In Louisiana, Martin Feldman has become the first federal judge to rule against LGBT marriage equality since last year’s twin Supreme Court decisions overturning California’s Proposition 8 and the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
You might’ve missed that, though, because when news outlets heard the details, most just shrugged.
That’s because an old, white, male, Reagan-appointee in the Deep South ruling in favor of bigotry is not news.
Despite the dozens of court victories we’ve had at the federal and state level since (and even before) Hollingsworth v. Perry and United States v. Windsor, Feldman chose to break ranks with his estimable, equality-minded peers. Not only that, he did it in the most bigoted way possible: in his decision, he called homosexuality a “lifestyle choice”; he compared same-sex marriage to incest; he insisted that marriage is all about procreation (thus assuming that gays and lesbians can’t procreate); and he said that states have the right to discriminate on the grounds of “any conceivable basis”.
Really, Mr. Feldman? Any basis?
What’s more, Feldman went over and above the call of duty. The case before him only involved the recognition of same-sex marriages conducted outside Louisiana. But Feldman expanded his ruling to affirm Louisiana’s sovereign right to prevent same-sex marriages from happening on its own turf. You know, just for kicks.
My opinion? Look, I’ve said before that I’m not a perfectionist. I’m not a detail person. I prefer working with chainsaws, not mitre saws. To keep the construction metaphor going: I’m like the guy who gets all the right permits from the city and bulldozes the condemned house. I’ll let detail-oriented folks come in and put up the new building.
Which is to say: it would’ve been nice to have a perfect record for LGBT rights in federal court as marriage equality cases work their way through appeals, all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. But even with Feldman’s misguided, off-tone, antiquated ruling, we’re still batting pretty near 1,000. I’m fine with that.
My only regret is that I’m not a fly. If I were — well, I probably wouldn’t live long enough to see the inevitable SCOTUS ruling, but on the off-chance I did, I’d love to perch on the wall of Feldman’s office as his decision is being overturned. I might even smile a fly smile as he sighs, realizing that times have changed, and he hasn’t adapted, and like a good loser in the Darwinian struggle to evolve, he should just give up. And then, he dies, with only his gay legal clerk for company.
P.S. I love the law, but I’m not trained in it. For a more detailed analysis of Feldman’s George Wallace-esque ruling, check out Ari Waldman’s take.