Noted in passing 2017 May 18

Acceptance of same-sex marriage continues to grow

In non-news, According to Gallup, 64 percent of Americans surveyed now agree that same-sex marriages should be recognized by law a valid, with same rights as traditional mixed-sex marriages. Only 34 percent disagree. Just 10 years ago there was 53-40 percent opposition, and in 1997 Americans were overwhelmingly opposed, 68-27.

One reason for the latest development in public opinion on the matter, I suspect, is the fact that dire warnings from gay marriage opponents have proven so obviously false. Same-sex marriage is now routine, and nothing bad has happened as a result. A tiny handful number of business owners who refused to do business with same-sex couples got into minor legal trouble in states whose civil rights laws include sexual orientation, but apparently the overwhelming majority were content to make more money. In North Carolina the law allows state officials opposed to same-sex marriages to opt out of performing weddings or issuing marriage licenses (provided others can fill in), but almost no one has taken advantage of it. A county clerk in Kentucky stopped issuing of all marriages licenses lest some go to gay couples but she relented after some time in jail for breaking the law. There was some similar noise in Alabama but it likewise evaporated.

The 2016 Republican Party platform recites the usual rote about the importance of traditional monogamous mixed-sex marriage (which nobody objects to and is not the least bit affected by same-sex marriage), and in an over-the-top rant attacks the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v Hodges that legalized same-sex marriage in a way that would logically also condemn Loving v Virginia, the case that legalized mixed-race marriage), but interestingly the platform doesn’t actually call for reversing the decision to make same-sex marriage legal again. It’s just an empty tirade to make extremists happy.

Trump’s staffers print out Internet news for him, some of it fake

Politico reported Monday that Trump’s staff surfs the web for him and prints out articles for him to read, sometimes not bothering to check them for credibility. For example, deputy national security advisor K.T. McFarland gave him a printout showing what were supposed to be two Time magazine covers, a recent one about surviving global warming and one supposedly from the 1970s warning about a coming ice age. The ice age one was of course a fake created by doctoring a real Time cover from a few years back that was actually about global warming. According to Politico, it reached the point that chief of staff Reince Priebus had to warn the staff about passing on potentially embarrassing fake news. In at least some cases, the article suggests, staffers knowingly pass on fake stories “to gain an edge in the seemingly endless Game of Thrones inside the West Wing.”

Voter ID laws disenfranchise large numbers in Wisconsin

Advocates of voter ID laws insist they’re needed to stop people from impersonating voters and thereby cast extra ballots. But there’s a lot of evidence that voter impersonation is very rare, not least because other types of election fraud are easier and cheaper and more effective, and even if voter impersonation fraud were practical it would not be hard for a bad guy to get a fake ID plenty good enough to fool most poll workers. So the real practical effect of voter ID laws is to disenfranchise legitimate voters who for some reason don’t have a voter ID of the required type. As the Associated Press points out in this article, in Wisconsin alone a voter ID law has left as many as 300,000 citizens unable to vote. If you’re thinking those people should just get go get an ID, read the article and find out why it’s not as easy as you might think.

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