Friday, July 3, 2015

Appropriate for a teenager

On the marriage front:

All three employees of the clerk's office in Decatur County, Tennessee have resigned. They refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Bye! At least they have the decency to resign when they won't fulfill all of the duties of their job. Other clerks elsewhere across the South have also resigned.

And some clerks need a push. The ACLU has filed suit against Rowan County, Kentucky clerk Kim Davis who has refused to issue marriage licenses to all couples. Plaintiffs in the suit include both straight and same-sex couples.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has been slow to allow same-sex marriage even though the Supremes and the 5th Circuit have ordered him to do so. He was waiting for the Federal District Court, the one that had said refusing same-sex marriage is permissible. The 5th Circuit had given that lower court until July 17th to rescind their earlier ruling, now that it conflicts with the Supremes. The District Court managed to do it in a day. Commenter Franck Rabeson characterized the conversation this way:
Jindal: “We won’t allow same-sex couples to marry in Louisiana until Supreme Court of the United States says othewise.”
SCOTUS, June 26, 2015: “Ahem.”
Jindal: “… all right. Well, there’s also the Fifth Circuit of Appeals that needs to…”
5th Circuit, July 1, 2015: “Ahem.”
Jindal: “Dammit. Well I’m waiting for the relevant district c–”
District court, July 2, 2015: “A-freaking-HEM, dude, get the hint already!”
No matter. At the time all but two parish clerks were ignoring Jindal and issuing licenses to same-sex couples. And now all of them are.

The Episcopal Church, at a convention this week, has approved by a wide margin two new liturgies on a trial basis. These liturgies will be used when marrying same-sex couples. One of them is a gender-neutral version of the marriage service in the Book of Common Prayer.

Tobin Grant of the Religion News Service did some surveying of the opinions of members of various church denominations. He also looked at various denomination official positions. He then ranked all of them by acceptance of homosexuality. United Methodists are in the middle. Grant found that denominations towards the top and bottom of the lists were the ones most likely to issue a statement on same-sex marriage, those towards the top in favor, those towards the bottom stating their displeasure. Those in the middle, respecting the split opinions of their members tended to stay quiet.

Ari Ezra Waldman, a lawyer writing for Towleroad, takes a look at the dissents issued by Alito, Thomas, and Scalia in last week's case that brought marriage equality. He'll discuss the Roberts dissent in another post.

Scalia: Yeah, he was as rude as we expected him to be. Many of his talking points were from conservatives who think liberals talk down to them. Scalia sneers that Kennedy found a right that "lesser legal minds" – Scalia lists some of the great names of the Court – did not. Waldman reviews those legal minds and says,
True, none of these great jurists declared that the Constitution protects a gay person’s right to marry the person that he or she loves. But they never had the occasion to do so.

Alito's dissent appears to be built around protection of the majority. This ruling, Alito says, "facilitates the marginalization" of Christians. Oh, that old line. Waldman wrote:
Alito’s concern is misplaced. At worst, he is doing what he and Scalia do best: fear monger and predict gloom and doom. Such overreaction is more appropriate for a teenager, not a Supreme Court justice.

Thomas: The most quoted part of his dissent begins:
Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved.
According to Waldman, in just a few words Thomas (1) absolved those who held slaves, (2) reduced same-sex marriage to "governmental benefits, " and (3) denied that dignity is harmed by institutionalized discrimination. But the issue is whether the Constitution allows states to damage a person's dignity.

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