Americans who regard the decision of five federal Supreme Court judges in favour of same-sex marriage as the equivalent of Moses bringing the Ten Commandments down from Mt Sinai will be scandalised to learn that some state judges question its quasi-divine character. The Supreme Court of Mississippi, dealing with the divorce of a lesbian couple who "married" in California when Mississippi did not recognise such marriages, granted the divorce early this month in the wake of Obergefell. But the judges were split, with four of them disagreeing that the SCOTUS decision made it automatic.
According to Michael Cook, who has read the majority decision and dissents, a couple of the judges were very feisty in disputing the authority of their federal overlords, which makes the record extremely interesting. Nevertheless, it seems to have been completely ignored by the media so far. Remember, you read it here first.
Adoption has been out of favour for decades, thanks to some bad history, acceptance of single motherhood, abortion, and the doctrine that children are better off with even a dysfunctional family. But it has assumed new importance in the era of same-sex “marriage” as such couples seek legal recognition as parents for partners with no biological tie to the child they are raising.
In Australia, the Victoria state government wants to facilitate this by neutralising the Adoption Act, replacing references to a man and a woman with “person”, and adding “registered domestic partnership” to the list of applicants eligible even for “stranger adoptions”.
In the United States, writes Adam J. MacLeod, the sexual-identity advocacy group Lambda Legal is beginning a campaign to get both same-sex partners’ names on birth certificates, actually replacing the names of biological parents. “Birth certificates are the single most important identity document for a child,” say Lambda’s lawyers, as though the child’s biological identity were not of fundamental importance to him or her.
As often happens, the argument against this offence to the rights of a child is complicated by a legal tradition which will be cited as a precedent. It is worth a close reading of MacLeod’s article to see why it is not the same. This is an argument you may find yourself having more than once in the months ahead.
Some of Shakespeare's plays are about socieities which have gone mad. "The time is out of joint," says Hamlet. In Hamlet, Macbeth or King Lear, a tidal wave of nightmarish derangement sweeps the characters before it, leaving the stage a bloody wasteland. I sometimes feel that I've stepped into one of these worlds when confronted by the intense emotions provoked by debates over same-sex marriage or transgender issues. Daniel Moody captures some of this drama in his creative analysis of transgenderism:
Half Eloi, half Morlock, Transgenderists stalk the land listening out for pre-Gender language: first the Transgenderist creates a victim by claiming that words such as He and Man can pierce a woman’s heart, like so many wooden stakes; then the hapless perpetrator is run through with a lawsuit. Why be afraid of things that go bump in the night when we can instead be afraid to talk? Courageous are those who confront the wrath of these wraiths.
In a few hours Republican candidates will gather in Milwaukee for another television cage fight which will leave some candidates bloodied and exhausted. This is not the first time that this kind of thing has happened in Milwaukee. In 1912 former President Teddy Roosevelt was scheduled to give a speech there a few weeks before the election. He was running for a third term, not for the Republicans, but for his own Bull Moose party.
As he was leaving his hotel, an unemployed painter shot him in the chest with a Colt .38 revolver at a distance of about 4 or 5 feet. Afterwards he explained that “any man looking for a third term ought to be shot.”
Roosevelt insisted on driving to the meeting. He put a finger to his mouth and there was no blood, so he knew that the bullet had not pierced his lung. The manuscript for his speech and a case for his glasses in his jacket pocket had saved him. He was bleeding, though, and showed the crowd the red stain on his shirt.
Then he launched into a 90-minute impassioned speech. "I have just been shot—but it takes more than that to kill a Bull Moose," he told the crowd. Such was politics before sound bites and tweets.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is a controversial figure in Western media because of his hard line on immigration. However, he dares to speak truths that make other politicians run for cover. One of these is the family. Shannon Roberts reports today on Orban's views on the rapid ageing of Europe.
Even though Europe was “the most ageing continent”, families are not sufficiently in the focus of European policies because that subject is “not PC”, Orbán said. “We want to restore families to the focus of European politics,” Orbán said, warning that “Europe’s civilisation and culture are at stake”.
