The International Writers Magazine: Reality Check + Readers Responses
Down Goes Doma
Along with Prop 8, Supreme Court Ends Latest Era of Legal Discrimination
Although Congress has great authority to design laws to fit its own conception of sound national policy, it cannot deny the liberty protected by the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
- Justice Anthony Kennedy
The Defense of Marriage Act, a nifty piece of legislation which disallowed a segment of taxpaying citizens access to the Bill of Rights, is now dead and buried. DOMA, as it is most popularly referred to, was another in a long line of "laws" heaped upon the public by the government to strip us of our civil liberties, as in the now debated Patriot Act. Only this one insidiously singled out a segment of society, denying them access to systems put in place to protect spouses and their property and dignity.
Justice Kennedy expounds; "DOMA's principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal. The principal purpose is to impose inequality, not for other reasons like governmental efficiency. Responsibilities, as well as rights, enhance the dignity and integrity of the person. And DOMA contrives to deprive some couples married under the laws of their State, but not other couples, of both rights and responsibilities."
The fact that DOMA was ever formed, voted on, passed, and signed into law is an abject embarrassment for the length of breath of this republic and it is luckily for this country and the people in it that 84 year-old Edith Windsor stood up and said, "What?" Motivated by over 300 grand of estate tax she wouldn't have had to pay if not for these goofy laws saying she couldn't marry a woman named Thea she'd lived with for four decades simply because he was not a man named Theo, Windsor became this era's Oliver Brown.
Upon announcing incredulity with silly laws, Brown v. The Board of Education put a spike through serration, which is a nice word for saying "state sanctioned discrimination" or "legal bigotry". People like Windsor and Brown make all of our hollow talk about Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness and haughty spouting about the U.S. Constitution being our Bible, which is all correct, can now rest easier that a little more of us are allowed inside the freedom boat, protected against social tyranny.
The great irony of an abomination called the Defense of Marriage Act is that it was designed and presided over by a Speaker of the House and signed into law by a president, both of whom had routinely made sport of cheating on their spouses (Newt Gingrich, twice divorced, and Bill Clinton's well-documented misogyny). Although it never quite seriously explained why two of the most powerful men in America would not be more of a "threat" to the sanctity of marriage than an everyday citizen who deserved the same chance to shit all over their spouses. The answer was always that people who make an open mockery of this institution are less a stain on marriage than two people of the same sex.
And that's the rub.
It is selective moralizing.
We have a constitution and a Bill of Rights to safeguard against such nonsense.
And that's apparently what opponents of this obvious and way overdue Supreme Court ruling don't get. They get all uppity and defensive saying, "Oh, if we defend traditional marriage we are called bigots!" Well, yes, if you are only applying this glorious worship of an institution to one segment of society then it is the very definition of discrimination, and this is only practiced by bigots. Hence, you are a bigot.
Of course, they muddy the whole thing by calling themselves traditionalists, which is old hat for people trying to deny rights they enjoy to other citizens, whether it's the Irish owning land or Jews allowed access to certain institutions or women voting or African Americans eating at a diner below the Mason Dixon line. "This is the way it's always been done," they say. "Why are you going around changing stuff?" The other day talk show host Rush Limbaugh couched his derision on the ruling by actually saying out loud that "things are going along just fine and then the gays say, 'Hey we want to be able to marry' and then its madness."
Yes, can you imagine waking up one day and realizing your height keeps you from getting a driver's license? And when you say, "Wait a minute!" Some sanctimonious nitwit says, "Take it easy, buddy, things are fine the way they are. This is how we do it and have always done it." I bet you would take it like a good citizen and realize that tradition is far more important and you'd run out and get yourself a bike.
I guess things were going along just fine until some moron invented a radio, huh?
And I know she's silly and cannot really be taken seriously outside the geeks at CPAC, but the other day when Michelle Bachman, who would not have been able to publicly voice political opinion, never mind cast a ballot, less than a century ago, stands on the capitol steps as a senator and derides this law on the basis of Biblical law, which openly frames women as nothing more than livestock, is beyond absurdity. Not sure she realizes how much of a metaphor for this ruling she's truly become. Hell, if Moses or George Washington showed up to her little speech yesterday, if they could ever stop choking, both men would have wondered what bizarre joke was playing out by having a woman legislator speaking to a crowd of people she was not serving soup to.
Look, traditionalists and Bible thumpers won't get it. This is their thing. And this is why we have a Bill of Rights and a Constitution, to protect us from those who don't get it, which brings us to the second Supreme Court ruling, California's goofy Proposition 8, an excellent example of why leaving civil liberties up to the vagaries of state laws is also thorny. Having people vote whether, say, people with blonde hair can have kids is dangerous. And lawmakers? Well, we've already seen how that goes on the federal level. Right now in Texas the state legislature and its governor are trying to make it legal to shoot women on the way to get a pap smear. Something like that. I can't tell. Most laws in Texas end up allowing the shooting someone or something. It's hard to fathom what those preciously colorful idiots are doing down there. It's like "the weird kid in the basement" state.
