April 17, 2007

"I take this oath of office today under protest to the passage of the constitutional amendment... This amendment besmirches our Constitution...."

At least ten members of the Madison Common Council chose not to sign a supplementary statement on their official oaths of office on Tuesday afternoon. The statement pledges opposition to the Wisconsin marriage amendment adopted last fall.
Oh, aren't you righteous? And I suppose when the next guy comes along and withholds his commitment to some part of the Constitution that he dissents from, you'll say it's not the same, because the part he doesn't like doesn't besmirch it.

But let's congratulate Eli Judge, who is chair of Students for a Fair Wisconsin, opposing the marriage amendment, "who publicly identif[ies] as 'gay'" and is "usually considered a sure-fire 'statement-er.'" He took the oath, unqualified, and writes:
I will continue to fight the ban, prejudice, or hate against any community until the day I die. I simply do not feel the need to declare that truth in the same breath by which I am put into public office.

UPDATE: Members of the County Board back away from their planned protest and say they were influenced by Eli Judge's position.

84 comments:

Simon said...

I have little to add to my comments on the subject back in January. This is a cowardly way out for people who'd like to resign on point of principle but aren't willing to suffer the career damage such courage would inflict.

Revenant said...

Well said, Simon.

Lindsey Lee said...

Ann wrote "I suppose when the next guy comes along and withholds his commitment to some part of the Constitution that he dissents from, you'll say it's not the same, because the part he doesn't like doesn't besmirch it."



Ann, you are either an ethical relativist or you really are at best ambivalent about ending discrimination against gays and lesbians.



The alders who made a statement about this amendment to the State of Wisconsin Constitution were right to do so. Elected officials who would do the same to support discrimination would in turn be wrong because their position is wrong.



Get it?



I will note that you did not write a peep about the injustice done against Georgia Thompson. It is interesting that this is the kind of thing that floats your boat. Pretty telling, eh?

Simon said...

Lindsey,
"I, Hillary Rodham Clinton, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States of America, and will to the best of my ability, preserve protect and defend the Constitution of the United States of America, excepting to the extent it conflicts with the following supplemental statement:

"I take this oath of office today under protest to the passage of the 26th Amendment. I pledge to work to eliminate this section from the Constitution and to use the powers of my office to prevent any persons under the age of 21 from voting as a result of its application."

But you're okay with that, right, Lindsey? Because it's just fine for elected officials to decide which parts of the Constitution they're going to pledge loyalty, right? All that's required is an overweening belief in their own moral rectitude. We are, after all, a nation of men, not laws. Right?

Every part of the Constitution of Wisconsin is as valid as every other part, unless it specifically falls afoul of a higher authority, i.e. federal authority. You can't pick and choose which parts you take an oath to - if you can't bring yourself to support one part of it, there is an ethical and honorable way to protest: resign. But these people are too cowardly to do that: they want to make a statement, but they don't want to pay any personal cost for their statement.

I congratulate you on your courage: it takes balls of brass to argue against the rule of law. Or didn't they explain to you that was what they were asking you to do when they handed you your daily liberal talking points? How do you people not get that your positions on refusing to swear an oath and your position on the US Attorneys story are totally irreconcilable?

Revenant said...

The alders who made a statement about this amendment to the State of Wisconsin Constitution were right to do so. Elected officials who would do the same to support discrimination would in turn be wrong because their position is wrong. Get it?

I get it -- but you're wrong. Elected officials serve the people, not their individual consciences. Any elected official who has a problem with that is obligated to resign.

Jack Shaftoe said...

No elected official is ever above a constitution. You don't get to pick and choose. A constitution is what grants the government the consent of the governed, period. It's a contract.

Simon said...

Since Lindsey raised the Georgia Thompson issue, that point should also be addressed. While there are aspects of the story that puzzle me (for example, why is the U.S. District Attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin prosecuting a crime alleged to have occurred in Madison?) and while I'd certainly like Ann's take on the issue in this context, her blog, her prerogative, and there are many stories in the news she doesn't cover. You don't get to dictate what people choose to write about, Lindsey - the censorious, controlling urge of the leftosphere surfaces once again: "how dare you, a law professor, not write about this issue that's of importance to me. Agree with me, explicitly, on everything, or I will assail you with allegations of ethical relativism."

Worse yet, in this case, the shoe doesn't even fit: It isn't as if Ann hasn't addressed the issue in public remarks. On Joy Cardin's show last Friday, to my recollection, she addressed the issue and made two points that I think hit the mark: first, we have yet to see an opinion from the 7th Cir explaining its (concededly very expedited) order releasing Thompson, which makes it hard to speculate as to what those judges actually decided, and secondly (and more importantly) that whatever allegations can be made about Biskupic's prosecution of Thompson, a twelve-member federal jury unanimously agreed that the prosecution had made its case beyond a reasonable doubt. And that is of immense consequence: the criminal jury is the "circuitbreaker in the State's machinery of justice," "the spinal column of American democracy"; it exists to inserts the common man between accused and the state, precisely to protect the accused from the sort of abuse alleged in the Thompson case. Jurors take their responsibilities seriously, and unless Thompson's counsel was a complete wet blanket, the fact that the jury found the case argued to them to be sufficiently convincing as to be beyond reasonable doubt should be given great deference. Not controlling weight, of course, which is why we have the appeal process, but at least enough (all else being equal, which with the jurisdictional issue considered, they aren't) to give Biskupic the benefit of the doubt that there was a genuine case here, at least until the Seventh Circuit explains otherwise. That this will fall on deaf ears is a measure of the extent to which liberals aren't actually interested in the case except to the extent it can be used as a weapon against the Bush administration in the U.S. Attorneys "scandal."

