Fourth Circuit Overturns Virginia's Same Sex Marriage Ban


Fourth Circuit Overturns Virginia's Same Sex Marriage Ban
In the latest of a long-running string of LGBT marriage equality victories, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned Virginia's same sex marriage ban today. This ruling comes 47 years after the state's historic Loving v. Virginia court decision that struck down the ban on interracial marriage. The decision - which paves the way for lawsuits in other Fourth District states including West Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina - upheld a lower court ruling that also struck down the ban. The decision reads in part:
"We recognize that same-sex marriage makes some people deeply uncomfortable. However, inertia and apprehension are not legitimate bases for denying same-sex couples due process and equal protection of the laws. Civil marriage is one of the cornerstones of our way of life. It allows individuals to celebrate and publicly declare their intentions to form lifelong partnerships, which provide unparalleled intimacy, companionship, emotional support, and security. The choice of whether and whom to marry is an intensely personal decision that alters the course of an individual’s life. Denying same-sex couples this choice prohibits them from participating fully in our society, which is precisely the type of segregation that the Fourteenth Amendment cannot countenance."
The court stayed the ruling pending either a full en banc review by the Fourth Circuit or a trip to the U.S. Supreme Court. 

Responding to the decision, Freedom to Marry president Evan Wolfson said:
"It was in a case out of Virginia that the Supreme Court ended race discrimination in marriage. And today, in another Virginia marriage case, a federal circuit court ruled against discrimination in marriage, affirming the freedom to marry for loving and committed gay couples. The Fourth Circuit’s ruling echoes what over 25 other federal and state courts have held: same-sex couples deserve the dignity of marriage, and anti-marriage laws are indefensible. Every day of denial is a day of injustice and tangible harms. It’s time for the Supreme Court to bring the country to national resolution and secure the freedom to marry for all.”

About Tim Peacock:

For virtually his entire life, Tim has been writing. Over the years he's dabbled in mainstream fiction, science fiction, dystopian fiction, and personal essays. The one consistent thread through his entire writing career has been blogging - he's been doing it since 1997 in one form or another. In addition to writing Tim has frequently worked and volunteered as a civil rights advocate including on campus LGBT advocacy as well as interning with the Colorado Civil Rights Division.

You can find Tim online at Peacock Panache as well as his personal website. You can also find him on LinkedIn as well as on Twitter as @timsimms


Rand Paul: I'm A Minority Because Of The “Shade Of [My] Ideology”


Rand Paul: I'm A Minority Because Of The “Shade Of [My] Ideology”
Speaking at the Urban League in Cincinnati on Friday, Tea Party favorite and potential GOP presidential contender Rand Paul (R-KY) claimed his Tea Party affiliation makes him a minority due to the “shade of [his] ideology.” This marks yet another instance of Paul attempting to distance himself from prior remarks condemning the Civil Rights Act in trying to "reach out" to minority voters. According to the Kentucky Lexington Herald-Leader, with approximately 60 people the speech was sparsely attended - something Paul attempted to attribute to the early morning hour.

Paul's latest attempt at bridging the political minority gap comes after years of opposition to minority-protecting legislation such as the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act.

"I like the Civil Rights Act in the sense that it ended discrimination in all public domains, and I’m all in favor of that," Paul said during a 2010 interview with the Louisville Courier-Journal.

"But?" the reporter asked.

"You had to ask me the 'but.' I don't like the idea of telling private business owners — I abhor racism. I think it’s a bad business decision to exclude anybody from your restaurant — but, at the same time, I do believe in private ownership. But I absolutely think there should be no discrimination in anything that gets any public funding, and that’s most of what I think the Civil Rights Act was about in my mind," he responded.

Much like his fellow Tea Party / Libertarian(esque) counterparts (such as Dana Loesch), Paul wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to promote the value of laissez-faire economics while simultaneously reaching out to the very people those views traditionally disenfranchise. Based on the sparse turnout for his speech, the effort doesn't seem to be going over very well.

Want to read more? Check out Twitter... #RandPaulMinority is still trending as of the writing of this article.


About Tim Peacock:

For virtually his entire life, Tim has been writing. Over the years he's dabbled in mainstream fiction, science fiction, dystopian fiction, and personal essays. The one consistent thread through his entire writing career has been blogging - he's been doing it since 1997 in one form or another. In addition to writing Tim has frequently worked and volunteered as a civil rights advocate including on campus LGBT advocacy as well as interning with the Colorado Civil Rights Division.