This sounds like scaremongering, but the United States is facing a similar problem. It turns out that 75 percent of American youth would be rejected by the US military, for reasons ranging from tattoos to ADHD. But the main reason is obesity: Americans are too fat to fight. And why are they obese? Probably because of an unsettled family life. Is anyone talking about this? No. America also needs to restore families to the focus of its politics.
When there is so much happening in the world of sexuality that is strange and alarming, it is a pleasure to be able to highlight the Love and Fidelity Network, an association of university students and alumnae which is helping to rebuild a sane sexual culture in the United States. Its annual conference was last weekend.
This 10-year-old movement, which started at Princeton, is a marvellous initiative whose aim is, to quote its own mission statement, "to equip college students with the resources, support, and arguments they need to uphold the institution of marriage, the special role of the family, and sexual integrity within their university communities. We aim to build a network that will become the nucleus of an articulate and effective new generation of leaders who will advocate for marriage, family, love and fidelity on college campuses and in the public square."
Submission, by Michel Houellebecq, has finally appeared in English. Set in the year 2022, the best-selling novel describes the process by which France peacefully submits to Islam after voters elect a Muslim President. Its popularity was no doubt stoked by the fact that it was published on the same day as Islamic terrorists killed 12 people at the office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Like most of Houellebecq’s anti-heroes, the central character in Submission, an academic who loses his job when the Sorbonne becomes a Muslim-only university, is an odious, sexist misanthrope. At the end of the novel he considers converting to get a good job and a couple of wives.
Ronnie Smith points out in the review below that the target of this provocative novel is not Islam, but a society which has ceased to believe in anything except comfortable consumerism. As he writes, “French/European/Western secular materialism is simply too comfortable to provide the motivation and intellectual vigour to form and then activate a response to Islam.”
Today's special feature is euthanasia in Belgium. The doctor who is "the Pope of euthanasia" there, Wim Distelmans, has just written a book explaining how necessary euthanasia is and how well his country's law works. I have written a review and Tom Mortier, a Belgian whose mother was euthanised by Dr Distelmans, pokes holes in his arguments.
Michelle and Steven Payne, winners of the Melbourne Cup
Loyal readers of this newsletter will be saddened, but not surprised, that none of the horses I tipped for this afternoon's Melbourne Cup were within a bull's roar of the finish. However, I couldn't have made up a better story about the winning horse, Prince of Penzance. It was the first time that a female jockey had won The Cup and the first time in 75 years that a horse has won at 100 to 1. Not a bad outcome for Michelle Payne.
Michelle is the youngest of 11 children, of whom eight are or were jockeys. But her brother Steven could be the most remarkable of the family. He has Down Syndrome and works as a strapper with his sister.
"I think it's great for other people with Down syndrome — to see how capable they can be in normal life," Michelle told the media. "Stevie can pretty much do anything, and look after himself when he's on his own. He can follow the work sheet, he can saddle them up, he can swim them, hose them, and he's got a great rapport with horses. He's really enjoyable to have around, and I think it's important for those sorts of kids to get a go at something, and if they get a go they reward you."
After winning the race of her life, what's next for Michelle? "I've had a hard life being a jockey, but it will be nice to wind down, have a family and train two or three horses."
Carolyn Moynihan, our deputy editor in Auckland, New Zealand, has been needling me to write something about the Rugby World Cup which was decided on Saturday afternoon (Twickenham time). Well, Australia played a blinder of a game, obviously, and the best team in the Southern Hemisphere took the cup home once again. Need I say more? I think not.
And tomorrow is the Melbourne Cup, "the race that stops the nation". Not much work gets done on Cup Day anywhere in Australia, so please be understanding if there is a glitch with the newsletter tomorrow. The smart money is on Fame Game ($4.20) and Trio To Paris ($7). But I shall be putting my money on Who Shot Thebarman ($21), a New Zealand horse. They know a thing or two about winning over there.