L. E. Lee said...

Simon,

You are now just being silly.

First, why would anyone resign? That is just nonsensical. Have you ever heard “cutting one’s nose off to…”

It makes more sense to take the oath and then make a statement that you don’t support a blatantly discriminatory amendment to the State’s constitution. (btw-this statement was only that, not an amendment to the oath of office.)

Second, Si, you really are being a moral relativist here. The comparison you are making to the 26th Amendment is nothing like the discrimination now enshrined in our state’s constitution.

Would you have taken issue with an elected official from the 1850’s who took issue with discriminatory clauses in the U.S. Constitution and that of many of the states? Given your response I guess you would have said, “well I can’t ‘argue against the rule of law’ and every part of the constitution ‘is as valid as every other part.’”

Revenant wrote “Elected officials serve the people, not their individual consciences. Any elected official who has a problem with that is obligated to resign.”

First, go read your E. Burke and then a chapter of “Profiles in Courage.”. Second, while I hate to invoke this, but, is this not what Nazis said? What came out of Nuremberg after the war is that you do have the responsibility to follow your individual conscience in certain cases. To be clear, I am not saying that is the case here.

I would hope my electeds would, in important moments, follow their “individual consciences” realizing that the voters might reject them in the future.

The amendment added to the State of Wisconsin constitution is repugnant and wrong. There is nothing wrong in say so even after taking an oath of office. In fact, this a good time to do so as is demonstrated in the interest it has brought to this injustice.

L. E. Lee said...

Simon wrote:

“You don't get to dictate what people choose to write about, Lindsey - the censorious, controlling urge of the leftosphere surfaces once again:”

Simon are you now just putting me on? You’re serious right?

Simon, the owner of this blog can write about anything she wants. Bully for her. But, what’s wrong with me pointing out that she did not find of interest one of the biggest legal/political news stories from her home state of the past year that has now attracted a great deal of national interest?

How is that “censorious” of me? Ahh, on second thought, don’t answer that. I think you are putting me on.

If Ann has addressed the Thompson case in other forums, I did not know that. Until I stumbled across this blog a couple of weeks ago, I did not even know who Ann Althouse was.

Sorry.

John Kunze said...

How can one object to these "oathing statements" if Bush is permitted his broad use of signing statements?

Downtown said...

I don't really care about the oath. But I think it is worth pointing out that Wisconsin citizens have shown themselves to be a bunch of anti-gay bigots.

And any resident who continues to reside in that bigoted, backward state is giving their tacit support to state-sponsored hatred. Including the gay people who choose to continue living there - all of them are cowards.

Simon said...

L. E. Lee said...
"Simon, You are now just being silly. First, why would anyone resign?"

Because taking office would require swearing an oath to a document one found morally objectionable.


"It makes more sense to take the oath and then make a statement that you don’t support a blatantly discriminatory amendment to the State’s constitution."

As a public official, you don't get to decide which parts of the Constitution you're willing to enforce. You don't like this amendment, but suppose an amendment requiring gay marriage had been adopted and a conservative councillor issued a "supplemental statement" saying that they would discharge their duties under the constitution, excepting that they would refuse to recognize any gay marriages and would use their office to reject and fight the amendment. There is no legal difference between those two positions, but I'm willing to bet you'd be amont the first to condemn the councillor in the latter situation.



"Si, you really are being a moral relativist here. The comparison you are making to the 26th Amendment is nothing like the discrimination now enshrined in our state’s constitution."

Morality has nothing to do with it. Legality does. And in legal terms, the discrimination now enshrined into your state's constitution is exactly like the 26th Amendment. The 26th Amendment was legitimately adopted according to the procedure set forth in Article V of the United States Constitution; the amendment you don't like was legitimately adopted according to the procedure set forth in Article XII of the Wisconsin Constitution. The time for arguing the morality of the amendment was when it went before voters. You took your case to the electorate, and you lost; thereafter, it makes no difference whether you, I or anyone else disagrees with the amendment, it becomes a valid part of the Constitution. No one is suggesting that you work to repeal it, but to the extent your job requires you to enforce it, you either swallow hard and enforce it, or resign.


"Would you have taken issue with an elected official from the 1850’s who took issue with discriminatory clauses in the U.S. Constitution and that of many of the states?"

There wasn't anything discriminatory in the U.S. Constitution - the constitution never mandated slavery, and it never prevented women or blacks from voting. And even if it had, the correct remedy was to amend the Constitution, which eventually happened to foreclose such discrimination by states.


"I would hope my electeds would, in important moments, follow their “individual consciences” realizing that the voters might reject them in the future."

I would hope that my elected officials follow the law and the Constitution, which is precisely what you are urging them to cast off. Be careful what principles you endorse for momentary convenience.


"In fact, this a good time to do so as is demonstrated in the interest it has brought to this injustice."

All publicity is good publicity, right?

Simon said...

John,
Funny you should say that, because someone said the exact same thing when Ann raised this subject in January. The comparison was inapt then and it's inapt now.

Gahrie said...

So if you don't kowtow to the homosexual lobby, and endorse and support everything they demand, you are automatically a bigot.

