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July 28, 2014

Fourth Circuit Decision

It's like an old zombie story...I repeat old zombie story. You know, the original ones where the zombies were slow and had no intelligence. But there were so many of them and they had such a drive to achieve their single-minded goal: brains. In our story the old slow zombies are played by religious conservatives who, totally lacking in the brains department, simply keep repeating the same useless words over and over: protect the children, protect marriage, follow the Bible's instruction to have no more than 500 concubines - or something like that.

Today it was the 4th Circuit's turn. Virginia, specifically, where the Attorney General refused to defend the state's ban on same-sex marriage, leaving the fight up to two county clerks. The 4th Circuit includes Virginia, Maryland, DC, North Carolina, South Carolina and West Virginia.

The zombies in Virginia made the procreation argument. The court rejected that quoting from Griswold v. Connecticut which was the decision where the Supreme Court ruled that bans on contraception were unconstitutional.

Marriage is a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred. It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects. Yet it is an association for as noble a purpose as any involved in our prior decisions.

The zombies ran through all the zombie arguments we've heard before, without any improvement. You'll read nothing new in the court's decision: "we conclude that the Virginia Marriage Laws violate the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment."

The decision includes a dissent by Judge Niemeyer who argues that "same-sex marriage" is not the same as "marriage," therefore all preceding Supreme Court decisions that affirm a right to marriage simply do not apply to this new thing which is not marriage.

Today, North Carolina's Attorney General said the state will not defend its ban on same-sex marriage, so it will go the way of Oregon. There will be a brief formality at some point before the ban is declared unconstitutional. "In addition, the State of North Carolina will acknowledge the 4th Circuit opinion that marriage is a fundamental right and that our office believes that the judges are bound by this 4th Circuit decision."

Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin has produced the graph shown below. The time span is 1961 (when Illinois became the first to repeal its anti-sodomy law) to today. The vertical scale is the percentage of U.S. population. Red represents people living in jurisdictions with anti-sodomy laws. Green represents the population in jurisdictions where there is marriage equality. Blue is for bans struck down. I think the pale blue at the top of 2014 represents today's 4th Circuit decision. It boils down to 81% of the U.S. population living in jurisdictions with marriage equality.

image from www.boxturtlebulletin.com

Filed under Gay Issues | permalink | July 28, 2014 at 06:02 PM

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