Posts Tagged ‘Gay Marriage

27
Jul
13

The Pardoning of Alan Turing, or “Sorry, United Kingdom, but you are 60 years too late for this to have much meaning.

Alan Turing to receive pardon – CBS News.

Okay, if you don’t know who Alan Turing is, you should crawl out from under your rock and look him up. He’s one of the largest pioneers of what would later become the field of computer science, as the Turing Test (for computer intelligence) is named after him. The Turing Machine is one of the earliest electronic computing devices. He is largely credited with breaking with the German Enigma code in World War II, which allowed the Allies to decode classified, encrypted German military communication. Many believe the intelligence gained from this shortened the war by a matter of years. Unfortunately for Turing, he was also gay, and any form of homosexual sex was illegal at that point in history. In 1952, after admitting to having a relationship with a young man over the course of an investigation into the burglary of his apartment, Turing was charged, tried, and convicted of “gross indecency,” which was nothing more than homosexual sex. Turing was forced to undergo a treatment known as “chemical castration” to render him impotent and destroy his sex drive, or face a significant prison sentence. He lost his security clearance, and his position with the British government. In 1953, Turing took his own life with cyanide.

Turing wasn’t the only man forced into inhumane medical treatment, or who had his life destroyed by the rampant homophobia of the time. Almost 50,000 men in the UK shared his fate during that period. But the tragic loss of such a brilliant, celebrated young scientist and war hero for having the audacity to be gay and unashamed sheds stark light on just how recently our world treated the LGBT population as little more than vermin to control. Turing saved countless lives through his efforts in cryptology, but even that didn’t grant him a bit of leniency in the face of the widely-held notion that being gay is evil and immoral. The fact that Turing’s conviction stood for 60 years is just a further testament to how deeply entrenched those ideas are. Even just last year, there wasn’t enough positive sentiment for Parliament to pass such a pardon. Finally, it appears that later this summer, Alan Turing, father of modern computing and hero of WWII, will be pardoned for his crime of nothing more than being gay.

While I’m sure that for some of the remains of Turing’s family, the pardon is a meaningful act that may give them some peace about the memory of the this extraordinary man. But in the grand scheme of things, it feels like a hollow gesture to me. It makes great press, but little else. Turing is still lost to us, as are all of the contributions he had yet to make. 50,000 other men were still humiliated and subject to horrific medical treatment, and they haven’t received pardons. If this is Parliament’s way of proving it’s commitment to the LGBT community, then they have a long way to go. I recognize that the UK has comparatively progressive attitude towards LGBT rights, especially compared to the US, but some compensation for those subjected to the same treatment, some concrete action on improved services for the queer community, or recognition for current queer leaders would have a great deal more meaning than a shallow correction of a horrible mistake that was left to fester too long, and tarnished the memory of one of the most important scientists of the 2oth century.

19
Jul
13

#16, or “Finally we have marriage quality…in the UK.”

Britain Legalizes Gay Marriage.

The United Kingdom has now become the 16th nation in the world to  legalize gay marriage. With the largely ceremonial assent of the Queen, queer couple in England and Wales may now legally wed their partners and enjoy all the legal protections afforded to spouses. The law only applies to England and Wales as the individual Parliaments of Scotland and North Ireland have a degree of self-determination under current UK law. Similar legislation has already been introduced in Scotland is is expected to pass this year; same-same marriage remains officially banned in far more conservative North Ireland.

Congratulations, all you fine Brits! I look forward to seeing photos of many happy British gay weddings over the next weeks. With each new country that embraces the notions of marriage equality, the US (the supposed Leader of the Free World) falls farther and farther behind in the human rights. Even Argentina and Brazil, two countries where Catholicism is the predominant religion and socially conservative views are popular, marriage equality has been enacted. It’s about time we see some movement on a national law to enshrine this important right into law.

26
Jun
13

A Day of Victory for Gay Marriage, or “Believe it or not, the Equal Protection clause applies to everyone, not just white, straight, cisgender people.”

DOMA ruled uncostitutional: Full Supreme Court opinion | WJLA.com.

Hollingsworth v. Parry (Prop 8) Full Text via HuffPo

So today was a big day for queer rights in the United States, but not quite as big of a day as we had hoped. In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court broadly struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which prevented federal recognition of otherwise legal same-sex marriages, as a violation of the Equal Protection Clause. In a related matter, the Supreme Court found that a group of proponents of Proposition 8 in California (which overturned the legality of same-sex marriage in that state) did not have the legal standing to continue the appeal after the State refused to continue to defend the voter-approved initiative. The high court had the opportunity to make a wider ruling on overall legality of same-sex marriage, but chose a much narrower scope, as predicted by many court watchers.

So what does this all mean? Well, the biggest thing is means is that United State federal government will have to treat all marriages equally, no matter the genders of the couple. This means significant tax benefits, social security survivor benefits, military spouse benefits, and much more. I think it also puts some pressure on the states to re-examine their so called “Definition of Marriage” laws. For the majority opinion penned by Justice Kennedy:

DOMA’s principal effect is to identify a subset of state-sanctioned marriages and make them unequal. The principal purpose is to impose inequality, not for other reasons like governmental efficiency.

Kennedy’s entire opinion is very indicting of the entire concept of DOMA, and I cried several times while reading it. Not surprisingly, the conservative members of the Court were sour eggs on the entire thing, and the dissenting opinions reflect their continued homophobia. From Justice Alito’s dissent:

At present, no one—including social scientists, philosophers, and historians—can predict with any certainty what the long-term ramifications of widespread acceptance of same-sex marriage will be.

Alito is invoking the age-old- and completely unfounded- homophobic worries about the “dangers” that queer people pose to society at large. Scalia, ever the charmer, reinforces his protestations from Lawerence v Texas that laws may mandate “sexual norms” and makes the same tired comparison of same-sex marriage to polygamy:

As I have observed before, the Constitution does not forbid the government to enforce traditional moral and sexual norms. See Lawrence v.Texas, 539 U. S. 558, 599(2003) (SCALIA , J., dissenting). I will not swell the U. S. Reports with restatements of that point. It is enough to say that the Constitution neither requires nor forbids our society to approve of same-sex marriage, much as it neither requires nor forbids us to approve of no-fault divorce, polygamy, or the consumption of alcohol. 

There are many more gems like this sprinkled through all the dissents.

The case involving Prop 8 in California, Hollingsworth v Perry, is a much different beast. If you don’t remember, the legislators of the State of California approved same sex marriage several years ago. Then a pack of angry, well-funded Christian Right groups pushed forward with a referendum that forced a state-constitution amendment that banned gay marriage. The entire matter ended up in Federal district court, where the proposition was a struck down. At this point, the State decided to not pursue any appeals in the matter. However, the proponents of Prop 8 pushed on with the appeals in the State’s stead. Today, the Supreme Court rules that those proponents did not have any legal standing to do so, as they were not seeking remedy for any “personal and tangible harm.” So this means that gay marriage is once again legal in the state of California, but it’s broader implications are limited. In many ways, this is a punt by the Court. The one positive thing here, however, is that reinforces the notion that the angry Christian Right activists have absolutely no standing to force the courts to continue to consider appeals on any gay-marriage decisions if the States are no longer interested in defending their “one-man-one-woman” marriage laws.

Overall, today is definitely a day to celebrate a victory for queer rights in our country, and I’m overjoyed at the progress made today. However, we we still have MANY states where gay marriage remains illegal, and many places where LGBT discrimination remains perfectly legal. So, today may be a major battle win, but the war is far from over. Let’s carry this enthusiasm onwards and continue our push for equality for all!

 




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