Pestorking Raccoons are the Opiate of the Masses

After Barack Obama historically announced his support for States’ Rights regarding gay marriage yesterday, we thought we’d take a fresh look at Loving v. Virginia, the 1967 Supreme Court case that struck down laws against interracial marriages. How, we wondered, did Earl Warren make a federal case out of it?

The Fourteenth Amendment, of course. Equal protection under the law. It was only ratified in 1868; we’ll get around to implementing it sooner or later.

But a couple of details from the decision caught our attention. The reason we were looking it up was obvious: The marriage of Obama’s parents would have been illegal in a third of the country. Hawaii was cool with it. And so was the District of Columbia, where Mildred Jeter and Richard Loving were married in June 1958.

It’s only when the Happy Couple moved to Virginia a few months later that trouble arose. That October, a grand jury indicted them for violating the state ban.

So: A legal marriage in one state (well, District), challenged by another. It’s not just that the Obamas couldn’t get married in a third of the country; they couldn’t stay married in a third of the country. It’s nice that Obama personally supports gay marriage; we’re sure many fine liberals personally supported interracial marriage when Obama was born. But hey, y’know, those decisions are best left to the states.

The other detail from Loving reveals one way those state bans were justified: God’s Will. The Virginia trial judge explains how he’s just being a good Christian:

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And, but for the interference with his arrangement, there would be no cause for such marriage. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

See, Virginia was defending God-ordained traditional marriage, just like folks do today. And if Earl Warren hadn’t fucked with Divine Providence, for all we know Virginia would still be defending God-ordained traditional same-race marriage today. We don’t see Bob McDonnell rocking that boat.

But what’s done is done, and what’s not done remains to be done. Maybe by the time Sasha and Malia are grown up and members of a politically powerful voting bloc, the arc of the moral universe will have bent a little more toward justice. You can wait another thirty years, can’t you?

23 comments:

9:20 am • Thursday • May 10, 2012

Gotta admit, I’m having a hard time understanding the cynicism here. Let’s not forget that George W. Bush won re-election in 2004 in large part because the GOP engineered a beevy of anti-gay ballot measures in battlegournd states. Mitt Romney just fired a campaign staffer for being gay. North Carolina just voted to ammend its constitution to outlaw, not just gay marriage, but also civil unions.

On the other hand we’ve got a president who ended the military’s “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” policy, instructed his Justice Department to not enforce the Defense of Marriage Act and became the first sitting president to affirm that he believes Gays in America should have the right to marry.

Make no mistake: the GOP is going to use this as red meat for conservatives and to pummel Barack Obama with advertisements in battlegroud states. His public support of gay rmarriage will cost him votes with seniors, and could potentially lessen his support among balcks and Hispanics (though much less so among blacks, I suspect). No Barack Obama did not wave a magic wand and make gay marriage legal in all 50 states, but if this is the way we reward a president who takes steps in the right direction (no matter how tentative) then what incentive do future Democratic presidents have to move the ball further? It can’t be an all-or-nothing proposition. That’s a formula for not winning in the end.

9:36 am • Thursday • May 10, 2012

@Serolf Divad:
It’s the expectations of 08 coming back to haunt. Considering the difficulties and stonewalling of the GOPers, it is remarkable that he got as far as he did.

11:06 am • Thursday • May 10, 2012

the electoral count state by state still favors obama, regardless of who marries who. this may be another example of obama playing chess with the teapublican’t checkers players just like the contraception insurance coverage issue. no church was forced to cover anybody or anything they didn’t want to, but the teapublican’ts reacted like idiots and lost another major demographic. that was a brilliant move and this may turn out the same. a very large percentage of straight voters don’t have a problem with gay marriage regardless of what the north carolinians enact. so when the teapublican’ts whirl like dervishes on this one, many undecided voters may decide not to vote for the reactionary lunatics.

obama has CA, ILL, OH, PENN, NY, and MICH in the bag now for 165 electoral votes. even if rmoney takes FLA, VA, and NC, that’s only 55 votes and Fla has 27 of those. Obama wins Fla and it is O-V-E-R.

I think his open support of gay marriage is a good move. You would be surprised how many obama haters here in tennessee don’t feel threatened by gay marriage. His announcement will not swing one state from Obama to rmoney.

11:26 am • Thursday • May 10, 2012

@jwmcsame:
Yup, Romney is in serious serious serious serious electoral shit.

The GOPer panic is way more evident. All the old standbys are done.

Wah on Terrah aka 9/11 – old news and Obama gave the order to finish OBL
Gays – strong backlash against fundie loons
Women’s health – lost bigtime
Immigration – lost again by demonizing browns
Iraqinam/Afghaninam – sort of over
Xtian nation bullshit – only people who care would vote Rmoney.
OWS – the 1%ers are bristling at the scrutiny.
The Economy – Rmoney’s lies are making him look even more foolish plus being a 1%er and one who is an oblivious one isn’t helping

11:28 am • Thursday • May 10, 2012

I’m kinda with nojo on this one. Obama expressed an opinion, which he carefully characterized as a personal opinion. A statement of opinion, even coming from the POTUS, is still no more than a letter to the editor.

