Tag Archive | government

Thoughts on the SCOTUS gay marriage ruling

I’m seeing rainbows everywhere and it’s all very pretty…

But I’m curious to understand how the Supreme Court of the United States works, how did the case come before the Supreme Court, who brought the case, and is the granting of rights over all of the states the norm, or is it unprecedented? Is the Constitution affected in any way, and if so how?

I am wondering how the decision (that no state can deny marriage to a homosexual couple) affects the separation of church and state – does the ruling affect only civil weddings or religious weddings as well? If not, will the US take the next step, as the UK has, to permit gay marriage in churches? (If churches had decided to do it before the ruling, would the Government’s rules trump the churches? Would such weddings / marriages be declared illegitimate?)

Here in the UK we’re left with the ridiculous situation that only Anglican Churches are not permitted to conduct weddings for homosexual couples, not to mention the discrepancy between civil partnerships only being available to homosexuals, a situation which cannot possibly continue. The next logical and inevitable step is to declare, on equality grounds, that no churches are permitted to deny weddings to homosexuals.

That, like the ruling forcing businesses like Asher’s bakery and the bed & breakfast in Cornwall to do business against their conscience, would be a step too far, in my opinion, since it tramples on the rights of others to freedom of conscience amongst other things. But again, this is the inevitable logical conclusion when government is the arbiter of rights and liberties and has unfettered power to prioritise one group’s rights over another’s.

The permitting of rights, by the way, is antithetical to the very basis of UK law, which is grounded on the foundational idea that anything is permitted except that which is banned by government, as opposed to Napoleonic law which automatically bans anything which is not permitted by government – a very dangerous precedent and a very slippery slope. As I understand it (and I may be wrong, perhaps somebody can clarify this for me), this basic system of permitting rights is the US system as well.

And so then, more fundamentally, if the Supreme Court had ruled against gay marriage, how legitimate would that ruling be? (Was there an existing law banning gay marriage, or was it just automatically banned because it was previously not permitted?) At what point did the US Government become empowered to grant or deny rights? Do people even realise and understand the implications of it having such power?

If the Ireland vote a few weeks ago had ruled against gay marriage, the majority ruling against the rights of a minority, would that have been ok? Would it have been legitimate?

The whole idea that anybody should be permitted to vote against somebody else’s rights is troubling to say the least.

I saw a snippet of Rand Paul saying that the government ought to get out of the marriage business, and I’m inclined to agree (although I can’t find the exact quote, and I don’t know his reasons, so I wouldn’t go so far as to say I agree with him personally).

There’s a much bigger question about the role of Government, its boundaries, its legitimate powers, and I haven’t even touched upon the religious / spiritual dimension. That is perhaps for another post, when I have sorted through my thoughts.

Suffice to say that I’m uneasy about the whole idea of governments granting marriage licences (or refusing to do so), and on the other hand religious weddings aren’t, or perhaps shouldn’t be, the same entity as civil weddings. Of course there is no separation of church and state in the UK, so it’s all a bit more complicated.

Anyway, those are my initial thoughts from a legal / liberty perspective. I hope it’s not too disjointed.


Climate Change finals

I’ve come to the end of the Climate Change course, I aced the week 8 quiz but i basically failed the two-part final quiz, so i was a little bit disappointed though I wasn’t surprised. Altogether i found it interesting and enjoyable, but it was hard! I realised I am scientifically challenged!

I wanted to share with you the week 8 final feedback video – if you have a spare half hour it’s worth watching. Also, despite my own difficulties, I would recommend the course. If and when it runs again, have a go – even if you just watch the videos and do nothing else, it’d be worth doing.

I liked that Professor Fenton is optimistic – we have all the scientific, energy solutions to prevent the apocalyptic scenario of climate change, higher temperatures, rising sea levels, melting ice, ocean acidification etc.

The problem is essentially social, economic and political.

I’m not a fan of governments or governmental control by any means, and I tend to think that they are essentially using climate change as a tool of control without actually doing anything substantial to deal with the real problems. And then there’s also the problem of the fact that governments are so often in bed with big businesses which don’t want to change.

If governments were really taking climate change seriously, they would be massively incentivising people to do the right thing wherever possible – by subsidising *customers* who would like to choose renewable energy but can’t afford to, which would in turn encourage fossil fuel companies to move into environmentally friendlier fuels for example? maybe subsidising organic vegetable growers?

Everybody needs to do their part, and everybody needs to be convinced and get on board, and I don’t think governments are the ones to do it.

I liked the idea that arts and humanities can play their part to change people’s minds and thereby to change their behaviour. (And I liked that my slightly hippy-oriented ideas about living in community, living on the land and planting, recycling, re-using, being vegetarian / vegan and so on are all justified. Our household carbon footprint for example was a fraction of somebody living alone for example.) But the real challenge is that we need to act fast to turn the tide.

I loved that Professor Fenton was not anti-human at all, and he said that we could in effect live very happily and healthily even as 9 billion or however many we become, *if* we live more environmentally friendly lives.