George Takei was wrong about Clarence Thomas

For the record, George Takei’s comments about Clarence Thomas were racist, and, like most people on the left who have been complaining about Thomas’ “dignity” discussion in his Obergefell dissent, missed the point Thomas was making.  Clarence Thomas is a black man who grew up speaking the Gullah dialect in the Jim Crow south. He talks about watching his grandfather struggling to memorize long portions of the King James Bible so he could pass the literacy tests to vote. When Thomas writes about how dignity isn’t something that the government can give or take away, he’s speaking as someone who knows as well as anybody that if black folk in America were relying on the government as the source of dignity they’d be still waiting.  Now, where I disagree with Thomas is that I think that humans have inherent dignity, but that the government either does or doesn’t treat people in a way that respects that dignity that we all have. Thomas isn’t wrong though, just incomplete. I’m no great fan of Clarence Thomas’ jurisprudence. His version of originalism, with its stacks of old dictionaries, refusal to consider anything constitutional if it wouldn’t have been thought of at the time the document was drafted, and steadfast insistence that if you don’t like it you should amend the constitution, is too unwieldy for the modern era. There was no way Thomas was going to vote for marriage equality no matter his personal views about LGBT people. The man is nothing if not consistent in his application of his principles of constitutional interpretation, and this is an issue where he was always going to say that the right approach was to amend the constitution. I think he’s wrong, but that’s a matter for intellectual debate, not name calling.   To call him a clown[…]

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Amazing Grace

How do you encapsulate a day like today? This day, when by some coincidence of fate or of providence, two moments in the long struggles to ensure that the ideals of freedom and equality upon which this nation was founded were available to all, just happened to converge. It does not seem right, somehow, to talk about today’s marriage equality ruling without talking about Charleston and President Obama’s eulogy of the Rev. Clementa Pinckney, with all of the deep sadness mingled with a glint of promise that just maybe equality will advance once more. For the last seven years, through accident of history, the struggles of racial equality and LGBT equality have found themselves intertwined, the highs and lows in contrast with one another. In 2008 the country did what so many never dreamed possible and elected a black president, but that same night the joy was tempered by the passage of Prop 8 in California. Two years ago, we celebrated as the Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act, but at the same time mourned the gutting of the Voting Rights Act. Each time a step forward in equality for some, a step backwards for others. Joy and sadness, justice and injustice, mingled together. I can only try and imagine the whiplash that African American members of the LGBT community had to have felt. A nation lurching towards equality, but never quite able to get on the right track for everyone at once. Here we are again. I haven’t written about Charleston because I’ve been unable to find the words to express the depth of the pain and tragedy, how people who have suffered such loss due to pure unbridled hatred can show such immeasurable grace to someone so evil. How can you write about the fragile, budding[…]

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Is opposing LGBT equality now the highest doctrinal issue?

They all attributed the peaceful dominion of religion in their country mainly to the separation of church and state. I do not hesitate to affirm that during my stay in America I did not meet a single individual, of the clergy or the laity, who was not of the same opinion on this point.–Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, Vol. I Continuing their efforts to turn “religious freedom” into a dirty word and a dog-whistle buzzword for bigotry, nineteen religious groups filed an amicus brief arguing that a Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality would imperil their religious freedom. I’ll allow you a second or two to do a double take before we continue. The idea that granting the same marriage rights to LGBT people as everyone else would infringe on their religious freedom because people would think them bigots is so abjectly preposterous that it doesn’t deserve to be treated as an argument any more worthy of serious consideration than someone standing on a street corner insisting that the sky was puce and clouds are made of cotton candy’s argument does. What is worth noting, however, is who the amici are. One of these things is not like the other. All but one of the groups signed on to this brief can be described as evangelical or fundamentalist protestant Christian groups. The other group is the Mormon Church. Let me note that all of the Christian denominations and groups signing on to this amicus brief opposing marriage equality believe that the LDS are heretical and not a Christian denomination, but rather a false religion destined for hell. For that matter, half of these Christian groups aren’t even entirely convinced that the other half are really Christians. They have, however, chosen to downplay that into “theological differences” because[…]

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Which one of you have we wronged?

I’ve got a guest post for you all today. Sophie Anna Platt wrote this on Facebook in response to James Dobson’s recent statement that marriage equality will lead to a civil war. She was was kind enough to let me republish it here.  To the James Dobsons and Mike Farrises of the world who literally want a civil war over gay rights and gay marriage, I ask this. In fact, I should ask certain members of my own family. I ask the same thing Jesus once asked. Which one of you have we wronged? Which one of you have we cheated or stolen from or harmed in any way? I’m not saying we are perfect, but what did we ever do to you that could make you hate us SO MUCH that you literally want a civil war over us being allowed the same rights that you have? What could possess you to put us through the things you have? How can you bring yourself to hate another person – much less a whole group of people- to the point that you force us even as children into “reparative therapy” which is just a fancy word for psychological and physical torture? I’m not even speaking metaphorically here. After everything you have done to us one might expect we would be the ones with hatred in our hearts. That we would be trying to outlaw the religion that has been used in such vile ways against us. The truth is that many, many of us still believe in God, and we certainly support your right to do so. We do not support your right to use your religion as a weapon against us, and that really shouldn’t surprise you. How can you say that we and those who love us and[…]

