PBS NewsHour had Missouri’s Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-4) on this evening to talk about the Supreme Court ruling on DOMA. Her opposite number, the counterpoint to her rather dull point, was New York’s Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, who has distinguished himself by going after bad actors in the world of big finance. Given the brevity of the interview and its formal nature, both of which militate against real argument, it’s not fair to say that Schneiderman routed Hartzler – there’s an audience that sucks up the standard rightwing lines that she seems to have memorized. But Schneiderman did an excellent job pointing out that there’s no room to dither on questions of essential human rights. There’s a transcript and video here if you’re interested. I include a few highlights (Schneiderman) and lowlights (Hartzler) below:
Hartzler seems to think we must act like bigots for the sake of the children: “it makes sense for children that we have and uphold marriage as between one man and one woman. It’s for the best for them, and we should be able to uphold that ideal for them.” While Hartzler smiled obliviously and blinked compulsively, Schneiderman neatly parried:
The only children that are being hurt by states that discriminate against marriage equality are the kids being raised by gay couples. There’s no harm to our families, straight families who have kids or want to be married or get divorced from authorizing and empowering same-sex couples.
Hartzler repeated a common accusation over the past two days: the Supreme Court’s ruling is anti-democratic because it voided California’s Prop 8. Here Schneiderman implicitly let the full weight of his contempt fall on poor Hartzler when he pointed out the obvious:
… there is a reason we have a Constitution in this country. There is a reason that there are some laws you just can’t pass. You can’t pass a law saying black people aren’t equal to white people or women aren’t equal to men. […] . You can’t pass a law that discriminates against gay couples and gay people from — and that’s just in keeping with our American tradition. And I think, in 20 or 30 years, people will look back on this as we now look back on Loving v. Virginia and the days of prohibition of interracial marriages and say, what were they thinking?
The funniest thing that Hartzler said, however, was that the reason for DOMA was to avoid administering federal laws while navigating a patchwork of differing laws across the states:
Well, I think it speaks to why they passed that initially, that marriage at the federal level is between one man and one woman, because there’s over 1,000 different federal laws that have to do with marriage.
And so it was for a very practical reason. It wasn’t for — against — animus against anyone, as if [sic] Justice Kennedy portrayed. It was because of a very practical reason.
She’s essentially saying here that the federal government decided to enshrine bigotry in law because folks dedicated to a similar sort of bigotry have commandeered lots of statehouses and passed some nasty laws and to do differently would make life complicated for federal officials. Didn’t somebody once say that consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds? Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Vicky Hartzler.