How Scalia predicted marriage equality 10 years ago

In light of today’s ruling, it’s important to note that Scalia himself predicted marriage equality all the way back in 2003 when they made the decision to make sodomy legal.

It should be noted that, now that California is included, full state and federal marriage equality is now in 13 states, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, New York, Maine, Maryland, Washington, Rhode Island, Delaware, Minnesota, and California, and DC. These states and DC make up 30.5% of the US by population. Equality is coming.

This reasoning leaves on pretty shaky grounds state laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples. Justice O’Connor seeks to preserve them by the conclusory statement that “preserving the traditional institution of marriage” is a legitimate state interest. Ante, at 7. But “preserving the traditional institution of marriage” is just a kinder way of describing the State’s moral disapproval of same-sex couples.

[…] Today’s opinion dismantles the structure of constitutional law that has permitted a distinction to be made between heterosexual and homosexual unions, insofar as formal recognition in marriage is concerned. If moral disapprobation of homosexual conduct is “no legitimate state interest”… what justification could there possibly be for denying the benefits of marriage to homosexual couples exercising “[t]he liberty protected by the Constitution,” ibid.? Surely not the encouragement of procreation, since the sterile and the elderly are allowed to marry. This case “does not involve” the issue of homosexual marriage only if one entertains the belief that principle and logic have nothing to do with the decisions of this Court. Many will hope that, as the Court comfortingly assures us, this is so.

Full horrifying opinion here, where he says he’s got nothing against the gays, he just thinks they’re going to hell.

Partial Victory in Prop 8 and DOMA – Early Analysis

marriage-equality

My predictions have turned out to be correct — gay marriage will now be federally recognized and legal in California, but not universally legalized.

DOMA IS UNCONSTITUTIONAL at least partly thanks to equal protection and not just states rights, that’s a big victory.  The opinion is here.  This is huge news for immigration and taxes and other federal jurisdiction issues.

“There is a “careful consideration” standard: In determining whether a law is motivated by improper animus or purpose, discriminations of an unusual character especially require careful consideration. DOMA cannot survive under these principles.”

Also this: “Bottom of 25-26: The federal statute is invalid, for no legitimate purpose overcomes the purpose and effect to disparage and injure those whom the State, by its marriage laws, sought to protect in personhood and dignity. By seeking to displace this protection and treating those persons as living in marriages less respected than others. ”

This means that there’s some sort of heightened scrutiny now applied to gays as a class, though it does not appear to be full strict scrutiny.  This is good for any future gay marriage cases that are less complicated than Prop 8.

PROP 8 IS DISMISSED ON STANDING

The opinion is here.  What this basically means is that the lower court decision stands and Prop 8 is legalized in California, but not elsewhere.  The majority on this case is the weird combo of Roberts with Scalia, Ginsburg, Breyer, and Kagan.  I’m guessing this means that there was a lot of negotiation behind the scenes?

I believe that this mean Judge Vaughn Walker’s amazing opinion stands, but only as it applies to California.  It’s one of the most beautifully written things I’ve ever read, so I highly recommend it.

—-

I stayed up far too late last night watching the drama unfold in the Texas senate, where Wendy Davis and several other amazing people fought for women’s rights and the GOP there tried to cheat and swindle their way to a victory, only to be stopped by the raucous crowd.  It was truly amazing.

But it was back to watching a livefeed only a few hours later — this time SCOTUSBlog in hopes of a victory in DOMA and Prop 8.  Man the internet is necessary for news these days.

Infographic here helps explain possibilities.  This is my previous analysis of possibilities.

It has been a long journey with Prop 8 — over 5 years.  I wish it had been a more robust victory, and it’s a shame it happened on the same day as DOMA.  Still, the percentage of Americans who have access to gay marriage has just grown tremendously by the inclusion of California.  That can only be good news.

RSS to my Podcast!

The podcast is an edited down version of the youtube show.  First episode is up, it’s submitted to iTunes but not in their directory yet.  Add it to your iTunes — it is fancy with chapters and everything.  Aw yeah.