Nevermind whether or not you support homosexuals, but just draw the line at destroying one of the foundations of Western civilization.

Very enlightened atitude there.

Simon said...

Someone's impersonating Downtownlad and doing a reductio ad absurdum of one of DTL's jeremiads.

Downtown said...

Well Gahrie - If you endorse an amendment that makes gay people second class citizens, and not only prevents them from getting married, but removes any future recognition whatsoever of their relationship, that prevents laws protecting hospital visitation rights, etc. - then YES - you are an anti-gay bigot.

It's pretty simple.

You might not realize you are one, but trust me, every gay person on this planet recognizes that you are.

Gahrie said...

William Roper: So, now you give the Devil the benefit of law!

Sir Thomas More: Yes! What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

William Roper: Yes, I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

Sir Thomas More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned 'round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country is planted thick with laws, from coast to coast, Man's laws, not God's! And if you cut them down, and you're just the man to do it, do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake!

Simon said...

L. E. Lee said...
"Simon, the owner of this blog can write about anything she wants. ... But, what’s wrong with me pointing out that she did not find of interest one of the biggest legal/political news stories from her home state of the past year that has now attracted a great deal of national interest? How is that “censorious” of me?"

Context. Having criticized Ann's position on the qualified plege, you wrote, "I will note that you did not write a peep about the injustice done against Georgia Thompson. It is interesting that this [the pledge story] is the kind of thing that floats your boat. Pretty telling, eh?" Telling of what, Lindsey? The inference one has to draw is that you think that it's "telling" about Ann's views that she chooses to cover this story and to take a certain view of it, but chooses not to address the story you want to talk about. Thus, your comment is censorious to the extent that you used her failure to discuss a topic that you think is of great import as a weapon with which to attack her position on a topic she has covered but that you disagree with.

Downtown said...

And gahrie - proof of your anti-gay bigotry is use of the term "homosexual" to refer to gay people, a patently offensive term.

The equivlanet to calling a Jew a kike, or a black person a N%igger.

Simon said...

Gahrie said...
"So if you don't kowtow to the homosexual lobby, and endorse and support everything they demand, you are automatically a bigot."

No no, Gahrie. That isn't what he said. He said that "Wisconsin citizens have shown themselves to be a bunch of anti-gay bigots," and that anyone continuing to reside in "that bigoted, backward state" ("bigoted" and "backward" certainly being the first words one thinks of in connection to Wisconsin) is an anti-gay bigot who "is giving their tacit support to state-sponsored hatred." It isn't enough to kowtow, to endorse and support everything they demand. You're a bigot if you don't either win, or leave the state when you lose.

Got that, Lindsey? FWIW, I don't have anything against you, I just think your heart's won power of attorney over your head; but Downtownlad, on the other hand, he thinks you're a bigot who gives "tacit support to state-sponsored hatred" because you haven't left the state yet. It's getting such that the only states morally acceptable people can live in are New England and Arizona. The rest of us, basically, total scum. Self-marginalization in action, ladies and gents.

Downtown said...

Pretty much Simon.

I do think most of America is total scum.

Thank God I still have enough freedom in this country to have freedom of thought.

But I'm sure you'll try and take that away too.

Simon said...

Downtown said...
"And gahrie - proof of your anti-gay bigotry is use of the term "homosexual" to refer to gay people, a patently offensive term."

We've been through this before. That you want desparately for "homosexual" to be a derogatory term doesn't make it so. See comments here et seq.

Downtown said...

Sorry Simon - A random Google news search on the term "homosexual" PROVES it so, as a bunch of bigoted anti-gay Christian sites pop up.

Simon said...

Downtown said...
"But I'm sure you'll try and take that away too."

I won't, but if you invite a mass exodus out of the states that ban gay marriage, you are opening the door to those who would to force through an amendment at the federal level.

Simon said...

Downtown said...
"Sorry Simon - A random Google news search on the term "homosexual" PROVES it so, as a bunch of bigoted anti-gay Christian sites pop up."

I'm guessing you skipped Evidence.

dick said...

DTL,

As a gay person I disagree with you totally. It is up to the people
themselves to determine what they want to do about gay marriage. You
may think it is bigoted not to support it but you are only speaking for
yourself. You are not speaking for all the gay people of the world when
you make that statement and I for one resent very much your trying to
tell me what I have to believe to qualify as a gay person.

Just like the fools who "out" people because they don't like the way
that gay person lives, you are trying to do the same thing. The last I
heard the people have the right to believe as they wish whether they are
black, white, yellow, gay, straight, male, female. It is not your place
to determine what they should believe and it is not theirs to determine
what you should believe. Just remember that what you believe is only
pertinent to yourself and nobody else.

Downtown said...

I won't, but if you invite a mass exodus out of the states that ban gay marriage, you are opening the door to those who would to force through an amendment at the federal level.

I completely disagree Simon.

About 60% of this country are anti-gay bigots (I'm just basing this off of opinion polls).

So let's see how this 60% of the country like to live if gay people boycott their states.

Gay people contribute so much to society. They are key drivers in culture, they give cities their creative edge, and they contribute more than their fair share to nation's economy.

Not to mention the fact that they subsidize straight people. And some of the most bigoted states have high populations of gay people in key cities. Does anyone really think Miami would be what it is today without the gays? Dallas? Austin? San Francisco? LA? Chicago?

Sorry - without gay people, Miami would be just another Jacksonville.

