Maddow: Supreme Court still deciding whether being LGBT is a ‘choice’

By David Ferguson
Friday, June 21, 2013 10:15 EDT
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Rachel Maddow on SC 62013
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On Thursday night’s edition of “The Rachel Maddow Show,” host Rachel Maddow took on the brace of LGBT-related cases before the Supreme Court, including one of the decisions handed down on Thursday, which made federal AIDS-relief money available to organizations whether or not they explicit state that they are anti-prostitution.

Maddow began the segment with Thursday’s decision, which was necessary because of a Bush-era provision that federal grant money could not go to global HIV/AIDS relief organizations unless they made it part of their mission statement to oppose prostitution. That requirement was dreamed up by George W. Bush’s AIDS czar and was found to be unconstitutional.

“Writing for the six-to-two majority, Chief Justice Roberts said the government can’t compel a grant recipient to adopt a belief for funding,” Maddow explained. Thomas and Scalia dissented. Justice Elena Kagan recused herself because she worked on the case as U.S. solicitor general.

(Bush’s anti-prostitution AIDS czar, Randall L. Tobias, was forced to resign from his post in 2007 when his name turned up on the client list of the notorious “D.C. Madam.”)

“But that was not the biggest decision everyone was waiting for from this court,” Maddow said. “Next week is the last week in this Court’s session,” meaning that the court still has to hand down decisions in 11 cases.

Still outstanding are cases involving affirmative action, voting rights and two important cases dealing with same sex marriage rights, cases dealing with California’s anti-same sex marriage ballot initiative Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), the Clinton-era federal law declaring marriage to be between and man and a woman.

Both of these cases are unusual in that the governments tasked with enforcing them are not defending them in court. California has declined to defend Proposition 8 and the Obama administration is not defending DOMA.

But really at issue in these two cases, Maddow said, “the question of whether mistreatment of gay people under the law should be strictly scrutinized, whether in legal terms, it should be hard to get away with that. It should be hard to get away with a law that discriminates against gay people.”

Part of the deliberation in the Court, Maddow explained, “is whether or not being gay is ‘a thing,’” i.e., whether homosexuality, bisexuality or transgenderism are inborn traits or whether they are “lifestyle choices.”

“The argument to keep anti-gay laws in our country depends in fundamental ways on the belief that being gay is a choice, and you can choose not to be gay if you don’t want to be gay,” she said.

Which calls to mind the case of Exodus, International, the controversial “ex-gay” Christian ministry that closed its doors this week and apologized to LGBT people for trying to change a part of them that appears to be inborn and immutable.

“They have not been changing gay people to straight people for the past 37 years, but now they will stop trying,” she said. “There are certainly going to be other groups taking up the mantle, but as of today they are done, and they say they are sorry. And the Supreme Court rules next week.”

Watch the video, embedded via MSNBC, below:

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David Ferguson
David Ferguson
David Ferguson is an editor at Raw Story. He was previously writer and radio producer in Athens, Georgia, hosting two shows for Georgia Public Broadcasting and blogging at Firedoglake.com and elsewhere. He is currently working on a book.
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