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Yay for Connecticut! - Mo's Journal
October 10th, 2008
12:07 pm

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Yay for Connecticut!

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From:sabra_n
Date:October 10th, 2008 05:37 pm (UTC)
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Because having the right laws isn't enough; you need to change people's minds*. Legislative change takes for-freaking-ever, but it does mean sticking your issue out in the public forum over and over and over again, year after year, and eventually that gets through to people. I think court decisions are good for instigating this kind of public discussion, but not at ending it. The change-through-litigation model isn't enough.

*I read an article (admittedly from about 8 years ago) about how New Zealand has, theoretically, some of the most progressive gay rights statutes out there, but almost no out-there gay culture in comparison to the U.S.- people there stayed closeted and scared. Those laws passed without discussion or comment, so they passed the people who live them right by.
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From:mofic
Date:October 10th, 2008 08:10 pm (UTC)
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Sometimes it's changing the law through the courts that causes people to change their minds. It certainly worked that way with Loving v Virginia....
From:sabra_n
Date:October 10th, 2008 10:31 pm (UTC)
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Maybe; I don't know enough about that case to say. But did the Loving case come before many or most states got rid of their anti-miscegenation laws due to popular demand, or after? Because if it's the latter I think my point stands- legislative change is more likely to do the grinding work of winning hearts and minds.

I'm thinking of Brown v. Board of Education. That was a decision made when a lot people were just not ready. It wasn't wrongly decided, of course, but it sure as hell didn't change people's minds. Resistance to school integration was massive and violent. What that did do was bring racism and civil rights to the forefront of the national conversation, which got people's attention and gave fuel to the slower work of legislative and social reform. Which is why the Civil Rights Act of 1964 wasn't greeted with nearly as much animus- it took over a decade, but a lot more minds were changed by then.

Court decisions are the spark plug; lobbyists and protesters are all the widgets that actually make the engine of social reform run, IMO. It's how we get from Bowers v. Hardwick to Lawrence v. Texas without inciting riots, and make sure that the laws we draft are ones people actually want to follow.
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From:mofic
Date:October 11th, 2008 02:11 am (UTC)
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You see, I think just the opposite lesson is learned from Brown, that it was necessary to have the court decision in order to change people's minds. And that was the hope with Hardwick - that there would be huge resistance, of course, to revocation of sodomy laws, but eventually people's minds would be changed. Only it didn't get decided the way we thought it would.

Roe got decided the way you suggest - after the majority of USAmericans believed women should decide on their own whether to continue a pregnancy. And it hasn't exactly worked out that that made it free of post-decision controversy.

I don't think there's a right way or a less contentious way to gain civil rights. It always happens with struggle and we need all three branches involved.

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