Monday, August 11, 2014

Brian Brown's latest missive: Self-delusion and pathological prevarication

Brian Brown, head of National Organization for Marriage, leaves Friday afternoon for his painfully verbose bloviation of the week. Shabbat Shalom Mr. Brown. Last week's inept selection of sophistry is titled Case Closed? Not Even Close. Once again Mr. Brown wants to convince people (at least those who donate to his cause) that NOM is still relevant and that marriage equality is anything but a certainty. Mr. Brown is probably trying to convince himself that he is still relevant in spite of NOM's failure rate.

I suspect that we will have the answer to the question from the Supreme Court by next summer. Meanwhile, NOM needs money. Mr. (“I need my job”) Brown wants us to know:
The Biggest News That Wasn't News

"European Court Says No Right to Same-Sex Marriage."

That was the headline from Breitbart News on July 25th. But apart from this, the story of this monumental ruling received little to no media attention. The mainstream media, having long joined the cheerleading squad of the same-sex marriage movement, took their typical approach to stories combatting <sic> the narrative: silence.
Mr. Brown should read the actual information release [PDF] from the European Court  of Human Rights which determined that “Requiring a change of marital status for a transsexual to be recognised as a woman did not breach her human rights.” It's a complex case that began in 2009 but the Court has never held that every European country must recognize same-sex marriage. The Court enforces the articles of the European Convention on Human Rights.

More importantly, try as he might (and he does try to make a connection) the European case has absolutely nothing to do with United States marriage equality. It is not the “biggest news” — it's not news at all. But, of course, an evil conspiracy exists to victimize you-know-who:
Therefore, considering the complicity of the media in the cause to radically redefine marriage and family, we shouldn't take the by-the-way coverage of this case as a sign of the story's unimportance, but of its importance. They don't want you to know about this!
It is important because it is unimportant? Whatever. This goes on and on and on even noting that Justice Kennedy has cited the European court on occasion which is a sure sign that he will oppose marriage equality. Of course. Then Mr. Brown is off to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals where the legal issues don't exist — just the disapproval of the electorate:
  • While they are not physically present in the courtroom in Cincinnati, the votes of 8.7 million citizens are at stake in this hearing.
  • Voters passed marriage amendments by overwhelming margins in these four states — nearly 8.7 million votes were cast in support of these four amendments, amounting to a combined 65% of the vote cast.
Mr. Brown doesn't realize it but it is the disapproval of a minority group that gives rise to legal protection. Laws are not supposed to exist as an expression of religious opprobrium. And, the evil conspiracy rises again:
No, you won't find these wholly relevant facts in the articles from the [Washington] Post and the [New York] Times. Both articles do, on the other hand, take great pains to mention the "legal landscape of the last year, in which more than two dozen lower courts and two appeals courts have ruled that gay couples have a right to marry."
That is because they are not relevant facts. Voter disapproval is not a valid legal argument. These cases have been decided on due process and equal protection grounds.  The 6th CCA is very conservative and two of the judges hearing this case are George W. Bush appointees. One of those judges did ask, given the rapid change in sentiment, if marriage equality could be obtained at the polls. In Tennessee that would take years if not decades. Meanwhile couples are aging, would-be spouses are dying and gay children face lives of uncertainty as do the children of unmarried gay couples. The absence of equality in a country that prides itself on fairness and diversity is a national disgrace.

There is another reason that we should not submit civil rights to the electorate. It is the stress that these contests place on children. In conservative Christian red states like Tennessee, gay kids live with a constant stream of homophobia. Put gay rights on the ballot and the Evangelicals, along with the Catholic Church, will invest millions of dollars in anti-gay advertising. They would promote the same theme that we witnessed in Proposition 8 and Maine's Question 1; The not so subtle suggestion that gays are a threat to children.

The Washington Post did suggest that the 6th CCA could provide us with our first loss. The New York Times called it a toss-up. However the court rules, this matter is ultimately going to be decided by the Supreme Court. I am optimistic. Indeed, the plaintiffs in Utah who were the beneficiaries of an appeals court ruling have said that "they would join with their opponents to urge the Supreme Court to hear their case." It's an unusual tactic designed to accelerate the pace of the Court.

Mr. Brown finally comes to the beginning of the end of his rant:
But I think we have reason to hope. … We need to show the Justices of the Supreme Court, between now and the time that they reconsider this issue, that the American people still stand divided on the issue of marriage!
[ … ]
Don't buy the hype of "inevitability" from the other side. Don't feel like the Supreme Court is beyond your power to influence. Each of us can do our part to show that marriage still enjoys deep and wide support throughout our land.

Let's show the American people and the Justices on the bench that there's still a debate to be had on this matter, and hopefully they will come down in favor of letting that debate continue.
This is  classic argumentum ad populum. The notion that, if many or a majority of people believe a certain way, then that belief is true. It's a logical fallacy because the fact that many people have a certain belief is not a guarantee that the belief is true. A majority of Americans believed (and may still believe) that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9-11.

Demonstrating support for discrimination and bigotry to the Justices of the Court is presupposes that they are listening. Even then it is a futile waste of energy. Support for marriage equality is greater now than when the Court decided United States v. Windsor. If they are listening then they can read the polls.

Perhaps Mrs. Brown is asking Mr. Brown about their family's future.

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