Look at that fancy iTunes

Look at that fancy iTunes

http://ashleyfmiller.libsyn.com/rss

You can, of course, still watch the unedited video version at YouTube:

Tonight at 7pm EST – The Ashley F Miller Show

Tonight, join me, Dan Fincke from Camels with Hammers, and Mavaddat Javid, who has a Tumblr here.

Topics:

Politics: SCOTUS and Prop 8

Media: documentaries “The New Black” and “American Revolutionary

Guest Choice: Prostitution issues

 

After the discussion that the three of us have, I’m hoping to include anyone else who would like to join in the discussion.  This is the first run, so it might not go totally smoothly as it’s all being figured out, but I’m thinking I can answer any questions sent through chat as well as invite people to join the hangout for discussion.

https://plus.google.com/events/c5js9i9ar4ctbg9shs23v51atb8

Monday Miscellany

Debating race and inequality is….messy.

Chana needs a better science-religion Venn diagram. I can’t figure out which part to quote, so you should read the whole thing.

Here’s a nifty pull quote from David Silverman, interviewed at Netroots Nation:

But really when we’re talking about how we’re dealing with this, it’s hard because atheism is all about free speech, atheism is all about open communication, and some atheists are simply not nice people. And just like some Christians are not nice people, and some Jews are not nice people, some atheists are simply not nice people. And there’s a lot of people who are in that middle area, and there’s a lot of misunderstanding. So what I think has to happen is that the feminist voice in atheism has to be protected — protected may be not the right word, but I’ll use it anyways. The voice of feminist has to be protected, it has to be amplified, it has to be helped by the men in atheism and by the women as well. We have to make a stand that says, “It’s just obvious that men and women are equal and it’s also obvious that rape jokes sent to feminist speakers and sent to feminist bloggers, that’s not what good people do.”

At the crux of that, I’ve said many times that the atheism movement is the good guys. We are the good guys! We strive for equality, not advantage, that’s what makes us the good guys. Good guys don’t act like that. They don’t act like that to our enemies, and they don’t act like that to our allies. I have seen people within the atheist movement treat other atheists more poorly than I would treat the worst of our adversaries, and that shames me. That makes me ashamed of them.

And speaking of atheists, Hemant fact-checks Time’s piece on community service, and whether or not secular humanists offered help in the wake of the Oklahoma tornado.

As an addendum,  I’m all for voting with your dollars and canceling your subscription to Time in protest (as I’ve seen many advocating). But I’d argue that you can probably do more if you cancelled your subscription, were outraged, and then organized, joined, or otherwise did a community service project. 

And, for a question: what’s the best argued blog/article/op-ed you’ve read that argues for a postion you do not hold?  

Proposed: That We’d Just Be Better Off If We Forgot About That Flying Spaghetti Monster Stuff

Move over, Noodliness.

Move over, Your Noodliness.

I floated this post idea on Twitter and everyone told me to write it, so if this goes badly, I think I can just blame it on them, right? That’s how it works?

It’s not that the original Flying Spaghetti Monster wasn’t a useful allegory–in fact, it was a hilarious allegory with enough snark to give us atheists years of rib-elbowing and behind-hand snickering. It’s just that now, it’s become part of the dialect, if you will. OMFSM. Pastafarians. Whatever this was.

And I think, as this movement focuses more on social justice, as we combine feminism with atheism…or even if you’ve just wondered how to have more women in your group…we need to take a look at things like this:
[Excerpted from The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster]

We’d like to tell you all about our Heaven, which features a Stripper Factory and a giant Beer Volcano.

[….]

Q: If there’s a Beer Volcano and a Stripper Factory in Heaven, what’s FSM Hell like?

A: We’re not entirely certain, but we imagine it’s similar to FSM Heaven, only the beer is stale and the strippers have venereal diseases. Not unlike Las Vegas.

*goggles*

Sorry, one of the big in-jokes in atheism has a stripper factory? A factory? Like the sort where inanimate objects are made? And simultaneously, we’re looking about for reasons women are less likely to be atheists than men?

