Gay-marriage debate is ‘all about the children’?

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During arguments over gay marriage on Tuesday morning, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made an astonishing assertion. If states are required to permit gay marriage, he argued, a minister of a faith that believes marriage is only between a man and a woman would nonetheless be forced against his will to also conduct marriages between two men or two women.

“I don’t see how you could possibly allow that minister to say, ‘I will only marry a man and a woman.  I will not marry two men’,” Scalia said. “… I don’t see any answer to that. I really don’t.”

The answer, of course, is the First Amendment. Government can’t force religious leaders to do anything that is contrary to their faith. And fortunately, Justice Elena Kagan was there to show her colleague the error in his logic.

“Maybe I’m just not understanding Justice Scalia’s question,” she interjected, “but for example, there are many rabbis that will not conduct marriages between Jews and non­Jews, notwithstanding that we have a constitutional prohibition against religious discrimination.”

“It’s called ‘Congress shall make no law respecting the freedom of religion …'” added Justice Stephen Breyer.

Under the First Amendment, no one, with the possible exception of military chaplains**, can ever be required by government to conduct religious services that are contrary to their faith. That’s just elementary, and while I’m no fan of Scalia, I’m still surprised to see him offering objections so ill-informed that they would be better suited to an email-chain than to Supreme Court debate.

In Scalia’s defense, some of the other arguments raised against gay marriage were even worse. John Bursch, former solicitor general for the state of Michigan, had the onus of trying to argue that the mere existence of gay marriage somehow undermines heterosexual marriage, makes heterosexual marriages less likely to last “until death do us part,” and makes it more likely for children to be born out of wedlock. And he was understandably vague about how all that might occur, although he was certain that children would be the victim.

“We’re concerned about all the children, children of opposite-­sex couples and children of same-­sex couples,” Bursch told the court. “There are 72 million children in this country. If this court ensconces in the Constitution a new definition of marriage and it reduces the rate that opposite-­sex couples stay together, bound to their children, because of that different understanding, even a 1 percent change is many, many children.”

Let me translate: Bursch was arguing that we are dealing with two conflicting concepts of marriage. Under one version, in his mind an exclusively heterosexual version, the institution of marriage exists mainly to keep two people bound to the children that they produce. The alternative concept, the version that allows same-sex marriage and thus ought to be avoided, is that marriage is a means of formalizing the spouses’ emotional commitment to each other.

“If people think love is, or a marriage is, more about love and commitment than about staying bound to your child forever,” then children and society as a whole will suffer irreparable harm, he argued.

These are not, or should not be, winning arguments, so it’s telling that they were among the best arguments that opponents of gay marriage could muster. It’s also telling that at least some of the conservative justices were so desperate for support that they were willing to grasp at them, slender and fragile as they might be, and pretend they were as sturdy as an oak tree.

The best argument that opponents could muster was that of process. Legalizing gay marriage was a decision that ought to be made not by the courts but by the people, Bursch and his colleagues argued, and in reading the transcripts (Part One and Part Two), you could tell that some of the justices found that approach compelling.

Of course, the same argument could have been and in fact was presented in defense of racial segregation back in the ’50s and early ’60s. If majorities in some states supported Jim Crow, the argument went, it ought to be left to voters and legislators to decide if they wanted to change the system.

Back then, justices rejected that argument on the grounds that civil liberties and equal treatment under the law are basic constitutional principles that are not subject to the whims of legislators or voters. And although observers in the courtroom Monday thought the Supreme Court’s final gay-marriage decision may be closer than predicted, most still believe that the coming ruling will follow the logic of those earlier civil-rights cases.

And as a side note, Republicans ought to hope that those observers are right. The last thing they need is a decision by the court to punt, thus keeping this issue on the political front burner for another five, 10 or 15 years.
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** Military chaplains have long been a special case. As government employees, they operate under a different set of rules than civilian religious leaders. Their job is to minister to soldiers of all faiths, regardless of whether they agree with that person’s faith, and as a condition of service they agree not to use their position to proselytize to what amounts to a captive audience.

