True Freedom in New York State

Marriage equality is within about two votes of becoming reality in New York State, and unsurprisingly Timothy Dolan, the state’s highest-ranking Catholic official, is doing his best to convince wavering state senators to stand in the doorway and block up the hall (emphasis is mine):

New York’s top Catholic sought to slow momentum Tuesday toward a state Senate vote to legalize gay marriage.

“The stampede is on,” Archbishop Timothy Dolan wrote in a blog post. “Our elected senators who have stood courageous in their refusal to capitulate on the state’s presumption to redefine marriage are reporting unrelenting pressure to cave-in.”

He equated the move to allow same-sex marriage to life in China or North Korea, where “government presumes daily to ‘redefine’ rights, relationships, values and natural law.”

“Please, not here!” Dolan continued. “We cherish true freedom, not as the license to do whatever we want, but the liberty to do what we ought.”

“We acknowledge that not every desire, urge, want, or chic cause is automatically a ‘right.'”

Note the Orwellian definition of “true freedom.”

Obviously, there is no “liberty to do as we ought” if same-sex couples are barred by law from doing what they decide they ought to be able to do because Timothy Dolan thinks they ought not to be able to do it.

As Joe Sudbay points out, Gov. Cuomo is Catholic, too — and he knows how to count votes.

There was much better news for true advocates of true freedom on the opposite coast:

A federal judge on Tuesday refused to invalidate last year’s ruling against Proposition 8, deciding the gay jurist who overturned the same-sex marriage ban had no obligation to step aside because of a possible conflict of interest.

The decision by Chief Judge James Ware of the U.S. District Court in San Francisco left the ruling by retired Judge Vaughn R. Walker in place. Walker’s decision remains on hold pending a separate appeal to the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Proponents of Proposition 8 argued that Walker’s conflict was not his sexual orientation, but the fact that he was in a serious same-sex relationship that could conceivably lead to marriage.

Walker, a Republican appointee, has never said publicly whether he wished to marry his partner. But he told reporters that he never considered his sexual orientation grounds for declining to preside over the Proposition 8 challenge.

“It is not reasonable to presume that a judge is incapable of making an impartial decision about the constitutionality of a law, solely because, as a citizen, the judge could be affected by the proceedings,” Ware wrote in his ruling.

Judge Ware clearly agreed:

Ware said it was unreasonable to assume from Walker’s relationship that he had such a great interest in marrying that he was incapable of performing his judicial duties.

“The mere fact that a judge is in a relationship with another person — whether of the same sex or the opposite sex — does not ipso facto imply that the judge must be so interested in marrying that person that he would be unable to exhibit the impartiality which, it is presumed, all federal judges maintain.”

To assume Walker had a conflict of interest would be speculation based on “unsubstantiated suspicion that the judge is personally biased or prejudiced,” Ware continued.

The chief judge also said that Walker’s failure to disclose his same-sex relationship prior to his ruling could mean that he had considered the situation and decided that no reasonable observer would conclude that his impartiality was questionable.

“Silence is by its very nature ambiguous and thus is open to multiple interpretation,” Ware wrote.


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