Thursday, November 06, 2014

To the Supreme Court we go - Sixth Circuit Appeals Court upholds marriage equality bans in four states

Looks like the issue of marriage equality may have to be finally decided by the Supreme Court thanks to an absolutely ridiculous ruling by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.

From Buzzfeed:

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld four states’ bans on same-sex couples’ marriages on Thursday, splitting with the decision of four other appellate courts and likely setting up a Supreme Court showdown on the issue.

Judge Jeffrey Sutton, writing for the 2-1 majority of the court, wrote the opinion upholding the constitutionality of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee’s bans.

“When the courts do not let the people resolve new social issues like this one, they perpetuate the idea that the heroes in these change events are judges and lawyers,” he wrote. “Better in this instance, we think, to allow change through the customary political processes, in which the people, gay and straight alike, become the heroes of their own stories by meeting each other not as adversaries in a court system but as fellow citizens seeking to resolve a new social issue in a fair-minded way.”

That statement is just plain ridiculous. What does Sutton think judges are for? If we left it up to him, segregation would have had to have been decided through African-Americans waiting on the benevolence of white voters. It is an absolute shirking of his duty.

According to Talking Points Memo, Sutton also said the following:

"[T]he right to marry in general, and the right to gay marriage in particular, nowhere appear in the Constitution. That route for recognizing a fundamental right to same-sex marriage does not exist." 

Sutton sounds like one of those types who believes that the Constitution should be interpreted as it was when it was written and not taking into account that it has to be a "living document" such a belief is impossible in terms of the multitude of changes taking place in American culture over rhe years.

The one judge who voted against upholding the bans, Martha Craig Daughtrey, called out her colleagues in what The Huffington Post called a "blistering dissent:"

The majority opinion "treats both the issues and the litigants here as mere abstractions," Daughtrey wrote.

"Instead of recognizing the plaintiffs as persons, suffering actual harm as a result of being denied the right to marry where they reside or the right to have their valid marriages recognized there, my colleagues view the plaintiffs as social activists who have somehow stumbled into federal court, inadvisably, when they should be out campaigning to win 'the hearts and minds' of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee voters to their cause," she wrote.

"But these plaintiffs are not political zealots trying to push reform on their fellow citizens; they are committed same-sex couples, many of them heading up de facto families, who want to achieve equal status ... with their married neighbors, friends, and coworkers, to be accepted as contributing members of their social and religious communities, and to be welcomed as fully legitimate parents at their children’s schools," she continued. "They seek to do this by virtue of exercising a civil right that most of us take for granted -- the right to marry."

Citing the Supreme Court ruling that struck down key provisions of the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013, Daughtrey said that the majority of the federal appeals court ignored the damage to the children of same-sex couples whose unions were not recognized.

People familiar with the Supreme Court ruling in the Windsor case, Daughtrey wrote, "must have said to themselves at various points in the majority opinion, 'But what about the children?' I did, and I could not find the answer in the opinion."

She added that it was "ironic that irresponsible, unmarried, opposite-sex couples in the Sixth Circuit who produce unwanted offspring must be 'channeled' into marriage and thus rewarded with its many psychological and financial benefits, while same-sex couples who become model parents are punished for their responsible behavior by being denied the right to marry."

In concluding her dissent, Daughtrey cited the oath of office she took more than 20 years ago when she was sworn into office. She said her colleagues "seem to have fallen prey to the misguided notion that the intent of the framers of the United States Constitution can be effectuated only by cleaving to the legislative will and ignoring and demonizing an independent judiciary." She wrote that the judiciary existed to "ensure that rights, liberties, and duties need not be held hostage by popular whims."

"If we in the judiciary do not have the authority, and indeed the responsibility, to right fundamental wrongs left excused by a majority of the electorate, our whole intricate, constitutional system of checks and balances, as well as the oaths to which we swore, prove to be nothing but shams," she wrote.

To the tell the truth, this piecemeal approach was annoying. Hopefully the Supreme Court will deal with this soon.

'Marriage equality a silent winner in midterm elections' & other Thursday midday news briefs

Midterm exit polls show marriage equality's momentum, staying power - I see why the Family Research Council didn't talk about marriage equality during their gleefest about the midterms. Turns out marriage equality was a big, but quiet, winner. 

State Judge Overturns Missouri’s Ban On Same-Sex Marriage - By the way, THIS happened. The march goes on. 

 How Did Gay, Lesbian, And Bisexual People Vote? - That's a good question. I'm scared to find out the answer but it is still a good question. 

 Laverne Cox Named A Woman Of The Year By Glamour Magazine - Congratulations Laverne Cox!

Family Research Council 'forgets' to mention marriage equality in election night bragging fest

The end result of the 'religious freedom argument'

Just as I figured, the Family Research Council is crowing like a crowd of roosters because of Republican election night wave:

Via an email from FRCAction:

President Obama has bailed out a lot of things in six years -- but last night, the Democratic Party wasn't one of them.

By night's end, his policy failures accounted for one of the largest Republican waves to hit Capitol Hill since World War II, as the GOP won back control of Congress. With a 12-seat cushion in the House and seven-plus gains in the Senate, conservatives sent more Democrats packing than the city has moving vans.

The message from an angry electorate was clear: the experiment in lawlessness has gone on long enough. And while Republicans were the beneficiaries of the country's outrage, Tuesday's victories were not so much an endorsement of the GOP as they were a repudiation of Senator Harry Reid's (D-Nev.).

Angry voters used Republicans to remind the White House that the President and his party can bypass Congress. They can even ignore the Constitution. But as long as democracy exists, they cannot silence the people. With a 52-45 edge in the Senate and a comfortable double-digit majority in the House, a new political dynamic is already taking shape. This morning, voters woke up to even more surprises, as Democrats continued to fall like dominos in liberal strongholds like Illinois, Maryland, and Massachusetts.

It goes on like this, except for in one unexpected place. There is nary a mention about marriage equality. There is an offhand comment about the recent 'I Stand Sunday' event but even then there is no mention of marriage equality or the argument about "religious liberty:"

 For all the talk that the evangelical movement is dead or irrelevant, last night's results should put those rumors to rest. Thanks to the momentum from I Stand Sunday, Star Spangled Sunday, and unprecedented church engagement, 26% of the voters in yesterday's midterms were evangelicals (1% higher than their turnout in 2010). A whopping 78% of them broke for the GOP. And that's just the tip of the evangelical iceberg. Experts believe there's plenty of untapped potential in the pews, especially if a third of possible evangelical voters stayed home. Imagine the growth possibilities for the GOP if it did more to mobilize its social conservative religious base! Meanwhile, the non-churchgoing vote fell heavily Democratic -- a reminder of how important the evangelical movement is to the Republicans' success. Once again, the youth vote was an unreliable one for either party, with a 12% turnout for 18 to 29-year-olds (a seven-point drop from 2012).

It's fascinating that an organization so invested in exploiting people's inaccurate fear and religious opposition to marriage equality would go out its way to exclude mentioning it on its post election night gleefest.

Could it be that FRC recognizes that marriage equality was not a large factor the Republican victories? Could it be that the organization is tacitly scaling back its vocal commitment against marriage equality because it recognizes it can't stop the progressive onslaught of  the issue?

Naw.  FRC is planning something and I bet that it will be huge.

In the meantime, let's do what we can to make the above picture the true face of the "religious liberty,"  "religious freedom" argument.

Photo taken from BradPritch on Instagram via