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I don't understand them. - The Life and Thoughts of Zach

Jul. 9th, 2004

10:19 pm - I don't understand them.

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I spent much of the early morning watching C-SPAN while I worked on a consulting project. I was flipping back and forth between The House and The Senate, I'd flip every time they had a vote.

The House (I posted this elsewhere this morning)

So I'm watching C-SPAN and the big debate of the morning seems to be over the fact that yesterday a majority of the house voted (H.AMDT.652 sponsored by Rep Sanders, Bernard [VT] - I) to remove the "cops can spy on what you read" section from the patriot act. The majority vote was a bipartisan vote.

But the republican leadership -- after the majority had voted to approve the amendment -- delayed the vote and convinced a bunch of republicans to change their votes (apparently the electronic device allow representatives to change their votes before the vote is completed and the speaker can suspend the vote for an arbitrarily long amount of time) and the motion was defeated (the final score was 210 YES votes, 210 NO votes).

That's fucked up.
The Senate
The senate this morning was debating the proposed Constitutional Amendment to ban gay marriage. Now I've heard this debate replayed over and over and over by politicians at every level in the last few months. There are a few anti-gay-marriage arguments that I just cant' begin to understand.

They keep saying that requiring that marriage be between a man and a woman protects the future of our civilization because kids need a mom and a dad. I know that these people often stretch reality a lot to make their arguments but this one seems to be particularly head-in-the-sand. Whether or not they are wrong about the necessity of having a man and a woman as parents: Do they think that gay couples who raise children are suddenly going to be in any way significant compared to all the unwed teenagers who can't get abortions, the parents who are single because they ha to escape an abusive partner, the families with a mother and a father who both spend so much time at minimum wage work that neither is a sufficient parent figure for their kids. Bluster all you want about the dangers of same sex couples raising kids but you still have to provide justification for why this meets Constitutional Amendment muster. Nothing these people are saying has ANYTHING to do with the issue at hand. There are all KINDS of things in the world that we can argue about whether they hurt the future of society...people would laugh if we proposed Constitutional Amendments about most them.

But look, it's even more non-sensical than that. Because guess what....same-sex couples are already raising children! If it's the kids you're so worried about why don't you propose an amendment disallowing gay folks from adopting children or from being artificially inseminated? Or...why don't you let these folks get married so that there is actually a solid legal framework for dealing with custody if the relationship goes sour. Again the proposed Amendment and the rhetoric that gets attached to it seem to have NOTHING to do with each other. I mean it isn't just tenuous, it is deeply logically flawed. These politicians are arguing for a mass break from reality. No wonder we're all slowly going insane.

And then there is the argument that it is an affront to democracy to let the courts grant rights to people rather than letting the majority vote on it. Is there some kind of mass hypnosis by which half the nation missed the day in civics class where they taught about majority rule with minority rights?

Between "tort reform" and epithets of "activist judge" there is a multi-front coordinated assault on an entire branch of government underway. If we aren't careful we're going to wake up one day to find that the majority of the nation has simply been brainwashed into losing faith in the judicial system and it will become useless.

Comments:

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From:anne_jumps
Date:July 10th, 2004 03:55 am (UTC)
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You are spot-on.
Who ARE these people?? she asked rhetorically, shaking her head.
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From:ke_jia
Date:July 10th, 2004 05:33 am (UTC)
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The Republican leadership in the house pulled similar trick in order to get their prescription drug law passed.

They held the vote open for hours, apparently in order to offer bribes to members of their own caucus in exchange for the necessary votes.

(This is indeed the same Medicare bill that the White House, in pretty naked defiance of the law, lied to Congress about its actual cost.)

...

It seems like time spent debating the Federal Marriage Amendment is time not spent working to pass more tax cuts, or gut environmental regulations, or suspend more civil liberties. Sigh. They want to use the FMA as a cudgel. There really isn't a way out of this; the Republicans control the Senate, and we might as well have an up-or-down vote, on the record, rather than confined to a loathsome and despicable whispering campaign.

Not that the entire concept of enshrining homophobia in the constitution isn't despicable.
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From:bdar
Date:July 11th, 2004 01:55 pm (UTC)
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I await, with morbid amusement, the first lawsuit brought against the state of Massachusetts by a recently divorced couple who claims that their marriage broke up because gays were allowed to marry.
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From:benchilada
Date:July 11th, 2004 02:56 pm (UTC)
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My "favorite" retort to those who claim that marriage is for procreation is not only that not all married people have children, but also that by that logic, we should ban all sterile, vasectomied, or hysterectomied people from marriage?

After all, they can't have kids, either, so MARRIAGE IS NOT FOR THEM! BOO! HISS! GEDDEM OUTTA HERE! :p
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From:boannan
Date:July 13th, 2004 04:26 am (UTC)
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I could get up on the soapbox and start with my spiel about "courts don't _grant_ rights, they interpret the scope of rights according to the Constitution" but y'all have already heard that a gazillon times. With all the complaining that goes on in law school about the weakness of Supreme Court decisions (like the "Under God" case) and the few-and-far-between checks and balances cases like Hamdi, it makes you wonder what all the fuss is about -- why is it that the Republicans are so freaked out by this minor check on two other branches of government? I still haven't figured that out.
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