Sometimes you read a ruling in a court case and you just wanna sit back and smoke after you're done, like it was a good steak dinner or an awesome night of alternately rough and tender sex. The ruling by the alliteratively-named Judge John Jones that declared Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional is just such a document. As Charlie Pierce says, it's "remarkable for the sheer humanity of its language."
To be sure, there is an embrace of the tapestry of his state's citizens. Describing the eleven couples who were the plaintiffs in the case, Jones writes, "As a group, they represent the great diversity of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. They hail from across the state, making their homes in Allegheny, Dauphin, Centre, Northampton, Delaware, Chester, and Philadelphia Counties. They come from all walks of life; they include a nurse, state employees, lawyers, doctors, an artist, a newspaper delivery person, a corporate executive, a dog trainer, university professors, and a stay-at-home parent. They have served our country in the Army and Navy. Plaintiffs’ personal backgrounds reflect a richness and diversity: they are African-American, Caucasian, Latino, and Asian; they are Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Jewish, Quaker, Buddhist, and secular. In terms of age, they range from a couple in their 30s with young children, to retirees in their 60s. Many of the couples have been together for decades."
The Rude Pundit detects something else here, too. Why bother going through the quotidian credentials of the plaintiffs? Just to demonstrate that the gay and lesbian couples are normals, too? Or is it to say to those who oppose their right to marriage, "You know what? Just shut the fuck up already"?
Jones goes on to list the ways that not being married or having their out-of-state marriages recognized by Pennsylvania has affected the day-to-day lives of the plaintiffs in very tangible ways. There's the unfair application of taxes, something that should appeal to even closeted conservatives: "In terms of property ownership, all of the couples face the payment of Pennsylvania’s inheritance tax – including on half of the value of jointly-owned homes and bank accounts – at 15 percent, the highest rate," and "the married couples must still identify themselves as single in Pennsylvania, for example, on their state income taxes."
There's the parental rights: "For those couples who have had children, like Dawn Plummer and Diana Polson, the non-biological parent has had to apply for a second-parent adoption. Dawn expresses that she and Diana are presently saving money so that she can legally adopt their second son, J.P. Until the adoption is complete, she has no legal ties to J.P., despite that, together, she and Diana dreamed of welcoming him to their family, prepared for his birth, and functioned as a married couple long before having him."
In an awesome kick to the balls of the defendants, Jones titles the subsections of this part of the decision with quotes from wedding vows, "For richer, for poorer" and "In sickness and in health."
And then Jones gets around to gutting the state's defense. Pennsylvania had asserted that gays and lesbians had not suffered the historical discrimination necessary to grant them relief. After laying out exactly how the United States has mistreated LGBT people in the 20th and 21st centuries, he throws this into a footnote: "[W]e pause to note that Pennsylvania’s treatment of homosexuals also evidences long-term discrimination. For example, in the 1950s, the Philadelphia police formed a 'morals squad,' arresting some 200 gay men per month. In 1986, a Pennsylvania appellate court upheld an order heavily restricting a father’s custody rights based on his sexuality, endorsing that his daughters were 'innocent and impressionable' and that exposure to his homosexual relationship would inevitably result in 'emotional disturbance, perhaps severe.' Also, state legislators have sponsored bills in every session since 2006 proposing to amend the Constitution to enshrine the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. During debate, elected officials remarked that failing to exclude same-sex couples from marriage could lead to the legalization of incest and bestiality, and one senator called homosexual relationships 'dysfunctional,' comparing same-sex marriage to pedophilia...Pennsylvania lacks statutory anti-discrimination legislation protecting gay and lesbian persons, thereby permitting discrimination, e.g., in the work place, housing, and public accommodation."
The Rude Pundit loves that Jones uses the ignorance and fear of the homophobes as a crowbar to the knees of their argument. He awesomely concludes the note, "In view of this recitation, we would not find that Pennsylvania lacks a history of discrimination toward gay people" and then drops the mic.
Jones eviscerates the state of Pennsylvania's defense of the law. Read the whole thing, and see if you don't get the image of a dude looking at a bunch of asshole politicians and citizens and saying, "Stop being dicks. This discussion is over." Or, as Jones puts it, "We are better people than what these laws represent, and it is time to discard them into the ash heap of history."
Of course, dicks will be dicks will be dicks, usually in the most predictable way. In response, they pouted about "God's design" and say marriage shouldn't be "redefined." Or, as the reliably bugfuck insane American Family Association offers, "Homosexual activists have found allies in unelected federal judges who circumvent the will of the people."
Does it even need to be noted at this point that John Jones is a Republican? And that he was nominated for the U.S. District Court bench by George W. Bush?
Or how about this from Republican Congressman Charlie Dent from Allentown: "To all the individuals who will now be able to marry as a result of today's ruling – Congratulations!"
Yeah, we're almost done here.