And I absolutely believe that Florida would suffer if Miami lost its creative edge.

So gays would be smart to boycott Florida and more to a more gay friendly environment. The hot guys should move to my neighborhood and the ugly ones can more to Arizona.

But why should gay people let Florida benefit off of gay people - when the State treats them like scum.

And I'm pretty certain that a gay exodus out of these states would be followed by a straight exodus of tolerant people as well.

Downtown said...

Dick - And where did I tell others what to believe?

All I did was state my opinion. Very strongly at that.

And as I've said before, I'm allowed to do that. You're entitled to disagree with me. Go argue your case.

David53 said...

And gahrie - proof of your anti-gay bigotry is use of the term "homosexual" to refer to gay people, a patently offensive term.

Just a question. The wiki says, "words like queer and faggot, have been "reclaimed" as positive words by those against whom they were initially used. Is this true? Can anybody now use these terms without fear of offending or are they reserved only for homosocials?

Downtown said...

David53 - They are only allowed to be used by gay people and fag hags - in order to be considered non-offensive.

Others are free to use them, but it will be presumed to be in a pejorative matter.

I actually don't care who uses them, it just clues me in on their outlook.

I don't get offended if I read an article that refers to gays as "homosexuals". But it does clue me in that it is being written by an anti-gay bigot. Or someone who is just completely clueless.

Simon said...

Downtown said...
"About 60% of this country are anti-gay bigots (I'm just basing this off of opinion polls).

You don't have to base it on opinion polls, opinion polls are meaningless. You can base it off actual polls. Actual ballot initiatives. If opposing gay marriage makes a person an "anti-gay bigot," then in a democratic system, DTL, you're pretty fucked unless you start building bridges.

I think Fred Thompson has it about right - everyone should have rights, and no one should have special rights. You're asking for special rights. You aren't going to get them by any means other than the assent of the majority. And right now, you are waging an irrational crusade against the majority. Great strategic move. You think the people who are opposed to gay marriage are really going to miss Ryan Seacrest's contributions to "culture"? Right now, and I hate to be the one to break this to you explicitly (although Dick tried to subtly above) you are a bigger sticking point to gay rights than I am.

SGT Ted said...

"I don't get offended if I read an article that refers to gays as "homosexuals". But it does clue me in that it is being written by an anti-gay bigot. Or someone who is just completely clueless."

Well, I desire for you to refer to me as "My Hetero Lord and Master". Otherwise, you're an anti-hetero bigot jackass.

Actually, thats pretty nuch what you are regardless of what you call me.

L. E. Lee said...

BTW-here is the Mayor of Madison's statement that he made after taking the oath that has offended so many here.

"First, let me say that while I respect our State Constitution and the right of the majority to amend it, I cannot in good conscience take office without noting my strong opposition to the recent amendment that so blatantly discriminates against my fellow Wisconsinites who are gay or lesbian."

"Nonetheless, I respect the process that brought about what I consider to be the wrong result. And I believe that the same process will be used soon to not only reverse that amendment, but to go further to give all of us exactly the same right to marry, raise a family, and be full members of our communities. I will work hard to convince a majority of Wisconsinites that history is moving in that direction."

Simon said...

I did crack up at this though-

"So gays would be smart to boycott Florida and more to a more gay friendly environment. The hot guys should move to my neighborhood and the ugly ones can more to Arizona."

LOL! :p

Gahrie said...

And gahrie - proof of your anti-gay bigotry is use of the term "homosexual" to refer to gay people, a patently offensive term.

The equivlanet to calling a Jew a kike, or a black person a N%igger.



Are you freaking insane????

You are..you're completely around the bend.....

Tribeca said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Downtown said...

Oh right Simon?

So having a law that says "homosexuals cannot adopt kids", as they do in Florida, how exactly is that "equal rights"???

And the law that says "homosexuals cannot serve in the military". How exactly is that about "equal rights"????

The fact is that you will find hundreds of thousands of people in New York City that have taken my tactic, i.e. a very progressive approach for gay rights - and guess what? There are gay rights laws here, the citizens of New York City are overwhelmingly in favor of gay marriage.

So your hypothesis is simply wrong. The states where gay people are silent (Alabama, Texas, Virgina) happen to be the same states where gay people have zero rights and are treated like scum.

You want to silence me Simon. And you want to silence me for one reason. Because you want gay people to stay in the closet and be treated as second class citizens.

But you won't silence me. And my speaking out and pointing out the inequalities of justice in this country will continue to persuade millions of people (just look at the polls for gay marriage amongst young people) that you and your bigoted ideology are wrong.

Simon said...

"while I respect our State Constitution and the right of the majority to amend it, I cannot in good conscience take office without noting my strong opposition to the recent amendment that so blatantly discriminates against my fellow Wisconsinites who are gay or lesbian."

His "respect" for the right of the majority to amend the constitution seems to be similar to the "support" the democrats show the troops, isn't it? And his opposition evidently isn't strong enough to resign from an office attainted by the obligations imposed by the amendment. No, he wants to have his cake and eat it too. He wants to register his dissent, but without personal cost.

" I will work hard to convince a majority of Wisconsinites that history is moving in that direction."

And you have that prerogative, in your own time and on your own authority as a citizen, but when acting as the mayor, you have no right so to do, and when faced with obligations you disagree with under the amendment, carrying them out regardless or resign. If I were a judge and I couldn't morally countenance ruling the way the law required me to rule, my obligation is to resign.

