Friday, April 05, 2013

Queer Quote: Justice Alito Lies About Gay Marriage

Last week the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in two very important cases involving marriage equality, Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor. The first case is about the Proposition 8, and the fundamental question at stake is about whether there exists a fundamental right to marry for same-sex couples.

Justice Samuel Alito, widely expected to rule against the rights of same-sex couples, said something during the hearing which is today's Queer Quote.
 JUSTICE ALITO: Traditional marriage has been around for thousands of years. Same-sex marriage is very new. I think it was first adopted in The Netherlands in 2000. So there isn't a lot of data about its effect. And it may turn out to be a -- a good thing; it may turn out not to be a good thing, as the supporters of Proposition 8 apparently believe. But you want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of the effects of this institution which is newer than cell phones or the Internet? I mean we -- we are not -- we do not have the ability to see the future.
Ummm, really? "Traditional marriage has been around for thousand of years"? What does that even mean? This notion that "(traditional) marriage" has been around, unchanged, as a particular idea for thousands of year is a pernicious and resilient flat-out lie. Have you ever heard of the concept of coverture? The idea that marriage has been the same for thousands of years is simply laughable.

And notice how Alito uses the ideas of "the Internet" and "cell phones" as proxies for things which have recently been developed, i.e. not been around for very long. The reality is that the Internet has been around since the 1960s, but most Americans, when they think of (or see) the word "internet" generally think about access to the world wide web, which only achieved critical mass in the mid-1990s. Similarly, Alito deliberately uses the term "cell phones" (which have actually been around since at least the mid 1980s) because most Americans when they hear that term are almost certainly thinking of smartphones (or most likely iPhones) which have only been around since June 2007. But, legal same-sex marriage has been around in the United States since May 17, 2004 and since 2000 in Europe. Alito is deliberately trying to give the impression that legal same-sex marriage is something recent and dangerous.

Interracial marriage was legalized in 1967 with the Loving v. Virginia. Same-sex marriage is vastly more popular now then interracial marriage was then. Was that Court trying to see the future also? It's just an infuriatingly stupid argument, which is probably why Alito made it.

Well, we have until the end of June to see on what side of history Justice Alito will place himself.
Any guesses?

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