Gay Marriage Supporters Should Not Celebrate the California Court’s Ruling

You’ve probably already heard that the California federal court has found that California’s Prop 8 gay marriage ban is unconstitutional.  Not California’s Constitution Un-Constitutional, but Federal, Constitution that applies to all of us Americans, unconstitutional.  Gay rights groups are celebrating.  But , this is not good news, regardless of how you feel about gay marriage. (For what it’s worth, I support it, both on liberatarian and socially conservative grounds.)

The ruling will be appealed, and the Ninth Circuit will certainly uphold the decision.  So this battle will really be fought in the Supreme Court.  And that is exactly the battle that gay groups have been avoiding, with good reason. 

Let’s say that same-sex marriage supporters suffer a loss at the Supreme Court.  That’s huge.  SCOTUS only takes a few cases a year; it will likely be decades before they may be willing to take such a decision back, if not generations.  Having such a devastating loss from the highest court in the land will gird opponents and inspire revisits, and perhaps reversals, of the pro-gay marriage decisions that have been made up to now. 

On the state level, gay marriage supporters have made incredible strides in a very short time.  Gay marriage has been, and can continue to be, growing in acceptance, and people are becoming more comfortable with it.  A renouncement from the highest court in the land will be a devastating blow, and may stop that progress in its tracks.  Gay marriage opponents, which, it is important to remember, still constitute a majority of Americans, who may have lost interest or given up will be reminded of their opposition, and will take up arms again. 

On the other hand, let’s say that the Supreme Court upholds the California court’s decision.  A win for gay marriage across the country?  Perhaps.  Four years ago, I would have said that, should SCOTUS find such a right, we would expect a Constitutional amendment within days.  Things have changed in that regards, and opponents of such an amendment would have a much stronger case.  Stronger, but far from airtight.

If there is an amendment against gay marriage, it sets an alarming precedent.  It is not the place of the U.S. Constitution to set rules about popular social issues, and we should not start making it so.  Attitudes are changing; it does no good to set into stone a rule based on attitudes that may change in a matter of years.  As above, having a Constitutional Amendment, even one that gives states the right to make the decision, would reinvigorate opponents and gay marriage supporters would likely lose a great deal of the traction that they have gained in the past few years.  In our nation’s history, we have only overturned one Constitutional Amendment, so restrictions on gay marriage would be likely to last much longer than it would if it had been allowed to win support on its own.  It is simply not worth this risk. 

Even if such an amendment does not happen, the mere spectacle of a Supreme Court case and the national debate over an amendment will be a massive distraction from the important issues facing our country. Regardless of the Supreme Court’s decision, it will almost certainly be a 5-4 split, which will mean that opponents will have every reason to question its validity.  Whether we like it or not, people care about this issue, and it is bound to bring up passionate debate and public interest.  Normally, debate and public interest are a good thing; however, our nation is now facing serious issues about the nature and role of government.  Like many of my fellow libertarian leaning Americans, I have been overjoyed at the new attention that this debate has brough to the public, and revel in the sudden attention that regular people now pay towards the government’s actions.  Distraction, in the form of a nationwide gay marriage debate, will allow government to grow, unchecked, while the people who would keep it in check debate an issue that in no way affects their livelihood and our country’s economic future.  We do not need to debate social issues right now; we need to keep the focus on the government.  A debate on gay marriage will not help that focus, and it will hurt our country.

Lesser Known Elections and the Mere Exposure Effect

Our local, highly contested, primary campaigns are in full swing right now.  Every street corner is packed with signs, and every commercial break is packed with attack ads.  The races cover broad contests; from high profile races to the governor’s mansion and a federal congressional seat to little known seats on the school board and county council. 

So, when I looked over the sample ballot, there were a number of names that I didn’t know much about.  But, as I looked at those names, I realized that something grabbed me about some of them.  I recognized the name, and my mind told me to pick that person.  Then, I thought for a second.  Why did I recognize that name?  I had seen signs for the candidate, which told me nothing more than that they were running and had enough money in their coffers to afford laminated cardboard with their name.  What did I actually know about the candidate, other than a name?  Absolutely nothing. 

With this in mind, I did some research on some, and decided not to decide on a few others.  But the urge to vote for the familiar ones had been there, and it had been strong.  If I hadn’t bothered to look at the sample ballot, I can completely see how I could have just marked the ballot for them without thinking (and I believe that I have done this in the past). 

Turns out, psychologists have studied this phenomenon.  The “mere exposure effect” is a psychological phenomenon that occurs when people feel an affinity for people or things merely because they have seen them before.  It is completely illogical, and not based on any actual experience, positive or negative, only on the sense of familiarity that occurs. 

