I took a glance at my list to determine where to start this week, and Iâm tempted by the California Supreme Courtâs request for extra written briefs in the marriage case, along with the three First Amendment decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court. I think instead weâll begin with the news that aliens from outer space are, in fact, minions of Satan.
This thesis comes from a Web site called Revelation VII, devoted to the analysis of the Bible and the Ethiopian Book of Enoch, by âUFOlogistâ Richard Stout.Â
âIf we can agree with ST. JUDE that ENOCH was a prophet, then perhaps his chapters 68:17-18 were a âcoded prophecyâ where Enoch, himself, was prophesying that our current âalien abduction phenomenonâ really should have been called, THE DEMONIC ABDUCTION PHENOMENON,â the Web site author suggests. âIf you are not convinced that this may be the case, then - perhaps - after we examine PART TWO of this ongoing hypothesis in the near future, Richard will have nailed down his case for aliens as being none other than the demons that infest and infect our current reality, even as I pen these words.
I was tipped off to the site by a âmedia advisoryâ from the Christian Newswire, which itself concludes: âIt looks as if we arenât alone after all, only these âaliensâ are fallen angels masquerading as extraterrestials from another planet!â
Do you think these are just fringe crazies using ancient Christian documents to bolster their risible theories? Ten years ago, I would have agreed. But spend a decade reading the various ravings of the leaders of the religious right, infused as they are with the mindless embrace of supernatural phenomena and apocalyptic predictions and you come to realize that we are fighting a civil rights battle against full out lunatics.
Meep! Bli67% shgwtuxzr, sduyue48! Heh Heh Heh@ JLAXTIS Bling!!!
Suddenly, Iâm so tired.
From the Human Rights Campaign this morning (Wednesday) comes word that Bush may veto the Washington D.C. appropriations bill if it remains silent on federal funding for the cityâs domestic partner program.
âThe Administration strongly opposes the billâs exclusion of a longstanding provision that disallows the use of Federal funds to register unmarried, cohabitating couples in the District, to enable them to qualify for benefits on the same basis as legally married couples,â write the minions of Satan that work for the Bush White House. âUnder Federal law, legal marriage is the union between a man and a woman. Federal tax dollars are not used to extend employment benefits to domestic partners of Federal employees, and D.C. should not enjoy an exception to this rule. If the final version of H.R. 2829 does not include this longstanding provision, the Presidentâs senior advisors would recommend he veto the bill.â
The bizarre thing about this is that DCâs five-year-old domestic partner registry is paid for by local funds, not federal funds. Even so, previous DC appropriations bills have always included gratuitous language making it perfectly clear that not a dime of federal money will be used for the benefit of the capitalâs same-sex couples. This year, the pointless slap in the face has been left out of the bill, hence the veto threat.
Please please please, can we distance this man and his insidious entourage from the levers of power? Pick a Democrat, any Democrat.
In a disturbing example of the Bush legacy, the U.S. Supreme Court issued three First Amendment decisions last week, all essentially 5-4 rulings, and all weighing in on the conservative side of the fence in question.
Free speech for a right wing group trying to circumvent a campaign finance rule? Oh, thatâs just fine. We have to err on the side of free speech! Free speech for a high school student, speaking off campus and causing no harm with his âBong Hits for Jesusâ sign? Um, thatâs not so good. Clamp down on that little sucker. Access to the federal courts for a secular taxpayer group challenging the Bush faith-based initiative funds? Wellllll. No.
As in all First Amendment cases, what goes around comes around. In theory, it might be a progressive group that will now be able to pour soft money into TV ads on the eve of an election in violation of the spirit of McCain Feingold.
And maybe the next student who gets gagged by a school district will be a Christian teen trying to rail against gays and lesbians.
But the rulings, as reported in the press, seem contrived and resting on weak analysis. No, I havenât read them all, but I have read the underlying documents in the Bong Hits case, and I covered the campaign issue in a similar case. Plus, is there some law against writers spouting off on opinions they havenât read? Thought not.
Letâs just take Bong Hits. Both the right and the left are concerned with the delicate balance between studentsâ free speech rights, and the rights of schools to enforce general rules of order and protect the educational environment. Prior rulings have given schools the right to prohibit lewd or obscene speech, as well as the right to censor commentary that represents the schoolsâ own speech. Further, school authorities can take action to prevent campus disruption. They can order a kid to take off a swastika armband, but they canât make a student remove a war protest armband. They can forbid the valedictorian from using four letter words, but not from expressing her political view.
