Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Court Strikes Down Prop 8 + Bloomberg Defends Cordoba House

What a great piece of news: this afternoon, Judge Vaughn Walker, of the United States District Court of Northern California, issued a careful, thoughful, and earthshaking ruling in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, striking down the heinous Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that two years ago withdrew equal marriage laws in the State of California.  Walker stated in his judgment that Proposition 8 was unconstitutional "under both the due process and equal protection clauses," and ordered "entry of judgment permanently enjoining its enforcement."

The judgment was a tremendous victory for same-sex couples, who had briefly enjoyed equal marriage laws in California after the state Supreme Court ruled, in In re Marriage Cases 43 Cal.4th 757 [76 Cal.Rptr.3d 683, 183 P.3d 384], in May 2008, that California's constitution permitted them.  It was also a victory for the plaintiff's lawyers, Ted Olson, the former Solicitor General under George W. Bush, and David Boies, who had argued on opposing sides in the case representing one of the worst recent rulings by the US Supreme Court, 2000's Bush v. Gore.

California's Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who had previously twice vetoed the state legislature's passage of marriage equality bills, hailed today's ruling as an affirmation of "the full legal protections and safeguards I believe everyone deserves."

You can read the ruling (in .pdf form) here, at GoodAsYou

Opponents of Judge Walker's ruling have already filed appeals, and the case will likely go to the US Supreme Court. According to the New York Times's John Schwartz, Walker's ruling will make it more difficult for the US Supreme Court to overturn on appeal, mainly because of "the careful logic and structure of Judge Vaughn R. Walker’s opinion." With the current conservative quintet, which shows little concern for precedent or legal logic, however, the outcome is unclear, but what is clear is that today's decision was a momentous one, and a huge step forward after several recent steps backward (Maine, New Jersey, New York, etc.) on the marriage equality front.


So Cordoba House, an Islamic cultural center (and not a "mosque," though that would have been fine in my eyes as well) is slated to be built two blocks north of the World Trade Center Ground Zero site, as the New York City Landmarks Commission voted to allow the demolition of the prior building at 45-47 Park Place in lower Manhattan.  The 13-story cultural center, which will include a prayer room and a 9/11 memorial, will rise, once its developer raises $100 million, despite the spate of hateful, misinformed rhetoric by a number of major conservatives, like current post-children and disgraced Republican politicians Sarah Palin and Newt Gingrich.

Let us never forget, as we to often do, what comes out of these right-wingers' mouths, how toxic and corrosive it is, and also how this bigotry that they're currently spewing against Muslims and Islam has readily and frequently been applied throughout American history to Black Americans, women, Latinos, Asians and Asian Americans, Jewish people, Roman Catholics, immigrants in general, gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people (cf. above), disabled people, the poor, and on and on. They always find and target scapegoats, with destructive effects, and unless we speak out, we ratify their hate.

As others across the web have pointed out, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, of whom I'm hardly a fan, gave a marvelous, moving speech yesterday defending the Muslim cultural center and the history of immigration and the ideas of religious freedom and pluralism in the US. It was for me one of the high points of his public career, and something that far more of our political figures need to do. To the rest of the pols on the Left, center, and yes, those on the right--who believe in the Constitution and aren't gripped by xenophobia and cynicism--who've been silent, step up to the mic!

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