Prop 8 – Ruled Unconstitutional….Again……….

So once again………Proposition 8 from California (which rescinded Marriage Equality) was found to be unconstitutional. A federal district court had previously thrown out the ban on constitutional grounds and yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that California’s Proposition 8, was unconstitutional as well……

What is Prop 8?:

  • A ballot initiative that Eliminates Rights of Same-Sex Couples to Marry – A State of California Constitutional Amendment (called California Marriage Protection Act) was a ballot proposition (voted on by citizens) that passed in the November 2008 elections.

What the court ruling said:

  • Should the lower court judge have recused himself simply because he happens to be gay and may wish to marry his partner, as marriage equality opponents contended: NO.
  • Do the proponents (supporters) of Proposition 8 have the legal right, known as standing, to defend it in court: YES.
  • Is Proposition 8 constitutional: NO.

What the court said:

  • In a 2 to 1 ruling, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed Judge Walker’s decision declaring that Proposition 8 violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Constitution.

From the majority opinion:

  • Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples.
  • The People may not employ the initiative power to single out a disfavored group for unequal treatment and strip them, without a legitimate justification, of a right as important as the right to marry.
  • That designation [of marriage] is important because ‘marriage’ is the name that society gives to the relationship that matters most between two adults. A rose by any other name may smell as sweet, but to the couple desiring to enter into a committed lifelong relationship, a marriage by the name of ‘registered domestic partnership’ does not.
    (emphasis mine)

What this means – 2 things:

  • The ruling is unique and narrow to the state of California which limits the possibilty of the Supreme Court hearing the case, yet it remains a possibility. A broader decision would have certainly drawn Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) attention but there is a chance that the justices may pass on it as it is limited to issues within the state of California.
  • By not ruling on the case, the SCOTUS avoids having to rule on other state based cases such as Alabama’s Marriage Amendment. The bigger, national fight is put off until tomorrow but the people of Alabama suffer but Proposition 8 is likely dead in California…….

Next week – Why elections matter and what does the 2012 election means for the Supreme Court….

The Real Co$t of War – Iraq v. Libya

Tonight, President Obama will deliver his third State of the Union address. He will lay out a sweeping vision of what’s at stake for the middle class and two visions for the economy. Entangled in his speech will surely be references to the debt ceiling debate and the budget. The President has requested to have the debt limit (how much we as a country can borrow) raised to 1.2 trillion. The Republican held House has already voted “no” to this request on their first day back in session from the holiday break, so we come back to the discussion of how do we decrease spending and balance the budget so we don’t need to raise the debt limit a trillion dollars at a time?

This got me to thinking – how can we cut government expenses to balance the budget if we are unwilling to have honest discussions? Do politicians really believe that teachers unions or janitors are the reason that we are all in a hole financially? or do they just say that to pander to constituents that need someone to blame?

Let’s look at some facts:

  • The war in Iraq cost upwards of $120 Billion per year
  • The total cost stands at over $806 Billion today (predicted to be over $1 Trillion once all is said and done, but “only” $50-60 Billion by the Bush administration?)

Don’t believe me? Check the War Cost Calculator – 

*PLEASE NOTE*

Although most of the troops are out of Iraq, that does not mean that we are still not paying for operations in country! 

OK – now let’s take a look at the chart below – what stands out to you?

Essentially, both conflicts produced the same outcomes – 1 dead dictator – it’s just that the path that we took in Iraq cost the U.S. about $805 Billion more than the path that was taken in Libya – could we have used that money to diminish our debt? and could the budget be balanced without this huge expenditure? You betcha! Is anyone really willing to have that conversation – Nope!

But let’s now take a look at what that eventual $1 Trillion price tag (some are actually predicting the total cost of the Iraq War will exceed $3 Trillion) for the war could have could have bought us……

  • $1 trillion could pave the entire U.S. interstate highway system with gold, 23.5-karat gold leaf
  • It could buy every person on the planet an iPod
  • It could give every high school student in the United States a free college education
  • It could pay off every American’s credit card
  • It could buy a Buick for every senior citizen still driving in the United States
  • It could buy 16.6 million Habitat for Humanity houses, enough for 43 million Americans
  • America could double the 663,000 cops on the beat for 32 years

For more ideas – Look Here!

Hopefully in the future, policy makers and politicians will consider the Real Co$t of War before we jump headlong into and endless military engagement. But don’t forget, the $806 Billion price tag does not include what we have spent in Afghanistan – that is a different discussion post all together folks!

****** Update ******

Obama just noted in his SOTU address that we as a nation should “take the money we are no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt and use the rest to do some nation building right here at home”……..great mids think alike huh?