Friday, July 3, 2015

A rainbow

Same sex marriage is now legal in the US, so says the Supreme Court of the United States.  Hooray!  We should be happy this happened, especially because the US has such a huge cultural influence across the world and this may lead to the same decision in other nations.  It is important to keep in mind though that this isn't the end of the gay rights movement, just another milestone along the road.  There are still plenty of things that need fixing and improving but we can be happy at least for one less thing to worry about.

I have seen a lot of people arguing that this decision was the wrong one.  There are two basic tacks they take:  First, that same sex marriage is wrong, against God's will, counter to our biological imperative, or other nonsense.  These people are just foolish, cruel assholes and I have little else to add.

The second argument is that this change should not have come about from the Supreme Court, but rather through the slow and piecemeal process of individual states legalizing same sex marriage.  That was obviously happening and the inevitable tide of progress was sweeping over the US just as it is the rest of the world but the final holdouts would have lasted quite some time I think.  This argument involves a bunch of legal issues and suggests that the decision was made badly because it incorporated the idea of dignity, trampled on states rights, or wasn't explicitly supported by the constitution.  This set of arguments isn't as obviously bullshit but it is bullshit nonetheless.

The Supreme Court isn't a collection of nine judges that impartially and expertly interpret the law.  It is mostly a collection of hardcore partisans who vote their party line no matter what and come up with reasons to justify their positions.  Is anyone really surprised that the liberal judges voted for legalization and the conservative ones voted against?  Are we pretending that this happens every time because they just *happen* to impartially interpret the law that way?  Nonsense.  When it comes to any politically charged issue like this everything unfolds along ideological lines every time.

We know that marriage equality is coming.  It is a gigantic rainbow coloured steamroller that is crushing the world and no one will escape for long.  The only thing that matters in this case is how soon we can get it done and since the Supreme Court is getting it done faster than individual states then that is how it should get done.  The next issue to come before the court isn't going to be ruined because of a new definition of dignity because the court will just do what they always do and vote the party line with one or two judges in the middle waffling a bit.

No more hiding behind fatuous 'but the purity of the law!' arguments.  The law isn't pure, and if you oppose this ruling on that basis you are placing your personal delusions about law over the plight of a marginalized minority.  This will get you no respect from me.

I will say that there are those that oppose marriage for anyone regardless of gender combinations on the grounds that it is discriminatory to single people.  Some of those arguments have merit.  However, that isn't going to change any time soon so we need to make the best of it with what we have and that involves making sure it is available to both straight and queer people.


  1. Hardcore partisans?

    I'm guessing I could guess 90% of your rulings if you were a Supreme Court judge. Maybe 80%. If I shared your views, I would appoint you to the Court. My predecessor would have appointed people who agreed with him.

    When you then made your judgements based on your true beliefs and understanding of the law, how much credence would you give some random in Canada saying you mindlessly followed partisan lines and justified it afterwards?

    I'd feel pretty ridiculous accusing you of following party lines in your blog and justifying it afterwards.

    I would agree that they are not "impartial" in that they base their decisions on some objective standard, but given that such a standard does not exist (otherwise interpretation would not be necessary?), it does not seem fair to hold them to it. I wouldn't question their expertise in law. Or that they believe (mostly) in their decision.

    Sure, politics is likely a part of it. But questioning experts often turns into armchair quarterbacking.

  2. On re-reading, this came across a bit more harshly than intended. Apologies in advance. I'd try and justify it after the fact, but I know you'd see right through that! :-)

  3. Well, the trick about the Supreme Court is that there are a lot of things about the law I would absolutely uphold even if it meant crushing people on my team. Free speech is one where I often butt heads with other liberal types because I really believe we are better off with the bigots being taken down by the marketplace of ideas, not the government.

    However, in areas like marriage equality then you could trust me to vote the predictable way.

  4. Vienneau, Justice Antonen Scolia is a great example of this. Laments moves against states rights when they are progressive but pooh-pooh's states rights when it would help the Republicans (ex. Florida not being allowed to recount vote in 2000).