Thursday, June 4, 2009

New Hampshire Spits In God's face

Yes, that's sarcasm.

It's going to be interesting to see what kind of lies the right will come up with to scream about this one. Their usual complaint is about "activist judges overruling the will of the people". Of course, that ignores the fact that the job of the courts is not to enforce the popular whim (part of the reason I think the Cali decision was wrongly decided), it is to decide the law. Not to follow popular idiocy, not to respect the voters, not even to "protect teh nation". Simply to decide the law.

Right about now, some moron is about to tell me that courts interpret law and shouldn't decide it. Like the canard about "legislating from the bench", this is a distinction without a difference. Court decisions establish precedent which all lower courts are obliged to follow, that's the normal operation of precedent, it's what courts are supposed to do. And that decision establishes a policy (which is what Justice Sotomayor was talking about) on how that point of law is interpreted in the future. That's not "activism", that's the normal operation of a legal system. All courts establish law all the time, it's what they do. And thank goodness for that.

But that doesn't apply on this occasion because NH legalised same-sex marriage through it's legislature. Perhaps they'll try and get up a voter referendum again. I don't know if that can happen in NH, it depends on their state law. Perhaps there will be another smear campaign lying to the public through the mass media but this is NH, so I doubt it.

One of the favourite arguments for idiots, especially when confronted with the Loving decision which defines marriage as one of the fundemental rights is the pathetic observation that the Constitution contains no mention of gay marriage. There are two problem here. The first is the basic assumption in law that anything not expressely forbidden is presumed to be legal. The second is their presumption that there is something so peculier about same-sex marriage that all other statements made about marriage do not apply to it. It's like they think laws have to include the phrase "This means the queers too".

In the end, it doesn't matter what they say, they're still wrong. We have same-sex marriage here in all but name. For political expediancy, the word "marriage" was dropped from the law in exchange for getting all of the legal rights of marriage (and the law is phrased so that it is considered equal in absolutely all respects but the very, very technical like what exactly defines "consumation"). Presumptive inheritence, presumptive power of attorney, visitation rights, child access rights, the whole ball of wax. In time, I suspect that the law will be quietly amended to include the word "marriage" as well. We also allow gay people to serve openly in our armed forces and gay people in the armed forces can marry (or be "unionised" anyway) as well. Gay people here have equal adoption rights as well (subject to the usual checks and tests).

What has this done to our nation? What vengence has the divine visited upon us? Absolutely nothing. Zero, zip, zilch, nada. There was a good-spirited contest between Brighton and Soho (both areas with big gay communities) for who could have the more spectacular celebrations. By general agreement, Brighton had a very slight edge. Our armed forces need to build a few more married couples quarters; a few more children are adopted into loving families and the tax revenues took a miniscule hit (the tax system is structured here so that married couples pay less tax than two single people) but that's more than offset by the tertiary income from marriage services (coach and horses, catering, etc). Beyond that, no difference at all. Straight couples still fall in love and get married, still have kids; churches still marry whomever they see fit, life goes on much as it did before. A few thugs still try playing "Smear the Queer" but the police do their best to catch them. The police force in most major cities have a community liason to the gay community just as they do to most ethnic or religious communities. The world still whirls around. No difference.

Except... Gay couples have the option of permanency, of legal protections, of adoption, of all the rights and responsibilities that straight couples take for granted. The very first same-sex marriage performed here was between a couple who received a waiver of the normal 15-day waiting period because one partner was dying and wasn't expected to live through that period (such waivers are routinely granted to straight couples in the same situation). They were married (Unionised) by the hospital bed by the local registrar. The ill partner died that night and as he died, his husband held him and comforted him and told him he was loved. Call me crazy, call me a romantic but I always thought that was what marriage was about.

1 comment:

  1. Too bad some idiots want to enshrine in law their definition of marriage as the union of a Christianist man and woman for the purposes of spawning like irresponsible rabbits on fertility drugs. They're no better than those who wanted to keep interracial couples from marrying, or those who considered interfaith marriages improper.


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