Saturday, July 4, 2015

Long Road to Victory, Part II

Part II: The Democrats Evolve

Happy Independence Day! It's Smackback Saturday here at Bergetoons, and we're reviewing the history of the debate over same-sex marriage. (Part I was this past Wednesday.)

Republicans had no problem forcefully proclaiming that they were four-square against marriage equality from the start, but the issue posed more of a dilemma for Democrats. Gays and lesbians had been shoring up their status within the Democratic party for many years by the time the issue came to prominence; but same-sex marriage did not poll well in the 1990's.

Defense/Definition of Marriage Acts (DOMAs) swept into law across the country; many states passed these as amendments to their constitutions in order to prevent the legal challenges that nearly brought marriage equality to Hawai'i. Fearful for their electoral careers, Democrats went along with this antigay tidal wave. As far as Republicans were concerned, it didn't hurt that these ballot measures brought their right-wing Christian soldiers to the polls in droves.

Having used the issue to electoral benefit in 2002, 2004, and off-year elections, Republicans kept pushing a federal constitutional amendment to limit marriages to one man and one woman This from 2002...

And this from 2004...

In an attempt at compromise, some pro-gay Democrats offered lesbians and gays legal arrangements that were sort of like marriage, but not quite. The state of Vermont was first to pass a Civil Union registry, which made its governor, Howard Dean, a darling to some LGBT Democrats.

"Civil Unions" and "Domestic Partnerships" allowed Democrats to offer some support to gay and lesbian couples while still holding out some hope of not being tarred and feathered in the next election as "destroying the Family." As we'll see in another installment of this series, the religious right and their political allies really had no interest in yielding a millimeter.

Lest we forget, during both of his campaigns for president, Barack Obama was reluctant to voice any support for marriage equality, in spite of a sterling record on other LGBT issues (and in spite of having indicated his "unequivocal" support in a candidate questionnaire for a Chicago LGBT newspaper back when he ran for the Illinois State Senate in 1996). I drew this cartoon in 2011, when he visited the Human Rights Campaign to tout his administration's record.

That changed -- but that's a topic for another day.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Q Toon: Gettin' Jiggery-Pokery With It

When I read Jen Sorensen's email about drawing a cartoon for Fusion about the Supreme Court's decision for marriage equality in Obergefell v. Hodges, I only had time to draw one cartoon before her deadline and Q Syndicate's. (My drawing LGBT-themed cartoons for anyone other than Q Syndicate is also something of a contractual issue.) Had my time and my relationship with my editors been freer, I could easily have made two separate cartoons out of this one:
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✑Jul 2, 2015

The idea on the left side of the cartoon is essentially a follow-up to the cartoon I drew last October illustrating Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s quotation about the arc of history bending toward justice. In an early sketch of this week's cartoon, the dissenting justices on the right side of the drawing were sitting on a porch in rocking chairs, shaking their fists at nothing in particular; no rainbow, no pot of gold wedding bands.

Now, I could argue that the rainbow clarifies what the topic of the cartoon is. The Supremes issued major rulings one on top of another last week, and people could get confused. (Heck, some people are sure to get confused. Chip Bok drew a cartoon yesterday about Justice Roberts's Obamacare ruling, and no small number of the commenters at GoComics thought it was somehow about marriage equality instead.)

I did, after all, include Justice Scalia's "jiggery-pokery" epithet in my cartoon, even though it came not from his Obergefell dissent but from his fulmination against Chief Justice Roberts's King v. Burwell opinion. I did try to find some equally obscure contumely in Scalia's Obergefell dissent to use instead, but Scalia had apparently misplaced his English-to-Flobbadob dictionary when writing it and settled for "Go ask a hippie."

By the way, when researching what I wanted to say in this blog entry, I looked up the dissenting opinions in the court's 1967 Loving v. Virginia case, which ruled unconstitutional state laws prohibiting interracial marriage. I couldn't find any, because there were none. That court's ruling was unanimous.

Judging from the four, count 'em, four dissenting opinions in Obergefell, I'd be willing to bet that there would have been a dissenting opinion in Loving had Roberts, Scalia, Thomas or Alito traveled back in time to sit on the high court in 1967.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Long Road to Overnight Victory, Part I

My cartoon for this week is included in an LGBT cartoonist round-up over at Fusion -- you can check it and seven others out now, or wait for me to post it tomorrow.

