Thoughts and Clarifications on the Issue of Same-Sex Marriage

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In the aftermath of last week’s Supreme Court ruling on Obergefell, I have engaged in some online debates with people of goodwill regarding the issue of same-sex marriage. I expect that those debates will continue for some time to come, but in the event that it is useful, here is a comprehensive outline regarding where I stand regarding the issue: [Read more…]

Quote of the Day

Notwithstanding the paranoid fantasies of some religious conservatives, no church or clergy in the United States will be compelled to perform same-sex marriages, any more than they are compelled to perform remarriages or interreligious marriages. Neither will religious teachings about sexuality and marriage be penalized; Kennedy’s opinion reaffirms this obvious point. Kennedy moreover steps away from his previous tendency to say that opposition to homosexuality is nothing but an irrational animus; that view would tend to get in the way of thinking about the just freedom of members of religious groups that oppose same-sex marriage. But there remain live questions about conscientious exemptions and the religious liberty of associations, institutions, and dissenters. The public equal freedom to marry is fully compatible with the private equal freedom of association and of religious belief and practice, and both are worthy of robust defense. I think that the torrent of abuse against the Indiana pizzeria that (briefly) said it wouldn’t cater a same-sex wedding a few months ago was an aberration, not a sign of a slippery slope. I think that the Solicitor General’s concession that private universities denying married-student housing to same-sex married couples might find their tax-exempt status at risk was a moment of absurd stupidity, not a moment when the curtain slipped and the truth was exposed. I think the federal and state RFRAs do, should, and will continue to provide considerable protection for those who don’t want to be involved in same-sex weddings and for those whose beliefs about marriage are incompatible with same-sex marriage. But those are predictions, not analytical truths, and it’s important to stand up for a pluralistic civil society under a regime of equality before the law.

On symbols that celebrate histories of injustice, I think that there are two relevant distinctions: public-private and use-mention. The public use of the Confederate battle flag, as when it is incorporated into a state flag or flown in honor over public buildings is an illegitimate state endorsement of the history of slavery and postbellum terror and subjugation. It should end, completely. But each of the other three categories– public mention, private use, and private mention– is different. The same flag in a museum, or in pictures in a school’s history textbook, or generally in honest accounts of the past, means something very different from what it means when being flown in honor. The Confederate past should not be shoved down a memory hole and obliterated; it should be remembered and confronted. Doing so allows, indeed may require, to mention the symbol– depicting it in the visual equivalent of quotation marks.

Both private use and private mention are, and should be, protected free speech. Private mention isn’t wrongful at all, and the idea that historical strategy Civil War board games have to be purged of the flag are silly. (Swastikas and hammer-and-sickle symbols are likewise reasonable and appropriate, in games depicting the appropriate wars.) I suspect that the rush to wipe out private-sector mentions is the result of panicked decisionmaking by mid-level PR and marketing managers who’ve misunderstood the push to have Walmart stop supporting the private use of the flag by selling acres of flags, flag t-shirts, flag belt buckles, flag truck decals, and so on. The panic will– and should– pass.

Jacob Levy. I endorse his message and reasoning.

The Supreme Court Bats .500. Legal and Political Analysis Follows.

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The United States Supreme Court has come out with two major opinions, in as many days. The first concerned Barack Obama’s health care law, and featured a bad outcome based on poor reasoning. The second concerned the issue of same-sex marriage and featured a laudable outcome based on less-than-good reasoning. [Read more…]

On the Confederate Flag

Confederate Flag Protest In the wake of the absolutely horrific shooting in South Carolina that left nine people dead, attention has swiftly turned to the display of the Confederate flag in the state, given that the murderer, Dylann Roof, was pictured wrapped in the flag, and given the (to put matters mildly) problematic history behind the flag. As anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock is well aware by now, Governor Nikki Haley of South Carolina has come out in favor of removing the Confederate flag. I support this move, and think it is long overdue. But no one should pretend that other issues are not raised by the decision to remove the flag. [Read more…]

Hillary Clinton Has No Business Being President of the United States (A Continuing Series)

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For any other candidate for the highest office in the land, the publication of this story should and would lead to an ignominious exit from the race: [Read more…]

The Democratic Party’s Failure on Trade Policy

Free Trade As anyone who follows the news is aware, Barack Obama’s biggest legislative goal for his second term is to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. He may well get fast-track authority in order to push for passage of the agreement, and the agreement may yet pass. I hope that he does get fast-track authority, and that the agreement passes. But as anyone who follows the news is also aware, the initial attempt to pass fast-track authority failed in the House of Representatives, because Democrats decided to desert and defy a president from their own party: [Read more…]

Kind of Defies Certain Ignorant Assertions, Eh?

Anti-Semitism in Canada

For those who had hoped that Canada would be far too polite and civilized to allow itself to be infected by anti-Semites, some very bad news: [Read more…]

More Horrifying News on the National Security Front

how_protect500 I am most emphatically not one of those people who freaks out upon hearing that jobs have been outsourced to other countries. “The outsourcing bogeyman” is just that; a bogeyman whose supposed ill effects on the American economy are wildly overstated, and the evolution of the economy means that certain jobs will be outsourced–something we should not necessarily fear.

But there are certain jobs that should never be outsourced–like, say, protecting data held by the Office of Personnel Management: [Read more…]

I Would Call Donald Trump a Sideshow, But That Would Insult Sideshows

We Shall Overcomb Let us all collectively resolve the following: Donald Trump is a goofball and a lunatic who does not merit any attention whatsoever. To give him attention is to feed the troll, and if we have learned anything at all from being on the Internet, it is that we should never feed trolls. [Read more…]

Bad Times for the Good Guys on the National Security Front

how_protect500 This story is filled with references to anonymous sources, so I am trying my hardest to take it with a grain of salt. But it still reads as being plausible, which is why it still worries me: [Read more…]

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