Tag: Ruth

Ruth Bader Ginsbug’s death was ‘painful’ for LGBT people

Ruth Bader Ginsbug's death was 'painful' for LGBT people

Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the same-sex marriage case Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that could determine the constitutionality of marriage for same-sex couples, smiles as he walks out of the US Supreme Court in Washington, DC, June 18, 2015. (JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty)

Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in the case which legalised marriage equality across the US, has explained what the late supreme court justice Ruth Bader Ginsbug meant to him.

In 2015, the US Supreme Court ruled in favour of Jim Obergefell and other plaintiffs in Obergefell v. Hodges, declaring both that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, and that states are required to recognise marriages from elsewhere.

The victory of equality came by a vote of 5-4, with the majority opinion authored by justice Anthony Kennedy, who was joined by justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at her home on Friday evening (18 September) from complications of metastatic cancer of the pancreas, prompting an outpouring of love and praise for the equal rights champion.

Speaking with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, Obergefell described Ginsburg’s death as “a devastating loss”, and said: “All of us in the LGBT+ community, and I would also say any marginalised group in our nation, we’re reeling from the death of an advocate for equality.”

He said that the queer community felt the loss “especially painfully because she had become such an advocate for us, and she was willing to get to know us and to understand us”.

Obergefell added: “I see justice Ginsburg’s legacy as one of someone who dedicated her career and her life to our nation, for the betterment of our nation.

“She truly believed in the law applying to all people. She believed in equal justice under law, those four words inscribed in the pediment of the courthouse.

“She also understood that the constitution is a living, breathing document… She understood that that document had to change in response to changing society, in response to how we learn more, how we understand each other more as time goes by.

“So for me, her legacy is all about dignity and equality under the law, and I can’t think of a better legacy for a Supreme Court justice to have.”

Jim Obergefell is ‘very concerned’ about LGBT+ rights being ‘taken away’.

Democrats have called for a delay in replacing Ruth Bader Ginsburg, following a precedent set during the final year of Barack Obama’s presidency, when Republicans senate majority leader Mitch McConnell declared a replacement would not be approved, and that the next president would instead choose his or her pick following the election.

However on Friday (18 September), McConnell was adamant that a vote would be held on Trump’s nominee. Ted Cruz has argued that there is a different precedent for times when the White House and Senate are controlled by the same party, which wasn’t the case under Obama.

On the political firestorm over naming Ginsburg’s successor on the Supreme Court, Jim Obergefell said: “The fact that McConnell issued that statement shortly after it was announced [that Ginsburg had died], he isn’t giving her the chance to be honoured and to be remembered, and to be respected.

“It immediately became political. The country really didn’t have a chance to start mourning, to grieve for her, before he came out with that statement and turned this into a political fight, which it should not be.”

Until Ginsburg’s death, the supreme court had a 5 to 4 Republican majority. Should Trump’s nominee be appointed, this would shift to a stronger 6 to 3 conservative majority which could remain in place for decades, shaping major legal decisions in the US for years to come.

Obergefell said: “I am definitely more concerned about marriage equality, as well as other issues of equality for all marginalised groups, with Justice Ginsburg no longer on the court.

“If Trump is able to nominate and have a judge confirmed, I am very concerned about our rights being taken away and other rights being denied under a newly very conservative court.”

Honoring Ruth Bader Ginsburg: May Her Memory Be a Revolution

Honoring Ruth Bader Ginsburg: May Her Memory Be a Revolution

Her loss is a loss for our country—yet even as we mourn, we must recommit to the cause of justice that she championed.

May her memory be a revolution

In the Jewish tradition that Justice Ginsburg and I share, it is customary to say to a person who has just lost a loved one, “May her/his/their memory be a blessing.” Many on social media have quickly transformed this sentiment into a cry for the justice that RBG embodied: “May her memory be a revolution.” And while I like the clarity of that statement, even the original sentiment of “May her memory be a blessing” carries these connotations, as Molly Conway wrote yesterday in the Forward:

When we say “may her memory be for a blessing,” the blessing we speak of is not “may we remember her fondly” or “may her memory be a blessing to us.” The blessing implied is this: May you be like Ruth. Jewish thought teaches us that when a person dies, it is up to those who bear her memory to keep her goodness alive. We do this by remembering her, we do this by speaking her name, we do this by carrying on her legacy. We do this by continuing to pursue justice, righteousness, sustainability.

Phrase it as you wish; either way, though, Justice Ginsburg’s death still feels like a body blow as our country is already reeling from the depredations of the Trump administration. Our democracy’s survival, however, does not rest on the efforts of one person alone, however, no matter how strong she was. Justice Ginsburg died on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year and the start of the High Holy Days, when we reflect on our actions of the past year, make amends, and resolve to do better. Even as I mourn her, then, I hope to do more than ever to make sure her vision of equality, equity, and informed dissent continues. Let us use her passing, then, as a rallying cry to find our own strength, to renew our own efforts towards justice, and to show that her decades of work haven’t been in vain.

Here are some ideas for what we can do now, remembering her maxim that “Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time”:

  1. Vote. Register to vote if you’re not already. Check here if you’re not sure. Get an absentee ballot if you’d rather vote by mail (and do this well in advance in case of mail delays). Find your polling place if you plan to go in person. Coordinate with neighbors, relatives, and friends to help each other get there, if needed.
  2. Contact your senators and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and tell them not to hold hearings or confirm a new justice until a new president takes office. Remind them that McConnell, in denying a hearing to President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, said that justices should not be confirmed in an election year—something he has gone back on in now saying that Trump’s nominee will get a hearing.
    • Some reason to hope: We only need four Senate Republicans to join the Democrats in order to block a vote. Right now, at least four Republican senators have said they will oppose confirming a new justice before the election—that’s promising, although it would be better if the confirmation was pushed back until the new Senate is seated on January 3 (if Democrats can win a majority) or until a new president (I hope) takes office on January 20. Vox breaks this all down in more detail, if you’re interested.
  3. Help kick McConnell out of office. He’s up for reelection. You may wish to support his opponent, Amy McGrath.
  4. Support other Democratic candidates for Senate so that the Democrats will control both chambers.
  5. Get involved with nonpartisan voter outreach campaigns like Reclaim Our Vote or stay involved with LGBTQ and other social justice organizations.
  6. Help turn out Democrats in battleground states (even if you don’t live there) with ideas from this page by Vote Save America.
  7. Talk with your friends, neighbors, and relatives about why this is so important to you and what you are doing to make change. As Justice Ginsburg herself once said, “Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”