Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Perry v. Schwarzenegger

Today, Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that the gay-marriage-banning constitutional amendment that California's voters adopted last fall is unconstitutional under the United States Constitution.  It is a momentous decision--the first to find a right to same-sex marriage in the U.S. Constitution.  Here are some random thoughts and questions (with thought-provoking links!).
  • Do we think that Judge Walker's emphasis on the "facts" will make it any harder for the 9th Circuit or Supreme Court to overturn this decision, as some are speculating?
  • Is Judge Walker correct that same-sex marriage is not really a significant social change?
  • Is Judge Walker's opinion too "maximalist"?
  • Is it still too soon for this kind of lawsuit?
  • Do we agree with Dahlia Lithwick "that what really won out today was science, methodology, and hard work"?   (What she actually means, apparently, is that the plaintiffs had much better lawyers who did a much better job trying their case. Certainly we can agree that that matters.  But that's not really "science.")
  • Is there any tension between the progressive ideal of (as Lithwick puts it) "the right to determine one's own humanity" and the equally progressive ideal of "we're all in this together"?  I think there might be.
  • Does it matter, at all, to anyone, that Judge Walker is, apparentlygay?
  • Does anyone doubt that Justice Kennedy will find room in his big, mushy heart to make sure the constitution allows gays to marry?
  • I am in favor of same-sex marriage, as a matter of policy.  But -- without doing any real thinking or examination of the constitutional issues -- I have to admit I find it a little bit hard to believe that the U.S. Constitution forbids states from banning same-sex marriage.   

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