In the 1960’s, a researcher named Robert Zajonc exposed subjects to various stimuli, which should have other been neutral, and then tested their reactions to these stimuli compared to unfamilar ones.  The subjects rated the stimuli they had seen before more positively.  Researchers have found the effect to hold for a variety of different designs, words, symbols, and photographs.  It even works when the subject is exposed to the stimulus so quickly he or she does not conciously perceive it. 

Think you’re too smart for this?  Try it yourself here.  Or just think about it next time you go to vote, and you’re considering those “lesser known” elections.

How did we get here

Victor Davis Hanson has an excellent column (HT: Instapundit) detailing why race relations have gotten so bad under the Obama administration.  Read the whole thing.

So, what did Breitbart cut?

I’m still trying to put together the whole Sherry Sherrod incident, but the line today appears to be that the original tape from Brietbart was taken out of context and edited to make it appear that she continued to hold racist beliefs.  However, a reading of the issue indicates that that is not completely true.  Media Matters has the tape and a partial transcript pointing to what was in the first tape verses what was in the full tape. 

However, the first tape, the short one, includes the line :

So I took him to a white lawyer that we had — that had attended some of the training that we had provided ’cause Chapter 12 bankruptcy had just been enacted for the family farmer, so I figured if I’d take him to one of them, that his own kind would take care of him.

That’s when it was revealed to me that y’all, it’s about poor versus those who have, and not so much about white — it is about white and black, but it’s not — you know, it opened my eyes,

(bolding mine) The administration, NAACP, and seemingly everyone else involved here appears to think that Breitbart edited out the part where she acknowledges that she was wrong.  However, as I read it, it was right there the whole time!  What, other than that, can “that’s when it was revealed to me” mean, other than I learned that I had been wrong? 

If people chose to overlook that, fine.  Certainly the administration and NAACP appeared to.  But don’t blame Breitbart for shortening a tape when you couldn’t even pay attention to the whole thing.

Update: John Stewart: “This administration is sorry . . . that you suck so bad!”  (and yes, John, that new beard thing looks incredibly stupid) (Also, the part about being allowed to “hate the thing that killed your father” thing- pretty creepy, when “the thing that killed her father” was apparently the entire white race.)

And: Sherrod says she’ll sue.  Doesn’t that require an actual non-truth?

Take it like a man!

One of my pet peeves, particularly in the summer, is that female attorneys seem to try to get away with dressing so casually as compared to the men.  The male attorneys that I see are universally in coats and ties, and usually in suits.  (Makes it a lot easier to spot the pro ses and clients.)  But the women often show up, even when they are arguing motions, in sleeveless tops, slacks, unstructured skirts, skimpy sandals, etc.   They don’t look lawyerly; they look like they’re heading to the mall or a casual dining restaurant. 

The way I see it, if you want to be treated like a man, and I’m sure that these female attorneys do, you should ensure that you are presenting yourself as professionally as the men are.  I know it’s hot, but, for crying out loud, be thankful that you aren’t expected to wear a tie! 

Anyway, on that note, one of my new favorite blogs is Corporette, which bills itself as “a fashion and lifestyle blog for over-acheiving chicks.”  They generally discuss things to wear to work, and also foray into work-related dilemmas, often with an emphasis on the female perspective (for example, a guest blogger did a post on breast pumping at work, and a recent discussion went into how to control your tears if you feel the urge to cry at work).  I think it usually strikes a good balance between recognizing the uniqueness qualities of being a woman but not expecting special treatment or worship because of sex. 

The Corporette comments very often mention the book “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office,” recommending it as a warning against things that professional women tend to do to hurt their chances at workplace success.  Since I’m going to be out in the “real world” of law pretty soon, I thought that might be a good read.  After all, I’m always told that I am nice.  (For example, recently, on Althouse, I told a commenter who was going on about Sarah Palin’s “big tits” to stfu with the misogyny, and commenters chimed in that if I was telling him to stfu, he must really be out of line.  If I’m known as “the nice one” when using an assumed name on an internet political blog, I must be an absolute peach in real life.)

Anyway, I was looking at buying the book, but then I thought, would a man read a book called “Nice Boys Don’t Get the Corner Office”?  That sounds kind of lame; men, particularly successful men, don’t usually navel gaze like that.  Or, if they do, they don’t let on.  So, maybe girls that get the corner office don’t read books like Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office?  Now I’m torn.

My Foray Into Bi-Valves

We’ve been wanting to try cooking something with mussels for a while, and finally got a good night off that was appropriate for wine and experimentation. 