You can find Tim online at Peacock Panache as well as his personal website. You can also find him on LinkedIn as well as on Twitter as @timsimms


Morality, Zealotry and Theocracy: An Epiphany

By Sheila Kennedy

[Originally published at SheilaKennedy.net on July 27, 2014]

Plato at the Googleplex
My best friend is ABD in philosophy. This means–among other things– that we have had some weird discussions along the way, especially when she was still in graduate school (How do we know that tree is really a tree?), but by and large, it has benefited me immensely; she’s introduced me to material I wouldn’t have read otherwise and required me to defend my more half-baked ideas. 

So when she recommends a book, I buy it. Most recently, the recommendation was Plato at the Googleplex, which–after a pretty eye-glazing introduction–has proved to be a delightful modern-day take on Platonic dialogues. 

The contemporary relevance of one passage in particular really struck me, because it revolved around the central question with which every society must grapple: who decides? Who gets to make the rules, and how do would-be rulers defend their right to do so? 

Plato says philosophers should rule. “The one difference is that [philosophers] are able to discover, through the special talents and training that are theirs, what the facts are [about the way people should live]. So they are not imposing their personal will on others, any more than mathematicians are imposing their wills on others by informing non-mathmeticians what the mathematical truths are. They are simply sharing their knowledge with others, knowledge that others cannot access for themselves, lacking the requisite cognitive skills, a matter of both talent and training. This seems to me no more unfair than that the mathematically intelligent share their knowledge of mathematics with the mathematically unintelligent.” 

I have always wondered why people–mostly but not exclusively religious people– feel entitled to tell the rest of us how to live, who to love, when and whether to procreate, and why they see themselves as victims when government won’t order us to follow their dictates. How is it they don’t recognize this as chutzpah? Why can’t they live and let live? 

Rupert Murdoch and Climate Change

By Sheila Kennedy

[Originally published at SheilaKennedy.net on July 26, 2014]

Rupert Murdoch and Climate Change
One of the most thoughtful commenters to this blog recently sent me an interesting–albeit disquieting–article from Mother Jones. The subject was climate change and the curious fact that the countries with the largest numbers of skeptics were all English-speaking: U.S., England and Australia. Canada wasn’t in the bottom cluster, but it was close. 

Why would the English language correlate with climate skepticism? As the author, respected science reporter Chris Mooney, notes: 
"There is nothing about English, in and of itself, that predisposes you to climate change denial. Words and phrases like “doubt,” “natural causes,” “climate models,” and other skeptic mots are readily available in other languages. So what’s the real cause?" 
Mooney quotes political scientists for (pretty unpersuasive) theories linking neoliberalism with denialism, but then he suggests a simpler–and very troubling–explanation: 
The English language media in three of these four countries are linked together by a single individual: Rupert Murdoch. An apparent climate skeptic or lukewarmer, Murdoch is the chairman of News Corp and 21st Century Fox. (You can watch him express his climate views here.) Some of the media outlets subsumed by the two conglomerates that he heads are responsible for quite a lot of English language climate skepticism and denial. 
In the US, Fox News and the Wall Street Journal lead the way; research shows that Fox watching increases distrust of climate scientists. (You can also catch Fox News in Canada.) In Australia, a recent study found that slightly under a third of climate-related articles in 10 top Australian newspapers “did not accept” the scientific consensus on climate change, and that News Corp papers—the Australian, the Herald Sun, and the Daily Telegraph—were particular hotbeds of skepticism. “The Australian represents climate science as matter of opinion or debate rather than as a field for inquiry and investigation like all scientific fields,” noted the study. 
And then there’s the UK. A 2010 academic study found that while News Corp outlets in this country from 1997 to 2007 did not produce as much strident climate skepticism as did their counterparts in the US and Australia, “the Sun newspaper offered a place for scornful skeptics on its opinion pages as did The Times and Sunday Times to a lesser extent.” (There are also other outlets in the UK, such as the Daily Mail, that feature plenty of skepticism but aren’t owned by News Corp.) 
I have long been a free speech purist–and I remain convinced by John Stuart Mill’s argument that only the freest expression and most robust exchange of ideas will yield Truth (note capital T). Climate skeptics are entitled to their say, and Faux News is entitled to spew demonstrable inaccuracies and falsehoods on this and all manner of other issues, no matter how maddening some of us find that and no matter how much damage their fabrications do to our ability to produce sound public policies.