Thursday, September 4, 2014

One Step Back Could Be A Step Forward

With the winning streak as long as it was, you knew that there had to be at least one setback for marriage equality.

A federal judge in Louisiana has upheld the state’s ban on gay marriage.

U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman’s ruling on Wednesday was the first defeat in a federal court for same-sex marriage since the Supreme Court ruled in 2013 that the U.S. government cannot deny equal benefits to married gay couples.

“The State of Louisiana has a legitimate interest under a rational basis standard of review for addressing the meaning of marriage through the democratic process,” Feldman wrote.

Feldman, who was appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1983, described the concept of same-sex marriage as “nonexistent and even inconceivable until very recently.” He wrote, “Many states have democratically chosen to recognize same-sex marriage. But until recent years, it had no place at all in this nation’s history and tradition.”

[…]

The judge also raised the specter of marriages between relatives as a potential consequence of adopting the reasoning pushed by opponents of the ban. “And so, inconvenient questions persist,” he wrote. “For example, must the states permit or recognize a marriage between an aunt and niece? Aunt and nephew? Brother/brother? Father and child? May minors marry? Must marriage be limited to only two people? What about a transgender spouse? Is such a union same-gender or male-female? All such unions would undeniably be equally committed to love and caring for one another, just like the plaintiffs.”

Judge Feldman is basically repeating every tired old scary argument that the anti-marriage crowd has been chanting since Day One: it’s new, it violates “tradition,” marriage is only for making babies, it will lead down the old slippery slope to man on dog, and so on and so forth.  It’s what you’d expect from a judge who has been on the bench since Devo last had a hit.

In a way it’s good to have this kind of ruling because it puts these myths and boogedy-boogedy lies on the record as the straw men for the appeals courts and lawyers to knock down once and for all in court.  Like the trial judge in Loving v. Virginia who said that it was destined by God that blacks and whites should not marry, Judge Feldman has supplied the soft slow pitch for the next court to whack out of the park.

4 barks and woofs on “One Step Back Could Be A Step Forward

  1. And he based his decision on the “fact” that marriage laws have been in place for “thousands” of years. He needs some updating on cultural history.

  2. In another way it’s a good ruling is that now we have, albeit only one, clear dissenting opinion from a federal judge making this now something the Supreme Court should settle.

    • It’s also a good thing to have the Reichwing pseudo-legal arguments in a decision in 2014. Feldman’s justifications are so paleolegal as to be worthy of significant ridicule – especially since they have been debunked (repeatedly) in similar cases. It’s time to remind people that “traditional family values” also covers shotgun weddings, single-income households (with one spouse working and the other BPIK), male relations’ veto powers over womens’ healthcare, and a host of other backward principles.

      • Afterthought: is it possible that Feldman’s decision – given its dated (at best) reasoning and questionable (at best) interpretation of (often misleading) scholarship – was handed down to force SCOTUS to act? Granted, it’s from a Louisiana court, and Dixie hasn’t been precisely friendly to Other People since at least 1781; but it’s just possible that, with all the other decisions going the other way, one conflicting decision might be enough to pressure the Roberts Court to address the issue sooner.

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