It is more than a mere “cliff-hanger,” that the New York state legislature went home for the night without voting once and for all on the same-sex marriage bill. It is justice denied.
William Gladstone, the 19th century British politician is attributed with the quote “Justice delayed is justice denied” —something that politicians forever have simply ignored. But again tonight, the citizens of New York are being denied justice while the Neros of the Senate fiddled with funding and financing and pensions and economic matters over which the two major parties love to disagree.
It is becoming quite clear that the Republican lawmakers want the clock to run out on the legislative session (which was supposed to have adjourned last week) without having to take a vote either way on Governor Cuomo’s bill. The last count was that 31 of the necessary majority of 32 Senators would vote for it. The rest of them apparently don’t want to vote for it, and don’t want to identified as being against it either. So the bill could die again because justice was delayed.
This is our legal system in America, folks. This is our court system, too, because legislators (not judges) hold the cards on appointing judges. Dozens and dozens of federal benches sit empty because the U.S. Senate refuses to confirm the nominees—another political maneuver to deny justice by postponing it.
Lawsuits take years to work their way through the courts, because attorneys afford themselves all the time in the world (someone else is paying them by the hour at prices they set without any form of regulation) to argue over technicalities. All the time in the world is justice denied while justice is debated, deferred, derailed, in courtrooms full of detached parties. In California, neither the state courts nor the federal courts seems to be able to get to the core issues raised by the ludicrous manipulation of our voters’ initiative system to shove Proposition 8 into the state constitution. While New York Senators fiddle, no one is taking charge over the clearly unconstitutional denial of fundamental human rights for gay and lesbian people because they have to think about whether outside parties—who are not harmed in any way by my marriage or yours— have the legal standing to defend the proposition in court. If the legal issues about “standing” aren’t clear by now, is it unfair of the citizens to ask, “what the hell have you attorneys and judges and legislators been doing with your time for the last century or more?”
The filibuster is another device with which everybody is familiar. It ought to be outlawed—absolutely and forever—but the bastards who filibuster are the bastards who write the laws, and do it to favor themselves rather than justice. But the filibuster is a blatant and intentional abuse of the democratic process to delay and therefore deny justice.
It isn’t that New York’s legislative “good night” this evening at 11:00 p.m. is so awful in and of itself. But it is simply one more nail in the coffin of democracy. What’s been holding up the vote for weeks? Republican lawmakers want to argue some more over whether there are enough legal protections for religious groups who don’t want to perform same-sex marriages. Was that an issue with Loving v. Virginia, that religious groups who didn’t believe that interracial marriage was moral wouldn’t be compelled to perform them? To my knowledge, no minister, rabbi, imam or other religious figure is ever compelled to preside over a marriage ceremony of any kind. We all have the freedom to say no. So the Republican misgivings about the bill in New York is an obvious stalling maneuver—to suggest that there are just too many unresolved issues to move forward. I’m not buying it.