How long before the entire US catches up?
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I was oddly cheered by De Blasio Takes His Modern Family on the Campaign Trail. The article, buried deep in the A section of today’s paper, reports that NY Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio’s family is a major part of his campaign, and that by deploying them, and especially his kids, he is portraying himself as at once the most politically progressive candidate but also the ‘family’ candidate.
Obviously, this sort of strategy ought to work against serial selfie-sharer Anthony D. Weiner, a candidate who is, to say the least, not family friendly. Perhaps less cheerfully, it also may work against Christine C. Quinn, whose wife, we are told, is not much of a campaigner.
One might well ask what is cheerful about a campaign ploy that could be said to subtly play against the fact that the leading candidate is not just a childless woman, but one married to another woman. The answer has two parts. First, that in the Times’s coverage at least, the modern nature of the City Council Speaker Quinn’s marriage invokes no comment at all. Second and more significantly, the de Blassio family consists of an Italian-American male, an African-American woman, Chirlane McCray, who did not take his name, and their two kids — one of whom stars in the campaign’s first video and promises among other things that de Blassio will reform the NYPD’s excessive stop-and-frisk policy.
Twenty-five years ago, I doubt that a campaign for major office, even in New York, could have been built around an inter-racial marriage as a major selling point. (Nor that it would showcase a 15-year-old kid with a big black Afro promising to rein in the police.) In twenty-five years we’ll see gay candidates on video boasting about the longevity of their marriage and about their kids.
Progress in action — slow, yes, and as always incomplete. But progress nonetheless.
Oddly related: Down With Tyranny’s The Failure Of Identity Politics– And It’s Not Just Wall Street Shill Cory Booker; one inevitable consequence of progress is that now anyone can be a sellout.
But I have to say that there is some bitter wrapped up in the sweet. Chief Justice Roberts’s opinion in Hollingsworth has a pretty bad sting, one well laid-out in Justice Kennedy’s dissent. The issue for me goes back to a key standing decision, Lujan v. Defenders of Wildlife, 504 U. S. 555 (1992). That decision held open the door to ‘bounty’ statutes creating standing: thus if Congress, or a state legislature, wanted to create generalized standing, it need only create a small dollar prize for vindicating a right. At that point, there’s a financial interest, and anyone can bring the case. (Thus, for example, qui tam actions.) As a general matter, liberals have wanted to expand access to courts, and conservatives have sought to narrow it — although one might question the political wisdom of the liberal strategy since the current Court is, IMHO, merely regressing to a historic mean; the Warren Court was a rare departure from the generally conservative, even reactionary, bent which is almost a structural feature of a life-tenured judiciary staffed primarily by older lawyers.
The key move in Hollingsworth, per Roberts with the votes of Scalia and (perhaps unfortunately?) the Court’s moderates and liberals, is to say that California’s state law practice of saying that proponents of a ballot initiative have standing to sue to vindicate it does not cut any ice in federal court. I hope this does not come back to bite us, but I’m fairly sure that it will in future standing cases.
Update: Mark Tushnet is worried about this too. In Perry and the Constitutionalization of Agency Law he writes:
The question then is, What other state-law entitlements are constrained by Article III for standing purposes? (Here “state-law” is a shorthand for “entitlements created by law outside Article III,” so the principle applies to congressionally-determined entitlements as well.) Akins says that Congress can create a right to information merely to satisfy the requestor’s curiosity; Lujan says that Congress can’t create a right to ensure that “the law” be adhered to. Perry is somewhere in between, but who knows exactly where. Maybe the technical problem in Perry is that the California Supreme Court didn’t use the right magic words to describe the initiative proponents as “really, really” agents of the people.
(Spotted via the great Slacktivist’s TMI, barbecue and other people’s sex lives.)
Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic, with the best reaction I’ve seen tonight to President Obama’s announcement the he now supports equal-opportunity marriage:
I know what the polls show, and I know he was pushed into it, but I still credit the president with doing the right thing. So much of this process reminds me of Lincoln weighing emancipation, even as he knew, in his heart, that slavery was a sin.
Moreover, regardless of the push, I think this is really heartening timing after North Carolina, where a ban on gay marriage and civil unions triumphed by some 20 points.
So what if there is an element of calculation here. It’s still the right thing to do; it is nice even just once in a while to get that from the White House.
I never read comic books as a child (or adult), but I still think this signals victory in the culture wars:
The January issue of Life with Archie will feature the marriage of hometown hero Kevin Keller, to his partner, an African-American, physical therapist, Clay Walker.
via ACLU Blog, Wedding Bells in Riverdale.
(And who knew that Batwoman “is a Jewish lesbian”? Did they do that in the movies too?)
It was already a heart-warming “first kiss” story:
Two female US sailors have become the first same-sex couple to share the traditional dockside “first kiss” since the US ended a ban on gays in the army.
Petty Officer 2nd Class Marissa Gaeta, who had been at sea for 80 days, won the right to be the first person to kiss her partner on shore in a raffle.
That was nice, and the photographer took a great photo, but Political Animal’s Homecoming tradition buries DADT adds a key fact to the story:
The Navy … posted the photo on the official Navy website.
Now, that’s progress. (I can’t help but wonder if they’d have posted it if it were two guys, though.)