Civil Rights

Obama behind curve on same-sex marriage

In another sign that we’re finally starting to take the Constitution seriously when it comes to equal rights, New York has become the sixth, and largest, state to recognize same-sex marriage.

That’s largely because of the political leadership of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former President Clinton — plus the support of prominent Republicans, led by Dick Cheney, Barbara Bush and Laura Bush.

Notice who’s missing from that list: President Obama.

In response to my question at Monday’s White House briefing, press secretary Jay Carney gave two explanations.

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SlutWalking misses the point of women’s liberation

Weinergate has overshadowed another sex scandal that in normal times would have grabbed headlines with its high titillation and controversy factors. The feminist left has launched a new movement known as “SlutWalk” in an attempt to advance the principle that no matter what women wear — or how they behave — rape is never OK.

SlutWalk was born in the wake of an unfortunate incident at Toronto’s York University, in which a police officer giving a sexual assault information session told students that if women wanted to avoid rape they shouldn’t dress like “sluts.” This insensitive bit of advice launched spontaneous protests that have morphed into a global SlutWalk movement. Today, scantily clad women — dressed only in underwear, lingerie, super-mini skirts and boots, or other such "slutty" outfits — are marching through cities to spread the message that “no means no” — no matter how provocative a woman's attire.

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The debate over single-sex marriage

Most people have fixed positions on the merits of single-sex marriage. Fixed, if not contentious. For those who do not, or do but have an open mind, the discussion yesterday at the Cato Institute in Washington was enlightening.

A double odd couple of speakers discussed the recent Perry trial in California dealing with Prop 8 (and the federal DOMA), state and federal laws limiting the legality of single-sex marriage. Odd because the organizational sponsors were Cato’s Bob Levy and Center for American Progress CEO John Podesta; and the lead speakers were the two lawyers who argued the Perry case — conservative advocate Ted Olson and liberal lawyer David Boies (who opposed each other in the 2000 election case). All their commentaries were informative and persuasive.

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Black sabotage

The civil rights movement was born out of an intense struggle to enjoy those basic human rights we associate with happiness.

Early leaders of the movement settled on the theory that American society was primarily characterized by racism and that American institutions were grounded in the maintenance of racial privilege. Many of the black politicians who swept into office on the heels of the movement consciously embodied this organizing principle.

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Lawyer ethics

The national press has reported an interesting ethical conundrum concerning the 800-member, 126-year-old Atlanta law firm of King & Spaulding, and its Supreme Court advocate Paul Clement, over the firm’s dropping a prestigious and lucrative client — the House of Representatives, no less.

The House hired Clement, a former solicitor general, to defend the constitutionality of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which denies federal rights to same-sex marriage partners. After human-rights groups criticized the firm for its role in defending the federal anti-gay marriage law, the firm dropped its client. Clement left the firm, stating that law firms should not desert clients who are unpopular. “Defending unpopular positions is what lawyers do,” he instructed. But not always.

Several interesting issues are raised by this incident.

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Can we finally admit that racism is dead?

Liberals have their racist supporters, e.g., certain union members. Many liberals will advise that their Ivy League black friends should not have gone to Wall Street to make a fortune and participate in the American Dream. They strongly feel that they should go back to the ghetto and help their people.

They do not tell that to the WASP, Jew, Pole, Italian, etc., only the blacks. That is truly racist and condescending.

It is especially racist when black and white liberals tell black conservatives that they are betraying their people because they want smaller government and individual freedom. Remember, government perpetuated slavery and racism in this country for nearly 200 years. Why should we trust it to keep it from returning as government policy? (Arguably, well-intentioned affirmative action programs perpetuate racism.) Having said that, a movement with racist supporters does not mean that the movement is racist.

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Gender equality ... the rest of the story

Over the weekend, I joined throngs of tourists to take in the Cherry Blossom trees along the Tidal Basin. Because of the unseasonably cold temperatures this year, visitors were bundled up in jackets and scarves, even hats and mittens. I was acutely aware of the extra layers of clothing because there is perhaps no better time to view today’s provocative “tweener trends” than tourist season in D.C. Come July, there is no shortage of young girls riding the Metro in too-short shorts, midriff-bearing tops and high-gloss lipstick.

Unless you’ve been living on the moon for the past decade, it’s hard to miss the fact that young girls today seem to be wearing less and flaunting more. (And companies like Abercrombie & Fitch, which recently released the “push-up triangle” bikini top for girls as young as age 7, certainly encourage these styles.) But given the ages of these girls, it’s hard not to ask: Who’s buying them this clothing?

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The war on women

There’s been a lot of talk lately about the authority to declare war, so I want to know: Who authorized the war on American women currently being waged in Republican-controlled legislatures around the country? Aided by some Democrats at the federal and state levels, extreme measures cloaked in lofty rhetoric about fiscal discipline and civil rights are being proposed and passed that undermine our status as equal Americans and take away our access to legal health procedures.
 
In Georgia, as a way to make sure women don’t “game the system” a measure would require a woman to prove that she had a miscarriage; and in his budget, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker bans insurance coverage for prescription birth control.
 
In South Dakota, a measure would redefine murder as “justifiable homicide” if the relative of a woman who’d decided to have an abortion kills the person who performed that procedure. There’s also a new law requiring a woman to wait three days after meeting with her doctor, and undergo a consultation at a "pregnancy help center" — to speak with counselors who oppose abortion.

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America's race progress

The Declaration of Independence proclaimed that all men are created equal, but looking through human history, we see examples of groups of people not treating other groups equally. As Americans, we act like “it only happens here,” for better or worse, and hear people all over the world berating America’s sordid, racially divided past. But guess what— most countries are much, much worse. Australia’s discrimination against Aborigines, France’s and Germany’s treatment of Muslim immigrants, Africans’ wholesale slaughter of fellow Africans from other tribes, China’s oppression of its non-Han minorities, Japan’s underlying prejudice against all gaijin, and so on and so forth.

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Racism and the fear of offending others

Racism is a funny thing, even though few find the humor in it. Publicly, everyone rebukes its, yet privately most unwittingly endorse it while thinking, "I'm not a racist."

A friend of mine from the Midwest told me how he was talking to an acquaintance from Southern California. "I can't believe how the Midwest and South treat African-Americans. It's a disgrace." The enlightened Californian followed that with, "All these damn wetbacks are ruining America." Of course, the man didn't think what he said was racist because in his mind racism is only between blacks and whites; plus, he was simply "stating the truth" about Hispanics.

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