Downtown said...

Well Gahrie - Since you obviously can't come back with any facts, you obviously have to resort to ad hominem attacks.

But any person on this board can simply do a Google News Search on "homosexual" and easily see for themselves that the vast vast majority of sites that show up are those with an anti-gay slant.

Downtown said...

And I should also point out that the tactics that I'm recommending (gays moving out of bigoted states into non-bigoted ones) is a practice that is followed by what I would guess is a majority of gay people.

Go to Chicago and go into a gay bar and ask them where they're from. You'll find people from South Dakota, Missouri, Kansas, etc. - all over the midwest.

Then go to a gay bar in a place like say, oh, Indianapolis - and tell me how many gay people you find from outside the state.

The fact is that gay people go to where they are welcome. It used to be that we were not welcome in any states, but we were welcome in certain cities.

Now that's changed. Many states are welcoming.

Well guess what - we're not welcome in Florida and Texas anymore, so if we were smart, we'd start abandoning Miami, Dallas, Austin, etc.

Here's a test. Find the one Southern State that has not passed a marriage amendment.

It happens to be a state that is actively trying to encourage a creative class to move there. And one that has been hugely successful at that. Damn right that the state politicians (a smart bunch) are afraid of what an anti-gay amendment would do to its economic growth.

Simon said...

Downtown said...
"[T]he law that says "homosexuals cannot serve in the military". How exactly is that about "equal rights"???"

Ask the Congressional Democrats. It's their policy.

"You want to silence me Simon."

That's so laughable as to not merit serious response.

"And you want to silence me for one reason. Because you want gay people to stay in the closet and be treated as second class citizens."

DTL, I know this is going to be hard for you to process, and maybe this makes me a terrible person, but my feelings for gay rights mirror my feelings for rocks, or turtles, or movies starring "the Rock." I'm disinterested. I have no strong feelings one way or another. I think as a normative proposition, gays should receive the same rights as everyone else. I'm not particularly for gay marriage, and I'm not particularly against it. I only get exercised when those issues collide with issues that do matter, that I do care about, like constitutional law and federalism. My complaint with Goodridge has nothing to do with homosexuality; it has to do with the meaning of law. I have no interest in sexuality politics whatsoever, save only that when they identify the gay gene, I don't plan to make any exceptions to my opposition to abortion. I'll fight to get you as far as birth.

Frankly, I don't think a person's sexual orientation says anything about who they are, and who you are is what matters - but I would say that if your sexuality has consumed you to the point that your whole identity is submerged in it, you are a deeply boring human being.

I think you understand full well that your charges against me are baseless, but as Gahrie said, you condemn me because I'm not sufficiently animated by your cause. And that's pretty lame.


"my speaking out and pointing out the inequalities of justice in this country will continue to persuade millions of people...

My my, you really do have a high opinion of yourself, don't you.

L. E. Lee said...

Simon wrote-
"There wasn't anything discriminatory in the U.S. Constitution"

Please read Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the U.S. Constitution.

Simon also wrote-

"Thus, your comment is censorious to the extent that you used her failure to discuss a topic that you think is of great import as a weapon with which to attack her position on a topic she has covered but that you disagree with."

This is an odd bee hive that I have stumbled into!

To be labeled as "censorious" because I expressed disappointment that Ann did not voice an opinion on the Georgia Thompson case is quite humorous.

(me) “Hey Ann why don’t you say something about Georgia Thompson”
(simon) “Don’t you try to censor Ann!”

Odd bee hive indeed.

Simon said...

L. E. Lee said...
"Simon wrote- 'There wasn't anything discriminatory in the U.S. Constitution.' [But] ... read Article 1, Section 2, Paragraph 3 of the U.S. Constitution."

That text is not to the contrary, Lindsey. It reduced the representation for states in which there resided persons who were not "free," not persons who were not "white." Nothing in that text prevented states from emancipating slaves on their territory - indeed, quite the opposite: it gave them an incentive to do so, since their representation would increase by so doing. Similarly, women did not start voting in Congressional elections with the passage of the 19th amendment - they were voting in states like Montana for decades before the 19th amendment took the choice out of the state's purview. Nothing in the Constitution prevented states from giving women the vote any more than it prevented the states from freeing their slaves. That is by no means to say that the Federal Constitution should not have been amended to bring the laggard states up to standards, but it does undercut your premise that the constitution had discrimination written into it simply because it failed to actively abolish slavery from the get-go (itself an impossible task).

Simon said...

Lindsey, are you the same Lindsey E. Lee who earlier this year was singing the praises of "community input"? "Lindsey Lee said there is a lot of debate in his coffee shops regarding streetcars. He does not appreciate the perception that elites sitting around a table are making the decision, without community input. He thinks how Madison grows should be put to a referendum and that it will create honest and open debate." If so, have you changed your mind, or is "community input" only preferable to "elites" making decisions when the elites are wrong and the majority is right?

Andy said...

Ann, this is pretty clearly not the case:
"And I suppose when the next guy comes along and withholds his commitment to some part of the Constitution..."

They're simply noting protest, you made up the part about commitment. Two different things.

The fact is that the Wisconsin Constitution has been soiled by the addition of bigotry and prejudice. We should praise the people who raise their voices to object to swearing loyalty to such an immoral document.

And what that says is a reflection on all of us who let that pass.

Simon said...

