web analytics

common-law-marriageAs a gay lawyer pondering the marriage equality issue for a long time, one of the key strategic advantages of gay marriage over [ugh] “civil unions” is that any laws that deal with married people are already written to include “married” people.  For example, half the states in the U.S. prohibit discrimination in housing and employment due to “marital status”.  Bingo: gay gets married + you discriminate based on that marital status = illegal.

Thus, it’s always (partially) surprising to me that articles like this never deal with the “existing marriage laws” angle:

The U.S. Constitution protects gay people’s right to marry the person they love. It does not, however, protect them from getting fired for doing so. Throughout the first decade of marriage equality, most states that legalized gay marriage also proscribed anti-gay employment discrimination, rendering this legal dissonance moot. But as more and more states find marriage equality foisted upon them by a judicial mandate, this discordance in rights presents something of a ticking time bomb for the LGBT movement. […]

Thanks to federal lawsuits, judges are already considering the idea that existing law outlaws anti-gay discrimination in every state and that the Constitution guarantees same-sex adoption rights. The same logic that shoehorns anti-gay discrimination into sex discrimination could be used to turn the Fair Housing Act’s sex discrimination clause into a protection for LGBT people.

Anyone who’s been exposed to any state legislature will know that passing any new law that includes precise, targeted revisions to existing law(s) is far more difficult because shiny new sexy laws dealing with texting while driving and teen sexting have that so-enticing new car smell (for the children).

Thus, coming up with an all-new, kludgy, “separate but kinda equal” concept like civil unions requires both passing the new shiny law (admittedly tough for a topic like this), but it also requires a herculean exercise of reconciling nearly every state law — large, medium and teeny-tiny — to awkwardly wedge a “civil union” alongside its “marriage” counterpart.  (And don’t even get me started on local county/parish/city/township laws, regulations and ordinances.)  When you, as a legislature, have such a daunting task as that, you inevitably tend to limit your efforts on a few key, high-impact issues such as non-discrimination in employment and housing.  But countless other thousands don’t get the attention they deserve.  (This of course assumes that the state’s civil union law isn’t written as a sweeping, unqualified “in every instance, a ‘civil union’ shall be deemed to equal to a ‘marriage’ in all respects” — but (surprise) none of them are written that way.)

When you go full marriage equality, the analysis changes.  Like I sad, “marriage” is already written in!  It’s written into laws, it’s written into company policies, its written into hospital admittance policies, etc.   All of this comes with some important caveats, including, e.g., a hospital can refuse to follow their written policies (because jeebus), or, a superseding constitutional amendment may be on the books banning recognition of gay marriages.

Anyway, just one more arrow in the quiver.  I just wish it would get talked about a bit more.

I honestly wonder what a complete US withdrawal from the Middle East would look like for us. I don’t think it would completely eliminate terror aimed at us–our support of Israel would still be a big sore spot, and while the notion that they attack us because “they hate our freedom” remains illogical and stupid, being #1 does mean you’re a target for all manner of people to take out their frustrations. I don’t think it would be a panacea. But I also think that there wouldn’t be much of a downside for America, being as we’ve proven entirely unable to shape or even respond to events there that “we” want to respond to, and eliminating one of the most-cited extremist grievances couldn’t hurt. Don’t know how much that reduces the threat, but even if it reduces it by a small amount, that’s a lot of money and lives we save with basically zero opportunity cost. Seems like a pretty good deal for me.

Of course, basically no politicians endorse this. I don’t really understand why. I mean, sure, Israel, but they’re the regional powerhouse at this point, and they survived for the first forty years of their existence when we didn’t station troops in the region (and when they were relatively weaker). Part of it may be that we’ve developed this region as the Ireland to our England, just keeping on with the rough tactics until we have “justified” all the resources we wasted on some unwise/narcissistic statebuilding project, until some futuristic George Mitchell puts it to rights. Undoubtedly much has to do with a three-letter word that begins with two vowels, though it needs to constantly be said that if the main goal of all this policy is to keep us from buying oil from people we don’t like, then our choices of allies in the region (e.g. Saudi Arabia) doesn’t make any sense. Nor does any of the rest of it.

Lev filed this under: ,  

At this point, I am rooting for the wingnuts and the Koch Brothers to kill the Export-Import Bank. I don’t really think it will happen because John Boehner asks how high when business tells him to jump, but it’s possible. But I don’t really fault Obama for flip-flopping on it: as a candidate he could threaten to shut down all manner of programs; as president, every job loss and economic twist is on him, and it’s possible that killing off some prime Boeing subsidies would do just that. I’m less understanding of why any liberal who doesn’t represent Washington State in Congress would all of a sudden start worshipping the program, though.

