Whatâ€™s the story with Chief Justice John Roberts? By now youâ€™ve probably read that Roberts reportedly was against the health care mandate before he was for it, changing his mind sometime in May and resisting the entreaties of his conservative colleagues.
So say the various tattle tales within the ambit of the Supreme Court, where everyone from the clerks to the secretaries was reportedly aware of the rift on the right. The most high profile reporting on the Roberts reversal came from veteran Court observer Jan Crawford via CBS News. Crawford stopped short of assigning a motive for Robertsâ€™ flip flop, but one notion was that Roberts operates against a backdrop of history, calibrating his major moves to bolster the long-term reputation of the â€śRoberts Court.â€ť
In that context, this theory goes, Roberts feared stepping out on a legal limb in order to strike a breakthrough piece of legislation with a ruling
that could be considered cravenly political.
Another theory was that the Chief so values the notion of judicial restraint that he twisted himself into knots in order to defer to Congress.
For the sake of argument, letâ€™s assume that the Chief Justice is indeed concerned with the opinions of future legal scholars. So, what would this mean for gay rights cases? The answer is pretty obvious.
As Richard Socarides points out in a recent New Yorker article. Roberts will likely be around for a few more decades. And if he cares about his place in history, he will hardly want to go down as the recalcitrant naysayer who voted against gay rights in a decision that was overturned 20 years later by his own Court. Itâ€™s pretty clear how History will judge the battle for same-sex marriage and gay rights in general. If Roberts is indeed protecting his Courtâ€™s good name, it could be counter productive to set back our inevitable triumph with a gay version of Dred Scott.
Or so we hope at any rate.
As for the theory that Roberts will do anything to avoid striking federal law, letâ€™s hope that his judicial restraint does not extend to the Defense of Marriage Act. If Roberts sees himself as a plate umpire, letâ€™s hope he sees DOMA as a wild pitch.
Arizona Asks High Court To Rule On Partner Benefits
As if we werenâ€™t already assured that the High Court will accept review of at least one Major Gay Rights Case next term, we now have yet another petition heading towards the justices. Oh, keep reading! This wonâ€™t take long and itâ€™s important.
Earlier this year, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit slapped Arizona for cutting off partner benefits to the gay staff of state government. The benefits had been authorized by former Governor Janet Napolitano, but revoked as a â€ścost cuttingâ€ť move once the GOP and Governor Jan Brewer took power. Even though the benefits were stripped from both gay and straight unmarried couples, Lambda Legal argued successfully that the move discriminated against same-sex couples who could not marry. Further, there was so little money involved that the policy could not be justified as a serious budget cut.
Now, after the full Ninth Circuit refused to revisit the case, Governor Brewer has petitioned the Supreme Court to take review, bringing the number of gay petitions before the High Court to five. When the justices return from vacation on October 1, they will decide whether to hear the two Massachusetts DOMA challenges, the Prop 8 marriage rights case, the Golinski DOMA case out of California and now, the Arizona
Why is this news? Well, itâ€™s been years since the High Court has considered a gay rights case and now theyâ€™ve got five big ones all at once, thatâ€™s why!
Before we continue, I have yet another bone to pick with the creators of the most recent Cialis ad campaign. Why should we detour into this irrelevant topic? Only because I was wondering what to write about next when I saw one of these annoying commercials, thatâ€™s why.
The ads in question are the ones in which the aging husbands are reminded of why they fell in love with their wives. In each case, the Proustian trigger is a girlish habit. She twirls her hair with her finger! She sings aloud! She likes to dance in the rain! And once again, stereotypes reign on Madison Avenue where the fond husband shakes his manly head and smiles with paternal affection as
his wife beams back with childlike innocence.
Why do these and other smarmy tropes from decades ago still permeate the world of advertising, even as they fade from modern social consciousness? Itâ€™s an important question, donâ€™t you think?
No? Well, fine. Weâ€™ll move on to some feel-good news.
The late gay rights pioneer Frank
Kameny has been honored by astronomers who named an asteroid after him.
Kameny was an astronomer himself, something I did not know. According to the Huffington Post (which also described Kameny as a â€śpioneerâ€ťâ€¦cue theme from X Files!) Canadian amateur astronomer Gary Billings read about Kameny in his obituary last year. Billings had discovered an asteroid, ne Minor Planet 40463, and under astronomy rules, he retained the right to name the space rock. After consulting with others, the asteroid was officially dubbed â€śfrankkamenyâ€ť on July 3.
Frankkameny is located between Mars and Jupiter.
Oh, and for the record, why do you guys have so many male-oriented products anyway? Youâ€™ve got â€ślow Tâ€ť problems. Of course you have your vast array of erectile dysfunction medications. And now thereâ€™s some kind of androgen stuff on the market.
I donâ€™t see people pushing estrogen tablets on prime time. Yes, we women can and do use hormone therapy but we havenâ€™t turned it into a source of genderwide angst now, have we? No.
