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02/08/2012

Candle in the 'win': Sprigg faults Reinhardt for using Marilyn, et al.

by Jeremy Hooper

On page 38 and 39 of the Ninth Circuit's 100+ page majority opinion, Judge Reinhardt included this snippet about the word "marriage" and its connotation in our culture:

Screen Shot 2012-02-08 At 8.46.39 Am
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[READ: The Ninth Circuit's Prop 8 Opinion]

The goal of this one relatively small section of a very long opinion should be obvious. Conservatives are forcing us to debate the meaning of marriage. This debate takes on a new angle in a state like California, where many of the rights are already granted to same-sex couples under a separate system, yet the word is itself denied. It is more than understandable for a judge to look to the culture and opine on the hows and whys of this term itself.

But leave it to Peter "let's export/criminalize the gays" Sprigg to turn this into an easy point of attack:

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[@SpriggFRC]

Peter's goal, obviously, is to make Judge Reinhardt -- and the majority opinion, by extension -- seem trivial, unfocused, and even childish. But in doing so, it's actually Peter who is acting like the anti-intellect.

Let's think about what we hear from the "values" crowd. They are always throwing around phrases like "Words have meaning" and "Gays want to redefine the word marriage." So if that is their stance, that this particular word has some sort of particular impact in our culture, then a judge should absolutely look at the word and its real world applications. The other side has forced that issue.

Peter seems to take exception with the judge's usage of figures like Sinatra and Monroe. But wait a second -- isn't this the same Peter Sprigg who, along with his host organization, is forever forcing us to see these issues through characters with names like Jesus, Paul, Adam, and Eve? Why is that okay, yet a judge, in his attempt to examine civil marriage and its meaning in our tangible world, is somehow flighty for turning to relatable names and properties? Religion is uncommon to many Americans, but few could deny that Lincoln and Shakespeare are common to our shared culture.

And then there's the overall idea that Reinhardt used this 1.5 page chunk as some strong area of support for the overall findings. Again, this opinion was over 100 pages. There are lots and lots of words written on these pages. This is but one small area meant to speak to one very specific area. It's ridiculous to isolate this small chunk.

But it's ridiculousness that speaks to Peter's generalized agenda. He and movement are in a state of deep desperation and are looking for any way they can needle at us. Since legal documents are not like their own in-house press releases, they have to rely on something other than the fearful, fallacious talking point machine that butters their bread (it's multi-purpose, that machine). In this case, Peter thinks he's found an anti-intellectual "in." He's all like, "Look -- they have nothing better than a comedian, a crooner, and a JFK birthday singer, those sillyheads!" And while these tweets are very small in the grand scheme of this "culture war," they do offer a tiny glimpse into what I think will be a growing trend, where the far-right works overtime to up their own scholarly heft (see NOM's new chairman, conservative lawyer John Eastman) while reducing and minimizing ours. Or trying to, at least.

The opposition will do this precisely because we are winning. Because we are successful. Because they are envious.

Success makes so many people hate you. I wish it wasn't that way. It would be wonderful to enjoy success without seeing envy in the eyes of those around you.
― Marilyn Monroe
"The best revenge is massive success."
― Frank Sinatra
"Things done well and with care exempt themselves from fear."
- William Shakespeare

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