Day: 2015.09.03

Another Bit, When Every Little Bit Counts

President Barack Obama.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Transgender signThe Obama administration is making a major push for transgender rights by prohibiting health insurance companies and medical providers from discriminating against patients because of their gender identities.

Under a proposed regulation issued by the Department of Health and Human Services Thursday, transgender people would be entitled to equal treatment in health care and would gain the legal right to make civil rights claims against insurers, doctors, hospitals and others who deny them coverage or necessary care because they are transgender. That includes forbidding health insurers from categorically excluding treatments related to gender transitions.

(Young)

Just remember, everybody, this is all going to come crashing down at some point; while the right wing continues to froth and fight over marriage equality, President Obama is quietly using what tools he can to advance transgender rights and recognition in society. Republicans will eventually notice, and they will eventually start pitching a fit.

And … you know … be ready. Because, you know, they will be vicious.

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Young, Jeffrey. “New Rules Bar Transgender Discrimination In Health Care”. The Huffington Post. 3 September 2015.

The Perfect Sense (Tennessee Intellectual Remix)

Firestarter: Detail of frame from FLCL, episode .

Simon McCormack tries, desperately, to explain the situation, for Huffington Post:

A Tennessee judge said the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage nationwide has left him unable to determine what constitutes divorce.

A Signal Mountain couple, Thomas and Pamela Bumgardner, are still legally married even though they don’t want to be because of Hamilton County Chancellor Jeffrey Atherton’s stance, according to the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

“The conclusion reached by this Court is that Tennesseans have been deemed by the U.S. Supreme Court to be incompetent to define and address such keystone/central institutions such as marriage, and, thereby, at minimum, contested divorces,” Atherton wrote in his decision last week.

“With the U.S. Supreme Court having defined what must be recognized as a marriage, it would appear that Tennessee’s judiciary must now await the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court last to what is not a marriage, or better stated, when a marriage is no longer a marriage,” he added.

It is true that the question occurs to wonder why conservatives are the ones so often complaining about judicial activism.

This is the pertinent question: What the hell is wrong with these people?

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McCormack, Simon. “Judge Won’t Divorce Straight Couple Because Gay Marriage Is Legal”. The Huffington Post. 3 September 2015.

Pretty Much Required Reading

The context is actually, unfortunate, especially since it seems strange the discourse is only getting around to this part, this prominently, at this time, but, still―

… marriages haven’t always involved a man and a woman and certainly haven’t required religious beliefs to be considered valid. Claiming that marriage is a static institution that hasn’t continued to evolve in extreme ways over time or that the type of marriage defended by people like Brown is the only kind of marriage that has existed throughout history is just wrong.

Noah Michelson and Sara Boboltz of Huffington Post dive into Stephanie Coontz’s 2005 book, Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage. 'Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage' - Detail of cover art from book by Stephanie Coontz (Viking, 2005) This book really should have been required reading for everyone taking part in the marriage equality debate, though it is true some have greater need than others―Yes! I’m looking in your direction, “traditionalists”!

Still, though, it really is worth reading if you think you have a stake in the marriage discourse. And, yes, Michelson and Boboltz offer a convenient and enlightening glimpse into Dr. Coontz’s fine historical review.

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Image note: Detail of cover art for Marriage, A History: From Obedience to Intimacy, or How Love Conquered Marriage, by Stephanie Coontz (New York: Viking, 2005).

Michelson, Noah and Sara Boboltz. “Here Is All You Need To Prove Bigots Wrong About ‘Traditional Marriage'”. The Huffington Post. 3 September 2015.

About What You Would Expect, Except It’s Really, Really Rude to Think of Other People That Way

So.

Say what?Our new poll finds that Trump is benefiting from a GOP electorate that thinks Barack Obama is a Muslim and was born in another country, and that immigrant children should be deported. 66% of Trump’s supporters believe that Obama is a Muslim to just 12% that grant he’s a Christian. 61% think Obama was not born in the United States to only 21% who accept that he was. And 63% want to amend the Constitution to eliminate birthright citizenship, to only 20% who want to keep things the way they are ....

.... Trump’s beliefs represent the consensus among the GOP electorate. 51% overall want to eliminate birthright citizenship. 54% think President Obama is a Muslim. And only 29% grant that President Obama was born in the United States. That’s less than the 40% who think Canadian born Ted Cruz was born in the United States.

(Public Policy Polling; boldface accent added)

Right.

Okay, then.

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Public Policy Polling. Trump Supporters Think Obama is a Muslim Born in Another Country”. Press Release. 1 September 2015.