Andy said...
"Ann, this is pretty clearly not the case: 'And I suppose when the next guy comes along and withholds his commitment to some part of the Constitution...' They're simply noting protest, you made up the part about commitment. Two different things.

No they aren't. They're "pledg[ing] to ... work to prevent any discriminatory impacts from its application." For an amendment that may require them to take measures that have a discriminatory impact, that's an open declaration of rebellion. They're saying that to the extent the amendment forces their duties into conflict with their morals, their morals will prevail.

Daryl said...

DTL: And gahrie - proof of your anti-gay bigotry is use of the term "homosexual" to refer to gay people, a patently offensive term. The equivlanet to calling a Jew a kike, or a black person a N%igger.

What are you talking about, "a Jew." That's "Jewish person." It's a description, we're not some subspecies.

And there are plenty of African-Americans who don't like being referred to as "black" by some Wall Street whitey like you.

L. E. Lee said...

Hi Simon,

I don't mean to pick on you. But, you can not compare the two without seeming intellectually daft.

Seeking community input by putting up for referendum whether to build a streetcar system is just fine.

Having a popular vote to determine if we are going to discriminate against a class of people is just plain wrong.

Please tell me that you see the difference?

Gahrie said...

DTL:

Look...if you consider the use of the scientific term homosexual to be proof of bigotry...you are completely batfuck crazy.

Then add on your offensive (and ironically bigoted) insistence that the proper term of art is queer or fag, but only certain classes of people may use them.....

Thus apparently the term the rest of us are supposed to use is a colloquialism (gay)

I'm sorry, but at best you are irrational.

It is literally impossible to have a rational discourse with someone who thinks this way...

Gahrie said...

No they aren't. They're "pledg[ing] to ... work to prevent any discriminatory impacts from its application." For an amendment that may require them to take measures that have a discriminatory impact, that's an open declaration of rebellion. They're saying that to the extent the amendment forces their duties into conflict with their morals, their morals will prevail.

And I could respect this...if they were willing to actually make a stand and sacrifice something for their moral stance. Which would in this case mean resigning, or refusing to take the oath of office and disqualifying themselves.

Instead they seek to posture for the activists, and pander for votes and support, by making these statements while taking office anyway.

Gahrie said...

By the way, I am considering a campaign to "reclaim" the meaning of the word gay.....only people describing a state of happiness will be allowed to use the word.......

lee david said...

I'm in Gahrie. I also want the word gay back. I strongly support equal rights for all, including those that are cheerful, lighthearted, and merry.

Kirk said...

Ann,

I love the way an entire world of editorial comment is summed up in a one-word label: lameness. Is this a way of sneaking back to the short-posts-are-better position or something? :-)

Roger said...

Fascinating "discussion." DTL: I have followed your passionate comments for a couple of years on gay issues, and I respect your passion. But please tell me what spokesperson for gay people defines what term is appropriate. This is the first time that I have heard that "homosexual" is offensive. (and your argument based on what web sites pop up is just plain silly.) Please tell me who the proper spokesperson is for politically correct terms used to define gay people.

Simon hit the nail squarely on the head in his very first post. To paraphrase the saintly Donald Rumsfeld, we enter the political system with the constitution we have, not the constitution we like. That democracy thing can be a real bitch sometimes.

Simon said...

L. E. Lee said...
"Seeking community input by putting up for referendum whether to build . a streetcar system is just fine. Having a popular vote to determine if we are going to discriminate against a class of people is just plain wrong. Please tell me that you see the difference?"

Sure: the difference is that in the case of the former, you think the majority is on your side, so you appeal to the majority; in the latter, the majority's against you so you appeal to morality.

There may well be a difference between the two propositions on a moral level, but morality governs individuals - law governs communities, and morality is not law unless or until it's enacted into law through the process by which the community has assented to be bound by the moral sense of the community. An unjust or even immoral law (so I might think) that's passed by both chambers of Congress and signed by the President is still a law. And there's a good reason for that: not everyone shares the same view on what "just" or "moral" mean. (That isn't moral relativism, BTW; I don't mean to suggest that I think everyone's ideas of what's moral are equally valid, only that people do, as a matter of empirical fact, have differing views on the subject.)

Let me try and explain it with another analogy. Suppose your side passed an amendment to the Constitution of the United States that legitimized the Casey test: any government action placing an undue burden on a woman's ability to obtain an abortion is henceforth per se unconstitutional. I think such a law would be profoundly immmoral, and I would very much work to have it repealed. But, if I were a federal judge, and I had before me a law that did impose an undue burden, my job is to strike down that statute, no matter how morally right I think the statute is, and no matter how morally wrong I think the amendment is. If I can't bring myself to strike down a just law pursuant to an unjust constitution, I must resign. Period. If you aren't capable of faithfully executing the duties of public office, you can't retain that office.

So I don't have any objection with the Mayor of Madison taking the oath of office - the real one - but later holding a press conference and "noting [his] strong opposition" to the amendment. I don't have any objection if he goes home at night and licks envelopes on mailings for the "unamend the constitution" movement. Nevertheless, when he's on the clock as mayor, just as I have to enforce unjust laws as a judge, or you have to enforce unjust laws as a cop, he has enforce that amendment he opposes or resign.

Simon said...

