The Most Important Question to Ask When Dealing with Human Sexuality

Human sexuality is more complicated than many people wish to acknowledge. The kind of person we are attracted to can change over the years. Men can be interested in women and then men and then back to women again. Some people are only interested in tall companions, some want fat ones, some only want one race … there is an infinite variety of possibilities that people find attractive.Sexuality

Then to complicate things even more, people do not always identify with the sex to which they were born, and even that can change over the years. Sexuality is a fluid thing with many gray areas and it cannot easily be placed into set categories and boxes. And you cannot always tell by looking at someone what those categories might be.

So when you are thinking about someone’s sexuality, there is one overriding question you should always ask:

Who cares?

As long as everything is between consenting adult humans, who cares? How does it hurt you or anyone else in the slightest? In fact, if those consenting adults are happy, why aren’t you happy for them?

So someone is still female but identifies a male and wants to use the male restroom. Who cares? Are you hurt in some way? So two people of the same sex want to express their love and get married. Who cares? Isn’t marriage a great thing that we should be encouraging? So someone is into all sorts of sexual behavior that disgusts you and makes you cringe at the thought. Who cares? No one if forcing you to get involved.

So much stress, hatred, and anxiety could be relieved if we all just remembered to ask ourselves that question.

Obama thumbs nose at Utah

Oh yeah?  Well, we don’t care what you think!

When the governor of Utah announced that he wouldn’t allow his state to recognize those marriages that were performed after a federal judge ruled them legal (but before they were placed on hold pending an appeal), those of us who are in favor of basic human rights sighed. Clay Bennett editorial cartoon How can people be so mean?  How does it hurt Utah in the slightest for some of its citizens to proclaim their love?  I never have understood the mean-spirited nature of those against gay marriage.

So it was a great pleasure to see today that United States Attorney General Eric Holder announced that all of those marriages would be recognized by the Federal government.  “I am confirming today that, for purposes of federal law, these marriages will be recognized as lawful and considered eligible for all relevant federal benefits on the same terms as other same-sex marriages,” Holder said. “These families should not be asked to endure uncertainty regarding their status as the litigation unfolds.”

Ha!  Take that!

It’s not a complete win, but it shows who is on the side of justice.

The future of gay marriage lawsuits

The Utah Attorney General’s request for a stay pending an appeal has been denied by everyone, and now goes before the United States Supreme Court. A stay is granted when the appellant has the possibility of winning the appeal. It would stop the marriages happening in Utah now pending the results of the appeal.

Higher appeals courts do not have to take every case. If they did, they’d never get anything done. Usually they only take a case when at least some of the justices want to overturn what the lower courts did. Even then, if they can’t convince the other justices, the lower court decision will remain. If the Supreme Court refuses to grant the stay, that’s a pretty good sign that they are not interested in taking this case, which means that marriages will continue in Utah.

The Utah court based much of its decision on the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down California’s anti-gay marriage act. Prohibiting gay marriage “humiliates tens of thousands of children now being raised by same-sex couples,” the Supremes wrote, which gave the federal court ammunition it needed to strike down Utah’s laws.

Any law that discriminates must be strictly scrutinized and the state has to show that the discrimination is necessary to achieve an important end. Generic+Gay+Marriange+Legal Here, there is none. Opponents of gay marriage argue that marriage is for procreation (thus nullifying my 31-year childless marriage and prohibiting the sterile and elderly from ever getting married). They say gay marriage harms the children (when there is no evidence whatsoever to support it). They argue that it’s what the citizens of their state want (which didn’t work when they fought to save laws discriminating against minorities and women, either). And then they argue religious reasons (which have no place in our laws).

There is no legal justification to deny gay marriage, and courts are starting to recognize this.

The important thing about the Utah decision is that it may embolden other courts, both state and federal. If this can be done in Utah, the state with the largest percentage of people still against gay marriage, then why not Pennsylvania, where a majority favor it?

It’s also discouraged the fanatics who are fighting against it. Even some of the most conservative observers are now admitting that this is inevitable so it’s better to wage fights elsewhere.

What we really need is one of the conservative Supreme Court members to retire or, in the case of Thomas, be impeached. (But that’s a different topic for a different day.) If Obama could appoint one more justice, great changes could take place and many of the worst decisions made by the Supremes in the past twenty years could be reversed. (Well, except for Gore v. Bush.)

Utah (Utah?!!!) joins the 21st century, somewhat unwillingly

It’s been a great year for states joining the 21st century. We’ve added Illinois, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Hawaii, and New Mexico.

And now Utah!

Talk about karma. The citizens of Utah (Mormons mostly) spent millions of dollars fighting gay marriage, and were the driving force behind California’s ban (which was later overturned by the courts).Generic+Gay+Marriange+Legal Utah is still the state with the largest percentage of people who are against gay marriage.

A federal judge has now ruled that Utah’s law banning gay marriage violates the 14th amendment which prohibits discrimination. This is a great decision, and hopefully it will not be overturned. This will set a precedent for other federal courts to find that such provisions are unconstitutional.

Judge Robert Shelby didn’t mince words, either:

The State’s current laws deny its gay and lesbian citizens their fundamental right to marry and, in so doing, demeans the dignity of these same-sex couples for no rational reason. Accordingly, the court finds that these laws are unconstitutional.

He also hit hard against the bigots who say marriage is for procreation, thus making my 31-year marriage invalid in their opinion:

The court does not find the State’s argument compelling because, however persuasive the ability to procreate might be in the context of a particular religious perspective, it is not a defining characteristic of conjugal relationships from a legal and constitutional point of view. The State’s position demeans the dignity not just of same-sex couples, but of the many opposite- sex couples who are unable to reproduce or who choose not to have children. Under the State’s reasoning, a post-menopausal woman or infertile man does not have a fundamental right to marry because she or he does not have the capacity to procreate.

Of course, conservatives who love it when courts take proactive roles in striking down campaign finance reform laws or deciding Presidential elections are all shouting about “judicial activism” (which, as defined by conservatives, means “deciding in ways we don’t like.”).

Screw them. As Judge Shelby points out, this is not just a simple lawsuit. This is about basic fundamental rights:

The Constitution guarantees that all citizens have certain fundamental rights. These rights vest in every person over whom the Constitution has authority and, because they are so important, an individual’s fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.

Absolutely correct. Rights are not subject to opinion polls or votes.