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43 posts from December 2008

December 31, 2008

Adios 2008, or Wrapping up the loose ends

GD9851238@House-Of-Wax-2883-thumb 2008 was an incredible political year, mostly because the guy who everyone thought was placing his mark for a future presidential race ended up winning the big prize himself.  Oh yes, and he's African-American. And he carried North Carolina, Virginia and Indiana. On the other hand, there was this ditch called Prop 8 that the lgbt marriage equality movement stumbled into. Oh yes, and we may be in a depression to rival the ones our parents and grandparents talk about. And we're still mired in not one, but two wars.

So for better or worse, let's wrap this sucker up.   Herewith my modest proposals for tying up the loose political ends of 2008:

Appoint Tina Fey the new senator from New York.  She's at least as funny and smart as Al Franken, and while she didn't compete in any electoral races this fall, she probably had as much impact on the big one as anyone in the country.

As for that Illinois seat, let Oprah decide. Billionaires always get to decide these things, and she's certainly my favorite billionaire.  Maybe she'll pick Dr. "it's time to get real" "no dog ever peed on a moving car" Phil. I can see it now: Dr. Phil, Al Franken, and Tina Fey quiz potential Supreme Court nominees. Sweet.

Establish the Bush-Cheney Truth and Reconciliation Commission.  Although prosecution is justified, it will never happen in the US and will produce only a nativist backlash if it happens in an international tribunal.  This is an American mess that Americans ought to clean up.

Appoint Elizabeth Edwards ambassador to Tahiti. If anyone deserves a warm, cushy job, she does. And the family needs it, since John may be the only Democratic also ran who doesn't get a job in the Obama administration. Silda Wall Spitzer can be her deputy.

What to do with Rick Warren?  Get him a TV talk show ... with Whoopi Goldberg as co-host. Book lots of interesting guests.  Whatever happened to Harvey Fierstein?  I almost never watch television, but I'd watch that.

When Henry almost met Allen - Kissinger and Ginsberg, that is

HT to PageoneQ

Nestled in recently declassified transcripts of former Nixon Secretary of State Henry Kissinger's telephone conversations is an exchange between him and counter-culture icon, peace activist and poet Allen Ginsberg on ending the Vietnam war. Ginsberg was offering to help. Seriously.

Following is the transcript, from April 23, 1971:

Ginsberg: I am calling at the request partly of Senator McCarthy. Senator McCarthy told me to, call you. My idea is to arrange a conversation between yourself, [CIA Director Richard] Helms, McCarthy and maybe even Nixon with Rennie Davis, Dillinger and Abernathy. It can be done at any time. They were willing to show their peaceableness and perhaps you don't know how to get out of the war and who by private meeting --

Kissinger: I have been meeting with many members representing peace groups but what I find is that they have always then rushed right out and given the contents of the meeting to the press. But I like to do this, not just for the enlightment of the people I talk to but to at least give me a feel of what concerned people think. I would be prepared to meet in principle on a private basis.

G: That's true but it is a question of personal delicacy. In dealing with human conscienceness [sic], it is difficult to set limits.

K: You can't set limits to human conscienceness but --

G: We can try to come to some kind of understanding.

K: You can set limits to what you say publicly.

G: It would be even more funny to do it on television.

K: What?

G: It would be even more useful if we could do it naked on television.

K: (Laughter )

G: It might be too __ but under some kind of circumstances. What shall I tell them that would be encouraging?

K: That I would think about it very seriously.

G: Good deal.

K: I will call Senator McCarthy. When did you intend to do this?

G: During the May Day Meetings in Washington. They will be lobbying and they could meet with you. May 2 or 3.

K: May 2nd or 3rd. Damn it! I would like to do it in principle but --

G: It is a good principle.

K: Now wait a minute. I don't know about those dates, I may not be in town. If not, we can do it at some other reasonable date.

G: I gather you don't know how to get out of the war.

K: I thought we did but we are always interested in hearing other views.

G: If you see [CIA Director Richard] Helms, ask him if he has begun meditating yet.

K: [About what. ]

G: [garbled] He promised to meditate one hour a day. I still have to teach him how to hold his back straight.

K: How do I reach you?

G: City Lights, San Francisco.

Continue reading "When Henry almost met Allen - Kissinger and Ginsberg, that is" »

December 30, 2008

News in two con law cases, still in early stages

The New Jersey Civil Rights Division has issued a Final Report finding that the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association discriminated against Harriet Bernstein and Luisa Paster by refusing to rent them a boardwalk pavilion for a civil union ceremony. OGCMA describes itself as "a ministry organization, rooted in Methodist heritage." It argued that being forced to rent the pavilion for a civil union would violate its religious liberty and expressive association rights.

