The International Writers Magazine: Reality Check + Readers letters
Victory for Liberty & Justice for All
How the Fight for Gay Marriage Remains Alive & Well James Campion
"Tradition alone cannot form a rational basis for a law." - Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker upon overturning California's Proposition 8 to ban gay marriage unconstitutional
God bless America.
It is the greatest nation on the planet, for its governed by the rule of law and not that of majority moral conviction, religious fervor or the whims of the elite or the blather of ignorance and fear. It has stood fast against the forces of enslavement, civil injustice and a strangely reoccurring superstitious perpetuation of discrimination. The echoes of Thomas Jefferson's most precious ideal; that "all men are created equal" may have been ignored at first, diluted by the times, manifest in period and geographic prejudices, and fueled undaunted by the disdain of the status quo, but was soon exalted, as it must in a country boasting from on high that its land be made free.
Here is a rather important portion of Article XIV of our beloved Constitution (which some crazy people are currently pitching to repeal, because they have horse dung for brain tissue): "No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
These core ideals, the very fabric of a cause of liberty and a noble Bill of Rights, solidified in the ever-evolving Constitution of these United States (the above "Equal Protection Clause" was added in 1868) gives rise this week to the most important court ruling since the Civil Rights era; the complete and utter rejection of California's ridiculous Proposition 8.
A child with the most basic understanding of middle-school civics could have come to the same conclusion as that of Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker, who has ruled that Prop 8 is "unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the U.S. Constitution."
Of course it is.
Of course denying basic civil rights to tax paying members of this purported free society is not only a blight on our trumped-up sense of national pride, it makes a mockery of our veiled but continued attempt to lecture a good portion of the rest of the world on their human rights abuses. For the entire dozen-plus years I have been filling this space with my bent ideas and half-baked concepts, there has never been a more perplexing case; this denial of basic civil rights, which for some unseemly reason has been cast in votes (in 31 states over 10 years) and debated in churches and private sector forums. It's a goddamn Right, not the placement of a traffic light or the disbursement of funds to irrigation valleys. Why are we voting on who has access to the Bill of Rights?
Guess what, jack?
In his 135-page ruling, (in this author's judgment, a more wonderfully thought-provoking and masterfully worded screed of constitutional interpretation has yet to be compiled) Judge Walker, a G.H. Bush appointee, stated that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry the person of their choosing, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation, because "describing marriage as being simply between one man and one woman is an artifact of a foregone notion that men and women fulfill different roles in civic life."
Therefore, again -- of course -- the argument for denying the rights of American citizens based on some atavistic, superstitious, (gulp!) religious notion has so little merit it becomes a form of grotesque tragic comedy performed by the most irrational among us.
"That the majority of California voters supported Proposition 9 is irrelevant." writes Walker. "Fundamental rights may not be submitted to a vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections."
In fact, Walker correctly ruled, "Moral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians. The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples."
Reason trumps Moral Private View; got it.
Enter stage right, the Equal Protection Clause, which was the key to another landmark ruling last month in Massachusetts in which a federal judge also ruled that the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) violated the Constitution.
Moreover, as a key part of his ruling, Judge Walker goes on to discuss social matters of gender and race inequalities, both of which litter our recent history of civil rights abuses (until as recently as 1967, men and women of different races were forbidden to marry in 16 states) and which sadly the majority of Americans supported.
The very idea that we allowed votes on this fundamental issue of basic civil rights is one of the great embarrassments of this or any century around here. And to think, it was never even denied on the grounds of the most outlandish understanding of the law or the Constitution, its Bill of Rights, or a goddamned thing this republic was founded and continues to persist on; liberty and justice for all.
Evidence of this appears throughout the 138-page ruling, which recounts in stirring detail a parade of incredulous testimony by unsubstantiated "experts" that made no attempt beyond moral outrage and dire predictions of fires in the streets and Satan laughing. (I shit you not, read the damn thing). The Emperor was not only butt naked; he was certifiably insane and had the balls to wield a measure of unchecked power.
Not anymore, bub.
And now, it is on to the Supreme Court -- the ultimate destination for this imperative civil rights decision, and for the two attorneys that chose to defend liberty, Ted Olson, who represented G.W. Bush in the famous 2000 general election Gore v. Bush battle, and his partner, the opponent in that very same case, David Boies. Not only does this politically bi-partisan legal team expect an appeal, they welcome it, as hinted in several places of Judge Walker's ruling, wherein he evoked the name of Supreme Court Judge Anthony Kennedy, who over the years in several disparate cases has steadfastly decided on the side of gay rights. Not to mention the 80, that's right, fans of the "crazy knee-jerk judge usurping the will of the people and moral superiority", 80 detailed statements of fact.
And so August 4, 2010 becomes another in a long line of seminal dates in the spiral of American history; a victory for all Americans, who are perhaps a few years from saying we're closer to providing all citizens with the rights granted by the blood, treasure, and maverick brilliance that beats in humanity's finest experiment in liberty.
It's about time.