We couldn’t find the recipe that I had originally had in mind, but did find this one, for Steamed Mussels with Pernod, Celery Root, and Saffron Aioli, from Epicurus via the I-Phone while we were out and about.  It was absolutely amazing- certainly the best seafood that I have ever cooked, and probably the best shellfish I have ever had. 

I couldn’t find celery root, so just used celery, and used full-fat mayo because I couldn’t see buying the low-fat stuff.  It was easy and just took a few minutes once you sorted through the mussels.  We picked up some crusty sourdough to go along, lightly toasted, and it complemented perfectly. 

Steamed Mussels with Pernod, Celery Root and Saffron Aïoli Bon Appétit | February 1999


Offer this main course with plenty of crusty bread to soak up the delicious saffron broth. A crisp Sauvignon Blanc is good here, too.

Yield: Serves 6


For aioli
1 tablespoon hot water
Pinch of saffron threads, crumbled
2/3 cup low-fat mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, minced

For mussels
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large celery root, peeled, finely chopped (about 2 1/2 cups)
1 large leek (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
2 carrots, peeled, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
6 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 1/2 pounds mussels, scrubbed, debearded
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1/3 cup Pernod or other anise-flavored liqueur


Make aioli:
Combine 1 tablespoon hot water and saffron in medium bowl. Let stand 5 minutes. Whisk in mayonnaise and garlic. Season to taste with salt. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
Make mussels:
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add celery root, leek, carrots, chopped celery and 4 tablespoons parsley. Stir to coat. Cover pot and cook until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add mussels, wine and Pernod. Increase heat to high. Cover and cook until mussels open, stirring occasionally, about 6 minutes (discard any mussels that do not open). Remove from heat. Season cooking liquid to taste with salt and pepper.

Whisk 1/2 cup cooking liquid into aioli to make thin sauce. Ladle mussels and remaining cooking liquid into 6 bowls. Drizzle each serving with some aioli. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons parsley. Serve mussels, passing re-maining aioli separately.

We halved the recipe, and had a bit leftover, so we shelled the mussels and tossed them with the broth and veggies (adding some extra leeks, celery, and carrots) and some cooked egg noodles, adding in a roux to thicken it up a little bit.  Drizzled the aioli over the top and it was still great.  (I had planned to try it with risotto instead of egg noodles, but was out.) 
Still had a bit of aioli left over, so, for breakfast, toasted a bit more of the sourdough, fried a couple of eggs on top and ate that with the aioli.  Delicious!  (Although I’ll admit that I could have done without the garlic there.) 

Cherry Blossom Collins

My husband gets the credit for this sweet, refreshing, summertime drink. (I think it would make a delightlful ice cream or sorbet, once I work out the details.) 

Makes 2

  • 1/3 Cup Water
  • 1/3 Cup Sugar
  • Approx. 1/3 Cup Frozen Cherries, diced or pureed
  • 2 Tsp. Loose Green Tea (recommended: Cherry Blossom Green Tea)
  • 10-20 Basil Leaves
  • 1/2 Cup Gin

In a small saucepan, dissolve the sugar in the water.  Add the cherries and bring to a boil, remove from heat and add tea and basil.  Allow to steep for 1 hour.  Strain into a measuring cup (should have about 1/2 cup). 

Fill a shaker with ice, combine cherry-tea syrup and gin, shake until cold.  Serve in a Collins glass over ice.  Garnish with cherries and basil leaves, if desired.

Some surprising support for McDonald v. Chicago’s outcome

Daily Kos: Why liberals should love the Second Amendment.  Yeah, you read that right. 

It’s definitely an interesting piece, and well worth the read.  However, if you live anywhere outside of Kos’s house of Krazy, you’ll scoff at some of the author’s reasoning.  The premise is centered around liberals’ love of the constitution. (hmm, in my Constitutional law classes, liberals were often talking about how to reform, or do away with entirely, the Constitution.  If you love something, why are you always trying to read it in a way that it was clearly not intended to be read?)  The author makes a pretty big deal about the First Amendment in particular, which, I’ve noticed, liberals don’t seem to be too fond of these days.    But, otherwise, the author makes some really good, refreshingly libertarian points.  Read the whole thing.

I don’t live in California

Thank goodness.

I admit that I kind of appreciate DOMA as a compromise . . .

But I’ve always thought that it was probably unconsitutional, so I can’t disagree with this ruling at first glance.  I’ll try to read it more and see if that changes later.  Love, love, love that we’re talking about the 10th Amendment, though.