Thursday, December 26, 2013

Catching Up

A couple of news items that came across the wires in the last couple of days might be of interest.

First, Britain tries to make up for a terrible wrong.

LONDON (AP) — Britain has tried to make good by one of its most famous sons, posthumously pardoning Alan Turing for a gay sex conviction which tarnished the brilliant career of the code breaker credited with helping win the war against Nazi Germany and laying the foundation for the computer age.

One author said he hoped Tuesday’s symbolic act — the famous mathematician committed suicide more than 50 years ago — would send a message to countries such as India and Russia, where gays can still be prosecuted for expressing their sexuality.

Others say the pardon doesn’t go far enough, noting that thousands of others shared in Turing’s humiliation in the years during which Britain criminalized homosexual behavior.

For lawmaker Iain Stewart, one of many who campaigned for the pardon, the act helped right a massive wrong.

“He helped preserve our liberty,” Stewart told The Associated Press. “We owed it to him in recognition of what he did for the country — and indeed the free world — that his name should be cleared.”

Not to be churlish or anything about the British authorities trying to right a massive wrong nearly 60 years after Mr. Turing committed suicide, but as I noted over at Rubber Hose, “posthumous pardons are like funerals: only the living appreciate them, and it’s an attempt to alleviate the guilt of having treated the person so rottenly during their life. In other words, cold comfort to the dead, and a free pass to those who hurt them in life.”

I wonder how much further along we’d have come in the digital age had Mr. Turing been allowed to continue his work with no regard to his private life.  More importantly, how much better his life would have been.

And somewhat related, the state of Utah is scrambling to try to put out the fire started last weekend when a judge ruled that the ban on same-sex marriage in the state violated the Constitution and hundreds of couples flocked to county clerk offices to get marriage licenses.

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A federal appeals court ruled Tuesday that gay marriages can continue in Utah, denying a request from the state to halt same-sex weddings that have been occurring at a rapid rate since last week.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ rejection of Utah’s request for an emergency stay marks yet another legal setback for the state. The same federal judge who ruled that Utah’s same-sex marriage ban violates gay and lesbian couples’ rights previously denied the state’s request to halt the marriages.

The appeals court said in its short ruling that a decision to put gay marriage on hold was not warranted, but said it put the case on the fast track for a full appeal of the ruling.

Utah’s last chance to temporarily stop the marriages would be the U.S. Supreme Court. That’s what the Utah Attorney General’s Office is prepared to do, said spokesman Ryan Bruckman. “We’re disappointed in the ruling, but we just have to take it to the next level,” Bruckman said.

The cat, as they say, is out of the bag.  It’s going to be very hard to stop the flood, and the justice who oversees the 10th U.S. Circuit is Sonia Sotomayor.  She can either issue a ruling or turn it over to the whole court for them to rule.  No matter what, a whole lotta couples in Utah are getting licenses and getting married.

By the way, who knew that there were that many same-sex couples in Utah?