BTW, I can't resist needling you a little bit more about your attempted distinction, quoted in my comment above, Lindsey: I noted above that your instinct seemed to coincide with "the censorious, controlling urge of the leftosphere," and here again, you exhibit another tendency of the left: you heartily believe in democracy, and in the community governing itself, but you know, only within certain limits. It's a vision of democracy in which the kids have freedom to play as they like, but if they get too rambunctious, the grown ups will have to step in and make sure they're playing nice, you know, within certain moral limits. And that's a funny idea of how a democratic society operates, although it isn't totally unprecedented - usually, in such systems, they call the "grownups" the "politburo."

Roger said...

Simon: I appreciate your arguments but I fear you are wasting your breath. As you have rightly noted, many folks accept democracy when it produces the results they like, but when democracy produces something they do like, well, then there's a higher morality. Lindsey seems to fall in that category.

Roger said...

and of course had I previewed, it would be "produce results they DONT like...."

Critical Badger said...

It's ironic how this works. Most of these alders spent zero hours doing the 6AM lit drops, hitting the ground and getting their hands dirty in the nitty gritty aspects of opposing the ban. So they create a symbolic meausre to oppose the ban, and when Eli Judge does not do it, he takes a hit. The guy who was spending hundreds of hours mobilizing quite literally, thousands upon thousands of students to vote. It's a cute little way for the lazy local officials to clear their minds of the issue and quite a sorry statement of liberal america when you either play their game, or face the wrath.

That said, UW students face a rapidly increasing crime rate and all of the media coverage and time spent discussing this oath could have been better served on getting back to our local problems.

-UW Student, happy with his new alder.

Simon said...

Roger,
I don't know that it's ever a waste, per comment here: Look at Ann's sitemeter. "[F]or every commenter here, there are hundreds of people who are not so emotionally-invested on a given point as to descend into the fray to argue for or against it, but who merely read." Focus on taking down the other gladiator, but remember that you're in an arena, and he isn't the only person you're addressing.

Simon said...

Besides, I haven't given up on persuading Lindsey yet. ;)

Roger said...

Good point, Simon--continue fighting the good fight then.

Brad V said...

I have to second Critical Badger - Eli is turning out to be a breath of fresh air compared to his predecessor.

Here in Madison, a nuanced persective on the "anti-oath" addendum coming from someone with his personal story is refreshing.

A little more substance, a little less showboating.

Dr. NeoCon said...

I really do not understand why intelligent people try to debate activists like Downtown.

He/She is an ideolgue who fashions inoffensive terms into hate speech and reasonable concepts into bigotry. There is no light to be shed by such discussion, other than the understanding that some activists are completely disingenuous and unreasonable - no surprise there.

Mike said...

DTL said: "So having a law that says "homosexuals cannot adopt kids", as they do in Florida, how exactly is that "equal rights"???"

Right, because the debate is all about your rights, not what's best for the kids. Man, you're self-centered.

L. E. Lee said...

Simon wrote:

“you heartily believe in democracy, and in the community governing itself, but you know, only within certain limits. ”

Simon, you do realize that your above description could be equally applied to our country’s founders don’t you?

Sorry if this comes off as a basic civics lesson (If you are not out of high school, my apologies.) but we do not operate under a pure democracy. Instead, we have a constitutional democratic republic. Also, that constitution does not exist within a vacuum. Instead, our country was forged based on some basic principles. So, while slavery was acknowledged in the U.S. Constitution as it was originally written (you also got that one wrong) it was not, to quote you, “as valid as every other part.”

Finally, this whole discussion is based on a false premise put forward by the owner of this blog. The statement that the mayor and the alders made did not withhold their commitment to some part of the Constitution that they dissent from as claimed by Althouse. Instead, the statement said that they disagreed with it and would work to change it in the future and would try to lessen any discriminatory impacts it might have as it is applied.

As I already pointed out, it is quite telling that Althouse would write disparagingly and falsely about newly elected officials speaking out against injustice after taking their oaths of office while at the same time finding of no interest that a woman was unjustly tried and convicted and sent to prison. It seems to speak to what her ethical priorities are.

bilbow said...

Holy Cow! When did homosexual become a bigoted term? Is heterosexual now out of bounds as well? And bisexual? And asexual?

When common terms, derived from latin like so much of our language, can be declared biased, then political correctness is indeed out of control.

richard mcenroe said...

Lindsey -- so you'd be good with someone taking the oath of office for Congress or the Presidency with "reservations" about those darn 13th and 19th Amendments?

Or is it just Amendments you disapprove of? Rule of law supplanted by whim of law?

Mike said...

I was struck by the wording of the article.

"At least ten members of the Madison Common Council chose not to sign a supplementary statement on their official oaths of office on Tuesday afternoon." [emphasis added],

So the normative position is to ignore the Constitution.

L. E. Lee said...

Richard McEnroe wrote

"Lindsey -- so you'd be good with someone taking the oath of office for Congress or the Presidency with "reservations" about those darn 13th and 19th Amendments?"

"Or is it just Amendments you disapprove of? Rule of law supplanted by whim of law?"

Rich if during the first part of the nineteenth century a president said in his inaugural speech after taking his oath that the Three Fifths clause "besmirches our Constitution" and "I pledge to work to eliminate this section from the Constitution and work to prevent any discriminatory impacts from its application." (This is the statement made my Madison’s alders and mayor that so offended the owner of this blog by the way.) I would say that was a great president who was committing himself to creating a more perfect union.

