The Supreme Court’s History-Making Week

By Keith Kloor | June 26, 2013 11:37 am

The news is coming fast and furious (literally) this week. Let’s start with the big Supreme Court rulings dominating headlines. Yesterday, the Supremes invalidated a key part of the U.S. Voting Rights Act, which President Obama characterized as as “setback” in the fight against discrimination.

Today, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court overturned a 17-year old federal law that had limited the definition of marriage as that being between a man and woman. As the LA Times reports, today’s landmark ruling

means that more than 100,000 gay and lesbian couples who are legally married will be able to take advantage of tax breaks, pension rights and other benefits that are available to other married couples.

And as USA Today observes:

The decision gives the high court’s blessing, at least in part, to a gay-marriage movement that has gained momentum in the past decade and now stands on the threshold of full equality.

President Obama, who yesterday was chiding the Supremes for reversing historic social justice reforms, felt differently about today’s news.

Many people, including myself, will agree that today’s ruling is indeed a hugely positive step forward in the country’s history. And then there are going to be people who think it marks the end of western civilization. Or a slippery slope down that road.

And I haven’t even gotten to President Obama’s big speech on climate change and the reaction to that.

 

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Supreme Court
  • harrywr2

    “able to take advantage of tax breaks, pension rights and other benefits that are available to other married couples.”

    Employer sponsored spousal health benefits are in decline anyway….

    http://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/health-care/item/14623-employers-dropping-spousal-coverage-to-avoid-obamacare-fees

    A national discussion of why ‘special privileges and benefits’ should accrue based on ‘marital status’ is long overdue.

    The age of Ozzie and Harriet…where the spouse didn’t engage in a career outside the home is pretty much over. The special benefits and protections that were extended to protect ‘at home moms’ are probably inappropriate in a society where Double Income No Kids couples are increasingly common.

  • Tom Scharf

    This reflects society’s choices. My daughter’s generation is much more open to gay people than my generation was.

    Buried in the details is that state constitutional bans still stand (except CA). So if you want federal benefits in one of these states, you are still out of luck. I think there are about 30 or so. I expect these will be picked off one at a time over the next several decades.

  • Joshua

    My personal favorite is Gohmert:

    “….we have a holy quintet that goes against the laws of nature and nature’s god….”

    Although I have to admit, Bachmann runs a very, very close second, and she will always be a sentimental favorite.

  • Tom C

    Keith – Do you think the fact that nearly nearly all civilizations at nearly all times have sought to discourage homosexuality is of no importance to this question? It is not merely Judeo-Christian religious practice that is being overthrown. It is the common experience of all mankind that is being denied as “irrational”.
    On a related note, do you think that your kids experience a different sort of personality formation from their interaction with you vs. your wife? These things go very deep, and a society blinds themself to them at great peril.

  • Joshua

    Keith – do you think that the fact that nearly all civilizations throughout history have raped and pillaged is at all relevant? How about the many civilizations that have held slaves and burned people suspected as being witches. Don’t you think that is relevant?

    • Tom C

      Joshua – It is not true that nearly all civilizations have raped and pillaged. Once again your efforts at being a clever little boy expose your ignorance.
      The consequences of widespread male homosexuality (female homosexuality is of much less importance) are that they disrupt healthy relationships between young men and women and damage the self-confidence and self-image of unwilling young males who are victims of pederasty. You might try reading about homosexuality in Greece. Such are the lessons of history that you are blissfully ignorant of because you assume that posturing is equivalent to learning.

      • Joshua

        “…they disrupt healthy relationships
        between young men and women …”

        That’s beautiful, Tom. So homosexual men “disrupt healthy relationships between young men and women,”

        Please, do tell. How does that work, exactly?

        Maybe you missed the point,Tom. Just because people did horrible things in the past (like discriminated against people or enslaved people) is no reason that we should continue to do so. The writing is on the wall, Tom. Overt discrimination like that you support is on its way out. And there’s not a thing you can do about it.

        • Tom C

          Joshua – Older homosexual men compete with young women for the affections of young men who are usually in a vulnerable position to resist advances.. That is why young women, and mothers, in ancient Greece and other cultures hated male homosexuality. If you read a little you might know such things.
          So, you are gloating that your side is winning. Fun for you but not really an argument for your position. Really amazing, though, that this terrible persecution consists of “denying them the right to marry”. Just 20 years ago folks like you argued strenuously that marriage (between men and women) was anachronistic, unnecessary, outmoded, the result of religious tyranny, etc. Now it is a “right” to be clamored for. If I recall correctly, you yourself don’t feel a need to marry the woman with whom you are living. Why so important the homosexuals have to marry?
          I just read today that the majority of the sexual assaults in the military that have been so much in the news (and that politicians are posturing about) occur between men. Who would have known? I wonder why widespread presence of homosexuals might be a problem in the military? I wonder why putting men and women in close quarters might lead to problems? Just more conundrums that earnest liberals need to solve.

