Bob Schwartz

Tag: marriage equality

Steve Lonegan: I Personally Like Being a Guy

Steve Lonegan
I’m strictly a male male
And my future I hope will be
In the home of a lovely female
Who’ll enjoy being a girl having a guy like me.
Apologies to Rodgers and Hammerstein, I Enjoy Being a Girl

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.
Abraham Lincoln

Newark mayor Cory Booker is running for the U.S. Senate seat from New Jersey, left empty by the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg in June. Booker’s Republican opponent in the October16 election is Steve Lonegan.

Booker is unmarried, does not talk about his sexuality, though he has made reference to girlfriends past. He is, along with many politicians and Americans, a supporter of marriage equality. There has been discussion and innuendo that Booker may be gay, something he has not directly addressed.

Enter candidate Lonegan, who is twenty points down in the polls, and very unlikely to win, whatever he throws at Booker. Without comment, here are some of the remarks made by Lonegan in an interview with Newsmax.

Maybe one comment: Lonegan’s “I personally like being a guy” is one of the stranger things said in the midst of political discourse. And that is saying something.

“It’s kind of weird. As a guy, I personally like being a guy. I don’t know if you saw the stories last year. They’ve been out for quite a bit about how he likes to go out at 3 o’clock in the morning for a manicure and a pedicure…Maybe that helps to get him the gay vote, by acting ambiguous. That I can’t address. All I know is I don’t like going out in the middle of the night, or any time of the day, for a manicure and pedicure. It was described as his peculiar fetish, is how it was described. I have a more peculiar fetish. I like a good Scotch and a cigar. That’s my fetish, but we’ll just compare the two.”

A final comment: Steve Lonegan, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. And then again…

In Advance of the Marriage Equality Decisions

MLK

It appears it may be only a few minutes before the Supreme Court releases its opinions in the marriage equality cases, California Proposition 8 and DOMA. As always, when it does happen, please read the opinions yourselves, and don’t just take anybody’s word for what they say or mean.

Meanwhile, some are bound to be disappointed because the decisions don’t go far enough, if they seem to go anywhere at all. So here is a quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. so familiar that we may have stopped actually hearing it. Listen and believe.

I have not lost faith. I’m not in despair, because I know that there is a moral order. I haven’t lost faith, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

Clinton, DOMA and GLAAD

Bill Clinton
People—including some politicians—hate politics, for a thousand reasons. Every one of those reasons is valid.

The answer to these reasons is the often cited quote from Otto von Bismarck: “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable – the art of the next best.”

Oh principles, oh pragmatism. We honor and admire the idealists, but in the end we support those who get things done—especially the things that we want done.

This is a timeline. The common thread is one of America’s current political dynasties.

  • 1996 – President Bill Clinton signs the Defense of Marriage Act.
  • 2003 – Hillary Clinton votes for the Iraq War Resolution.
  • 2008 – Hillary Clinton runs for President.
  • 2011 – Bill Clinton comes out in favor of marriage equality.
  • 2013 – The Iraq War ends.
  • 2013 – Bill Clinton calls DOMA unconstitutional.
  • 2013 – DOMA is argued before the United States Supreme Court.
  • 2013 – Hillary Clinton comes out in favor of marriage equality.
  • 2013 – Bill Clinton to receive the Advocate for Change Award from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD)
  • 2016 – Hillary Clinton runs for President?

People who do things for political reasons, or support those who do, should never be ashamed of that. Otto von Bismarck, unifier of the German Empire in the nineteenth century, certainly wasn’t.

But the “art of the possible” does create some tight and twisted places that Houdini might have trouble escaping from. Unless, of course, he had help.

Bill Clinton’s statement before signing DOMA includes this: “I also want to make clear to all that the enactment of this legislation should not, despite the fierce and at times divisive rhetoric surrounding it, be understood to provide an excuse for discrimination.”

Here is DOMA, which has been the law of the United States for the last seventeen years, and may or may not still be the law after the Supreme Court decision.

The statute reads:

No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.

It also changed the definition of marriage in U.S. law:

In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word `marriage’ means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word `spouse’ refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.

Evolution—political, philosophical, or most other kinds—can be a wonderful thing, particularly if it leads to freedom and fairness. But evolution presupposes a prior state, which might be called “less evolved” or “unevolved.”

Some people approach this by pretending that the pre-evolutionary state didn’t exist. They may also be unwilling to acknowledge that the pre-evolutionary state was politically motivated, or that the evolution itself may be. Remember, the art of the possible is only possible by paying no attention to the man, or woman, behind the curtain. Once in a while, they even apologize for it, or contort themselves as John Kerry did, well-meaningly, about his prior support for the Iraq War: “I was for it before I was against it.”

