Sorrow and Pity

Andrew Sullivan writes:

And it is the distinguishing mark of specifically totalitarian societies that this safety is eradicated altogether by design. … You are, in fact, always guilty before being proven innocent. You always have to prove a negative. …
Perhaps gay people are particularly sensitive to this danger, because our private lives have long been the target of moral absolutists, and we have learned to be vigilant about moral or sex panics. For much of history, a mere accusation could destroy a gay person’s life or career, and this power to expose private behavior for political purposes is immense.
I’m not equating an accusation of attempted rape in the distant past with sodomy. I am noting a more general accusatory dynamic that surrounded Ford’s specific allegation. This is particularly dangerous when there are no editors or gatekeepers in the media to prevent any accusation about someone’s private life being aired, when economic incentives online favor outrageous charges, and when journalists have begun to see themselves as vanguards of a cultural revolution, rather than skeptics of everything.

What’s Good for RBG is Bad for Brett Kavanaugh, or So We’re Told

A typical headline in the liberal media and by progressive activists (excuse the redundancy) this week was Brett Kavanaugh’s ‘Obergefell’ Comments On Gay Marriage Will Give You Pause. As put it:

Brett Kavanaugh’s comments on Obergefell and gay marriage rights revealed little about his personal opinions on the matter. … Despite [Sen. Kamala] Harris repeatedly asking for Kavanaugh’s personal opinion on the case, Kavanaugh never directly gave it.

This is only surprisingly to those who are unfamiliar with the so-called Ginsberg Standard, named after liberal icon and current Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, who during her own confirmation hearing refused to indicate how she would rule on controversial matters that could come before the court. While this hesitancy certainly wasn’t new, Ginsburg clearly enunciated the principle that judicial nominees must avoid offering “hints,” “forecasts” or “previews” of how they might rule since decisions should be made based on the evidence presented and application of the law, not preexisting personal beliefs.

While RBG clearly didn’t want to seem biased by revealing she would oppose any limitation on abortion on demand up until at least the baby’s delivery, regardless of its previous viability outside the womb at time of termination, the principle in itself was and is sound.

Liberal media and activists are trying to argue that what was good and right for RBG is evil and nefarious for BK, but it’s just partisan blather.

As we noted earlier, Kavanaugh was a safe, solid choice and progressives were poised to denounce anyone Trump nominated as an extremist ideologue (and they know all about being extremist ideologues). Moreover, as we posted when Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement:

A Solid, Safe Choice

For the Surrogacy Revolution, Thank Free Markets and Voluntary Exchange

Reprinted from the Chicago Tribune in the Duluth News Tribune (talk about the heartland): Gay men increasingly turn to surrogates to have babies.

Yes, they are, and it represents a sea change in the lives of gay men who are, increasingly, married with children.

The surrogacy revolution is premised on free enterprise and the voluntary exchange of a market economy, made possible when government and its army of bureaucrat regulators get out of the way.

Government’s role here is limited to enforcing contracts, when necessary, as adjudicated by the courts.

Toxic Politics About to Get Uglier

The death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, a jovial homophobe, will make an already toxic electoral season worse. From all indications, there will be no move by the Senate to confirm Obama’s forthcoming nominee, making the Court a central issue in both the primaries and the November election.

Already, the GOP presidential contenders who’ve specialized in pandering to the worst instincts of their party’s social conservative base (primarily though not exclusively Cruz and Rubio, among those left standing) are pledging to put forward, if elected, a nominee who will roll back Obergefell, the ground-breaking decision in favor of marriage equality. But that’s a zero-sum change, since Scalia was the most adamant voice attacking the idea that same-sex couples’ relationships could be worthy of recognition, as he did earlier when he bitterly condenmed overturning the Clinton-era Defense of Marriage Act. Of course, Court-watchers are also looking to future replacements, including octogenarian liberal stalwart Ruth Bader Ginsburg, among others.

(Chief plaintiff Jim Obergefell takes the high road, tweeting “Thank you for your service to our country, Justice Scalia. Condolences to your family and friends.”)

Obama will likely nominate someone who is unacceptably liberal to the GOP senate but not obviously extreme (“Political calculation also militates in favor of nominating someone whose leftism isn’t obvious,” the Powelineblog predicts). But recognizing the likelihood that the next president is going to make this call, Hillary and Bernie will duke it out over who will push for a hard-core progressive.

Regardless, Obama’s nominee (or Hillary’s, or Bernie’s) will be good on LGBT legal equality while in favor of running roughshod over other liberty rights (second amendment, commercial political speech, freedom from state coercion, religious dissent….).

