Straight Marriages – Gay Unions

The debate of gay marriages has been a very hot political topic for many years and with being such a hot topic it is almost astounding the number of places that have come out publicly either for or against the topic. While there are few states who allow the idea of a gay or same-sex marriage there are those more liberal affording almost equal rights. Massachusetts is the only state currently in the United States that allows same-sex marriages. The state of Rhode Island is generous enough to recognize as legal marriage any same-sex marriage that is performed in Massachusetts, which is a major victory for many same-sex supporters.

The elections of recent years have seen this as a very hot topic button, and with the White House, stressing that marriage involves a man and a woman only, not same-sexes many states have been very reluctant to allow the same-sex marriages. However, a few states have come forward and allowed same-sex civil unions, which are very similar to a marriage.

These states are California, Hawaii, Maine, Connecticut, New Jersey, and Vermont. The District of Columbia also recognizes same-sex unions and soon the Governor of New Hampshire has stated publicly that he will sign a bill giving the ok to same-sex unions. This is a major victory for those who are supporting the movement.

While many states have not given the green light on the same-sex issue, there are states who are sitting around discussing the issues. Many couples who are fighting for their rights have argued that there is no difference in the way they run their households compared to their heterosexual counterparts. They have also stated that while they may be with a partner who is the same sex as them, they do still love their partner and should have the right to get married.

This has always been a hot topic, and likely will continue to be a hot topic for many years to come. With the issues raging within the states and at the national level it will likely be a very long time before the gay and lesbian rights groups are able to truly declare a victory for their cause. Nevertheless, there is some solace to be taken in the small victories as they occur, and another Governor of a state being willing to allow a civil union is at least a step in the direction towards a victory.

The fact remains that often the views of the individual states tend to reflect the views of the President. With a President in office who is a staunch opponent to the concept of same-sex marriage as well as civil unions it is unlikely to allow much room for many victories until a more accommodating, or rather liberal, President is in the White House.

Once the bill passes all of the channels, it can go into effect as early as next year for the New Hampshire residence who have long been awaiting this victory. With each state that gives this right to its residents, it opens the doors to more states to start becoming more tolerant of all their inhabitants. Finally, this is paving the way for America to join the bulk of Europe in recognizing the legal inequalities between straight and gay couples nationwide.

Supreme Court Abortion Decision

After much deliberation and discussion, the Supreme Court has returned a critical strike to the core of women’s rights in the abortion arena. The court in a 5-4 decision banned a medical procedure known as a partial-birth abortion or Dilation and Extraction. This abortion procedure was performed after the 20th week of pregnancy. While the pro-rights crowd is naturally upset over the ban, they are horrified over the fact that there are no exceptions to the ban that would enable a doctor to save the life of a woman if it was medically necessary to perform the procedure.

Doctors can face up to 2 years in prison if they are convicted of performing the procedures, which will greatly limit the numbers of doctors performing the procedures and likely increase the number of states placing bans of the entire abortion procedure as well. The decision came from a split Supreme Court, with two of the justices being hand picked by Bush himself. This is a cause of great concern, suggesting that the Supreme Court has turned into a very conservative place, despite the lack of support for Bush and many of his ideas and practices on a broader level. The Supreme Court’s involvement in politics is usually noted, but given the gravity of this decision it is clear where certain allegiances lie.

Is the Supreme Court really following the wishes of the majority, do they really have the legal right to determine that a medical decision can or cannot be performed? The anti-abortion camps in the GOP are happy following the decision and are busily looking for more ways to put a damper on the rights of women in regards to abortions. How will this decision be regarded when it comes election time, and the Presidential elections come around? What about the midterm elections next time they are scheduled?

Many people are left to wonder if the Supreme Court decision is truly a legal decision, or nothing more than a very carefully selected group of ultra conservative judge’s who are following Bush’s wishes and desires in regards to the case. The case was sitting before a panel of judge’s who seem to thrive off of the acceptance of Bush, and Bush was noted as being encouraged by the ruling and declaring it as a victory for his administration.

The court defended its decision by saying that it was doing nothing more than drawing a line between abortion and infanticide. There is a difference between killing a child, or an infant, and an abortion. One of the most notable differences is that a child or infant is not considered an infant until the first breath of air is taken into the lungs. An abortion does not allow the infant to take that first breath of air, therefore, removing the term infant from their being.

While it is noble that the Supreme Court is looking and seeking to protect all forms of life, they should also concern themselves with the lives of the mothers who carry babies, who should not be allowed to continue to term for medical reasons. There are numerous women each year who become pregnant who are unable physically to carry a child to term, and must abort the child, or risk their own life. What has the Supreme Court done in order to protect those mothers, or improve their quality of life?

Positivist Legal Theory

The question of the character of law is primarily a simple one, although it presents a diversity of argumentation to make it an academic favourite and a thought-provoking topic of debate. Positivism is the term describing the school of legal thought that follows that law is an authoritative, binding, regulatory construct. It holds at its core the idea that law is enacted as an authoritative statement of how society must behave. It rejects the concept of any connection with morality, and suggests that there is no room for subjective consideration of the law – the law is, with no room for negotiation. Positivism has been criticised, particularly in Germany, as a means of affording tyranny and extremism to enter mainstream politics. It is said that the general concept of accepting and enforcing the law by virtue of its status allows unjust laws enforcing prejudice and discrimination respect by virtue of their enactment, placing an indefeasible trust in the legislature. As compared to other legal theories, positivism has gathered a great deal of respect and support across the world, making it one of the most prominent considerations of the nature of law.

Positivism places strength on the rules as they are laid down, on the premise that the process of the legislature is the time for challenge and interpretation. Although this may generally be the case, it does throw up some problems in relation to the practical consequences of certain enactments, which reflect better with experience the level of effectiveness. Another feature of the positivist movement is that rather than be guided by moral considerations, the law can be used in certain circumstances to determine what is right and what is wrong, on the basis of its status as in accordance with or against the law. Again this causes problems that have formed the basis of much academic argumentation in the area.

One of the main criticisms of positivism as a theory came in light of the linguistic considerations of HLA Hart, a leading international legal philosopher. He stated that the positive law is far from fixed in nature, for the simple reason that language is not fixed. For example, the famous scenario offered for this point is a sign in a local park stating ‘no vehicles allowed’. This is by no means a fixed and definitive statement of the law, because ‘vehicles’ can be taken to mean a broad range of things. For the most part it will be fairly obvious what falls within the scope – no cars, vans, trucks or trains would be permitted. But what about skateboards? Bicycles? Are these covered within the definition of vehicles? There is no way of knowing from the text exactly what is intended by the law, so to positivism in this strict sense is flawed. Rather, a more sophisticated approach is required, which allows the law to be read in the light of pragmatic and policy considerations. This makes positivism more palatable as a concept, and strengthens its validity at the heart of legal philosophy.