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July 30, 2014 8:09 AM

July 30, 2014 8:00 AM

Once upon a time, interracial marriage was defined by many good, God-fearing American patriots as an abomination, the first step in creating a race of “mud people,” in which cultures melded into one big indistinguishable mish-mash. There were laws against Blacks marrying Whites, preachers held forth from their pulpits decrying the evils of interracial love, and White racists spoke of the need to protect “our” women from “them.”

Fifty-plus years later, it all seems so silly. Over time, the legal and moral atmosphere evolved as people and the courts began to understand that banning interracial marriage was as immoral as it was racist. The heart wants what it wants, and since when does the State not have a vested interest in stable, long-term relationships…of whatever flavor? If two people love one another enough to make a lifetime commitment, why shouldn’t they be allowed to take that step? Why should government be able to determine who’s “worthy” of marrying? Unless, of course, the couple in question happen to be gay. Then “small government” Social Conservatives have no problem with government determining who can and can’t marry…because it supports their fear, ignorance, and prejudice. It seems Americans just aren’t comfortable without someone to hate and oppress, knowhutimean??

Fortunately, the tide of history is turning as courts across the country rule there’s no compelling state interest in banning same-sex marriage. It’s about fear, prejudice, and the “ick” factor, which as the court in Virginia ruled, is not a sufficient legal basis to discriminate against same-sex couples. There’s no compelling collective interest in preventing same-sex couples from marrying and enjoying the same benefits heterosexual couples take for granted, especially when both pay the same taxes.

Love is love. The heart what it wants…and who are we to determine who’s “worthy” of being allowed to marry? If you’re going to use the “What about raising children?” argument, then senior citizens and those unable to have children shouldn’t be allowed to marry. Erin and I don’t want children; does that mean we shouldn’t be allowed to marry? In the end, it’s not about children…or anything else. It’s about two people who love one another and want to make a lifetime commitment. Why would we NOT want to celebrate that?

If you oppose same-sex marriage, there’s a very simple choice available to you: don’t marry someone of the same sex. You have the right to make that decision, and you’re free to love as you choose…so how about allowing others that same freedom? Your choice, your religious beliefs, your prejudice, and/or your fear are neither sufficient nor compelling reasons to do deny others the very same rights you take for granted.

Love is love…and since when does this world EVER have an oversupply of that?

July 30, 2014 7:07 AM

July 30, 2014 6:53 AM

A majority of the 100 executed inmates examined in a new study by three legal researchers had “a severe mental illness such as schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder or psychosis.” Yet, because of an oddity in the Supreme Court’s death penalty cases, it is typically constitutional under existing precedents to execute people with these illnesses.

In a pair of cases decided in 2002 and 2005, the Court held that it is unconstitutional to execute intellectually disabled inmates and individuals who committed a capital offense when they were under the age of 18. As the Court explained in the first of these two cases, these cases are rooted in the fact that certain offenders “have diminished capacities to understand and process information, to communicate, to abstract from mistakes and learn from experience, to engage in logical reasoning, to control impulses, and to understand the reactions of others” — and thus it would be cruel and unusual punishment to subject them to the most permanent of punishments.

This rationale — that people with diminished mental capacity cannot be executed — applies with equal force to people with severe mental disorders. Indeed, the study by researchers Robert J. Smith, Sophie Cull and Zoë Robinson finds that “the overwhelming majority of executed offenders had intellectual and psychological deficits that rivaled—and sometimes outpaced—those associated with intellectual disability and juvenile status.” And yet the Court has not yet extended the same protections to people with severe mental illnesses that it has to juvenile offenders and people with intellectual disabilities.

In a grim reminder that the fact that a practice is unconstitutional does not mean it will cease, the same study also found that “[o]ne-third of the last hundred executed offenders were burdened by intellectual disability, borderline intellectual functioning, or traumatic brain injury—a similarly debilitating intellectual impairment.” Yet there is reason for death row inmates and their lawyers to hope that this number may change in the future. A loophole in the Court’s decision prohibiting executions of the intellectually disabled has allowed many states to evade this decision in the past, but the Court began to close this loophole earlier this year.

July 30, 2014 6:45 AM

July 29, 2014 9:51 AM

July 29, 2014 9:43 AM

Back in November of 2012, the Freedom From Religion Foundation sued the IRS because of the government agency’s “failure to enforce electioneering restrictions against churches and religious organizations.” Basically, churches were endorsing political candidates from the pulpit and the IRS wasn’t doing anything to stop it…. We don’t know the terms of the settlement, but the point is that the IRS now says it will enforce its own rules.

In a country founded in part on the separation of Church and State, it’s surprising (and rather disturbing) how much politics and religion are intermingled. Several states actually have laws on the books banning atheists from holding public office. That this is in direct contravention to the Constitution seems to matter not at all to those determined that America-hating atheists have no part in the public dialogue- a place rightly reserved for good, God-fearing American patriots. That their arrogance and intolerance contradict the teachings of the Jesus Christ they purport to revere is something to be addressed in more detail at another time.

The other part of the equation that’s well-known but almost completely glossed over is that most churches are tax-exempt. A requirement to maintain that exemption is that churches can’t engage in partisan political activity. Preachers cannot instruct their flock as to the “Christian” way to vote…if they want to maintain their tax-exempt status, that is. Large numbers of Conservative pastors and church leaders openly and knowingly flaunt this rule…because evidently their flavor of God is so mighty as to allow them to ignore the laws of mere mortals. The IRS has over time meekly acquiesced to this reality. They’ll tell you that it’s because their enforcement effort was hamstrung by not having anyone in the job responsible for ensuring churches aren’t engaged in political activity. That’s only part of the story; most of it has to do with a lack of will and a complete absence of political courage. No one’s wanted to take on churches and risk angering the Rabid Religious Right. (If you listen closely, you can almost here the cries of PERSECUTION!!!!!)

Now the IRS is (finally) indicating that it will begin ramping up enforcement efforts. To say that it’s about time would be something of an understatement.

July 29, 2014 9:03 AM

July 29, 2014 8:56 AM

(thanks to Craig Powell for the tip)

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (WJZ) — Right now, a candidate for Anne Arundel County Council is under fire for what appears to be his membership in a neo-confederate group that wants the south to secede from the rest of the U.S.

Democrats are calling on the Republican Party to denounce him….

He is a strong religious conservative and he’s even run for president before, but his membership in a group called the League of the South has drawn the most controversy.

Video shows Michael Peroutka being introduced at a League of the South conference. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls it a hate group that advocates the south’s secession to a separate nation run by white people.

“Uppermost of which is the desire to form a new southern republic,” the head of the League of the South, Dr. Michael Hill, said. Peroutka, who in published reports strongly denies he’s a white supremacist, won the Republican primary for an Anne Arundel County council seat — a conservative district representing Arnold and Severna Park.

Democrats say the Republican Party should denounce him.

“Silence is consent, and if Republicans do not make it crystal clear that he does not represent them, then I think they will pay a price come November,” said Carl Snowden, civil rights activist.

July 29, 2014 1:33 AM

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