Meanwhile, many expect the fight will bring a halt to any bipartisan cooperation that Congress might have been able to achieve this year.

Being Reasonable

Rod Dreher has a good post about the martyrdom of Kim Davis.  He is concerned about the effect of her case on religious freedom in general.  But he’s ignoring the central protection Kentucky itself has instituted to protect religious liberty.

Prof. Eugene Volokh has the best analysis of the actual law, and the Kentucky religious freedom protection statute seems very clear that the state would make a reasonable accommodation for Davis if she were interested in being reasonable.  In fact, the religious freedom laws passed by both the state and federal governments in the last two decades, are weighted — sometimes unreasonably (in my view) — in favor of religious freedom.  Despite my feelings, that is a policy choice elected officials have made, and it is the law.

Davis’ best argument is that she doesn’t want to have her name on state marriage certificates if they will be issued to same-sex couples, because the use of her name in those circumstances violates her religious beliefs.  The statute only requires her beliefs to be sincere, not objectively reasonable or even consistent.  Under the Kentucky law, if it is not unduly burdensome on the state to remove her name, she could continue to serve in her job.  That would require either reconfiguring how Kentucky marriage certificates look and perhaps having to reprint all of them going forward, or perhaps somehow scratching her name (if not her office title) from them.  These options may or may not be reasonable given the specifics of what processes are in place, which ones are required by state statute, etc.

Volokh says this is a “modest” request. That might be true, though “modest” might not be the word I’d use. If one elected official in one Kentucky county can bring lawful marriages in her jurisdiction to a virtual halt because of her religious beliefs, and demands that her view of religion be accommodated countywide, and possibly statewide depending on the statutory rules for marriage forms, that seems to me immodest in the extreme.

Davis’s case is extraordinary because she has insisted that her personal religious belief should govern, not just her own actions, but those of her entire office, including (in her view) all of the people who work for her.

Compare the extent of her preferences to those of Judge Vance Day in Oregon.  Judge Day has announced that he will not perform same-sex marriages due to his religious beliefs. Unlike the office of a county clerk, the performance of marriages is entirely discretionary for a judge. In fact, Judge Day specifically told his staff that they should forward any requests for same-sex marriages to other judges who do not share his religious objections.  Judge Day has at the very least made it clear that his religious objections are his own, and made an accommodation to the same-sex couples who might have approached his office to make sure that their rights are protected at the same time that his religious beliefs are respected.

Here is another example, one cited by Dreher that works in the opposite direction.  Gavin Newsom, as mayor of San Francisco, announced in 2004 that he felt California’s law prohibiting same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, and that henceforth City Hall would be happy to provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples, which is did, to great joy.  Dreher calls this “lawlessness,” and implies that those who supported Newsom are hypocrites if they oppose Davis.

Newsom went beyond his authority as mayor, but he was not, as a NYTimes editorial quoted by Dreher suggests, defying a court order.  In fact, the California Attorney General challenged the mayor’s political grandstanding, and when the California Supreme Court ruled against Newsom, the marriages ended.  Dreher’s comparison of Newsom to Davis would hold only if the mayor had truly disobeyed the court ruling and maybe gone to jail for that.

Moreover, while Newsom was indeed acting (or more accurately overacting) on a moral principle, it was one grounded in the civil law, not God’s.  The prior year, the Massachusetts Supreme Court had ruled that the state constitution protected the rights of same-sex couples to get married.  While Newsom was in grave error about his own authority, he also knew when the stunt was over.

Davis now has to make that same determination.  She can be a martyr for as long as she likes.  Kentucky officials can determine whether it makes sense to accommodate her religious beliefs and remove her name from marriage certificates.  The question is whether she is going to be reasonable enough to accept the terms she, herself, offered.

Support for Liberty Grows

Despite steadily increasing support for same-sex marriage equality, “the percentage of people who agree that wedding service providers should be required to serve same-sex couples has fallen to 38% from 52% in 2013,” a 14-point drop in two years, according to the 2015 State of the First Amendment study by the Newseum and USA Today.

Correspondingly, “Americans’ support for the First Amendment rebounded strongly over the past year,” specifically, three-quarters of Americans say the First Amendment, protecting freedom of speech, of the press, and of religion “does not go too far,” a jump from 57% last year.

This rise in support for expressive and religious liberty is occurring as LGBT activists gear up to switch from fighting for marriage equality to fighting to deny the right of religious dissent. This trend is exemplified by Evan Wolfson, founder and president of Freedom to Marry, who has come out strongly against religious exemptions for businesses in the proposed federal Employee Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a position he seems to be doubling down on after the marriage victory.