The agency found that the church was operating the pavilion as a public accommodation, not as a religious facility, evidenced by the fact that it rented it to any and all couples who wanted it for a wedding, regardless of religious affiliation, and had represented to the state that the pavilion was "open to the public" in order to obtain an exemption from property tax. (The group has now stopped renting the pavilion.) I am calling this an early stage in the case, despite the fact that it is the final agency action, because the defendant's lawyer, the Alliance Defense Fund, is announcing that it will seek reversal of the decision in court. An ACLU cooperating attorney is representing Bernstein and Paster.

Meanwhile, the ACLU LGBT Rights Project has filed a challenge to the statute adopted by Arkansas voters on election day that bars adoption and foster care placement with any unmarried couples.  The complaint alleges equal protection and due process violations on both federal and state constitutional grounds; the case was filed in state court. The law is scheduled to take effect January 1; no motion for a preliminary injunction has been filed.

Doubtless there will be more to come on both these cases in future months.

New research: More child care by dads leads to rebound in childbirth rates

The National Bureau for Economic Research Digest reports on a new study showing that an increase in women's economic and employment status, which initially led to falling birthrates in economically advanced countries, will later produce an increase in fertility rates back up to replacement levels ... if dads do more housework and child care.

That's the conclusion of Will the Stork Return to Europe and Japan? Understanding Fertility within Developed Nations (NBER Working Paper No. w14114). Co-authors of the study, Bruce Sacerdote, James Feyrer, and Ariel Stern find that where men perform relatively more of those chores -- and where female labor-force participation was highest three decades ago - fertility rates rebounded from historic lows. It already appears to have happened in the United States, the Scandinavian countries, and the Netherlands.

This represents a dramatic reversal from initial stages of a demographic transition, in which fertility falls as women have higher relative wages outside the home. In the United States, for example, women in the 1950s and 1960s earned low wages (relative to men) outside the home and were expected to shoulder all the household and childcare duties. In 1955, American women averaged about 3.5 births apiece. But as more women entered the workforce and their job opportunities and pay rose, so did the opportunity cost of staying at home. Fertility plunged. By the 1980s, the U.S. fertility rate had fallen by nearly half from its mid-1950s level -- to 1.8 births per woman.

The rest of the developed world shared the same pattern. By 2005, total fertility rates were as low as 1.3 children per woman in Italy, Spain, Germany, and Japan - far beneath the population's replacement rate of 2.1 children. According to the authors, "this is the first time in recorded history that large populations with high and growing per capita income have failed to reproduce themselves over an extended period of time."

But some nations have seen a rebound, even as women's pay and job opportunities continued to grow and began to rival those of men. The authors surmise that with increased household bargaining power, which comes from more equal wages, women are able to push some (though not necessarily half) of household and childcare duties onto men. This, in turn, removes some of the disincentives to having more children. By 1995, for example, the U.S. fertility rate had recovered from its 1980s lows to roughly replacement levels.

This change in women's status is not just correlated with higher fertility, the authors contend -- it drives it. Other potential fertility drivers, such as population density and housing prices, don't appear to matter much, they find. However, government policies that ease the burden of childcare - such as tax breaks for families with children and publicly provided day care - do appear to play a role.

Such findings could have ramifications beyond Europe. Asian nations undergoing development are seeing their fertility rates fall even further and faster than the West did. Women in South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong average fewer than 1.5 children. "A massive convergence in national fertility rates is leading to a world that looks very much like the low-fertility European countries in terms of the number of children per woman," the authors conclude.

December 29, 2008

Professional responsibility in AZ: does unbiased representation extend to lgbt clients?

The Alliance Defense Fund is threatening litigation to block a proposed revision to the Arizona Bar Association oath that pledges unbiased representation to LGBT clients. The proposed revision to the oath states: “I will not permit considerations of gender, race, religion, age, nationality, sexual orientation, disability, or social standing to influence my duty of care.”

The ADF, which is based in Arizona and regularly opposes LGBT rights in courts across the country, said it is particularly concerned about the inclusion of “sexual orientation” in the revised oath.

In a letter to bar association president Edward Novak, the ADF and other conservative lawyers said that “the proposed provision is unnecessary, exceedingly ambiguous, and unconstitutional.”

