I’ve kind of tuned out a lot of the news about same-sex marriage because it seems like a no-brainer. Also, I feel like Obama is focussing on this and other social issues – marijuana legalization, immigration – to distract from the fact that he is not going to commence any Wall Street reform at all. But I was struck yesterday by some of the arguments I heard being presented in the Supreme Court about California’s Proposition 8, aka DOMA.
One of the arguments that Cooper and Hollingsworth have put forward, the lawyers for the defense of DOMA, is that the primary intent of marriage is to procreate. When Justice Sotomayor questioned how that applied in a marriage of a man and woman over 55 years of age, the lawyers still insisted that there was a potential for procreation. Finally, Sotomayor assured the court: “If two people over 55 get married, there aren’t going to be a lot of children coming from that marriage.” Onlookers laughed, but the defense stood their ground, despite the ridiculousness of it.
These arguments have come to light because this is such a high profile case. Mostly, we don’t get to see what’s happening inside the Supreme Court. Both Justices Kagan and Sotomayor said when they took the bench that they would welcome cameras in the courtroom, that it would be educational for Americans to see their Justice system at work. But both Justices have since rescinded that idea, staying now people wouldn’t understand and would be confused by the proceedings. For the DOMA hearings, people waited in line in freezing DC to get tickets, so we are privy to more information from the inner sanctum than usual.
Transparency is key, and I object to the notion that citizens shouldn’t be able to watch Supreme Court proceedings on a regular basis. Of course controversy will arise, but isn’t that the point in a democracy? Why do we need protection from the knowledge of the way the laws of the land are being interpreted by the highest court? Let misunderstanding arise, then let’s flesh them out and get to understanding.
But perhaps my biggest objection to the case at hand is that the voters of California were essentially tricked by the writers of Proposition 8. Many voters didn’t understand the language of the law and thought a yes vote meant a yes on same sex marriage. They didn’t realize a yes vote meant a no on gay unions. Otherwise, how do you account for recent polls that show Californians – some of the most liberal voters in the country – overwhelmingly support gay marriage? DOMA was a scant four years ago.
So, unfortunately, now we are witnessing both a waste of time and money, just because some crafty Bible enthusiasts – the Mormon church funded a great deal of the Prop 8 campaign – succeeded in duping average voters. Right now, it’s not clear what the Supreme Court will decide, but like I said, we should all be suspicious about the timing of this compelling distraction. The banks are bigger now than they were before the sub-prime market crashed (echo, echo, echo).