Jews who join the military, for example, shouldn’t be counseled by chaplains to become Christians, nor should Protestants be pressured to convert to Catholicism. As the Army puts it, a chaplain must be “sensitive to religious pluralism and able to provide for the free exercise of religion by all military personnel, their family members and civilians who work for the Army.”

If you can’t abide by that job requirement, don’t become a chaplain.

Reader Comments 0

2691 comments
gotalife
gotalife

Just look at all the gop actions in the last thirty years for proof.


They systematically stole back all the peaceful protesters "victories."

gotalife
gotalife

I believe our rw white power tyranny government and Pentagon have reached the same conclusion as I have.


When peaceful protests failed, violence is next so they are training our troops in our cities.


This country is ripe for revolution. These are very dangerous times.

gotalife
gotalife

Strip their voting rights.


Resegregate the schools.


Modern lynchings are just shooting them on the streets.


Your peaceful protests failed.


There are leaving these kids no choice and the MLK sell outs lost.

gotalife
gotalife

rw white power tyranny by government against a minority.


Peaceful protests does not stop that.

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

oh noes! He made a 4th stop and either forgot or didn't think about it. Oh noes! A 4th stop. For the love of God oh noes! A 4th stop. Proof! Conspiracy! What heinous event took place at a 4th stop. oh noes! 


Allright. Ya'll have fun. Doomy back out for the day. 

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@Doom Classical liberal seriously? someone dies, the reports are false, leaks are being made that he did it to himself and you see absolutely nothing wrong with these picture? the conservative mind in action.

Brosephus
Brosephus

@consumedconsumer 

Don't know if you were around during a moment of clarity for him, but he acknowledged that he comes here to be a blog a-s-s.  This is just an example of him being an a-s-s.  SSDD

Brosephus
Brosephus

http://www.cnn.com/2015/04/30/us/baltimore-freddie-gray-death-investigation/index.html

(CNN)Police have handed their Freddie Gray investigative files over to prosecutors a day earlier than planned, police officials said Thursday, adding that newly discovered evidence in the case indicates the transport van made a previously unreported stop before delivering Gray to the precinct.

Investigators delivered their report early because "I understand the frustration. I understand the urgency," police Commissioner Anthony Batts said.

"This does not mean that the investigation is over. If new evidence is found, we will follow it," he added. "Getting to the right answer is more important than speed."

At the same press conference, Deputy Commissioner Kevin Davis revealed for the first time that there was a fourth stop made between the time Gray was placed in the transport van and when he arrived at the police department's Western District building.

Last week, Davis said there were three stops: the first to put leg irons on Gray, the second "to deal with Mr. Gray" (an incident, he said, that remained under investigation) and the third to pick up a prisoner in an unrelated matter.

The new stop, which "was discovered from a privately owned camera," Davis said Thursday, came between the first and second stops. 

First rule of thumb is to not lie or file an incomplete report.  When you tell your superiors that you made three stops and they find video of a 4th stop, then that doesn't make you look good.  That actually strikes at your integrity when that occurs.

When the police investigators don't know of a stop...

gotalife
gotalife

Label it the Holocaust by white power and repeating history again.

InTheMiddle2
InTheMiddle2

@gotalife Cant wait until medical marijuana is legal. You need some calm in the worst way

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@InTheMiddle2 @gotalife as if one actually needs to wait for medical marijuana. most anyone here could find a bag within in an hour if they wanted to. just ask your friends. seriously, the war on drugs is nothing more than a huge tax on the poor.

GaGirl53171875
GaGirl53171875

Funny how republicans only worry about children when they are in the womb and if their parents are gay. The 1 in 4 U.S. kids who are here and hungry right now, meh.

GaGirl53171875
GaGirl53171875

@InTheMiddle2 @GaGirl53171875  That's what many Christian conservatives say. They also say we need jobs, we need jobs and then they say there are plenty of jobs for all those deadbeats. Then when poor folks can't make ends meet at their two minimum wage jobs, they say that minimum wage jobs are for teens, except they are not.

Jesus said to take care of the children. I'm tired of people who say they are Christians also saying we should let children go hungry because they have judged them, sight unseen, as deadbeats.


