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November 04, 2012

Apples to Apples

Chris Geidner of Buzzfeed interviewed National Organization for Marriage Executive Director Brian Brown, "Conservative Leader Prepares For A Long War Over Marriage."

In discussing NOM's attempts to put marriage equality before the voters in D.C., Brown states:

"I don’t believe people should be able to vote on things that are actual discrimination," Brown said. "I don’t believe that we should have a vote on whether African-Americans can eat in restaurants. That is true discrimination, and obviously we would never do anything to say that that should be voted on.”

Asked if he had the same view opposing a vote on whether gay people could eat in restaurants, "Yeah, of course." But, quickly pivoting back to his group's sole target, marriage, he said, "It’s comparing apples and oranges. Opposing gay marriage is not discrimination."

The key take away here is that Brown thinks that gay people are not deserving of a fundamental human right, that the Supreme Court has found applies to every group, including prisoners on death row who have lost every other right.

The actual court case, backed by NOM, Jackson v. D.C. Bd. of Elections & Ethics, 999 A.2d 89 (D.C. 2010), was over the issue of whether or not the D.C. Council had given themselves the right to restrict referendums and initiatives from violating the D.C.Human Rights Act.  Removing that protection would allow initiatives on issues such as " whether African-Americans can eat in restaurants." The restriction is the reason that the District cannot put the rights of a minority to a majority vote.

The D.C. Court of Appeals decided narrowly on a 5-4 vote that the restriction was legal, and marriage equality could not go to the ballot. The sole question was whether the rights of a minority should be protected from the whims of the majority. As a purely legal matter, the issue was over the question of what is the definition of "purpose." Fortunately, 5 of 9 judges ruled that the D.C. Council in 1978 understood what it was doing, and the ban on referendums and initiatives violating the Human Rights Act remains in place.

The question of whether restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples would violate the Human Rights Act was never in question. Everyone, other than Brian Brown and his allies, agreed that it was obviously discriminatory. All 9 judged found that the issue was discriminatory, as did all the lower court judges and the entire Board of Elections and Ethics on three occasions.

Brian Bond claims that violating the right of same-sex couples to marry is not "true discrimination" is on par with Rep. Todd Akin discussing "legitimate rape". We have agreed as a society that there isn't legitimate or illegitimate rape. Rape is wrong, and that isn't controversial. Likewise violating the right of same-sex couples to marry, at least in the District, isn't controversial. It is a very real form of discrimination.

Bond, and NOM, have shown in court that they "believe people should be able to vote on things that are actual discrimination." It is actually apples and apples.

Comments

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When the rights of African-Americans have been put to a vote, such as on the 1967 Fair Housing Act, voters took them away as often as they upheld them.

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