Oh, there’s male strippers too:

Q: Are there male strippers in FSM Heaven for women?
A: Probably, but they are invisible to the non-homo guys.

Cuz it wouldn’t be heaven if straight men had to see nearly-naked dudes!

Antarctica, the cursed, is the continent that is the Pastafarian equivalent to Christianity’s Hell. The Beer Volcano froze over millennia ago, the strippers wear big bulky parkas and snow pants, and the place is covered in ice and snow.

Yeah, the real problem is when strippers cover up. That’s hell. </sarcasm>

I’d like to argue that this is not, perhaps, the face we want to put on our message. We do not want the intrepid high school google-er, sitting at her computer when her parents are out, trying to find out more about her unbelief and why there keep being pasta jokes and coming upon….Stripper Factory.

Oh, but you say, it’s just become part of what we do. It’s offhand! Most people don’t even know the whole thing about the Kansas School Board and the book and most of the people who do know about the book haven’t read it–and—–

Really?

Have you recently told a Christian they can’t just pick and choose the gay friendly parts of the bible, or giggled along as a Family Values Politician divorced–what does his bible have to say about that? Did you let them get away with pleading ignorance, or that it was the main message that was important? But you want me to ignore the strippers, because the important part is about teaching science in school?

I think not.

 

.

 

The Non-Religious Patriarchy: Why Losing Religion HAS NOT Meant Losing White Male Dominance (excerpt)

coverNow available through Wiley Online!

This is not my first academic publication, but it is my first journal article, so I am very excited!  Here’s an excerpt:

Beyond this, the atheist movement fails to address or analyze the problem in meaningful ways. Within the critiques of organized religion, there is “little analysis of the relationship between economic disenfranchisement, race, gender, and religiosity” meaning that such critiques inevitably are of “limited cultural relevance for people of color.”31 Likewise, such critiques often fail to engage with the reasons that religion can be a very useful thing to women and people of color, in a strictly utilitarian way, even while it oppresses them. The atheistic, science-and-objective truth above all point of view means that the experiences of those without the luxury of choice or who cannot place more importance on philosophy than taking care of their families are both not explored and treated as inferior. Religion is not simply about a belief system, and treating it as though it is, is only possible with a blindness to all of the social benefits it provides, even while acknowledging all of the injuries it creates as well. From the position of privilege many in the atheist movement occupy, the focus is always on what is false rather than on what helps one to survive. This is not to say that organized religion is a net good, or something not worth fighting against, but rather to say that ignoring the reality of how religion helps people means being unable to offer meaningful alternatives to it.

There is a pervasive belief that “objective” science holds all of the answers without an acknowledgement that most values and causes are supported by philosophy and personal worldviews as well.32 A white male scientist is naturally going to be interested in causes related to being a white male scientist and blind to or ignorant of causes not related to that. It is a systematic bias. As a movement founded primarily by white male scientists who felt ostracized, the atheist movement has a difficult time acknowledging that science has its problems both historically and as the sole foundation of a worldview and that being white confers special privileges, as does being male. Ironically, their deep commitment to skepticism often fails to include a skepticism aimed at their own worldview.

The movement “likes to talk about the European Enlightenment as if nothing bad could ever legitimately be said about it”33 despite the fact that the Enlightenment was responsible for scientific rationalization and implementation of terrible programs that exploited and hurt people of color and women. Historically, science has been responsible for: terrible programs of eugenics, claims of biological race, and sex differences that have sense been proven to be untrue, justification of slavery, scientific experiments on people of color, forced sterilization of women who committed the crimes of being poor, unmarried, or not white, forced imprisonment of women who were sexual or became involved with someone of a different race, and the list goes on. Science has been responsible for a great many crimes against humanity, and the majority of these crimes have been committed against those least able to defend themselves. There is a natural distrust from people who have faced generations of horror at the hands of scientists and science and the atheist movement’s focus on science above all, with no recognition of the problematic history, makes it difficult for many to trust it.