“We are concerned most particularly that the proposed provision’s vagueness violates due-process and free-speech guarantees and that its application infringes First Amendment rights by compelling conduct and expression in conflict with an attorney’s philosophical or religious beliefs as well as his other professional responsibilities. ... [T]he proposed provision, unlike any other part of the Arizona Bar Oath or Ethics Rules, may be interpreted to force an attorney to undertake particular representation.”

The letter calls on Novak to abandon the revision and warns that if it passes it would be challenged in court. It was signed by more than 30 Arizona attorneys.

Source for the above: 365news

This ADF letter is an outrageous attempt to back the Arizona Bar Association down from making explicit what should be basic to any attorney's representation of any client.  Their First Amendment argument is bogus; no attorney with personal objections to same-sex couples, for example, would undertake to represent that couple. The proposed revision speaks of "duty of care," which refers to persons who are already clients, and would do nothing to force attorneys to take particular cases.  ADF surely knows this, just as they know that clergy would never be forced by a same-sex marriage law to marry same-sex couples, another one of their claims in the marriage cases.

There is much talk in the air of mutual respect between lgbt equality advocates and conservative religious believers who oppose equality - some across the board, some essentially only as to marriage. I share the desire for mutually respectful engagement. But I have no interest in giving credibility to those who traffic in cheap lies and sham arguments, of which this latest ADF move is unfortunately only one of many examples.

UPDATE - The National Lesbian and Gay Law Association is in contact with the Arizona Bar, urging them to proceed with the proposed anti-discrimination principle.

December 27, 2008

Inauguration predictions

I hereby make the following predictions for the inauguration ceremony:

  • Rev. Rick will be mushy lovey blah blah blah.
  • The Rickster will use the words "life" and "equal;" possibly the phrase "all God's children;" but not the word "marriage." (I get triple points if he says, "All God's children are equal - we share the gift of life.")
  • Jeremiah Wright will be in the audience, listening to the Rickster up there on stage, looking really, really pissed. He will try to speak to the press afterward, but no one will recognize him.
  • The word "gay" will be used for the first time in history at an inauguration, possibly by Rev. Lowry.
  • The rock star of the event will be the poet Elizabeth Alexander.
  • Her poem will not rhyme.
  • Use of the word "historic" by media commentators will reach historic, indeed stratospheric levels.
  • Joe Biden will not be permitted to speak to the press.
  • The happiest man on the stage will be George Bush.
  • We will all still feel like dancing afterwards.

The Kiss

By JoAnn Wypijewski in The Nation ( HT Duggan)

Kindness and truth shall meet; justice and peace shall kiss.
   --Psalm 85:10

They were young and beautiful and kissing, two brown-skinned girls on a red leather banquette; kissing as people do when they are hungry and soaring and, usually, alone. They weren't alone, wedged there between the thick seats and small tables at the Lenox Lounge in Harlem. Nobody barked, "Get a room!" Life swirled easily about them, dollar bills passing from hand to hand across the crowd to the fellow behind the bar; beers all around or cocktails and high-pitched chatter, as if it were the most natural thing in the world for two girls on a banquette to be drinking each other in, one long gulp, then another; a taste, a tease, a head thrown back in laughter and an arm bent high to catch her stiff-brimmed hat before it fell.

That was election day, an age ago, it seems. Like the sailor kissing the nurse in Times Square on V-J Day in Eisenstaedt's storied photograph, like the boy gripping his girlfriend's bottom as she leaps to embrace him in a shadowed hall on the day Stalin died in Komar and Melamid's luscious painting Thirty Years Ago 1953, those amorous girls in an Art Deco bar were the iconic image of social happiness, November 4, 2008.

For a moment, a few hours, the world, or at least Harlem, was passionate and in love. Not with Barack Obama, with itself--each one with the friend or stranger by his side and beyond to the next one, and the next after that, a common love expressed commonly, in hands squeezed or swinging hugs or deep, public kisses. "Love is in the air, people," a drummer on the uptown 1 train had announced earlier in the day, and later it was in the streets. A million glances were exchanged that electric night; a million fingers brushed lightly against each other. Zing! Who knows how many awoke the next morning in the arms of someone no longer a stranger? If there were none, it wouldn't matter; that it was possible was the thing. People were alive and in love with possibility.