The fact that you would equate the desire to end injustice and further the higher evolution of our constitution with those who would desire to make it an instrument of injustice is pure relativism at its worst. While you see it as a “whim,” many view it as a principled difference.

hdhouse said...

just out of curiousity..

I'm not seeing a great deal of difference in this and signing statements. in fact, i think that the two are very much 1 in the same.

David said...

If you go down to the Quarter in New Orleans or Beale St. in Memphis on most nights you'll find them. Huge signs and megaphones telling everyone how they're going to Hell and how only Jesus can save them. I've been tempted to ask if all their "you're a filthy sinner and going to Hell" talk has ever prompted even a single middle-of-the-gutter conversion, but I think I know the answer. All the strum und dang isn't for the sinners, it's for themselves. It's so important to confirm their self-image of being just and righteous that all else be damned (pardon the pun). For some reason I am always reminded of these self-proclaimed saints everytime DTL gets deep into a rant.

David said...

"I'm not seeing a great deal of difference in this and signing statements."

Let's see. As I understand it a signing statement is where the signing authority provides an additional explicit statment concerning their interpretation of parts of legislation that may be Constitutionally ambiguous. In this case, individual law makers are providing a statement of intent contrary to an entire provision of the Constituaion itself.

Had a law maker said something along the lines of "in the context of this admendment, I understand the term 'man' to include not only those born of the biological male gender, but also those who have attained that same gender through either surgical means or mental contruct," then I might agree that it was similar to a signing statement. What was done in this case, though, is more akin to a veto, the authority for which, especially in Constitutional matters, they simply do nto have.

Brad V said...

Eli is also, as he was quick to point when I interviewed him recently, the FORMER chair of Students for a Fair Wisconsin.

http://lettersinbottles.blogspot.com/2007/04/interview-madison-alderman-elect-eli.html

Tribeca said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Downtown said...

I think I'll just refer to Christians from now on as "psychologically deranged people who believe that some lying slut who was knocked up and had a manic depressive moron kid named Jesus, whom they mistakingly refer to as God".

But don't you dare tell me that its offensive.

It's actually pretty logical and accurate.

Downtown said...

Gahrie and Simon are faggots.

But they shouldn't be offended by that term.

Gahrie said...

Downtown said...
Gahrie and Simon are faggots.

But they shouldn't be offended by that term.


Coming from you that's a compliment right?

Fortunately, I left the playground years ago, I'm very secure in my sexuality, and I teach middle school, so I'm used to whiny immature children.

Gahrie said...

Oh...and not that it matters...but I'm not a Christian..I'm a deist, so your little anti-Christian diatribe doesn't effect me.

I just choose to respect people's beliefs.

Downtown said...

Oh Right Gehrie - You respect people's beliefs.

By favoring discriminatory laws that prevent gay people from visiting their partners in the hospital, by passing discriminatory laws that prevent gay people from serving their country, by passing discriminatory laws that prevent gay people from adopting the children that they have raised for 15 years.

Face it Gehrie - You're a faggot.

Downtown said...

From now on - I'm going to refer to Simon and Gehrie as faggots.

But it's not offensive.

Thank you Andrew Sullivan for the inspiration, for those of you who don't get the reference.

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2007/03/the_unraveling_.html

Gahrie said...

By favoring discriminatory laws that prevent gay people from visiting their partners in the hospital, by passing discriminatory laws that prevent gay people from serving their country, by passing discriminatory laws that prevent gay people from adopting the children that they have raised for 15 years.

Wow. Besides showing how juvinile you truly are, you haven't learned a thing about me from reading my posts, merely constructed a strawman to talk past.

1) I have always supported civil unions, primarily so that homosexuals in committed relationships may have legal protections such as visitation rights.

2) Gays can serve in the military if they choose. They just have to keep their sexuality private. I support Don't ask, don't tell...which remember is a Democratic policy.

3) I have no problem with homosexuals raising their children. I do oppose homosexual couples adopting other people's children.

Downtown said...

Gehrie,

1) Civil unions are discriminatory and represent a separate but unequal set of laws. They also lead to the destruction of marriage (which you're oh so worried about), since they create a form of marriage-light that heterosexuals can participate in.


2) Gays are kicked out of the military even if they keep their sexuality private. The military scours sites like facebook to see if people are gay, and spy on them to see if they are holding hands with another guy. In fact, the military even considers having an interest in "theater" to be cause to kick people out of the military (yes - there are news articles that document this). Basically don't ask, don't tell asks that gay people LIE about their lives (cause if someone asks them if they are gay- they are expected to LIE). And don't ask, don't tell is not a Democratic policy. If you really think that, then you have ZERO knowledge of history.

3) Like I said, you oppose gay people raising the children they have raised for 15 years. I have a gay friend who is partnered for 20 years and he is helping to raise his partners kids. Thank goodness New York allows my friend to adopt those kids as well, as the kids see him as their parent. Too bad for Mary Cheney's partner, who will have ZERO legal status to raise her kid should Mary Cheney die.

4) You continue to insist on using the term homosexual, instead of gay, which again - is quite telling. It proves to any gay person that you are anit-gay. So I encourage you to continue using the term homosexual. If you used the term gay, we actually might get confused for a moment and think you're pro-gay, which you obviously aren't.

Gahrie said...

Downtown:

Just understand...you do more damage to the cause of homosexuals in the Us with every post you make than I, or people like me, have or will ever do.

I'm the person you are supposed to be trying to reach and convince dumbshit.