I’m standing outside an imposing four-story graystone townhouse. Located on a leafy, blossoming block of East 94th Street in Manhattan, it’s the headquarters and worship center of the Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Society, the spiritual home to J.D. Salinger during his mystifying Silent Years. The home to his late guru, Swami Nikhilananda, a name I’m sure you know but one I only just learned from reading some Salinger letters recently donated to the Morgan Library by the swamis from the Center here.
After authoring a slew of 5–4 conservative opinions this week and helping to effectively kill the Voting Rights Act, Justice Samuel Alito should be in a good mood. He’s not. On Monday, a cranky Alito rolled his eyes, shook his head, and looked at the ceiling— a jarring breach of court decorum—as Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg read a dissent from the bench. In weeks prior, the justice openly glowered and rolled his eyes at Justice Elena Kagan on two separate occasions. It’s a grand court tradition for justices to get grumpy and dyspeptic during the final, toughest days of the term. But even cantankerous Justice Antonin Scalia has learned to take out his anger on cases, not people (or at least, not people present).
“I’m not trying to get her to grow up gay. I’m not hiding my gayness to get her to grow up straight. But she can see that there are many orientations and many ways to be. Hopefully, by the time she grows up we will have a society where those dichotomies of whether you’re gay or straight, a man or a woman aren’t so important. Where people can just be as they feel most natural and comfortable in being.”
The archenemy of the gay marriage movement moved among them, and they didn’t seem to notice. Brian Brown, the affable president of the National Organization for Marriage, walked in front of the Supreme Court looking for his next interview. He glanced at one of the celebrants’ signs, “Time for the Sexually Hung-Up Supremes to Come Out of Their Closets,” and winced a little. He slipped through a crowd of gay men’s chorus members in red shirts taking their pictures with Barney Frank.
You can also listen to William Saletan read this piece.
OK, I’ve digested the dissents in the DOMA case, especially Justice Scalia’s enraged one. (He gets points for the phrase “legal argle-bargle.” I plan to borrow that for future articles.) It’s important to point out that he directs most of his rage at the five-justice majority, not at proponents of gay marriage, or the institution itself. He’s surprisingly OK with ballot initiatives and laws that have approved gay marriage. Scalia doesn’t share the morals of gay marriage supporters, but he is willing to live and let live. This is quite lovely:
It was a busy week in existential threats to the Republican Party. Two issues that various Republicans have said require the party to evolve or die have been thrust into the national spotlight: Immigration reform is on its way to passing the Senate, and the Supreme Court offered two major victories for the supporters of marriage equality.
“Words do have a limited range of meaning, and no interpretation that goes beyond that range is permissible,” Antonin Scalia said in a speech at Princeton University in 1995. But as the Supreme Court’s most flamboyant wordsmith, Justice Scalia routinely pushes the boundaries of vocabulary, metaphor, and hyperbole. In an enraged dissent in today’s ruling that struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, Scalia added to his 27-year history of bold rhetorical flourishes, railing that the court’s “jaw-dropping” decision has its “diseased root” in its own hubris and “black-robed supremacy,” etc. In honor of this classic dissent, we have compiled a starter glossary of Nino-isms, culled from the 77-year-old justice’s most famous opinions; Scalia-watchers should add their favorites in the comments.
When you join a social network, it usually asks if you’d like help finding friends who also use the service. It sounds like a nice offer—much easier than manually searching the site. So you click “yes,” put check marks next to the people you want to follow, and go merrily on your way.
After interns ran the Supreme Court’s decision to the networks, crowds in Washington, D.C., erupted, activists across the country celebrated, and two plaintiffs got a call from the president on live TV. Luckily, cameras were never far away.
The Gentleman Scholar inked this question in the margin of his commonplace book a couple months ago, scratching a note to self alongside a draft of a villanelle, a recipe for a Paloma variation, and a doodle of an octopod xylophonist. The sentence regards pants in the usual American sense of trousers, and it regards greens more vibrant than the drab olives and miliatry mosses with which the American male has more traditionally draped his legs. Going about my flaneuristic rounds in New York this spring, I witnessed an unprecedented number of dudes sporting a virid variety of pants and shorts. I espied much mint and seafoam, a lot of grass and Astroturf, some lime and spinach-leaf and haricot vert and Shamrock Shakes shades. And I enviously eyed bold bolts of emerald, which the forecasters of Pantone, issuing a prediction that has the force of a decree, have declared the 2013 color of the year.
People in the crowd in front of the Supreme Court waved rainbow flags as they celebrated today’s decisions to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act and allow gay marriage in California. If you enter the word “gay” into Google’s search box, the results appear in a rainbow frame. When and why did the rainbow become a symbol of gay rights? Explainer recounted the history during last year’s Gay Pride Month. The original article is below.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act on Wednesday and let stand a lower court decision that reinstituted gay marriage in California. Historians have referred to the cases as Brown v. Board of Education for gay rights. Was the public this fixated on the Brown decision in 1954?
There’s no question that today’s decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act on equal protection grounds is sweeping and historic. There is a unique feature of the 40-year gay marriage debate that makes the question of history and historical evolution particularly important: Unlike racial segregation, to which anti-gay laws are often compared, the traditional restriction of marriage to opposite-sex couples was not designed, in and of itself, to denigrate or harm same-sex couples. No matter how angry pro-gay advocates may rightly feel toward those who oppose our equality, it seems fair, at first blush, to concede that restricting marriage to straights was not exactly a malicious or irrational act based on nothing but animus against gay people. But none of that means DOMA was constitutional. Whatever the dissenters may say, each generation should interpret the meaning of a law as it applies in that generation’s own time.
Melting under the sweltering Washington sun, hundreds of gay marriage supporters (and swarms of journliasts) gathered outside the Supreme Court on Wednesday morning to hear the court's rulings on the Defense of Marraige Act and California's Proposition 8. Same-sex marriage proponents chanted and sang, made bets with one another on the court's decisions, and lamented slow cellphone service while searching for updates before and during the announcements. Opponents to same-sex marriage were almost entirely absent.
Although the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional, the map above, based on data from the Pew Research Center, shows that marriage-equality activists still have a long road ahead worldwide. Only 15 countries have national laws allowing same-sex marriage. In another two, the U.S. and Mexico, gay marriage is legal in some jurisdictions. Thursday’s ruling requires the federal government to provide married gay couples with the same benefits as married straight couples. It’s a historic victory, but the U.S. has far to go before joining Canada, France, Brazil, and other countries in legalizing gay marriage nationwide.
Some of us go through our professional lives wondering if we’re in the right line of work or if there’s something else we could be doing that would make us happier. Musing about a career change or other life pivot can be a potent source of motivation, yet most of us never act on these impulses. Those who do follow through often engineer second acts that are game changers.