Wednesday, June 26, 2013

DOMA Goes Down

"The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and to injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. "By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others, the federal statute is in violation of the Fifth Amendment."
--Justice Anthony Kennedy

With those words, the Supreme Court, or rather the liberal portion of the Supreme Court found an ally to strike down a hate law. 

Justice Scalia was particularly scathing and personal in his dissent, even by his own standards, suggesting those who opposed the law suffered from an obvious character disorder.  Justice Roberts, in his typically obtuse style,  suggested there was no malice intended by those who passed the law--they were simply trying to embrace a positive view of marriage. 

Mad Dog has said in the past and now says again he does not embrace gay marriage, because he does not embrace heterosexual marriage as an institution the state has any place in injecting itself.  It is an institution and an ideal which has nothing to recommend it in either ideological or practical terms.  At best, it is an absurd notion, the "Bride's Day" image of marriage as a happily ever after state of bliss and at worse, it is a destructive fantasy, which dooms people who discover the psychological impossibility of eternal psychological faithfulness and unchanging adulation.  From a practical point of view, marriage is unnecessary, as long as laws do not require it for health insurance, and all the other things which marriage automatically conveys. Legislatures have found  legal aspects of marriage convenient--it is convenient to convey a "package" of rights and benefits on a couple which has registered at the courthouse as a married couple. You could award the same package to a couple who simply signed a contract, but that would require the legislatures to do some work.

Some people want to believe they see the hand of God at work at a wedding. God wanted this particular John to marry this particular Jane. Most Americans in the 21st century, at least the people Mad Dog knows, do not buy this.

Some people say you need marriage for stable relationships to raise stable, well grounded children.  Mad Dog is not sure. He sees plenty of unstable people who were the product of strong marriages and plenty of stable people who are the products of a "broken" home. Perhaps the home was not "broken" but simply more flexible. 

But, as Mad Dog is well aware, marriage exists in American society, at least in some parts of the country.  In Hollywood, in the inner cities,  marriage hasn't been seen for years. Couples live together and ignore the whole idea, happily enough. Where there is enough money, two people live together and raise kids or one parent raises her kids alone, and hires help for when she is shooting a film. Where there is no money, women often choose to not wait for a husband to support her, because she knows the man she chooses likely won't hang around long enough to be a real source of support.

Today, the court displayed itself to be a political instrument, with the 4 conservative horsemen predictably voting to "uphold" marriage as between opposite sex partners and the 4 liberals saying, "ridiculous."

As far as Mad Dog is concerned, he is with Chris Rock on this one: Gays have a right to be as miserable as the rest of us.

Reading back over this, Mad Dog realizes it sounds as if it has been written by someone who has had an unhappy marriage or who has never seen what appears to be a happy marriage thrive among others. This, actually, is not the case. Mad Dog has witnessed "happily married" couples, and more in New Hampshire than in Washington, D.C. and New York City, although there are happily married couples even in those places, from all appearances. 

But these happy marriages have little or nothing to do with other people, or with  the government "sanctifying" the union.  These couples would have been happy without anyone else's blessing.  What Mad Dog cannot understand is the idea of a couple needing other people to share the joy at the wedding or to support the joy afterwards. Either it is there between the two people involved, gay or straight, or it is not --a thousand wedding guests and twelve angels blowing horns as the clouds part and the sun shines will make no difference to those two people, if what happens within each of them and between the two of them does not work.


  1. Mad Dog,
    I don't think every couple that shares their wedding day with their friends and family does so because they need to--some may do it simply because they want to. However, I couldn't agree more that in many cases to much time is spent in the planning and preparation for the big day--for "showtime"-- and not enough time is spent thinking about what it is they are entering into- that seems to sometimes get lost in the production numbers... I'm not exactly sure how you identify "happily married" couples-I gave up on that long ago when couples I thought very happy got divorced-when it comes to other people's marriages I've found looks can be deceiving,,,
    Luckily Justice Kennedy was able to acknowledge what the other four dissenters decided to pretend they couldn't see-that DOMA was nothing more than a slap in the face of the gay community and reinforcement of the notion that gays don't deserve equal rights because they are less than equal. It would have been nice if Justice Kennedy could have had a similar bout of enlightenment regarding the Voting Rights Act, but I guess as the saying goes-don't look a gift horse in the mouth...

    On a totally different subject-yesterday on the "Today" show a representative from "Entertainment Weekly" was on to discuss the magazine's picks for "Top 100 of all Time" in music, movies, TV shows etc. Their choices for the #1 spots were: music album-Beatles Revolver; movies-Citizen Kane and TV Show-Partridge Family. mistake...their choice for best TV show of all time was "The Wire" which the interviewee referred to as "staggeringly brilliant" and cautioned against multi-tasking while watching. All these accolades and viewing tips are becoming worrisome..I'm starting to think I'll need to watch it alone in a cell with just a notebook and a pen so as not to miss a staggeringly brilliant answer to one of life's looming questions...Oh the pressure....

  2. Maud,

    Ah, The Wire.
    First of all, it is not television as you know it. It is not entertainment, although it is entertaining and addictive.
    Recommending it, however, is fraught.
    It is somewhere between telling your kid to go to college and telling him to enlist in the Army. You know you are launching the kid into the world, with all its perils and rewards. On the other hand, watching The Wire is not likely to kill or maim you, physically.
    Rent the DVD's and put on the subtitles, always. The ghetto language is simply too quick and if you miss even small things you'll be confused when they come back later. Also, the wit is very, very quick and it's a shame to miss it.
    Bon Voyage.

    Mad Dog.