View from the Loft 

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Friday, June 27, 2003

Supreme Court Throws Out Sodomy Law

From the ACLU:
In an historic decision with wide-ranging implications, the U.S. Supreme Court today struck down a Texas law that makes some kinds of sexual intimacy a crime, but only for gay people. The decision overrules the court’s 1986 decision in Bowers v. Hardwick, which was widely condemned for treating gay people as second-class citizens. It was hailed by the American Civil Liberties Union as a major milestone in the fight for constitutional rights.

In sweeping language, the Court said the Constitution protects the right of gay people to form intimate relationships and “retain their dignity as free persons.” Gay people, the Court said, have the same right to “define one’s concept of existence, of meaning, or the universe, and of the mystery of human life,” that heterosexuals do. The Bowers decision, the Court said, “demeans the lives of homosexual persons.”

Since 1986, lower courts have relied on Bowers v. Hardwick to take away or limit custody to gay parents and to uphold firing or refusing to hire gay people. Bowers has frequently been invoked in legislative debates as a reason not to protect gay people from discrimination.
The 18-page opinion means that similar laws in twelve other states are also unconstitutional. (Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma have laws that apply only to gay people, while laws in Alabama, Florida, Idaho, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and Utah, which make “sodomy” a crime for all people.)

The ACLU has created a public education campaign to help LGBT people make the most of this landmark ruling that establishes the legality of same-sex relationships.

Scalia, one of the minority three who voted to uphold the Texas law, wrote an emotional dissent from the ruling. Concurring with Rick Santorum, Scalia writes that state laws against "bigamy, same-sex marriage, adult incest, prostitution, masturbation [masturbation?], adultery, fornication, bestiality, and obscenity" are called into question by the court's ruling. Scalia claims that the Court's decision entails "a massive disruption of the current social order" and accuses the Court of having "signed on to the so-called homosexual agenda."

He writes further that "Justice O'Connor seeks to preserve [state laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples] by the conclusory statement that 'preserving the traditional institution of marriage' is a legitimate state interest," but that in fact the Court's decision "dismantles the structure of Constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned."

Wow! So maybe pretty soon we'll be as forward-thinking as Canada! Wouldn't that be something?

Anyway, it was great to get some good news, and I can't say I expected this court to decide the case as it did. This is a milestone, a real victory for LGBT people and for all of us who care about the right to privacy and the right to be accorded dignity and equal treatment regardless of sexual orientation.

Wednesday, June 25, 2003

Howard Dean's Announcement Speech -- Woo Hooooo!

Wowie! Now that's more like it!

It was as if Dean had heard everything I've been saying for so long, and I'm sure that many people who have heard or read the speech feel exactly the same way. I've read and re-read the speech, and to me it is a masterful piece of rhetoric, in the non-pejorative sense of that term. What really appealed to me was that he said what I've so often said and thought: that the current crop of politicians, especially the administration, panders to the weakest and worst in people, rather than appealing to the best in people.

Go and read the speech, and then read some of the comments on it, on the official Dean blog, here, and here. And take a look at this comparison of Dean's and Bush's language. It draws on the Nationarticle in which Renana Brooks analyzes Bush's speeches and shows how he uses "dependency-creating language" that encourages listeners to feel like victims dependent on a Leader to save them. Dean's announcement speech, on the contrary, ended up by telling listeners "you can."

Read it!

Winning Hearts and Minds ...

Sgt. David J. Borell wonders "if I will still be able to carry the title 'soldier' with any pride at all" after witnessing the refusal of two Army doctors to give aid to three burned Iraqi children.

One doctor told Borell that "they were not here to be the treatment center for Iraq."
"I cannot imagine the heartlessness required to look into the eyes of a child in horrid pain and suffering and, with medical resources only a brief trip up the road, ignore their plight as though they are insignificant," [Borell said].

Maj. David Accetta, public affairs officer with the 3rd Corps Support Command, said the children's condition did not fall into a category that requires Army doctors to care for them. Only patients with conditions threatening life, limb or eyesight and not resulting from a chronic illness are considered for treatment.

"Our goal is for the Iraqis to use their own existing infrastructure and become self-sufficient, not dependent on U.S. forces for medical care," Accetta said in an e-mail to AP.
Oh yeah! That terrific public health infrastructure we were so careful to keep in place, protect from looting, and all that!

Wonder what Dr. Dean would think of this?

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