I’m glad Obama supports gay marriage. I’m unhappy that NC voted to ban it. I’ll be happy when, in 20 years, it’s not a thing people even think about any more. I’m glad our sitting prez seems to be on the path that’s taking us forward and not backward.

However, and this is a big however, what a fucking chicken-shit non-issue. Gays can or can’t marry? Big fucking deal. We’re raping the planet so fast that in 50-100 years, there’s a legitimate question of whether it’ll still be practically habitable by everyone who’s projected to be alive then. Our government changed the terms of the debate so that it’s not, “Those rogue states who practice torture must be punished,” but, “Well, you know, waterboarding doesn’t really count as torture, right? [wink]” The world’s economy is sliding down the bowl of the shitter at such a rate that, depending on how things go, we may slide into a real world-wide depression, none of this pansy recession crap. Less intensely depressing, our ability to teach our young in the US has reached the level where it’s not happening, and for the miraculous few who do make it out to college, they end up taking on six figures in debt that is set to double in price right now. Education is what feeds the success of the future, and we’re crapping on our future nearly as badly as we’re farting CO2 into the air.

So in the face of that, we’re worried about gay marriage? I guess it’s important, but it sure feels like a dodge to me.

11:56 am • Thursday • May 10, 2012

@ManchuCandidate: I’m pretty much with Serolf on this one. My expectations from 08 aren’t a problem for me because they never were that high. We elected a Democrat from Illinois, not a knight in shining armor.

Nojo’s analysis of Loving is spot-on. However, it highlights the challenge for fighting shitty state (and federal) laws on this – the courts. The Lovings couldn’t apply for a Presidential dispensation to legitimize their marriage (not that Ike would have sympathized). They had to slug it out in court.

The current fight over Prop H8 is the preview for the constitutional battle over DOMA and horrific state law that is coming. It is appalling that we have to do it and it is appalling how slow the wheels turn, but for better or worse that is our system.

Obama has limited power to affect that – absent a working supermajority in Congress. There are a few things he can (and may yet) do working at the margins with executive orders. His use of the bully pulpit is one of the few tools he has to address the big issues. His interview won’t make anyone forget MLK as a call to action, but it is a meaningful step for a President seeking reelection to take. He is inviting this issue into the next six months of debate.

By the way, I also think DOMA is an unconstitutional infringement on the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the constitution (in addition to violating the 14th Amendment). Any of the other Stinque legal brain trust have an opinion?

12:33 pm • Thursday • May 10, 2012

@IanJ: You’re right. There are countless issues more pressing than marriage equality, but unfortunately our political system has been corrupted to the point that it’s impossible to have a factual, honest debate about any of it, nevermind taking decisive action to accomplish anything positive.

All that’s left is the bread-and-circus politics of distraction, which is why our “leaders” are perfectly happy to let us spin our wheels over issues they couldn’t care less about, like whether the angry wimmins get to decide if they wanna incubate a baby or whether us uppity homos get to put anything other than a cockring on it. It gives them, their puppetmasters, and their cronies more time to finish looting the country and stripping its assets.

12:58 pm • Thursday • May 10, 2012

Pres.Obama announces his support for marriage equality a day before WaPo runs Romney’s gay bullying incident at Cranbrook. Stroke of genius.

1:06 pm • Thursday • May 10, 2012

@texrednface: It’s Romney’s response that makes it a fun story, but I’m still waking up.

1:10 pm • Thursday • May 10, 2012

The counter-argument to my cynicism was demonstrated by Rachel last night, who listed all the real actions the Obama Administration has taken to support gay rights. The headliners are repealing DADT and not defending DOMA, but there are plenty of others that haven’t received as much attention.

I remain sour on this one, however. Obama also affirmed his personal support for the Tar Heels in the NCAA tournament.

1:17 pm • Thursday • May 10, 2012

@nojo: It is also interesting to me that Obama made his announcement for equality a day after Nicholas Katzenbach died. Who will stand on the courthouse steps to defend the right of marriage equality. Joe Biden?

1:28 pm • Thursday • May 10, 2012

@texrednface: And if Chris Christie gets chosen for veep, make note that he has said that civil-rights laws should have been put up for a vote in the South.

Which reminds me, I almost started this from a different angle:

When he signed the act he was euphoric, but late that very night I found him in a melancholy mood as he lay in bed reading the bulldog edition of the Washington Post with headlines celebrating the day. I asked him what was troubling him. “I think we just delivered the South to the Republican party for a long time to come,” he said.

Bill Moyers, recalling LBJ’s mood the night he signed the Civil Rights Act.

LBJ was right: He did deliver the South to the Republicans. And you can hear echoes of that concern today, that if Obama (or, earlier, Clinton) does the Right Thing on a given issue, that will set back all other issues for a generation.

