time travel and a worrying development

Two unrelated news items led me to this post. I will address each, in turn, and then we'll see where we are. First up, a blast from the distant past:

"Two civil and constitutional rights organizations called on a Louisiana justice of the peace to resign Friday after he refused to marry an interracial couple, saying any children the couple might have would suffer."

When I was investigating the possible reasons the California Supreme Court might overturn the late lamented ban on same-sex marriage that Prop. 8 has now replaced, I read the entire majority opinion on Perez v. Sharp, the case that in 1948 made California the first state to overturn a ban on interracial marriage. So for me, this guy's logic is like going back in time more than 61 years, to when people seriously thought they had a right to deny marriage licenses to interracial couples to "protect" their potential children from being outcasts. But even without the history, this should be scarily familiar to advocates for same-sex marriage. And there's a reason this is significant.

We've established that personal political views are reason enough to deny others equal protection under the law. It's okay to deny someone a fundamental right -- in this case the right to join in marriage with the person of one's choice (thank you, Justice Traynor) -- if you personally don't believe they are exercising it appropriately. That's what the gay marriage bans implicitly say. Now this fellow in Louisiana is trying to extend that logic to race issues again. I am well convinced that this is a symptom of the increasingly open racism in American public discourse since the President was elected, but I think it's also a result of the successful weaseling of open bigotry into the law in the form of anti-LGBT legislation.


In other news, the federal case against Prop. 8 is going forward, and I am very worried. I don't trust the lawyers who are bringing it, nor do I believe that the current US Supreme Court will rule fairly; I expect a nationwide setback for equality if it does get there, and suspect that this was the true intention of the suit. I know that ultimately, we need national protections, but I don't think this method of getting them stands a snowball's chance in hell until we depolarize the Supreme Court (or get a more liberal one, but depolarization is generally preferable.)

One possible alternative is that Prop. 8 becomes a thing of the past, eliminating the primary basis for the lawsuit, before it gets that high. I'll be honest, I'm not optimistic about this, but knowing how slowly court cases go I wouldn't rule it out. If, for instance, we vote to overturn Prop. 8 in 2010, I wouldn't be surprised if that led to dismissal of the case purely on the grounds that the law being challenged no longer exists. Even if that doesn't work, we'll have a new Governor, and I'm optimistic about Gavin Newsom's chances of being that person, and if he is it frees up the Legislature to do a lot more and makes the most prominent voice in the state government a decidedly pro-equality one.

Wild speculation at this point, but I have to hope.

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