In addition to the fact that church offers so many benefits to women and people of color that the movement offers no alternative for, the atheist movement often fails to create a welcoming environment. Even without addressing the fact that the movement does not make an effort to emulate the community support of church, it also does not treat the issue of welcoming women and people of color as an important one.

31. Hutchinson, Moral Combat, 199

32. Pigliucci, Massimo, Denying Evolution: Creationism, Scientism, and the Nature of Science, 1st ed. (Sinauer Associates, 2002).

33. Edwords, “The Hidden Hues of Humanism.”

There is also a piece by annalise fonza: Black Women, Atheist Activism, and Human Rights: Why We Just Cannot Seem to Keep It to Ourselves!

In this sense, therefore, this article is constructive and written to assert that black women atheists should be at the table with women who struggle for reproductive rights and with those who fight for religious rights. In this essay, I discuss the ways in which black women such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ayanna Watson, Sikivu Hutchinson, Jamila Bey, Kim Veal, and Mandisa Thomas have risked social status and reputation to raise the awareness that they too struggle for human rights and in particular for the rights of women to choose not believe in a god or supernatural ideas. Indeed, my objective is to assert that black atheist women must be a part of these dialogues and debates on matters related to gender, religion, and human rights, especially at this point in history, when human and civil rights for females/women are threatened worldwide by governance that is informed by patriarchal masculinity that conveys the need to control the fate of the female body.

If you need more information or help accessing the article, feel free to contact me.

The not even a non-apology apology

Most of my criticism of Ron Lindsay and, by extension, the CFI, has been about terrible communication in response to an initial mis-step.  Ron Lindsay had the good sense to apologize for writing a nasty blog post about Rebecca Watson, though he continued to be quite adversarial in tone, even in the apology.

In the world of public figure and corporate responses, you have a lot of options: Ignore, deny, obfuscate, non-apology apology, tactical apology, and a full apology.  All of these play out differently depending on whether the organization thinks they’ve done anything wrong, what the level of public backlash is, and whether there are legal issues involved.

For a lesson in contrasts, we can look at how American Atheists responded to the lawsuit being filed by AJ Johnson and how CFI has responded to the complaints about Ron Lindsay.

AA released a long, detailed refutation of claims of racism, providing evidence and a rebuttal to all major points made.  This despite the fact that they are dealing with a legal matter, which often makes organizations become very tight-lipped.  It should be noted that this doesn’t mean that AA is innocent from any and all accusations, I am not privy to any special knowledge here, but it does mean that they are willing to publicly engage openly and clearly with those who are criticizing them.

CFI on the other hand released a statement that functionally just acknowledged that people were unhappy with them and that that was sad.  No acknowledgment of the claims or who was involved, certainly no detailed response to any of the criticisms, and no indication that they cared at all about the feedback that they had been getting — either to be indignant or apologetic about it.  Greta has a much more thorough parsing of just how bad this statement was.

What would a good statement have looked like?

Pretty much anything that wasn’t this: The CFI Board wishes to express its unhappiness with the controversy surrounding the recent Women in Secularism Conference 2.

OK wow passive language.  Here’s the problem the CFI is expressing, that is what is happening in this whole statement, so they should just express it.  They are also so incredibly vague here.  They should have just not said anything if this is what they were going to say.  If I stood where they apparently stand on the issue, I would have replaced that sentence with this:

“The CFI Board has read dozens of letters about Ron Lindsay’s remarks at the recent Women in Secularism 2 conference.  While we find nothing offensive ourselves in Ron Lindsay’s opening speech, we are making an ongoing effort to understand the perspective of the people our event was meant to support and are happy to receive further feedback.  Our goal is to be supportive of women, and if women feel we are not fulfilling that goal, we are eager to continue to receive feedback.  We were disappointed in the tone Ron Lindsay took in responding to criticism and have told him in no uncertain terms our feelings about this.  He apologized soon after these remarks, and we feel that that was the correct course of action and support him.”