In an instant it was over, as it had to be. Elections are not revolutions. Nor are presidents even particularly sturdy progressives. By definition they crook the knee to capital, and concede, simply by running for the job at the top of the nuclear heap, a willingness to commit mass murder. Obama couldn't be "one of us" any more than his predecessors could. And yet, on the cusp of the inaugural, some leftists are disappointed, angry, glumly awaiting the inevitable celebrations like party kisses on New Year's Eve, surface exuberance masking the essential emptiness of the ritual. Some who were once full of hope now grouse about the dreadful cabinet picks or strain for positive explanations as the bigot Rick Warren prepares his inaugural blessing. Those who were always cynical regard the popular effusions over the first black president as simple-minded, hysterical, swoony.

But the job of the left is not to be hopeful in or even angry at presidents, and it is not to scold the people. An insidious aspect of the recent period, and particularly the past eight years, has been the gross personalization of politics, the obsession with venal or greedy or supposedly stupid leaders, with the lies and corruptions of persons rather than the crushing nature of class relations and corrupt systems. So Bush is an idiot. Clinton was a dog. Obama is a hero or a fraud. "The left"? What is it? A term so hazy in concept that right-wing radio applies it to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid without being laughed off the air, and the only live demand that almost anyone else associated with it in November was marriage.

Clearly, the radical imagination needs an airing. So let us pause, amid the muddle of the moment, in this season of renewal and fresh starts, to consider fundamental things. Let us pause to reflect on the iconography of that kiss, so thick with refusals and affirmations.

Continue reading "The Kiss" »

December 26, 2008

Is there an Equal Pay Act violation here?

From the Wall Street Journal:

According to a new survey by Prince & Assoc., more than 80% of multimillionaires who had extra-marital lovers planned to cut back on their gifts and allowances. Still, only 12% of the multimillionaire cheaters said they plan to give up on their lovers altogether for financial reasons.

The survey – a subset of a larger wealth study – polled 191 individuals with a minimum net worth of $20 million who said they had lovers of at least a year or more. [The questions about extra-marital financial planning were at the end of a survey of owners of private jets.] About two thirds of the respondents were men and one third women. All were married and all had personal control over their finances, meaning the women and men surveyed were the primary wealth holders in their homes.

The most surprising stats in the study relate to gender and what might be termed “length of service.” Fully 82% of men in the study said they planned to lower the allowances to their mistresses, while more than three quarters planned to provide fewer gifts, less expensive gifts and fewer perks, like jet rides, resort vacations and top restaurant meals.

Women were far more generous to their paramours in the face of financial crises. Less than 20% planned to lower allowances, gifts and perks, while more than half planned to raise them.

The duration of the relationship also seems to play a role in the economics of high-end cavorting. The study found that more than two thirds of the millionaires who had been with their lovers for three or more years planned to cut back. That compares with less than half for those with a tenure of one to three years.

The survey doesn’t mean to suggest that all, most or even a large minority of rich men and women have affairs. It simply is a snapshot of a certain sample at a certain time. Yet it suggests that in a time of financial crisis, it is better to be a kept man than a compensated woman.

December 25, 2008

Merry Merry!

A Christmas thought from Garrison  Keillor (slightly paraphrased):

"The lovely thing about Christmas is that it's unavoidable, like a  thunderstorm, and we all go through it together." 
HT: DeFilippis/Duggan

December 24, 2008

Tomes from (way) back in the day

From Bitch Magazine, a guide to six feminist classics - and why they're worth tracking down -

In the 1976 cross-country race film The Gumball Rally, the late, great Raul Julia rips off his rearview mirror and tosses it over his shoulder, saying “What’s behind me is not important.”

He didn’t win the race.

Maybe that’s because what’s behind us actually is important. Feminist literature and history did not spring fully formed from Betty Friedan’s and Naomi Wolf’s pens and word processors; they have had long, complex, and often buried lives. The six works profiled here, ranging from once-famous titles to all-but-unknown works, were dead-on portraits of the state of women when they were written in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s, but they still resonate with readers today. Themes like race and the women’s movement, gender and identity, and body politics are evergreen; discussions of these topics still roil in books, on blogs, and in person. And while mainstream feminism may not be grappling with issues like separatism these days, the passion, politics, anger, and truth contained in these books can inspire us to burn as brightly as these authors did.

Continue reading "Tomes from (way) back in the day" »

December 23, 2008

Rwanda's majority women Parliament struggles for change

From The Guardian

Judith Kanakuze pauses at the mention of her family. "God saved me," she says. "He did not save them." Fourteen years ago, 11,000 Tutsis were murdered in Kanakuze's home province of Kibuye, in the west of Rwanda, in the town's Roman Catholic church. Almost everyone in her extended family had fled to the chapel for sanctuary. The next day another 10,000 people were murdered in the town stadium in a pogrom led by Kibuye's governor.