© James Campion August 6th 2010-08-06
READERS RESPONSES August 20th
Another in an impressive collection of your very serious and probing insights into the United States endless post-9/11 war plans, much of which has led, as you astutely point out into a kind of boredom, or a sense that with the banality of constancy there will be someone to lash out, such as General Stanley McChrystal. (G.I. JOKE -- Issue: 6/30) I am specifically intrigued by the prospect that long before the piece hit the stands, there was a backlash. No one had even read the article or put it into perspective, maybe considering the context in which the general made his remarks. You must have had an advanced copy or did your research to come to your conclusions, because of all the commentary on the issue, yours had it right. Once I read the Rolling Stone article, it did more than imply that there was an overall morass to the entire military campaign in Afghanistan, pushing the McChrystal insubordination into the realm of a complete U.S. Army meltdown.
Ultimately the fallout was all about McChrystal vs. Obama, much like Truman vs. McCarthur, but it is a deeper problem of how our military and the Pentagon now operates, in an apparent vacuum of utter chaos.
Interesting article, I just wanted to point out that Afghanistan went fine for Alexander the Great. He met his wife there. It went so well for the Greeks that they later founded the Bactrian Empire that lasted for hundreds of years and influenced Buddhist artwork and philosophy deep into the heart of India.
The Mongols were also somewhat successful in Afghanistan as well, some ended up settling there and are known today as the Hazara. The Hazara are a minority ethnic group that has worked closely with the U.S. This is not uncommon for the nearly half of Afghans who aren't Pashtun and don't want to see the Taliban return to power. Also, the U.S. military is a huge institution, there's not much in the way of Chaos right now. Heck, the Army and Marine Corps are so over quota that they are giving people early discharges.
One of the most ironic bits of news to be sussed out in this whole mess is that McChrystal is a Democrat who voted for Obama and banned Fox News from his Headquarters.
Did he really feel like he wasn't seen as the enemy by Rolling Stone and Michael Hastings? He was taken out in a well placed hit, similar in spirit to the hundreds of well-placed hits he made on terrorists while JSOC commander.
I know my response is disjointed, so I'll just say that your article is interesting but wrong in some key areas. We'll get out of Afghanistan once we find incontrovertible evidence that OBL and Zawahiri have died. If the Taliban would hand him over to us, like we wanted them to in 2001, we would already be out of the Pashtun areas. We'll win this war, one of the only "necessary" wars in the last 60 years. Meeting our objectives will be tough with all the people here in the U.S. working against us.
Aloha JC --
One thing you got really right: "WENNER'S WORLD" and the Corporate Controlled New York MASS News Media visa AIPAC cabals! How does that song go: When the goings get's ruff, the tuff get goin'....?
Man, you have balls. I defy anyone anywhere in any level of media, alternative, mass, corporate or otherwise to present the kind of stuff that comes out of this column on a weekly basis. I honestly cannot believe it, much less process it. This is beyond a doubt the most un-politically correct, maybe borderline immoral commentary known to modern journalism. I don't know whether to praise this or spat on it.
I choose to let the above rest as simply an observation.
We need more sports reporting from Campion. (LEBRON JAMES PLAYS BASKETBALL -- Issue: 7/14/10) This is tough-minded and fair. LeBron James is indeed just a basketball player and since we hold that in the highest regard and there are so few with his type of talent, maybe we must take notice. Right or wrong, there is something increasingly fascinating by young superstars in self-destruct public relations mode. And, as you rightly point out, it is all about the money. Isn't that the mantra of the TEA Party goofballs. And I have to admit, I agree with every goofball that chooses money over the greater good.
Holy crap, sir. This LeBron James fellow is a megalomaniac and his pillow talk with Disney and ESPN speaks to the sad nature of a country that celebrates the greedy narcissists while the rest of the nation suffers to recover from economic meltdown. The self-centered, selfish monsters of our celebrity machine are what distract us from the horrors of our plight, and for that they should be thanked.
So thanks LeBron for being a super jerk-off and helping us to find the kind of villain we need for these troubled times.
I'm glad he did what he did! Piss on everyone indeed. As an interested sports fan, but not a connoisseur of the game, I couldn't wait for 9:00, not for anything about sports, but simply to witness this spectacle made more stupid by the press, but ultimately "our" reaction to it. I will say it again and again, it's all about power, and few of us want to see other people have too much of it. I think he showed great courage to grab the most that he could. Few of us really have the balls to do that; we're too busy worrying about everybody else.
As Elton John said, "this full blooded city boy is now a full blooded city man" Full blooded indeed! Did you see the commercial of him and Duane Wade? That chemistry of power should not be denied so that "Cleveland" doesn't feel cheated. I'm so sick of people with all their judgmental bullshit. If any of us had the opportunity, we would have, or should have done exactly the same thing.
The biggest, most pressing LeBron James question of all: With everything that is happening in the world that REALLY matters, who gives a s _ _t?
Yup, yup, yup, and hell yeah. Amidst the prattle that passes for pabulum in that way-lame broadcast vector known as "sports commentary," it might as well have been TMZ gabbing about what the most famous celebrity this week was seen wearing.
I applaud the man for depth-charging his brand into the American psyche, and for conning the would-be panderers. I marvel that two of the top -- if not *the* top two basketball players in the NBA skipped college. Kobe was the 13th overall draft pick in the 1996 NBA draft; LeBron was the #1 draft pick in 2003. In what would otherwise be an embarrassing footnote, yet another man stepped forward to claim fatherhood. I rate LeBron's success after having no father figure as extraordinarily American. I'm not that much into the hoops, but I admire the man. Thanks for helping me to file it under capitalism.