Here’s a Netflix Recommendation: the Al Pacino masterpiece Serpico. Because America wasn’t just built by a bunch of bewigged Virginians or by soldiers, but also by normal people fanatically pursuing justice and reform at enormous cost. They deserve some recognition too.

Lev filed this under: , ,  

Via PWire, this merely confirms what I suspected:

Already the members of the Congressional Black Caucus are talking about what they want Cochran to do. The wish list is filling up with ideas like maintaining funding for food stamps, beefing up programs that help poor blacks in Mississippi and even supporting the Voting Rights Act.

“Absolutely we have expectations,’’ Rep Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) said in an interview.

 And while Cochran beat back a tea party challenger last week by reminding voters, particularly black voters, that he brings home the federal bucks, the policy asks are far more liberal than much of what the moderate Republican has championed in his four decades in office.

But that’s the Washington game. Cochran asked for a favor, and now his new supporters are plotting how to cash it in.

My strong suspicion is that Thad Cochran’s offer will be nothing, and that he’ll go on doing what he’s been doing. The time to secure promises in exchange for support was before the runoff. Double-crossing will be only too easy for him now that we know nothing specific was promised. Sure, that would make Thad Cochran even more hated than he already is, but he’s already gotten what he wanted.

Title reference:

Lev filed this under: , ,  

Noam Scheiber’s article about how Hillary consolidated Democratic support is interesting. The most likely reason why this has happened is because she looks like a winner, and is so far ahead of any Republican opponent in terms of name recognition and qualifications that they would really have to struggle to keep up. The most amazing thing is that Clinton hasn’t actually changed all that much so far as I can see–her stint as Secretary of State undoubtedly undercut the dishonest/backstabbing perceptions some Democrats had about her in 2008, but those were overblown anyway. The other major flaws, like her habit of surrounding herself with loyal mediocrities, her upsettingly regular hawkishness, and her closeness to finance/business interests are still unchanged. Again, looking like a winner can ensure that a lot gets overlooked. And, to be fair, all of these charges have come to apply just as equally to Obama, and we’ve had to live with them anyway I guess.

As a strong, somewhat idiosyncratic progressive, probably the best reason I can come up with to hope that Clinton actually does run is, because she stands a good chance of winning, it’s under Democratic presidents that the Republican Party does the most damage to its standing with minorities. Don’t forget the big round of anti-immigration hysteria, culminating in Prop 187, was concurrent with the Gingrich “Revolution” coming to pass under Clinton, and during the Obama era it’s been pretty much open season on all non-white people, from voter ID laws to the Republican unwillingness to do any kind of immigration deal, complemented with wave upon wave of white panic from FOX and the rest. Under Clinton we’d be assured of another 4-8 years of this, after which point Hispanics would probably be at around 80% Democrat and Florida becomes impossible for the GOP. The current dynamics will in the long run strongly favor Democrats, and with Clinton they’d be sure to continue.

I have to admit that the effort on the part of Democrats to help Thad Cochran made very little sense to me. Are we so desperate to oppose the Tea Party that we’re ready to tactically embrace parochial pork barrel politics as some sort of better alternative? Outside of delivering some pork projects to Mississippi–something nobody in the other 49 states should care about, and probably not too many people in Mississippi should either unless they’re politically connected or wealthy–then what good is he? From a progressive standpoint, McDaniel at least expressed a Paul-like anti-interventionist line on foreign policy, giving a single area of policy in which he was better than the usual GOP critter (and reliable hawk Cochran), while aside from the rare vote for cloture on a cabinet or judicial post, Cochran’s record has nothing to offer. McDaniel was (and is) a creep, but nevertheless. The only way I figured this arrangement made sense is if promises were made by Cochran to Democrats to support specific policies in exchange for support, but given this, I seriously doubt it.

The obvious conclusion is that Cochran used Democrats to secure another nomination, and now that he’s gotten it, he’ll behave as he always has. I would have been down for supporting the guy if promises had been extracted, and as a VRA fix is not strictly ideological but rather partisan in its “controversialness”, it should have been the first item on the list. But it was not. Cochran got what he wanted and is moving to throw Dems under the bus. I suppose we got a bit more drama and dissension among the base for our troubles, though to me that’s worth a lot less than the chance of electing a U.S. Senator from Mississippi, even if it would likely have been a six-year rental at best. Travis Childers would certainly have been the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, but he would almost certainly have supported a VRA fix.

{ 1 comment }
Lev filed this under: , ,