Kanakuze does not want to say much more. The survivors of the genocide often speak of the pain of being "condemned to live". But she admits to an unexpected optimism as a member of the first parliament in the world to have a majority of female MPs. "This is a different time," she says. "We are transforming our society, and women are part of the solution."

In September, Rwanda's parliamentary election saw women win 45 of the 80 seats. Nearly half were elected in women-only seats, with the rest triumphing in open ballots.

The women MPs include former rebels and genocide survivors, war widows and peasant farmers, and although the election was a landmark, the women's success was not unexpected. Under the requirements of a new constitution, women already held a third of cabinet posts - including the foreign, education and information portfolios. The heads of the supreme court and the police are also women, as are a majority of the country's prison governors.

Continue reading "Rwanda's majority women Parliament struggles for change" »

December 22, 2008

Only 30 more days

I love this line from Barney Frank:  When Obama keeps saying that we have only one president at a time, he's way overstating the current number.


December 21, 2008

Happy Chan-iversary

Happy Chanukah! for all those of you who will be breaking out the candles tonight. And a special season's greeting to the Brits celebrating the civil union status introduced three years ago in the UK. Kick back - have a gin and tonic-ukah! as Adam Sandler would say.

The Economist reports that British same-sex couples, especially the guys, have more enthusiastically adopted the civil union mode than have couples in the U.S.:

By halfway through this year nearly 60,000 Britons had entered a same-sex union, giving them legal rights virtually identical to those of married couples. In contrast to their American counterparts, most British gays seem relaxed about not having the right to call their partnership a marriage. “It meant we could get the law through sooner. Changing the wording is not really a priority,” says a spokesman for Stonewall, a gay-rights lobby group. And speed is not everything: Denmark was the first country to recognise gay partnerships, in 1989, but still does not let them adopt children.

Gay couples getting hitched are older than straight ones: men are 43 on average and women 41, compared with 36 and 34 among straight couples (including those remarrying). And it seems that gay men are settling down in greater numbers than lesbians. Men have out-partnered women in every quarter since civil partnerships were introduced; in London last year nearly 75% of those contracted were between men. Some unions have already broken down; but so far male partnerships have proved less likely than female ones to end in dissolution.

One explanation offered for this bias is that lesbian identity has been shaped by an anti-marriage strand of feminism. But that seems to fall down elsewhere: in Vermont, for example, the first American state to offer comprehensive civil unions, about two-thirds of partnerships are between women. ...[O]f those who have formed partnerships so far, a tenth of men and nearly a quarter of women were married before to someone of the opposite sex.

December 20, 2008

AG adds volatile new twist to Prop 8 litigation

CA Attorney General Jerry Brown surprised all sides in the Prop 8 litigation yesterday with a 90-page brief that takes a unique position in the case, not agreeing completely with either side. In general, a state attorney general is expected to defend the validity of all state laws, regardless of whether s/he believes they are proper, unless exceptional circumstances dictate otherwise. Brown argued that Prop 8 should be invalidated by the court, but on a natural rights ground that no one else has argued, for which there is no direct precedent.

Opponents of Prop 8 sought to have it rescinded by invoking a murky distinction in CA law between amendments to the constitution, which voters can adopt, and more fundamental revisions to the constitution, which require a longer, more cumbersome process.  Led by NCLR lawyers, the challengers argued in their initial petition seeking review that Prop 8 made "far-reaching changes to the nature of [the state's] governmental plan" and was such a fundamental abrogation of a minority group's constitutional rights that it amounted to an evisceration of judicial authority. For that reason, they argued, it was a revision, not an amendment, to the state constitution. (They will file briefs on Jan. 5 responding to those filed yesterday.)

The AG's brief argued that Prop 8 was not a constitutional revision, but instead a change of fairly narrow scope, affecting only the particular question of marriage, not the structure of government. But the AG is also arguing that because the state supreme court had found the right to marry to be an "inalienable" liberty right, voters could not amend the constitution to withdraw it from a class of persons. The brief asserts that rights found to be "inalienable" enjoy a privileged place in the constitutional scheme, and that voters lack the power to amend the state constitution to abrogate those rights unless there is compelling justification.