          • Joshua

            Tom –

            That is why young women, and mothers, in ancient Greece and other cultures hated male homosexuality.

            Call me crazy, but I’m not sure that we should be using the beliefs of people from ancient civilizations as our guiding moral compass. Young women and mothers in ancient Greece believed that gods and goddesses lived on Mt. Olympus and came to earth from time to time in the form of humans. Those same young women and mothers in ancient Greece were slave-holders and had a moral world view that included treating people like animals as well as distrust of homosexuals.

            Just 20 years ago folks like you argued strenuously that marriage (between men and women) was anachronistic, unnecessary, outmoded, the result of religious tyranny, etc. Now it is a “right” to be clamored for. If I recall correctly, you yourself don’t feel a need to marry the woman with whom you are living. Why so important the homosexuals have to marry?

            I don’t think it’s up to me to determine what other people should or shouldn’t think is important. Marrying isn’t important to me, and I would resent anyone presuming to tell me that it should be. By the same token, I wouldn’t presume to tell someone else whether it should be important to them. Rather interesting, though, is that you seem to think that marriage is important but would deny the opportunity to be considered legally married on the basis of their sexual preference. As I said, Tom – I think it is fortunate that the # of people who want to deny others equal treatment – on the basis of sexual preference – is diminishing.

            I wonder why widespread presence of homosexuals might be a problem in the military?

            I suggest that you try looking at the data before you draw conclusions. There have been a number of other countries where they lifted official discrimination in the military on the basis of sexual preference. The effects have been studied. I would suggest that you look a those studies; you might want to start with Israel – as I recall the studies of what happened there have been pretty comprehensive.

          • Tom C

            The reason for marriage, in all cultures, is to regulate the sexual behavior between men and women. Millenia of experience have shown that not doing so leads to breakdown of family and chaos. The reason for marriage is not to hand out licenses or benefits to people because they “love” each other. The state does not care or has no way of knowing if people “love” each other.

            If you doubt that regulating the sexual behavior of men and women is important please have a look at our inner cities, where out of wedlock birth rates are 75% and lead to myriad social ills. This has nothing to do with race, since the same thing occurs in the UK with the white underclass.

            I am for civil rights for homosexuals, They are free to live and carry on their sexual lives as they want. but there is no valid need for them to marry. The whole idea is incoherent.

          • Tom C

            I think this passage of yours:

            “Those same young women and mothers in ancient Greece were slave-holders and had a moral world view that included treating people like animals as well as distrust of homosexuals.”

            is about the most obtuse thing I have ever read. The society in question was one in which the homosexuals wielded significant power and women were mistreated. You have the power equation completely reversed.

          • Joshua

            I just read today that the majority of the sexual assaults in the military that have been so much in the news (and that politicians are posturing about) occur between men.

            Lol! Dude. What % of the military are women? 15%?

            What is the rate of sexual assaults committed against men and women, respectively? Do you have any evidence that rates of sexual assault increased in those militaries that lifted official discrimination against homosexuals? Obviously, any assaults committed by homosexuals in the military occurred despite official discrimination. Perhaps closeted homosexuals in a military that discriminates against homosexuals are more likely to commit assaults than openly gay servicemen and women who serve in a military that doesn’t discriminate against people on the basis of sexual preference.

            Evidence, Tom. It is your friend.

          • Tom C

            Joshua – I did not say that the sexual assaults on men resulted from the lifting of “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell”. You made that up. What I was trying to point out was that havng people with sexual attractions toward each in a military setting was bound to lead to trouble, as common sense , historical precedent, and current evidence would suggest.

      • Joshua

        The reason for marriage, in all cultures, is to regulate the sexual behavior between men and women.

        Wow. And there I thought the institution of marriage had something to do with creating families that stabilize social structures and functioning.

        It must be really upsetting to you that all across the globe, the view that the state should get out of regulating sexual behavior, is becoming more and more predominant.

        If you doubt that regulating the sexual behavior of men and women is important please have a look at our inner cities, where out of wedlock birth rates are 75% and lead to myriad social ills.

        Yes, indeed. Just imagine how much better the situation would be if the state “regulated” the sexual behaviors of the “inner cities.” I mean just look at how well those regulations have worked in the past to enforce sexual behaviors. Why rape was unheard of before the state began loosening its “regulation of sexual behaviors,” as was children being born out of wedlock. And talk about myriad social ills, why they never occurred before – and only started occurring as the state began loosing its ability to “regulate sexual behaviors.”

