Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Not Just For Gays Anymore

I have no comment on this, except to say that it's awesome. Bonus points for Glee slam.

Turning the phrase around to things that are not just for straights anymore -- well, moving in that direction anyway: marriage. A federal judge rejected the idea that Judge Vaughn Walker, the judge who overturned California's ban on same-sex marriage last year, did not need to recuse himself from the case just because he was gay and supposedly had an "interest" in the result of the case. That argument wasn't just stupid, it was profoundly bigoted.

It's also nothing new in American history:
In the late 1970s and early 1980s—as a bumper crop of minority federal district judges appointed by President Jimmy Carter presided over employment-discrimination cases brought under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964—recusal motions were filed by defendants seeking to remove black judges from hearing these cases. Black judges pushed back firmly against attempts to question their impartiality and framed what has become the universally accepted understanding among the bench and bar: that judicial bias cannot be assumed based on the racial, gender or other status of the judge.
In one of the most pathetic such efforts ...litigants in 1975, representing the law firm of Sullivan & Cromwell, attempted to bounce federal district judge Constance Baker Motley off a suit brought by female lawyers at the firm alleging gender discrimination. The firm argued that Motley would be biased as a woman, an African-American, and a former civil rights litigator. Motley's response is as true for Walker today as it was for herself in 1975: "If background or sex or race of each judge were, by definition, sufficient grounds for removal, no judge on this court could hear this case, or many others, by virtue of the fact that all of them were attorneys, of a sex, often with distinguished law firm or public service backgrounds."
There are people who will never see Americans who aren't exactly like them as equal citizens, or even equal human beings. You can't change their minds. But little by little, legally, you can try to make their bigotry irrelevant.

1 comment:

Domenico Maceri said...

Laws will change attitudes although never completely. Bigotry may never disappear totally but having the law on your side makes you feel empowered.