A U.S. district court in Utah, home of the Mormon Church and one of the country’s most conservative and religious states, recently overturned a ban on same-sex marriage.
Judge Robert Shelby ruled that all Utah residents had “a fundamental right” to get married. Therefore, he said, the ban approved by Utah voters in 2004 violated the equal protection and due process clauses of the Constitution.
In Ohio, district Judge Timothy Black cited a U.S. Supreme Court decision in June that federal law invalidating gay marriage was unconstitutional. Meanwhile, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have the right to marry, increasing the number of states permitting gay marriage to 19.
The issue nationally, however, is far from settled. Utah is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn Judge Shelby’s decision. In the Supreme (Roberts) Court, the fate of gay marriage is uncertain. The court is often hostile to anything as progressive as same-sex marriage.
Another issue confronting federal courts: New York’s strict gun-control law. A federal district court judge in Buffalo, William Skretny, has just upheld that law. He said New York’s ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines was legally sound because it “furthered the state’s important interest in public safety.”
Nevertheless, the fate of that law and that decision is problematic. The Roberts Court struck down the District of Columbia ban on handguns in 2008. The tart reactionary Justice Scalia wrote the opinion. He declared that the Second Amendment protects a citizen’s right to bear arms and use them in the home for self-defense.
Another recent ruling by a federal judge was significant: voiding a Florida law that required welfare applicants to take drug tests. Judge Mary Scriven of the U.S. District Court in Orlando ruled that drug testing violated constitutional protection against unreasonable searches.
“The court finds there is no set of circumstances under which the warrantless, suspicionless drug testing could be applied,” Judge Scriven wrote.
The ruling means that Southern states will have to find another way to deprive legitimate voters of the franchise.
Statement by three gays...
President Obama wisely refused to call for a boycott of the Winter Olympics in Sochi next month. Although Obama will not attend — contrary to most presidents — he did another wise thing: appointing three gay athletes to represent the United States in his place.
They are figure skater Brian Boitano, ice hockey player Catlin Cahow and tennis great Billie Jean King. This is a magnificent non-statement statement about
Russia’s atrocious law against lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender.
GOP deals cruel bow...
The meanest Congress in history recently refused to extend unemployment benefits to 1.3 million jobless. An immoral and inhumane Republican Party blocked the politically easy moral and humane decision.
Columnist Eugene Robinson called it “a cruel blow to families that are already suffering.” But lifelines mean nothing to a GOP insisting on its ideological myth of “makers” versus “takers.”
Banks, “too big to fail,” are bailed out. The jobless, deemed too small to succeed, must care for themselves.