Even those with whom we strongly disagree about gay rights and equality have fundamental rights as Americans that must be protected, or else we will all suffer from the results when the state, backed by progressive activists, declares their freedoms denied.

More. In response to those who defend using the state to destroy small businesses that don’t toe the correct line, commenter Craig123 quotes Marx (facetiously, I think), who warned progressives that “The petite bourgeoisie is the most reactionary of classes” and thus must be pulled up by its roots. Given that other commenters have in prior posts charged this blog with “homocon idiocy” while themselves spouting the anti-capitalist anarcho-syndicalist ideas of Noam Chomsky (replacing corrupt private ownership with workers councils and all that), you get a sense of what some of them, in their fervid dreams, are really after—if only those outmoded individual rights can be put asunder.

Furthermore. Why I Support ‘No Gays Allowed’ (via the Huffington Post, and penned by C.J. Prince, executive director of North Jersey Pride, in case you thought it was by some self-loathing “homocon”). She writes that “As a strong supporter of freedom of speech and freedom of religion”:

I do not want to order a wedding cake from a bakery owned by a guy who thinks I’m going to hell. I have no desire to purchase bouquets from a florist who pickets Pride parades. …

If you don’t support my freedom to marry, have the guts to come out about it. Exercise your constitutional right to free speech, and I’ll support that. Then I’ll exercise my capitalist right to shop from your competitor—and to proudly put my money where my allies are.

Fissures and Alliances

At the conservative Washington Examiner, Philip Klein predicts Social Conservatives and Libertarians Will Get Married:

Perhaps fiercer than any of these fights is the long-standing conflict between social conservatives and libertarians. But when the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage last month, they created an opening for a wedding between these two groups, which could benefit the Republican Party ahead of the 2016 election. . . .

But as the dust settles on the Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage, it’s becoming clearer that the debate over the issue is going to shift to one of religious freedom. And on that issue, there’s much more of an opening for libertarians and social conservatives to get along. . . .

But with gay marriage legal, the cultural debate has been moving to issues such as: Should a religiously observant baker or photographer be forced to participate in gay weddings? Or, should a Catholic Church be forced to perform gay marriages?

Whatever their differences on the underlying issue of homosexuality and gay marriage, it will be hard for many libertarians to justify any sort of government coercion forcing individuals to violate their deeply held beliefs. As a result, they’ll find themselves increasingly — and begrudgingly — on the same side as social conservatives on many of the looming debates.

Over at the libertarian, Scott Shackford strikes a similar note, in Is This Where Libertarians and the Gay Community Part Ways?:

But just because libertarians and gay citizens were aligned in the pursuit of ending government mistreatment, that doesn’t mean other goals line up. Libertarians draw that bright, hard line between government behavior and private behavior. Others often do not, and what many gay activists see as justice and equality in the private sector, libertarians see as inappropriate government coercion.

Highlighting some of these contentions, William McGurn in the Wall Street Journal (A Win on Marriage: Now Protect Faith) addresses whether, for instance, religiously affiliated schools should be denied tax-exempt status for refusing to extend campus housing benefits given to opposite-sex married couples to same-sex spouses:

As part of a reasonable compromise that includes solid antidiscrimination provisions in education and housing, supporters of same-sex marriage should accept legislative language that prohibits the federal government from withholding or withdrawing tax exemptions from institutions solely on the basis of their opposition to Obergefell.

Underlying these specific issues—and others that will be even harder to resolve—is an urgent question: How can people with fundamentally different views peacefully coexist within the same political community? Except when confronted by pure evil, a generous pluralism is almost always the best course, as is magnanimity in victory.

I think most LGBT people, as opposed to LGBT activists and ideologues (whether beltway professionals, regional zealots, or correct-line-upholding blog commenters) are fine with live and let live, and don’t particularly wish to find and punish the tiny number of small service providers that have religious objections to gay weddings, or force religious schools to violate their faith principles. But activists need a mission. If they are intent on declaring religious freedom and dissent unacceptable hate behavior that must be rectified by the state, then this will, indeed, be a cause unacceptable to those who respect individual liberty.

More. Progressives clap and cheer dictates such as this awful ruling. Worse, not only were the bakers fined $135,000 for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a lesbian wedding, but the government has ordered them to “cease and desist” from speaking publicly about not being willing to bake cakes for same-sex weddings based on their religious beliefs, or face further fines. This is why defenders of individual rights and liberty are now at odds with the LGBT left.

Furthermore. More about the “cease and desist” order which is directed at preventing the bakery (now reduced to an online business) or, by extension, others, from stating that their services do not include same-sex weddings. Along with the extreme damages levied against the Kleins, it represents a further assault on their First Amendment rights.