But there’s a point where you just can’t make those calculations, however factually valid they may be. For me, that point is reached when you’re talking about the fundamental rights of American citizens.

1:50 pm • Thursday • May 10, 2012

@nojo:
And when have the Dixiecrats or now Dixiepugs done the rest of US America any real favors?

2:33 pm • Thursday • May 10, 2012

@nojo: i expected outrage from the east tennesseans here bouts this morning. the vastly prevailing attitude is that outlawing gay marriage is government interference in the bedroom. i’m telling you, these right wingers aren’t really bothered by Obamas announcement. the very few that are pissed wouldn’t vote for Obama or any democrat anyway. I don’t see any effect in November or later.

2:37 pm • Thursday • May 10, 2012

@jwmcsame: And any blacks who give a shit about ghey marriage are still going to vote for him, as are most if not all Latinos who might be opposed.

Still unclear how he can “evolve” to a position that he had back in 1996 when running for state office.

And Mittens, douche.

2:40 pm • Thursday • May 10, 2012

@jwmcsame: the vastly prevailing attitude is that outlawing gay marriage is government interference in the bedroom

That’s truly interesting — even fascinating. We’ve been told that the Teabagger Libertarian streak is just a smokescreen for old-school Culture War issues. There may be more to it.

Here’s the thing: So much of the national discourse is cluttered by the Professionally Outraged, Right and Left. (ThinkProgress gets tiresome after awhile…) So while we’re hearing the Usual Blather from the Usual Suspects on this, it might be that nobody else gives a damn.

And thus the Republic moves forward.

3:01 pm • Thursday • May 10, 2012

@IanJ: We’d be foolish to think that this was anything but a cynical political maneuver. Not that I don’t think he actually believes what he said, but given the timing I have to say that it’s just a way to distract people from the Bush economy the orcs are trying to pin on him. If this is about making history and paying the political cost then why not do it at the beginning of your term? As you say, a dodge.

As a second-class citizen, however, I have to say it’s nice to get my issue scratched, even if it is a ploy. I can’t say I’m even surprised by that fact either: He’s a politician, not my boyfriend, as Bill Mahr famously said.

3:16 pm • Thursday • May 10, 2012

@nojo: that’s from two people here at work whose asses i bout had to whup over gas prices, unemployment, and gubmit health insurance last week. i know it sounds strange and i am surprised today, but most of these hard core republicans could care less. go to one of the number of pertinent stories at knoxnews.com for proof. many say they hate obama but don’t care one way or the other about gay marriage. keep in mind though these folks still can’t go a day without calling obama you know what (not socialist).

true about the professionally outraged. the loudest usually aren’t the majority. that’s why the cops always throttle the loudest guy in the crowd first and the biggest guy later.

4:12 pm • Thursday • May 10, 2012

@SanFranLefty:

But Arizona could well come down to the votes of those few Latinos. So Obama’s pronouncement in favor of gay marriage is not without risk. If he loses re-election by less than the electoral votes that Arizona could have given him, and if he loses Arizona by a very few votes, this pronouncement could have been the cause. So I applaud Obama’s endorsement of marriage equality, even if it is a late one.

4:42 pm • Thursday • May 10, 2012

@Tommmcatt Wears A Hoodie Daily: Darling, like I said, I’m glad that the prez is for gay marriage. I’m glad to see my gays getting some of the love that’s been so long withheld. I really wish you weren’t getting it as a pawn in a cynical political ploy, though.

5:11 pm • Thursday • May 10, 2012

@Serolf Divad: obama really can’t lose. keep the faith. last nights announcement will produce a popular vote net gain. obama thinks way ahead of most folk, especially the teapublican’ts. there is no electoral vote analysis that favors rmoney and it keeps getting worse for rmoney. he trails even johnny w. mccain among the evangelicals:
http://www.knoxnews.com/news/2012/may/10/poll-finds-romney-behind-bush-mccain-in-support/

6:21 pm • Thursday • May 10, 2012

@Serolf Divad: Given the constant bombardment of racial profiling and hatred that the brown folks in Arizona endure at the hands of Republicans, I’d be shocked if any Latino voter in Arizona would switch his vote simply based on this. Other states (NV, NM come to mind), perhaps, but I think doubtful many would switch because of the hateful anti-immigrant shit by the GOP. I’m with you on this, I think that what Black Eagle said, to quote Plugz, is a “big fucking deal” even though it’s not everything we’d want and I would have preferred it 4 years ago.

6:57 pm • Thursday • May 10, 2012

@SanFranLefty: I’d be shocked if any Latino voter in Arizona would switch his vote simply based on this.

That’s what’s made it a classic Wedge Issue in the past, which Rove exploited in 2004. (And more generally, which Republicans have been exploiting since 1980.) Bankrupt me, deny my rights, but don’t [let fags marry/kill babies/worship the wrong god].

And as I write, email alert from WND: “What’s Obama got against Catholics?”

WND is as cynical as they come, of course. But that turnip might still have some blood in it.

Add a comment