While this would not have made people happy, it would have at least indicated that the board:

1. Understood the issue

2. Knew the details of the complaints

3. Cared about the responses that they were getting

4. Had an opinion about what happened, even if it was the wrong one

5. Acknowledged the need for the apology already given

6. Were not closing the door to further feedback

7. Had some sort of discussion with Ron Lindsay about his behavior

Monday Miscellany: Chronic Pain, Brains, & Beauty

My partner graduated yesterday! I was in a different state! I might be a bad girlfriend!

I use exclamation points a lot!

But it’s Monday, so I’m a little more caffeinated and a little less exclamatory…so click some links!

Can we diagnose mood disorders via brain scans?
Man, I wish we could. Luckily, it looks like my wishes could be granted.

Sidenote: I’m getting my brain scanned (structural and functional MRI’s) sometime soon and I get to keep copies of all the images. My feelings.

GUYS. What if we could tell you what treatment would work best for your depression by LOOKING AT YOUR BRAIN?

Note for people trying to figure out what meds they’re talking about: escitalopram is known by the brand name Lexapro and is an SSRI.

People think secret information is better information:

Our studies imply that, among average U.S. citizens, secret information is used as a cue to infer informational quality. This suggests that when government leaders claim, for example, that secret information indicates that enemy nations are building weapons of mass destruction—and that military intervention is therefore warranted—citizens may be more likely to endorse their government’s position even though there is no opportunity for public vetting of that information.

Welp. That’s not a great heuristic. Can anyone give me a reason this is a good thought process to have? I’m coming up short.

Two post about chronic pain: one on the awful redundancy and one about skeptics with chronic pain.

Are women their own worst beauty critics?

Many people do lack self-confidence, and there is certainly more pressure on women to be conscious of their own appearance than men, but is it really the case that women are more criticalof that appearance than everyone else?

First of all, the whole entire world is critical of the way women look. Whether you are asupermodel, a teenager or even Secretary of State, if you’re a female, there are people all around you ready to tell you how bad your body looks. Secondly, the idea that women are valuableonly for their beauty permeates nearly every facet of modern society, from the billboards we walk past to the social media we use daily. And this idea that women should be reduced to their appearance originated almost entirely in the minds and actions of men. And it is still largely perpetuated today by men – who run over 90% of our media.

So to say women are their own “worst critics” when it comes to beauty puts the blame on women for a beauty-obsessed, body-shaming and misogynistic world created and maintained largely by dudes.

School of Doubt wrote about the Secular Student Alliance. It’s pretty great.

Happy Monday, m’dears! In honor of things that begin with M, here’s a map of Mercury:

tumblr_moc0ogPC5p1qmvxavo1_400source

 

Road Tripping through New England

Screen Shot 2013-06-13 at 7.05.45 PM

This weekend and into next week, I am taking a road trip through New England to see a lot of states that I’ve never been to.  I’m very excited because this trip is going to bring me into the 40s on my list of states that I’ve been to.  And also because I am going to see a lot of cool things.

The following is my hitlist, but if anyone has any cool things that they think I should see while I’m tooling around New England with my mum, especially if they look like on our way, shout it out in the comments.  If you’re all like “New Hampshire” something on the way to Kennebunkport, that’d be awesome.  Otherwise it’s going to be and the Wikipedia on Google Maps situation.

Boston:

  • Aquarium
  • Duck Tour
  • Whale Watching

Plymouth:

  • Plymouth Rock

Hyannis Port:

  • Kennedy Compound

Nantucket:

  • A tour?

Providence:

  • ?

Hartford:

  • Mark Twain House
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe House

Northampton:

  • Smith College

Montpelier:

  • ?

Waterbury:

  • BEN AND JERRY’S WOOOO

New Hampshire:

  • Mt. Washington

Kennebunkport:

  • Maine stuff?

This map is going to be even more amazing after SkepChickCON — I need to figure out a way to go to Wisconsin from the conference so I can mark that off too…

VisitedStatesMap