The logic behind this claim is that "inalienable" rights are so denominated because they pre-date the state constitution or, indeed, any social compact. They are "inherent in human nature," rights "that no government can take away." (Brief at p. 80) The individual surrenders only those inalienable rights "considered essential to the just and reasonable exercise of the [state's] police power in furtherance of the objects for which it exists." (Brief at p. 81) The precedents cited consist chiefly of quotes, like the foregoing, from 19th and early 20th century case law, a time when natural rights arguments were considered much more jurisprudentially legitimate than they are today.

Wow. Will this fly?  Should it fly? 

It's a pretty breathtaking assertion that a court has the power to rule that the constitutionally guaranteed right to amend a constitution by popular vote simply does not exist if the effect of the amendment is to withdraw a right that the same court has found to be fundamental. I'm a big believer in judicial review, but this?  That's a lot of power for the courts. On the other hand, the underlying problem is the danger exemplified by Prop 8 - that a simple majority of voters can deprive an unpopular minority of important rights.  Prop 8 won by almost 600,000 votes; even in a big state, that's a pretty clear majority. (Or in percentage terms - the 52-48 split was the same as in the Bush-Kerry race in 2004.) But what if Prop 8 had won by 6,000 votes? By 600? By 6?

By comparison, Florida has a much saner system than California for amending its state constitution by popular vote, because any amendment requires a 60 per cent majority to pass.  (Unfortunately, the anti-gay marriage amendment achieved that mark.) The supermajority requirement doesn't prevent the foreclosure of rights to a minority, but at least it makes that more difficult to achieve. If the same 60 per cent requirement had been in effect in California, Prop 8 would have fallen short. The California system relies on the revision process to insure that really important changes are made only after a much more involved process. Unfortunately, though, the criteria for distinguishing a revision from an amendment are far from clear.

Brown caveats his assertion to a limited degree.  He notes that the question of whether there is a natural rights limit on revising the state constitution is not before the court.  In other words, if proponents of a revision take it through the longer process, which includes approval by the legislature, then there would be no bar to curtailing even a fundamental or inalienable right. He also asserts that if a compelling justification existed, i.e. a curtailment was needed to further essential aspects of governmental power, perhaps the power to quarantine infectious persons during an epidemic, for example, that also would be permitted. But it's still a remarkable, perhaps unprecedented, legal argument, that raises fundamental questions about the role of popular constitutionalism.

Whether the AG's theory carries the day or not, it makes the Prop 8 litigation even more interesting for students of constitutional law.  Before, the core issues of which institutions of government have the power to determine the scope of individual liberty was somewhat obscured in the weeds of ambivalent precedents about the difference between an amendment and a revision, an issue that is germane in only a handful of states. Brown's argument certainly surfaces the big questions.

Which side will the AG's brief help?  Hard to say - maybe both, maybe neither.  The brief's strong argument that Prop 8 was not a revision can't be good news to the lgbt and other groups challenging Prop 8. On the other hand, the Prop 8 proponents are livid that the state AG is not defending a measure adopted by a majority of the voters.

On the question of retroactivity, Brown is urging the court not to invalidate marriages performed between June and November, while the court's decision granting marriage rights was in effect. According to press reports (I haven't been able to find a copy of the brief), Prop 8 defenders are arguing that it is fully retroactive.  They also announced their new lead counsel: Kenneth Starr, former chief inquisitor of President Clinton and now dean of Pepperdine Law School.

In a case that is cultural theater as much as it is law, Brown's argument could make the Prop 8 challengers seem less radical by comparison. After all, they are arguing within the revision/amendment framework, and essentially concede that if Prop 8 was a mere amendment, it's valid. Or, it could offer the court a path out of a messy case, allowing them to kill off Prop 8 without having to declare it fish or fowl, in a way that hypothetically creates a powerful precedent for the future, but would likely turn out not to be directly relevant again, since the political intensity of the sex/marriage/religion mix seems sui generis, at least for our lifetimes. Or, the court could ignore it.

Whatever happens, I'm starting to think that the Prop 8 litigation could turn out to be more substantively engaging than the original right to marry claim, which, for all the emotional heat it generates, has gotten pretty stale intellectually.

Harvard Business Review: When Steve Becomes Stephanie

Jillian Weiss at Transworkplace has the background on an extensive case study in the current issue of Harvard Business Review, focused on how an employer can respond to a person who transitions from male to female. This is an important moment, given the importance of HBR and the influence of its case studies, which frequently serve as texts for business school students and as guidance for corporate executives.  Kudos to Jillian, who served as an adviser in the development of the case study materials!