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Saturday, March 22, 2014

Newsbites, 3/22/14

Just getting caught up with the news here after being out of town for a few days.

Clarissa Dickson Wright, fondly remembered as one of the Two Fat Ladies, has died at age 66.   May she rest in well-buttered peace.

Bigot died, age 84.  Not worth remembering.  Come to find out, Time magazine wrote about him as a busybody college student in 1951.  Apparently he was always morbidly obsessed with religion and other's people's sex lives.

The hits just keep on coming:  yesterday afternoon, federal district judge Bernard Friedman struck down Michigan's same-sex marriage ban, approved by voters in 2004, as an unconstitutional violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Judge Friedman brought down the ban with a ringing salvo of the heavy artillery:
The Court is not aware of any legal authority that entitles a ballot-approved measure to special deference in the event it raises a constitutional question. On the contrary, the Supreme Court has clearly stated that if . . . an enactment violates the U.S. Constitution - whether passed by the people or their representatives - judicial review is necessary to preserve the rule of law . . . [t]he electorate cannot order a violation of the Due Process or Equal Protection Clauses by referendum or otherwise, just as the state may not avoid their application by deferring to the wishes or objections of its citizens. . . .

In attempting to define this case as a challenge to “the will of the people,” Tr. 2/25/14 p. 40, state defendants lost sight of what this case is truly about: people. No court record of this proceeding could ever fully convey the personal sacrifice of these two plaintiffs who seek to ensure that the state may no longer impair the rights of their children and the thousands of others now being raised by same-sex couples. It is the Court’s fervent hope that these children will grow up “to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives.” Windsor, 133 S. Ct. at 2694. Today’s decision is a step in that direction, and affirms the enduring principle that regardless of whoever finds favor in the eyes of the most recent majority, the guarantee of equal protection must prevail.

Read the full decision here. Unlike other judges who have recently issued similar rulings in several states, Judge Friedman did not issue a stay of his order, so this morning at least four county clerks in Michigan opened their offices to issue marriage licenses and perform wedding ceremonies. Hooray for all the happy couples.

BTW, Judge Friedman, a Reagan appointee, also torpedoed that fatally flawed anti-gay "study" by Mark Regnerus, concluding:
The Court finds Regnerus’s testimony entirely unbelievable and not worthy of serious consideration. . . . While Regnerus maintained that the funding source [i.e., the Republican Heritage Foundation] did not affect his impartiality as a researcher, the Court finds this testimony unbelievable. The funder clearly wanted a certain result, and Regnerus obliged.

And finally, in overseas news:

U.S. Freezes Putin's Netflix Account

CNN Apologizes for Briefly Airing Non-Flight 370 Story

Update, 5:25 p.m.: At the request of Michigan's attorney general, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals this afternoon issued a stay of the district court ruling, but not before dozens of couples had obtained marriage licenses and married at several county courthouses across the state.  The circuit court will hear arguments on Tuesday.

And Rachel Maddow serves up some reflections on the life and death of a hate-filled bigot - worth watching for some truly laugh-out-loud counterprotesters' signs.

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