This is how I know that there is no God. You would think he would come on down here and straighten out all those jerks that say children should go hungry.

gotalife
gotalife

What happens when rw tyranny thinks white kids are just like black kids and slaughter them on the streets and locks them up for nothing.

gotalife
gotalife

Of course our don't tread on me rw morons cheer on this government tyranny until government comes for the white kids.

gotalife
gotalife

First, they came for your black children.


What would you do when they come for your white children.

gotalife
gotalife

The rw tyranny by our government rivals Nazi Germany.


White power, shooting Americans on the streets and locking them up on bs.


All we need is concentration camps.


Just switch your black kids for Jews.

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@gotalife well, since we incarcerate more than most any other free nation in the world, one could argue that our detention centers, jails, and prisons qualify as concentration camps.

Doom Classical liberal
Doom Classical liberal

Sooooooooooo. Have the kooks started whining yet and opining that cameras should now be put in all police vans because one thug may have thrown himself against the van wall and killed hisself? Its extraordinary the lengths they will go to in order to protect a common thug. Meanwhile, its no big deal for hard working people's property to be destroyed. Such is life in the bizarro world of the kook left. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@Doom Classical liberal Have the kooks started whining yet and opining that cameras should now be put in all police vans because one thug may have thrown himself against the van wall and killed hisself?


Funny isnt it. Just yesterday they were telling us we had no idea what happened. Now a story comes out saying he did it to himself which doesn't match to forensic evidence and they believe it right away. 

Brosephus
Brosephus

@HeadleyLamar 

Well, it's human nature to gravitate towards things or ideas that confirm our biases as opposed to things that would discredit them.  We all do that.

LeninTime
LeninTime

@Doom Classical liberal  Regarding the Gray thug ... 

**
But remember, Republicans don't have a problem with their unexamined racism. No not at all.

DunwoodyGranny
DunwoodyGranny

It can't happen, but I would so love to see Berbie Sanders become president. At last, the cons would know what they were talking about when they wailed about our Socialist president!

td1234
td1234

Bro writes: ""Your interpretation of the law and Constitutional rights is based on your extensive training but it does not mean that it is the way the law and Constitutional rights are interpreted in the court system by Judges or the way laymen judge people based on their interpretation of the law and the Constitution."

Are you sure about that?  When the Asst. US Attorneys come in to train us, they train us based on existing case law, which means that my training is indeed based on how the law is interpreted in the court system by judges and juries as well.  They don't teach us in the abstract because that wouldn't help us at all.

************************************


I believe you in the training by the professionals but then can you explain why your personal interpretation of that  training from those professionals allowed you to come to a different conclusion about the outcomes in the above cases I mentioned and a different conclusion than the Civil Rights attorneys at the DOJ?

Brosephus
Brosephus

@td1234 

I based my opinion on those cases on the evidence that I was able to see for myself.  There are any number of reasons for a case to come out differently.  If the prosecutor intentionally tanks a case, then a jury isn't going to convict the person.  Grand Jury proceedings are not the same as a jury case either.

Of those cases that you mentioned, how many of them were federal cases?  In regards to federal charges, trying to bring charges of violating someone's civil rights is an extremely high hurdle to jump, and I'm sure that even you would have read that in your research.  The DoJ doesn't bother with trying cases that they are not going to win.  Most federal cases end in plea bargainings because they will only go to court when they are absolutely sure they will win.

consumedconsumer
consumedconsumer

@td1234 because the law is the bare minimum one must comply with. you are free to go above and beyond that required by the law. sometimes even governments choose to do this because civil suit settlements cost a lot more than criminal prosecutions for mess ups that happen when someone is arrested for a minor criminal offense. 


because the law is subject to change and there may be cases working their way through the courts that folks are concerned will rule other than your favorite case today.


just a couple of reasons for you . . .

td1234
td1234

@Brosephus @td1234 Fair enough answer. I do understand the burden by the DOJ in bringing a case but I also know in the Brown case the DOJ was overseeing the entire process and I am pretty sure that Holder would be screaming loudly. 


Brosephus
Brosephus

@td1234 

The Brown case would have been difficult to prove, regardless.  The issue with chain of custody for evidence would have made that investigation impossible.  The officer in question should have never tagged his own gun or processed evidence in the shooting.  Nobody's going to be convicted or cleared with tainted evidence.