So can schools keep kids from participating in the annual Day of Silence? Must they allow a counter protest? Can a school tell a student to remove a âGod hates fagsâ shirt? What about a âFocus on the Familyâ shirt? Can students outfit themselves in pride attire? How about tattooing âChristians suckâ on their arms?â These are tough questions, and the schools walk a narrow line.
So what did the Court do when presented with a chance to ease the tension between the First Amendment and the special role of public schools? They found a narrow exception, ruling that although Young Mr. Bong Hit wasnât disrupting the schoolâs educational mission (he was at a parade) he could still be silenced because he was promoting drug abuse. Huh?
The clarifies nothing save the useless exception of a schoolâs authority over drug messages. Both the left and the right can now wonder how or if this ruling might apply to religious or civil rights speech. The answer is, who knows?
And how about the taxpayer access to the federal courts? Under a 40-year-old precedent, taxpayers can sue the government under the separation of church and state if federal funds are used to promote one religion over another. Last week, the Court ruled that the precedent only applied to funds appropriated by Congress, and not to funds appropriated by the Executive Branch of government. What? Why? Whatâs the difference between a taxpayer dollar spent by Congress, and a taxpayer dollar spend by the White House? You figure it out.
As for the campaign finance ruling, here again the High Court basically overturned a recent ruling by sleight of hand, ruling that the law against third party politicking on the eve of an election should be interpreted on a case-by-case basis, with the tie going to the runner. This means that an ad that says: âTell Senator Smith that serial killers should not be released into our communities!â can be construed as an âissue adâ rather than an attack on Senator Smith. Whatever you think about campaign finance reform, the opinion effectively trounces the ruling of the previous Court, and guts the clause in question.
The long and the short of it is that the Roberts Court is managing to sew confusion into established precedent, leaving prior opinions technically intact but hollowed out, and declining at the same time to replace the damaged decisions with new jurisprudence. Itâs weird. Thatâs also what they did in the partial birth abortion case. I hate them.
Homework for California Marriage Lawyers
Onward to the California Supreme Court, which asked marriage lawyers to submit written briefs on four key questions by July 18. After reviewing the analysis, the justices will schedule oral arguments on the nationâs most critical marriage debate.
The questions strike at the heart of the legal fight for marriage rights, and were presumably briefed at length already. The courtâs request could either be a stalling tactic, or perhaps the justices wanted to examine these issues even more closely.
Question one asks the lawyers to explain the difference between the stateâs registered partners and the stateâs married couples in terms of legal rights.
Question two asks whether the so-called âfundamental right to marryâ carries substantive attributes under the state constitution.
Question three asks if the very word âmarryâ or âmarriageâ holds constitutional significance, and whether the state legislature could simply abolish the use of the word if it wanted.
And finally, the court wants to know if Californiaâs voter-approved ban on the recognition of same-sex marriage from out of state should be interpreted to ban gay marriage contracted within state borders. And if not, would it be possible for California to allow its own citizens to marry, while refusing to recognize a same-sex marriage contracted elsewhere?
Back in 2003, after Canada began to legalize same-sex marriage, after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Bowers v. Hardwick and abolished sodomy laws, and after the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled in favor of same-sex couples, commentators on our side were fond of saying that we had reached a âtipping pointâ in our struggle for equality.
And that was not really the case. Instead, we hung like a well-balanced see saw, dipping up and down but still suspended. California, the most populous state in the union and the fifth largest economy in the world, will be the tipper. Whatever those justices do will send us forever to the top, or temporarily back to the bottom.
Homophobia Does Not Pay
Finally, there were two nasty little gay bashing instances this week by martinets acting on impulse. And in both those cases, the instigators were slapped down by high authorities and forced to atone for their sins.
In one case, school administrators in Newark New Jersey removed the picture of two boys kissing from a paid yearbook page. Apparently, the students were allowed to create personal pages at a cost of $150 that featured a selection of photos. Andre Jackson included a shot of himself kissing his boyfriend, which was promptly blacked out with magic marker by school staff. Despite the fact that several heterosexuals had their own lip locks on display, the gay version was described by Superintendent Marion Bolden as âillicitâ and the school issued a statement calling it âsuggestive.â
After an outcry, Superintendent Bolden apologized to Jackson, and expressed âregret and embarrassmentâ for the situation. New yearbooks will be issued to all students who make a request.
Meanwhile, over in Portland Oregon, the local transit authorities have disciplined a bus driver who kicked a couple of 14-year-old girls off his bus and called them âsickosâ after a passenger complained about a public display of affection. The unnamed driver, who has worked for the city for over a decade, has been subjected to some kind of punishment, details unclear, while the general manager of the Portland transit system has âsincerely apologizedâ to the girls and their parents. According to the Associated Press, the families are still considering legal action, but have not decided one way or another.q