting shot I just can’t resist: let’s hope that Sarah Palin is put back into the Alaskan deep freeze where she belongs.

We might see her again for 2012, but she’s no doubt going to have some hefty competition from the likes of Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee (who now is a talk show host on FOX – makes sense, there is a pattern: preacher, politician, talk show host). Maybe by that time she can learn a little more about basic civics and world events and how to answer questions in hardball as well as softball interviews.

But now in a pause from writing this blog, I just watched a Sarah Plain interview on CNN and was impressed with how humble and sincere she came across. She said she doubted that her candidacy trumped the major economic crisis that surfaced just before the election. But she said that if she cost John McCain “even one vote” for that, “I am sorry…” She promised to “work with” Obama on energy issues (uh, sure Sarah, have your people get in touch with my people).

See how gullible I am? I fell for her humbleness. But how is it in politics that you can say such terrible things about someone one day – he pals around with terrorists who want to destroy our nation or he wants to take away our freedom and make us share our hard-earned money or he is not a leader. And then the next day you are willing to work with him.

Thanks to the endless talk on TV we can watch and listen to the experts tell us how they are crafting the messages that are full of lies and distortions designed to fool us and then we are supposed to listen to those messages as if we did not know we were being taken in. Ah politics. No wonder some folks say they can’t stand it.

As gracious as John McCain himself was in defeat, the boos from the sore losers during his concession speech are emblematic of the attitude among much of his support group that turned the majority of the voters off. That attitude has been turning a lot of folks off for some years. The GOP finally got a taste of what that attitude can mean (they got their first hint during the last midterm elections – they just wouldn’t shape up).

And just what was that sour grapes assessment of the Obama win by no. 1 Obama basher Charles Krauthammer I saw late Tuesday night on FOX all about? I know he wanted the other guy to win, but why couldn’t he have just admitted that if nothing else Obama made a lot more folks more comfortable in voting for him than the other guy? Krauthammer complained that Obama really never presented a program. Oh really, well maybe not, but what was the program presented by McCain – wait don’t tell me, leave the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy in place (the one’s he originally opposed because we needed to pay for the war directly rather than borrow from China – you know, support the troops as they say). Oh and make sure we don’t tax Joe the Plumber, who is not a real plumber, whose name I understand is not really Joe, and who would in all likelihood, I just have a hunch, would be the first in line to take unemployment, disability, medicare, Social Security, or any kind of public assistance if he felt he needed it (or run for congress or cut a record or book deal or run for vice president).

— I thought my local newspaper was localcentric, as I like to call it, emphasizing local news over national and world, but the Manteca, Ca. Bulletin (7-day per week) Wednesday edition has all kinds of election news (local), but nary a word or picture of Barack Obama on its front page. Maybe they could have at least had local reaction story.

Print media is dying. As I stated in a previous blog, I had no sooner got interested in U.S. News and World Report news magazine, thinking that it seemed newsier than Time or Newsweek, only to find it was dropping from once per week to once every other week. Now I read that just as the daily Christian Science Monitor newspaper is doing, they are getting out of the print editions altogether and going to online, except I think they may be doing some kind of monthly not real news editions or something.

Yes I love the instantaneousnous (did I make up that word?) of the world wide web, but where is the news for posterity that a print edition provides? And as much as I use this contraption nowadays, I still can’t figure out how to comfortably sit back and read my computer. On the other hand, the keyboard sure beats those manual Royal typewriters I used in more than one newspaper job. How I ever banged out my stories I can hardly imagine (and you should have seen all the pencil self-corrections in my copy). Spell check was looking it up in the dictionary or being ridiculed by the proofreader. And the instant access to fact checking on my computer can’t be beat.