Friday, May 25, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Victory for marriage equality

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected federal discrimination against gay and lesbian couples in a landmark ruling Wednesday, recognizing that all marriages are deserving of dignity, equal benefits and legal protection. The ruling is a major victory for Americans who have been seeking equal treatment through a movement launched more than 40 years ago in response to violence, police harassment and endemic discrimination. It has often taken too long, but this nation always has expanded to embrace excluded groups, and this is another uplifting example.

As more states grant gays and lesbians the right to marry and the array of benefits that flow from that institution, Florida's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage will be an even larger barrier to the state's growth and economic development. The ruling serves as notice that Florida voters need to lift the ban rather than wait for a court to require it.

Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority ruling, joined by the court's four liberals, is a clear-eyed recognition of the legal, cultural and practical importance of marriage equality in states that have approved same-sex marriage. It lays the groundwork for an even broader acknowledgement of that right in years to come (which Justice Antonin Scalia groused about in an angry dissent). But the opinion in U.S. vs. Windsor is a careful one, cognizant of its place in the historical arc in which, until 2012, same-sex marriage supporters lost every popular vote. The ruling sits safely within American public opinion that supports same-sex marriage but wants the states to determine its legality.

By striking down the part of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that prevents the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriages, federal law will now treat same-sex marriages the same as traditional marriages in the 13 states and District of Columbia where they are legal or about to be. State laws and constitutions that bar same-sex marriage, like those in Florida, will remain standing. Kennedy's ruling defers to states on value judgments over who may marry.

But as more states legalize same-sex marriage, and six have done so in the last year, Florida's continuing rejection of it will put the state at a competitive disadvantage. More than 200 companies weighed in on the DOMA case on the side of marriage equality. Major corporations such as Apple, Nike, Google and Citigroup said it is in their business interests that all their married employees be treated the same. Increasingly when Gov. Rick Scott tries to lure large companies to Florida, the state's policy of discrimination will be a major sticking point.

To read Kennedy's opinion is to appreciate the U.S. Constitution that breathes life into modern conceptions of right and wrong. Kennedy's decision is grounded in the liberty guarantees of the Constitution's due process clause, a rarely invoked right. He says Congress cannot pass laws that have as their prime function denying dignity to a class of people, in this case persons in lawful same-sex marriages. Kennedy rejects "second-class marriages," where one type of state-sanctioned marriage is federally recognized and another type is not, saying they demean couples and humiliate their children for no justifiable purpose. As practical matters, Kennedy identifies some of the myriad federal benefits that married gay and lesbian couples are denied under DOMA, including Social Security, housing, veterans' benefits and tax advantages.

The riots at Stonewall took place 44 years ago this month, sparking a demand that the law recognize the most basic rights of gays and lesbians to dignity and personhood. It is the same plea that African-Americans, ethnic minorities and women have made. Now, finally, the Supreme Court has answered them all.

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Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

Editorial: Filling Rocky Point lagoon to build townhomes is an empty-headed idea

One of the worst ideas in a long time in the field of urban planning received a blessing this month when the Hillsborough County City-County Planning Commission approved a land-use change for a project that calls for filling three acres of water insi...
Published: 05/25/18
Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Editorial: Trump right to cancel North Korea talks on nuclear weapons

Regardless of the reason, the cancellation of the U.S.-North Korea summit to address Pyonyang’s nuclear program is hardly the worst possible outcome of this high-stakes diplomatic gamble. President Donald Trump was unprepared, North Korea’s Kim Jong ...
Updated: 7 hours ago

NFL kneels before the altar of profits

The owners of the 32 National Football League teams sent a wrongheaded and, frankly, un-American message to their players Wednesday: Expressing your opinion during the national anthem is no longer permitted."A club will be fined by the League if its ...
Published: 05/24/18
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Published: 05/23/18
Updated: 05/24/18

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

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Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
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Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18