        And it will get so much worse now. Clearly, society will just accelerate down that path to chaos because majorities now feel that the state has no reason to discriminate against people of the same sex marrying.

        I mean study after study, controlling for relevant variables, has shown that the problems of the inner city skyrocket as soon as gay marriage is legalized.

        Just like study after study, controlling for relevant variables, has shown that rates of sexual assault in the military just explodes as soon as bans against gays in the military are lifted,.

        I’m sure that you could point to those reams of evidence if you just had the time to do so, right Tom? Because as we well know, you’re a “skeptic” and “skeptics” like you are absolutely resolute in demanding evidence before drawing conclusions.

        God love ya’, Tom. At least you have the courage to express your opinions.

        • Tom C

          Joshua – I will reply to the post when I have more time. In the meantime, since I did not say that the repeal of DADT has led to sexual assaults kindly stop lying about that.

          • Joshua

            In the meantime, since I did not say that the repeal of DADT has led to sexual assaults kindly stop lying about that.

            Good – so we agree that DADT didn’t cause any increase in assaults, and you have no real evidence, that removing DADT and any other discrimination against homosexuals will increase assaults.

            I mean yes, it does seem clear that you have some sort of faith-based belief in that regard, but you have no evidence. Other militaries have removed discrimination against homosexuals and the results have been studied. Have those actions increased assaults?

            Also, while you’re at it, please provide some evidence that allowing same-sex marriage will increase the numbers of children born out of wedlock in the “inner cities.” I mean if you want to “regulate sexual behavior” of other people, that’s on you. I say it is fortunate that across the globe, people are turning against that desire. But you are certainly entitled to wish it were different. But at any rate, if you want to do that at least you should have some evidence for why. Because w/o such evidence, quite frankly, it seems a little creepy, Tom.

          • Tom C

            I brought up the topic of out-of wedlock births and the effect on the underclass in the course of describing the historical reason for marriage. I don’t think that gay marriage will effect this problem in the least. The point is that there is a societal need for heterosexual marriage and there is no corresponding need for homosexual marriage.
            Apparently you think I am beyond the pale for suggesting that the decline in traditional marriage has been a disaster for the underclass. Maybe, but I am not alone, and all the data from “studies” that you clamor for is on my side. I have just read recently that the long-time treasurer of the Democratic party in CA became a conservative because of “what we [liberals] did to black people”. The playwright David Mamet also wrote recently of how liberal policies “destroyed the black community”. Maybe we are wrong, but if you don’t even understand the argument you are most blind.

        • Tom C

          OK Joshua, where were we?

          First regarding sexual assaults and DADT, I did not claim that assaults had increased because 1) I did not know, 2) figured the elapsed time had been too short to make any conclusions, and 3) suspect that the true numbers of homosexuals did not change all that much before and after. That said, it makes sense that were there to be a dramatic increase in the number of homosexuals in the military it would effect the number of assaults and have an effect on morale.

          But since you LOLed me for bringing the topic up. lets think about the statistics here. If 15% of the military is women, that means that 85% is male. And since homosexuals make up roughly 2% of the population, that would mean that about 1.7% of the population of the military are male homosexuals. But, those 1.7% of male homosexuals accounted for 53% (according to NYT) of the sexual assaults. (I realize the situation is more complicated since some of those were undoubtedly heterosexuals practicing a form of humiliation, but we don’t know the number of those.) So, the rate of assault by homosexuals is many times greater than the rate of heterosexual assault.
          But that is not a PC narrative, is it? So, all we here about is “sexism” and nothing about the behavior of male homosexuals.

  • jh

    Some interesting things in both cases.

    First, in both the majority was narrow.

    Second, in the California case, the dissenting group was quite interesting. I suspect the dissenters had very different reasons for their positions.

  • Scott McCarthy

    Actually, in the CA case, there was NO ruling on Prop 8. The ruling issued dealt with the issue of standing. The Majority held proponents had no standing; dismissed the case and remanded it back to District Court.

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Collide-a-Scape is a wide-ranging blog forum that explores issues at the nexus of science, culture and society.

About Keith Kloor

Keith Kloor is a NYC-based journalist, a senior editor at Cosmos magazine, and adjunct professor of journalism at New York University. His work has appeared in Slate, Science, Discover, and the Washington Post magazine, among other outlets. From 2000 to 2008, he was a senior editor at Audubon Magazine. In 2008-2009, he was a Fellow at the University of Colorado’s Center for Environmental Journalism, in Boulder, where he studied how a changing environment (including climate change) influenced prehistoric societies in the U.S. Southwest. He covers a wide range of topics, from conservation biology and biotechnology to urban planning and archaeology.

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