Monday, October 20, 2008

Civil Rights Roundup: 10/20/08

Your daily dose of civil rights and related news

The US Supreme Court will resolve a circuit split on identity theft by illegal immigrants. The question is whether aggravated identity theft requires knowledge by the user that the documents he obtains are those of a real person, as opposed to fabrications.

Immigrants with family members on both sides of the US/Mexico border are dreading increases in border fortifications, as they may interfere with simple visits to the border to share pictures, food, or just conversation together across the line.

Meanwhile, the dance between border patrol agents, and those who are waiting for their chance to make it back over, continues along the edge of the fence.

In spite of all this, immigration has been a surprisingly quiet topic on the campaign trail. The Bishop of Orlando reminds the candidates, however, that it is not an issue they'll be able to ignore once in office.

DC is switching strategies on homelessness, trying to get the homeless permanent housing first before proceeding to crack the underlying causes of their plight.

More former DOJ officials are coming out with the obvious: the Bush administration's investigations into "voter fraud" are entirely politically motivated.

Unsurprisingly, the Wall Street Journal comes out in full support of the efforts to ban affirmative action, which they describe as "the same kinds of discrimination they were designed to prevent" (right down to the lynching, no doubt). Moral relativism, anyone?

Dog bites man in Cleveland, and Black defendants in low-level drug cases are treated substantially worse than their White counterparts.

Nebraska is changing the rules on its "safe haven" law, to allow only infants up to three days old to be dropped off without penalty.

Several luminaries, including Desmund Tutu and Sandra Day O'Connor, showed up at Harvard to speak at a conference on race relations.

Steve Chapman writes for Reason Magazine that "the people", not the courts, should decide when gay people are equal human beings.

1 comment:

PG said...

It's a comforting cliche that separate means unequal, but we know better. No one thinks that when a university fields sex-segregated sports teams, it brands women as inferior.

That seems like an odd claim. While it doesn't brand women as inferior human beings, there's honestly not much reason to have sex-segregated sports except for the fact that men and women on average will have different physical characteristics that affect their ability to excel in athletics. Women have more body fat and will be better English Channel swimmers; men have more upper body strength and will hit more home runs.

In contrast, because our marriage laws have been denuded over time of gendered references (that is, there aren't different rights, obligations etc. assigned based on whether one is a "husband" or a "wife"), one can put a same-sex couple into a state-recognized marriage just as easily as an opposite-sex couple. Opposite-sex couples already have made the law able to accommodate pretty much everything that comes up for same-sex couples, including non-biological means of family formation.

Demanding that same-sex couples be put into a new relationship called "civil unions" IS a way of saying that such couples are different from opposite-sex couples, and different in a way that affects their ability to be married. (Women ARE different from men in a way that affects their ability to hit home runs, which is why women have their own softball teams instead of playing coed baseball.)

What is it about civil unions that makes them peculiarly appropriate for same-sex couples, and what is it about marriage that makes it inappropriate for such couples?