The Point: Supremacy ≠ Equality

Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis shows emotion as she is cheered by a gathering of supporters during a rally on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky, Saturday, 22 August 2015. Davis spoke at the rally organized by The Family Foundation of Kentucky. The crowd of a few thousand included churchgoers from around the state. Davis has been sued by the American Civil Liberties Union for denying marriage licenses to gay couples. She says her Christian faith prohibits her from signing licenses for same-sex couples. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Yesterday, Brian Beutler laid out a case for why Kim Davis should face jail for contempt of court; the article for The New Republic recalled:

What was rendered as a call for pluralism, though, was really a counterbid to keep the old formula: when disputes arise between same-sex couples and religious people like ourselves, the state should side with us.

Today, Ms. Davis, the Clerk of Rowan County, Kentucky, was ordered to jail by U.S. District Court Judge David Bunning; Steve Benen reminds, for msnbc:

Just so news consumers are clear, if you hear that Davis was jailed for her opposition to marriage equality, this is incorrect. She was taken into custody because she deliberately, brazenly ignored a court order. Davis was bound, not only to perform her official duties, but also to follow the law. She refused and is now in contempt of court.

This is important. But what neither Beutler nor Benen ever quite cut to―indeed, the larger discourse seems to avoid―is the basic functional reality. And perhaps there is a reason for this, but it comes down to something like we shouldn’t have to spell it out so simply, which is clearly insufficient since this really is the moment, and really is the argument.

Equality is equality. Functionally speaking, what Ms. Davis demands is that her “equality” requires her “superiority” and others’ “inferiority”. In theology, one of the practical limitations of God is inherent contradiction; even the Almighty cannot, by the classic example, fashion a square circle.

By definition, supremacy is not equality.

The functional reality that these Christian conservatives need to deal with is that equality is equality. This has been going on for a long time. As we have considered of Ms. Davis, the underlying device is the same as the library book argument. It’s also the same one we heard about pop music in the 1980s; the one that brought us the little black and white warning labels on heavy metal and rap albums. It is a traditional plea of the privileged, that another’s rights stop at the convenience or inconvenience of the privileged; one’s rights are violated as long as another’s are intact.

This is the functional reality: All Ms. Davis is asking is that her equality allow her supremacy.

So whatever one might say in rejoinder to Mr. Benen’s reminder, Mr. Beutler’s recollection of recent history is accurate:

Back before the Supreme Court found a constitutional right to same-sex marriage, when it became clear that same-sex marriage would one day be the law of the land in most, if not all states, conservative culture warriors abruptly changed tacks. After organizing for years around the notion that states and the federal government should refuse to recognize same-sex marriages, they decided the time had come for everyone to be accommodating to one another—as if liberals were suddenly making unfair demands.

But liberals were doing no such thing. For generations, when disputes rooted in discrimination against gays and lesbians arose between parties, governments would generally side with discriminators. Liberals were simply demanding that moving forward, the presumption should be turned on its head—beginning with the states themselves, a great many of which refused to recognize same-sex marriages.

Conservatives responded by issuing pleas for mercy, and embraced the concept of pluralism, to wield as a cudgel against gay rights activists. Same-sex marriage might prevail legally and politically, but opponents should not thenceforth be treated like bigots or pariahs or scofflaws.

What was rendered as a call for pluralism, though, was really a counterbid to keep the old formula: when disputes arise between same-sex couples and religious people like ourselves, the state should side with us.

Thus it is worth reminding explicitly: What he is describing is the old formula of supremacism: In order to be equal, Ms. Davis and other Christians should be able to demand and enforce inequality unto others.

Whatever anyone else tells you about freedom and conscience, simply remember that functionally speaking, supremacy and equality simply are not the same, and cannot be reconciled as such. Kim Davis is about to become a martyr and legend; let us always remember why.

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Image note: Rowan County, Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis shows emotion as she is cheered by a gathering of supporters during a rally on the steps of the Kentucky State Capitol in Frankfort, Kentucky, Saturday, 22 August 2015. Davis spoke at the rally organized by The Family Foundation of Kentucky. The crowd of a few thousand included churchgoers from around the state. Davis has been sued by the American Civil Liberties Union for denying marriage licenses to gay couples. She says her Christian faith prohibits her from signing licenses for same-sex couples. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

Benen, Steve. “Kentucky’s Kim Davis jailed, held in contempt”. msnbc. 3 September 2015.

Beutler, Brian. “Throw Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis in Jail”. The New Republic. 2 September 2015.