Still, this is America. We love second chances and second acts. Consider the late Senator Robert Byrd, who emerged from the depths of racism to become a champion of Constitutional rights. But while it may not be fitting to punish people for having once upon a time acted in a powerfully less enlightened way, this doesn’t always mean they have to be rewarded. Or awarded.

Arguments on Marriage Equality, Part 1

Supreme Court
The audio and transcript of the Supreme Court arguments in Hollingsworth v. Perry, the Proposition 8 marriage equality case, are now available.

Without video, the best way to review these is to read and listen to them at the same time. Otherwise, you may not know which Justice is talking—though some of them have such distinctive voices, styles or insights that they are instantly recognizable. Hint: Justice Clarence Thomas is the one who is not talking; he never does.

The news channels deal with the lack of video (not permitted) by playing the audio, identifying the speaker on screen, and showing an artist’s sketch. You can do this yourself, creatively if you want. You might use a photo instead of a sketch, or you can just select a random picture of another distinguished Justice or lawyer, present or past.

The odds of correctly predicting outcomes in difficult Supreme Court cases like this are better than winning the Powerball lottery or picking all the NCAA brackets right, but not much. So here are some first impressions.

Standing

The path of this case is complicated. The California Supreme Court enabled same-sex marriage and for a few months couples did marry. Almost immediately, a group sponsored an initiative to reverse that decision by banning same-sex marriage in the state. The initiative passed, but the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals declared the ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, thus allowing same-sex marriage to proceed. The sponsor of the initiative appealed and the Supreme Court agreed to hear the case.

That is where the standing issue comes in. The State of California refused to appeal the overturning of the initiative. This left the initiative sponsor as the closest thing to an interested party for purposes of appeal.

But maybe not legally close enough. The Supreme Court did agree to hear the case, but now appears to wonder whether the proponents of the initiative have legal standing to have brought the appeal in the first place. The Court is free at this point to reconsider the question and rule that their initial agreement to hear the case was “improvidently granted.”

The Justices spent a substantial amount of time during arguments on this standing question. If standing is denied, the Court won’t be deciding any of the other issues. The appeal is over, the decision of the Ninth Circuit will stand, and same-sex marriage will once again be the law of California. There is some discussion that for the moment, the Court would like to narrow whatever they have to say about same-sex marriage to California, and let the legal questions mature. If they don’t have to say anything, that narrowing takes place automatically.

How likely is that? If this was the only same-sex marriage case before the Court this term, it would be an easier route for them to take. It would allow more cases to move up the appeal chain, more Courts of Appeal to be heard from.

But it isn’t the only case like it this term, or even this week. Today the Court will consider the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), passed by Congress and signed by Bill Clinton in 1996. DOMA prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage, which among other things means that same-sex spouses enjoy no federal benefits. (This has proved to be an embarrassment for Democrats. Scores of Senators and Representatives submitted a brief in which they apologized for being wrong, and Bill Clinton has done the same thing in a recent op-ed piece.)

Procreation

Charles Cooper is the attorney representing the proponents of Proposition 8. Good lawyers get stuck with bad positions in tough cases, and this is that.

The primary argument for the constitutionality of a ban on same-sex marriage—aside from moral arguments, which are not legal ones—is that the tradition and essence and supreme societal value of marriage is procreation. You get married, above all, to have babies; if you can’t have babies, your right to marry is questionable or non-existent. Same-sex couples have no possibility of having children, at least the old-fashioned way (adoption being one of those modern, new-fangled techniques, like in vitro fertilization). Ergo, they have no right to marry.

The above is not hyperbole or sarcasm. For endless minutes, punctuated by occasional laughter, this is the argument that Cooper made, and that various Justices endorsed or, more frequently, questioned.

This part of the arguments has been widely covered, so there are no excerpts here. Listen and read for yourself. The discussion about the fertility of 55-year-old couples and of Strom Thurmond are worth the price of admission.

“The Experiment”

There was discussion of same-sex marriage being some sort of “experiment.” We supposedly have to wait for “scientific evidence” and “data” to determine how well it works.

The discussion of procreation was sad but silly, leavened by laughter. On this point, it is hard to laugh.

For the record, if marriage of any kind is an experiment, the results are in. Sometimes it goes blissfully right, sometimes it goes horribly wrong. Sometimes the children—who arrive in all sorts of ways and are raised in all sorts of permutations—turn out well, and once in a while they don’t. Some people like to go wild with the experiment, trying serial marriage and divorce (and marriage and divorce and marriage and divorce). It’s not an experiment for any of these couples. It’s just marriage. It’s life. It’s love. It’s being human connected.

Justice Antonin Scalia

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