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*Pats self on back*

See that right there? That’s my work being cited in the Family Equality Council, et al. amicus brief submitted to the United States Supreme Court in support of marriage equality. Needless to say, I’m pretty happy about it, a lot of late nights went in to the project when the four of us put it together for a Family Equality Council amicus brief in Perry and Windsor.  It’s not often that one gets the chance to leave their fingerprints on history and I’m grateful that I’ve been given the opportunity to play a small part.  There is a dark cloud hovering in the background, though. This is yet another accomplishment that Covenant College is going to refuse to acknowledge. Doesn’t matter if the brief managed to swing Scalia and Thomas to vote for equality in a unanimous Supreme Court decision (not gonna happen, but a girl can dream), my alma mater isn’t going to acknowledge it. Because acknowledgement equals endorsement and we can’t have that.  Not going to lie, it hurts. It would be nice to have something positive happen without having any reason that my happiness is tarnished.  Maybe someday.

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Dear Flip: An open letter to Flip Benham on the occasion of his disrupting wedding ceremonies

Dear Flip, I don’t know if you remember me or not, but there was a time back in the 1990s when you were on a first name basis with my parents. If you don’t know me you should, my photo is on the cover of one of your Operation Save America brochures and the cover of Rusty Thomas’ book. I danced on stage to the song “Children Things We Throw Away” at Operation Rescue National events in Melbourne and Birmingham, and when you spoke in Bradenton, each time performing to standing ovation. I’ve spoken at ORN events and had people praise me afterward. When I say that I was a child of Rescue and that I’ve been there, done that, got the t-shirt, I mean it literally. The t-shirts are shoved in the back of a dresser drawer, artifacts that I’d never wear again but can’t bring myself to throw out. I’m writing to say thank you. Thank you for creating an activist. When you’re shoved on to the front lines of the culture wars as a child, activism becomes second nature. I know how to fight because ORN/OSA taught me. I wouldn’t be the activist I am today without you. Just as importantly, thank you for so mishandling the situation with the conflict my parents were in–you know the details–that you started our break from the movement. I may have never gotten away from the oppression of the religious right and become the fabulous queer I am today without what happened that Sunday afternoon in Melbourne. For that I truly thank you. God uses all kinds of people in unexpected ways to get a person where they need to be, and God used you screwing over my parents to put me on the path to freedom. Flip, I see[…]

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No, Marvin Olasky, the DOMA ruling doesn’t mean you’ll soon have to chose between silence or jail

Perhaps I’m just a glutton for punishment, but every so often I feel the need to check out what one-time trustee at my alma mater, editor-in-chief of World Magazine (who would use that position to write thinly-veiled screeds about Covenant turning liberal), author of the Newt Gingrich-pimped The Tragedy of American Compassion (and of the super racist, orientalist, poor-excuse-for-a-novel Scimitar’s Edge, among other books), architect of “compassionate conservatism,” Marvin Olasky has to say about world events. What he has to say about yesterday’s DOMA ruling is an absolute doozie.  Because I’m bored and because the hyperbole, panic, and overall insanity of the piece is absolutely hilarious, I am going to do point-by-point commentary forthwith.  Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent in today’s Supreme Court same-sex saga is stinging the left, which is hitting back with headlines like “Top 10 Rage Quotes from Scalia’s DOMA Dissent.” No, Marvin, Scalia’s dissent is not “stinging the left.” We’re too busy laughing at it. I’ve been waiting for this dissent on pins and needles for months because I knew it was going to be epic. Scalia is many things and is unquestionably brilliant, but on the issue of homosexuality, he is completely and utterly incapable of maintaining any sign of impartial jurisprudence, as his scare-quote ridden, rant about about the gay agenda taking over law schools, Lawrence v. Texas dissent made clear. It’s one of those things you can’t even get mad at because the image of Scalia impotently seething with rage that the world is changing is too funny. After skimming the holding in Windsor yesterday, I skipped right to  Scalia’s dissent and it did not disappoint. Dude was so mad that he starts out his dissent with what was was pretty much a frontal assault on Marbury v. Madison and the entire concept of judicial review upon which[…]

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Real People

I’m kind of dreading the Supreme Court rulings on marriage tomorrow. Not because I think we’re going to lose–all the Supreme Court math suggests otherwise, but because whatever happens, my Facebook newsfeed is going to be horrible tomorrow. I know people say I should just make heavy use of the “Unfriend” button, and maybe I should, but I don’t feel right about cutting people out of my life like that. All I know though, is that the two days during oral arguments over Proposition 8 and DOMA were unpleasant because of all the nastiness that showed up in my newsfeed. People forget that there are actual people with real feelings reading their posts, and seeing how many of the people you grew up with and consider friends think you should be a second class citizen without equal rights hurts. Please remember before you click to post, there are real people with real feelings who are reading what you write. This may be an academic debate for you, but for us, it’s personal. Show some love and compassion and try to think about how you would feel if people you know are busy posting away about how they think that people like you are disgusting abominations who shouldn’t be allowed the same rights they take for granted.

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