And so, regardless of all the other junk and flaws and spectacular hypocrisy that we're straddled with around here on a daily basis year after fuck-awful year, we have a very proud day in the American experiment; the fantastic Don't Tread on Me, "Give me liberty or give me death" and "All men are created equal" part that seems to perfectly rear its beautiful head when some generation or segment of our society decides what another can or can't do.
This is going to be one hell of an Independence Day at The Desk.
READERS RESPONSES 4th July 2013
It is stunning how skillfully this column is able to walk the tightrope between social commentary and political ideology without ever, and I do mean EVER getting deeply caught in the morass of either. (THE SELF-PERPETUATING GORGE OF POWER or How The IRS Becomes HAL 9000 - Issue: 6/5/13) This column is just bulging with the kind of wit that is hard to find today in most anyone else I read. I have to admit it is infuriating, but then again, it is sure as hell infuriating to endure what we do at the hands of our government or as you put it so well, because it matter none who is in charge, it's mostly the same shit, the system!
It's hard to argue that if you are a tax paying citizen on how or why the IRS should be involved in the political system, but it seemingly always has found a way under every administration since FDR. And in this world of forced transparency, where nothing is private and everything is either photographed or recorded or videotaped, who thought they could get away with this?
I guess what I am saying is that there is no other way to frame this nonsense unless you're a one-way ideologue than what I just read by you.
You barely touched on this, but none of these "common good" groups had any business applying for tax exempt status in the first place. I don't want some goofy gun lobby or pro-life types getting tax breaks so they can dump funds into the Mitt Romney campaign anymore than I want some pro-choice, Obamacare freaks asking for hand-outs to get the president re-elected.
This is a big portion of the missing story here.
Gail Says Nay!
Fuck the IRS, whether Jesus would have been on board or not.
However, since you brought the big guy into this, I have read your theories on Jesus being an anti-religious teacher and have done much research on this - including reading your book, "Trailing Jesus" cover to cover and hearing you speak once on the subject in Westchester - and although it is true he challenged the church, which is the basis of Christianity in terms of combating the origins of Judaism, or as Anne Coulter put is so delicately, perfecting Judaism, it appears his affront to Rome was merely ancillary. While it is true his attack on the Temple just prior to his death was indeed a politically motivated act, the changing of Roman coin for Temple trade was absolutely a mockery on the melding of church and state that rankled the Jesus movement, he is quite adamant that to render unto Caesar what is Caesar's is a pretty hands-off political approach for a time rife with political uprisings.
Having said that, it is obvious to anyone with a remote knowledge of First Century Roman Law within the provinces that to call for social change meant to crack the foundations or Rome's peace through force and that stuff is dangerous mojo.
And it is nice to see unfair tax practices by the establishment rousing the name of Jesus.
Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's; render unto God what is God's isn't terribly anti-establishment. It's quite literally saying give Caesar his due. And Caesar was the Roman establishment (not Julius of course; it was an office by then, not a person). Nor it is anti-establishment to say, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law of Moses, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, Till heaven and earth pass, one stroke or one pronunciation mark shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled." (Matthew) Upholding the Law is the Jewish establishment. And there's plenty more where that came from.
That said, I'm no fan of the IRS or the FBI in terms of the latter's political policies.
At least you know I'm paying attention.
I'm sorry, this asshole is a traitor and he needs to be dragged back here and hung for it. (EDWARD J. SNOWDEN & GLENN GREENWALD: HACKING INTO HYPOCRISY? - Issue: 6/19/13) Him and this Greenwald guy, who put this country at risk with their selfish and grandstanding moves. If he's such a hero and a whistleblower, as his supporters claim, then why doesn't he just come back and stand trial and defend his actions? He cannot, because they are indefensible. And so he runs like a coward.
Snowden did not do the right thing here, however he did bring to light something the Bush Administration did without warrant and this administration has continued, albeit legally, but still an attack on the fourth amendment. It is actually quite disgusting that this president ran against these policies of spying on the American people and not only continues it but acts high and mighty over this leak. Again, I think Snowden was not right in the way he did this, but there is nobody but nobody who is innocent that has run this government since the towers went down in 2001.
Hooray for Snowden! He is an American hero! This is about our rights that are being trampled on. You know you're on the wrong side of anything when Dick Cheney supports it. I think he should stay away, stay in Russia, go somewhere and the government should let him go and tighten the way they do their business. How could they let this happen? Fuck this, why can't the FBI or the NSA or the CIA do their jobs without spying on us? Total bullshit. Snowden is our new Thomas Jefferson. What did he say about revolutions happening every generation or so?
Ed Snowden is just another citizen that has pulled back the curtain on the wizard, and he's just an old stuttering gypsy con man. Ya dig?
Roger's Gamble On
Do yourself no favors and "like" this idiot at www.facebook.com/jc.author
James Campion is the Managing Editor of the Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of "Deep Tank Jersey", "Fear No Art", "Trailing Jesus" and "Midnight for Cinderella"
© J Campion July 1st 2013
Edward Snowden: Hacking into Hyprocrisy - James Campion
If there is one thing that this space has tried to illustrate for the past 16 years is that hypocrites are not the exclusive property of ideological or political affiliation.