Thursday, May 28, 2009

Is Strauss v. Horton a "gay-rights block buster"?

05/28/09 WordinEdgewise:

An unidentified "legal reader" of Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish explains why he or she thinks Strauss v. Horton represents a "gay-rights block buster." Widener University law professor John Culhane expresses his concern that he doesn't "know (nor can anyone) how far the court would be willing to go in supporting more far-reaching restrictions on the rights of the GLBT community, including revoking domestic partnership protections ... the court’s actions revealed principle to be rhetoric, expendable at the first sign of trouble (read: the prospect that the justices might not be retained when they next appear on the ballot)."

A related question concerns whether rulings upholding same-sex marriage have set back the back the cause of marriage equality, by unleashing a political backlash. Sullivan favors a 05/26/09 post by Ilyra Somin, who contends that a ruling like that in Strauss can still represent a net gain to the cause. Somin finds evidence in the influence of the "Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court's 2003 Goodridge decision mandating gay marriage equality in that state." Such decisions, he says, can help shift "the parameters of the political debate." In this respect, Somin appears to support one version of popular constitutionalism, in which groundbreaking decisions on the expanded scope of constitutional protections can increase public support for commensurate legislation and successor-rulings.

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