8.07.2010

why an openly gay judge ruling on behalf of equal marriage is not a problem

Just as we were leaving California, an astute federal judge struck down Proposition 8, marking a big victory for equality and a significant defeat for the forces of bigotry and hatred. As New York magazine put it, quoting the ruling, this is "what history sounds like":
Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same sex couples.

The ruling has many excellent parts, but I particularly like this one, addressing the overturning of a vote in referendum-happy California:
. . . fundamental rights may not be submitted to [a] vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.

HuffPo has good analysis.

Then, as you know, the bigots, facing defeat, denounced the ruling because US District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker is openly gay. Recuse, they cry! Conflict of interest, they cry! Remove him, reverse it, how dare he!

As usual, they have it ass-backwards.

There's a reason it took Thurgood Marshall to successfully argue against legal segregation, and why we need female Congresspeople to bring women's equality to the fore. This is why our elected officials must reflect the makeup of the population. Of course there are millions of non-queer people who support equal marriage, just as there are millions of feminist men. But people whose lives and very beings are directly affected by issues have a special investment, and have the potential to use their personal stake to affect change. I can imagine that Vaughn Walker is very proud to have made this ruling, to significantly contribute to the cause of gay rights.

As more and more queer people are able to be out, we see more legal equality, such as same-sex partner benefits. Openly gay lawyers, legislators, CEOs, human-resources administrators, and so on, all help advance the cause of legal equality.

The other reason that it's fine for a gay judge to rule in favour of equal marriage is the same reason it's fine for a non-gay judge to make the same ruling. It's a constitutional no-brainer. There is simply no reason in the world to deny LGBTQ USians equal rights except bigotry, and bigotry has no place in the law.

Dr. Dawg writes about the hypocrisy of the religious right on this one. So many layers of hypocrisy, it's difficult to identify them all.

Meanwhile, Mexico's Supreme Court upheld Mexico City's equal marriage law against the conservative government's challenge, and Arnold Schwarzenegger called for the state of California to immediately resume granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

1 comment:

James said...

Curious how minority judges are always called upon to recuse themselves from cases that touch on their ethnicity, sex, or orientation, but white male judges are assumed to be completely impartial in such cases...