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Five years after Lawrence v. Texas: keep your eye on the U.S. Supreme Court

By pams
Friday, June 27, 2008 16:00 EDT
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While many of us out there have been bickering, arguing, debating and shedding tears about which Democratic candidate should or shouldn’t be the presidential nominee, remember that without Lawrence v. Texas, a U.S. Supreme Court decision that came down five years ago today, that the rights we have won because of that landmark ruling marked the legal foundation upon which we’ve built progress.

The importance of electing a Democratic president, given the age of some of the members of the high court, is critical to moving the ball forward. Please read an excellent HuffPost piece by Judith E. Schaeffer, legal director of People For the American Way Foundation and People For the American Way:

June 26, 2003 is a day that I remember quite well. But as significant as the Lawrence ruling was, I am mindful that four justices did not join Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who was part of the majority in Bowers (truly a low point in her judicial career as well), declined to join the majority in overruling that decision. She agreed, however, that the Texas “sodomy” law was unconstitutional, but only because it treated same-sex and opposite-sex couples differently.

Three justices dissented outright from the ruling in Lawrence: then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Scalia and Thomas are still on the bench today. The late Chief Justice Rehnquist has been replaced by the equally ultraconservative John Roberts, while Justice O’Connor has been replaced by the extreme right-wing Samuel Alito.

Counting the numbers, then, it’s very clear that the constitutional protection of the essential human dignity of gay men and lesbians is hanging by a slender thread on the Supreme Court. John McCain has praised Justice Scalia and has also promised to put more justices like Roberts and Alito on the Court, which should be a consideration for any voter who cares about gay rights and the future of the Supreme Court.

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I also want to point you to another HuffPost piece by Steve Ralls, “An End to Our Mourning,” which discusses the disheartening poll that shows a lot of still-disgruntled Clinton supporters out there who share their resistance to moving forward using reasoning akin to that showed by the woman from Medina, OH who believes Obama is a baby-killing Arab. Steve:

A poll released this afternoon, examining the seemingly ever-shifting loyalties of Senator Hillary Clinton’s presidential supporters (of which I have been an enthusiastic one), finds that, while 53% of Clinton’s backers are now firmly on-board with Senator Barack Obama’s White House bid, there are some who are simply incorrigible… and, increasingly, intolerable to the ears.

…While it would be admirable for any voter to decide their campaign allegiance, and their vote, on honest ideological differences with a particular candidate, the resistance among some Clinton supporters to Obama’s campaign is rooted, instead, in half-truths, no-truths and flat-out ignorance about who Senator Obama is and what his campaign stands fo

Barack Obama “sounds to me like a Middle Eastern type of name and whether or not he’s born here in the United States, he doesn’t seem like, to me, somebody who is trustworthy,” Kristie Hartle told the AP pollsters. “You can’t trust anybody these days, so who’s to say he’s not a terrorist and we just don’t realize it yet?”

Apparently, you can’t trust somebody with a name like Kristie Hartle to make a rational, informed decision before she goes to the polls, either. Has Ms. Hartle talked to the soldiers in Iraq? Would they rather continue the quagmire in the desert under a commander named John than come home under one named Barack?

My reaction below the fold. What do we do here? How do we heal to move forward with the SCOTUS in the balance?

Hillary and Barack are making a go at moving forward with a “unity” appearance today in New Hampshire (Bill is clearly a problem, but whatever – he’s lost his cookies). It appears that the supporters who should know better on both sides continue to flame war one another. As far as the poll goes, there really is a psychological dimension to these results that need to be explored — do these people really believe Obama is an Arab or a Muslim?

Democrats need to dig deep into this resistance to moving forward. I’m quite worried comments and polls are masking an underlying, woefully under-discussed race/gender schism that has developed over the primary season (I am both a POC and a woman, but it appears that the fact we are out there and can think independently seems to be lost on the MSM).

 
 
 
 
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