Looking at the other cartoonists' submissions, I wish that I had found something more personal to say. I can blame a combination of a hectic schedule and some unpleasant prepping for a medical procedure (it turns out I'm healthy); but the fact is, I've been drawing about marriage equality for so long, I don't know how much more I could possibly find to say about it.

I've drawn so many cartoons about it, in fact, that I wasn't able to winnow them down to fit in a single blog entry.

I wasn't drawing cartoons in 1972 when Baker v. Nelson came before the Minnesota Supreme Court; but in 1996, I was drawing cartoons for InStep, one of  two LGBT newspapers in Milwaukee, when a circuit court judge in Hawai'i ruled that state's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

Judge Kevin S.C. Chang's ruling in Baehr. v. Miike would be overturned by Hawai'i voters, but not before giving LGBT marriage advocates hope, and antigay activists a fund-raising and vote-getting bonanza. Legislators in Hawai'i and just about every other state, as well as the U.S. Congress, rushed to define "marriage" as a special rite that could only be entered into by one man and one woman.

Very well, replied some LGBT activists and liberal allies. If we can't get "married," how about if we call it something else?

Fine. We're in a "committed relationship." We've even had a "commitment ceremony." But what do I call you? My "committee"?

Another term to come down the pike was "domestic partnership"; one could at least refer to the other as "partner." Like dancers, law firms, and bridge players have.

As if there weren't already enough euphemisms for "marriage lite," I had to offer one of my own:

We'll continue this retrospective on marriage equality on Stepback Saturday, starting with "Evolution of the Democrats."

Monday, June 29, 2015

This Week's Sneak Peek

You might have caught this story in the news this week.

I might show up on this week -- it's a venture between Yahoo! and ABC that I hadn't heard of before. If I do show up there, it will be through the "Graphic Culture" link under the "More" tab.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Postwar World: Womenfolk and Tech

It has been a month since Swoopback Saturday has leafed through A Bird's Eye View of the Postwar World, so here we go. We were discussing postwar predictions for the fairer sex, some of which were little more than flimsy excuses to draw some cheesecake.
But of more interest (to me, anyway) are when the cartoonists let their imaginations run wild predicting a world of amazing gadgets, time- and labor-saving devices, and changes to everyday life.

You will probably have to click on this picture to be able to read George Shellhases's flights of fancy, since I didn't separate them out into separate graphics:

Friday, June 26, 2015

Marriage Equality Flashback

In celebration of today's Supreme Court ruling extending marriage equality to all fifty states -- and the separate dissents by each and every one of the justices in the minority, here's a cartoon from last year. 
Chief Justice Roberts wasn't in this cartoon, but I have a sneaking feeling he'll join this hapless trio in next week's cartoon.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Q Toon: Terms of Enragement

Given how the assassination of nine Black Americans in Charleston, South Carolina's Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church during a Bible study last Wednesday night has dominated the news in the U.S. this week, my Q Syndicate cartoon this week is only very tangential to LGBT issues.
Paul Berge
Q Syndicate
✍Jun 25, 2015

This weekend on NPR's On the Media, Brooke Gladstone noted what she called the media's rules for different races when it comes to mass murder:
"If [Dylann] Roof were Muslim, he would have been identified swiftly and universally as a 'terrorist.' Reporters would focus on his 'recruiters,' which in his case could be a multitude of white supremacist web sites, or one of the many hate groups that exist legally in his own state. But when the suspect is white, he's an 'aberration,' immediately furnished with a name, a family, a history, and a diagnosis. Whereas a black suspect, for instance, accused of far less or nothing, more often is displayed as a nameless emblem of a social disease."
In the days since, The Guardian of Great Britain led American media in unmasking the Council of Conservative Citizens as Roof's on-line recruiter. Digging further, American media found that the head of the CCC, Earl Holt III, has donated thousands of dollars to Republicans over the years (including Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, Senator Ron Johnson, and Representative Paul Ryan); Ted Cruz, Rand Paul and Rick Santorum are among the presidential candidates now stumbling all over themselves to turn away that cash.

Well, who could have known that an organization sharing its acronym with the Coo Clucks Clan would be a bunch of racists? Besides the Southern Poverty Law Center, that is.

And while Republicans have been hastily disavowing Roof's recruiter, Walmart, Amazon, Target and even the state of Alabama have taken the rebel battle flag off their shelves and flagpoles. Anything to keep the subject away from gun control, I suppose. Minneapolis might even rename Lake Calhoun.

I do so hope that Roof is being kept up to date with these developments in the Race War he wanted to spark.