A viewing suggestion for Paul Babeu and other “states rights” people

19 Feb 2012 07:04 pm
Posted by: Donna

At Sheriff Paul Babeu’s press conference yesterday where he came out as a gay man (and denied threatening his ex with deportation as the man alleges), Babeu was asked about his position on gay marriage. He recited the standard libertarian line about civil unions and “states rights”. I got increasingly irritated with Babeu as he repeated ambiguous babble about “respecting privacy”, as if the whole scandal were about nothing more than his private life and as if he were completely oblivious to how his own party has opposition to the personal privacy rights of a whole lot of people, himself included, built into its very platform.

On the states rights argument: Stop it. Just, stop it. It was tired in 1860 and it’s really tired now. If you think civil rights should be left to states to decide, either through legislation or popular vote, then what you are saying is that you are fine with government tyranny so long as it comes from a form of government that meets your approval. It’s also worth noting that I’ve yet to meet a proponent of “states rights” who was willing to cede, even hypothetically, one of the rights they enjoy as the resident of a state. If they’re willing to entertain the thought at all, they tend shrug and respond that they’d leave.

Yeah, you can just leave. Well, not really that easily, but assuming you did have the money to move, the ability to find housing and employment etc. in a different state, why should you have to? And what if having to leave your state would cause pain and disruption to yourself and your family, for no reason other than others disapprove of your living situation?

Those questions are addressed poignantly in the HBO documentary “The Loving Story”, which is about the 1967 Supreme Court decision that overturned so-called miscegenation laws in several states and the ordeal of the real couple, Mildred and Richard Loving, who spent eight years fighting for their marriage to be recognized in their home state. One thing you learn early on in the film is that the Lovings were married in 1958 in the District of Columbia, where interracial marriage was legal. You also learn that when the couple returned to Virginia after the wedding they were arrested a short time later. They were both sentenced to a year in jail (suspended) and ordered to either live separately or leave the state.

The obvious solution would have been for the Lovings to say “hell with you, Virginia” and move permanently to D.C., where they could live freely as a married couple. They tried that. But the Lovings were country people. They’d grown up in the same small town in rural Virginia and that’s the life they knew and where their families were. Mildred was miserable in the city and didn’t want to raise their children there. So she wrote a letter to US Attorney General Robert Kennedy to ask for his help and he referred her to the ACLU, where two young attorneys took on the Lovings’ case and took it all the way to the Supreme Court. And the Lovings got to live in Virginia for the rest of their married life (Richard died in 1974).

No one embracing the mealymouthed faux-libertarian states rights argument (or its separate-but-equal cousin civil unions) on gay marriage will argue for a return to miscegenation laws so there’s no excuse anything less than full marriage equality for same sex couples.


  1. Comment by Bill on February 19, 2012 9:56 pm

    Thumbs up.

  2. Comment by Pat Anderson on February 20, 2012 12:16 pm

    You say if you oppose anti-miscegenation laws you must support gay marriage? Why? I see no connection.

    You make a strong attack on those who claim to support state rights. I assume you do so because many who claim that do so to support right wing causes, which you oppose.

    But you do have the pesky 10th amendment to deal with. What do you do about that?

  3. Comment by Prup (aka Jim Benton) on February 20, 2012 1:39 pm

    Somehow your site has been hacked so people who click on to it get sent to a ‘girlie’ site and — if they don’t have good virus protection, get attacked. Please, check this out, it’s happened to me twice today!

  4. Comment by Bill on February 20, 2012 10:09 pm

    Jim… you’re getting attacked by “girlies” who are infecting you with a virus? Don’t you know how to use protection?

  5. Comment by Terry on February 21, 2012 3:37 pm

    Pat, how do you get around the pesky 14th amendment? And why are you against equality? What harm does it do you? It can’t be the sanctity of marriage. Look at Gingrich. Or the tradition, look at Solomon with his 700 wives and 300 concubines or the prohibition of biracial marriage for a 100 years. It can only be because of bigotry. And that is not a legal reason. It should be civil right and as such does not need the states. States rights was never anything but a joke to support slavery and then segregation.

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