I just took a short break and now I canâ€™t locate my news list. I know that I was going to mention the Episcopal Church, which came up with language for a gay wedding blessing. Also, the Presbyterians fell a few votes short of changing the definition of marriage to a union of two people. Maybe next year. Or whenever. I really donâ€™t care.
Mel and I were driving through a shopping center the other day and we passed a store called â€śChristian Booksâ€ť or something like that. You know what? The â€śChristianâ€ť brand is so tarnished from three decades of hatred and venom that the store might as well be called â€śKlan Books.â€ť Thereâ€™s nothing wrong with Christians per se. But when the word â€śChristianâ€ť is used as a descriptor, thatâ€™s when the warning bells start ringing and the lights start flashing.
How long will it take, I wonder, before some of the old luster is restored to the adjective â€śChristian?â€ť It used to mean â€śkindâ€ť and â€ścharitable.â€ť
Remember those days? No, youâ€™re too young.
Alan Chambers, Man of Mystery
So, speaking of Christians, there is much ado this week over remarks by Alan Chambers, President of Exodus International.
Exodus International of course is one of the better known pray-away-the-gay operations that promotes a â€ścureâ€ť for the disease of homosexuality. Chambers, 40, is an ex-gay who claims to be happily married and sort of straight. Lately, heâ€™s been backing away from the party line, however, and last week he acknowledged that you canâ€™t really change your sexual orientation.
Last year, Chambers came out in support of the â€śIt Gets Betterâ€ť Youtube campaign, a collection of encouraging videos directed at suicidal LGBT teens. Now, Chambers appears to be trying to present a â€ścomplexâ€ť view of sexual orientation, furthering a muddled position that simultaneously enrages his colleagues to the right and exasperates his adversaries on the left.
Exodus, Chambers told a TV host the other day, is designed to help those people who have a conflict between their sexuality and their faith.
As far as I could understand, the man is offering some kind of helping hand to religious people who I guess want to live miserable lives of denial. As for happy gays, Chambers told MSNBC that he has nothing against them. Huh?
Chambers himself admits that he still is attracted to men, while also claiming that he adores his wife of 15 years and is only attracted to her.
The whole thing makes no sense.
Nonetheless, the media is always enthralled with the ideological leader who has a change of heart, ergo we are covering this story like the sheep that we are. Bah bah bah.
Oh, speaking of media stories about people who change their mind, I just saw a TV piece about a 13-year-old boy who gave a speech to some conservative crowd four years ago, and who has now changed his mind and decided he is no longer a conservative. Hello? The kid is 17 years old. Why does anyone care what he thinks about anything?
There are few things more irritating than a precocious child parroting grownup ideas to an adult audience. And one of those few more irritating things might be to subsequently hear the aforementioned child explain pretentiously how his or her political views have â€śmaturedâ€ť over the last year or so.
I have a few more GLBT items. Brad Pittâ€™s mother said something mean about us. And a group of power lesbians have started a Super Pac.
You go girlz!
But I was really kind of intrigued by a non-gay story, the death of the billionaire Eva Rausing, who may have been lying dead in her house in London for a week while her husband hung out and did drugs!
Or itâ€™s something like that anyway. I gather as well that this woman walked into the American Embassy in London with a bunch of crack a few years ago and was caught by security. Thatâ€™s not particularly smart, but what struck me was that authorities then searched her house, discovered tons more drugs, and then issued a â€śwarningâ€ť to the couple.
A warning? For 50 grams of cocaine plus pills and other stuff? A few years ago I served on a Grand Jury in Texas where we indicted quite a number of our hapless fellow citizens who were caught with miniscule amounts of banned substances. For the record, we had little choice under the jury rules but to indict the ham sandwiches presented by the DAâ€™s office. But still, even our liberal jury would have thrown the book at Richie Rich and the missus under those circumstances. It makes you wonder if sheâ€™d be alive today had she only been sent to the clink for a month or so back in the day.
This couple ranks right up there with the very bizarre duo profiled last Sunday in the New York Times magazine. Iâ€™m thinking of the con artist who married a woman 40 years his senior and managed to attract Washington movers and shakers to a salon in his Georgetown basement. Did you read about that? This guyâ€™s wife also wound up dead under mysterious circumstances.
Ah the world is indeed a surreal place and truth is stranger than fiction. I was done with this column, by the way, but I made a major edit and Iâ€™m now back to add a few words. Youâ€™ll be pleased to know that I deleted a lengthy section on whether Justice Kagan is likely to step aside from considering the Massachusetts DOMA case.
Some people think she might. But many others see no reason for her to recuse herself even though she was Solicitor General up until mid-2010. Anyway, I managed to cough up half a dozen boring paragraphs on this subject even though one mildly boring paragraph pretty much sums it up. Youâ€™re most welcome!
A new version of Annâ€™s column is available every week at sfbaytimes.com. You can reach her at email@example.com.