Vindictive Exits

Many thanks to all of you who posted kind comments on yesterday’s post. I really appreciated them!

And now, back to our “originally scheduled programming”!


Ever since the election, the media has been filled with stories about the ungraceful and vindictive exit of Trump Administration appointees. Confirming that administration’s utter disinterest in the common good, officials have been taking steps to make it as difficult as possible for the incoming Biden administration to function properly.

Of course, Republican moral nastiness isn’t limited to outgoing federal officials; here in Indiana, departing Attorney General/lecherous groper Curtis Hill is cementing his “Christian conservative” credentials by asking the U.S. Supreme Court to allow Indiana to strip parental rights from same-sex couples.

As Slate has reported,

On Monday, Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill asked the Supreme Court to strip same-sex couples of their equal parenting rights. He did so at the request of the court, which is considering taking up his case. Hill implored the new conservative majority to rule that states may deny married same-sex couples the right to be recognized as parents of their own children. The case gives SCOTUS an opportunity to start chipping away at Obergefell v. Hodges by allowing states to withhold marital privileges from same-sex spouses. If the majority wants to begin eroding Obergefell, they will probably start here.

As the article notes, the case– Box v. Henderson–poses a question the Supreme Court has already answered twice. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are eight married lesbian couples in Indiana who used a sperm donor to conceive. In Indiana, when a married opposite-sex couple conceives using a sperm donor, the state recognizes the birth mother’s husband as the child’s parent. When a lesbian couple does the same thing, however, Indiana refuses to list the birth mother’s wife as the child’s parent.

In both instances, the second parent has no biological connection to the child; Indiana’s decision to extend parental rights to the nonbiological husbands of birth mothers, but not the wives of birth mothers, is sheer discrimination.

Other states have read the Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges to require such recognition. Obergefell held that the Constitution requires extending marriage to same-sex couples  “on the same terms and conditions as opposite-sex couples.”

When the Arkansas Supreme Court kept a birth mother’s wife off their child’s birth certificate, SCOTUS shot it down without even bothering to hear oral arguments. In 2017’s Pavan v. Smith, the court unequivocally ruled that states must issue birth certificates on equal terms to same-sex and opposite-sex couples. It announced a rule: If a state lists a birth mother’s husband as a parent despite his lack of biological connection, it must list a birth mother’s wife as a parent, too.

When Indiana’s case went to the 7th Circuit, a unanimous panel confirmed that precedent, and held that the state must treat same-sex couples the same way it does opposite-sex couples–but there was an unexplained delay in issuing that decision. According to the Slate article, the usual time lag between argument and decision is around three months; in this case it was 32 months. If the panel had issued its decision within a typical time frame, Indiana would in all likelihood given up, since Justice Kennedy–with an admirable record on same-sex issues– hadn’t retired, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg was alive.

But the Court has been changed, and not for the better. Kavanaugh has not previously shown support for LGBTQ rights, and Ginsburg has been replaced by Amy Coney Barrett, a frightening religious zealot. There are rumors that the new court “has its knives out for Obergefell.”

Which brings us to Curtis Hill, who is so slimy and self-aggrandizing that even Indiana’s retrograde GOP refused to re-nominate him. Hill has tried to distinguish Box v. Henderson from the applicable precedents by misrepresenting state law and claiming that the case is about a state’s right to acknowledge “biological distinctions between males and females.”

According to Hill, Indiana law only presumes that a birth mother’s husband is the father of her child. A birth mother’s wife, by contrast, “is never the biological father,” so she does not deserve the presumption of parentage.

If the Supreme Court sides with Indiana, and our departing creepy Attorney General gets the satisfaction of one last “owning the libs” moment, states will be able to resume discriminating against same-sex parents and, in effect, marking same-sex marriages as second-class.

I don’t know what makes these people into the petty and vindictive creatures that they so clearly are. I probably will never understand what sort of satisfaction they get by making life difficult and unfair for people they don’t even know.

do know that we are well rid of them.


  1. One of the most upsetting Justices is Clarence Thomas who has been outspoken in his desire to undo gay marriage decisions. The Court based its decisions heavily on the Loving case which said people of different races could marry legally in the United States. Thomas is black and his wife is white. The Supreme Court is the reason they can be legally married in so many states that previously outlawed miscegenation. Yet he can’t bring himself to recognize discrimination against others including women and LGBT-Q citizens.

    Discrimination always bothers me deeply, but never more than by those who have overcome it and then deny equality to others. Thomas doesn’t honor precedent even on cases that have directly impacted him, and he has no business being on the Supreme Court.

  2. Sticking it to the other guy is a character defect some humans are possessed with, but the satisfactory feeling we get from it doesn’t stick around long. Then comes the guilt associated with being an asshole.

    Since there is nothing the GOP can do for people leadership wise, they conjure up shit like this to make their religious base feel good about themselves. If it weren’t all theater, it would be his fellow GOP’ers throwing him under the bus kind of thing. Instead, it’s an “I took one for the team.” kind of thing.

    It’s another wedge issue to keep the working class from uniting to realize that our fellow brothers and sisters aren’t our enemies. We are being played against each other through our differences.

    MLK built up a lot of power by talking about equal rights for his black brothers and sisters, but when he started learning and preaching about oppression, he discovered this big world out there where the little guys were constantly shit upon. He widened his vision to war and the economy.

    That’s when LBJ was presented with another problem.

    The GOP has been hired to undo our progress on social issues while they continue screwing us on war and the economy. Until the people come together, which will be difficult because our oppressors own our media, we will continue falling victim to divided and conquer tactics.

    Like all great truth seekers, the visionaries, all progress is people-centered. Those in power despise this the most because it is dangerous. The truth doesn’t care about political party affiliation.

  3. The current “…administration’s utter disinterest in the common good, officials have been taking steps to make it as difficult as possible for the incoming Biden administration to function properly.”

    They have also made it easy for them to just walk away from the chaotic destruction they created in their rush to destroy progress and protection of America and Americans put in place by all past administrations of both parties at local, state and federal levels. The destruction of the Republican party began a few decades ago; Trump and McConnell have the casket ready for burial; what we are seeing is the wake.

    The protective rights of all children have ended with the current administration’s separation of children from parents and losing hundreds of children in their racist system and are now concentrating on their homophobic destruction of parental rights of LGBTQs, leaving those children in limbo. Only the “pre-born” have protection under the law but no solution as to who will raise them if or when they are born. We are looking at a future of generations of Americans with no family history to pass on to their children.

    “I don’t know what makes these people into the petty and vindictive creatures that they so clearly are. I probably will never understand what sort of satisfaction they get by making life difficult and unfair for people they don’t even know.”

    Curtis Hill is among the ranks of Rudy Giuliani who have made a sham of the law at all levels.
    We will never know what makes them what they are but we are left with the massive job of finding solutions for the problems they are leaving behind as their leader continues to claim ongoing leadership with no basis other than his “squatter’s rights” for the next few weeks in our White House.

  4. Win the Senate and expand the Court to 15. It’s just another norm waiting to be smashed so smash one for the good of the people and make us a more perfect Union.

  5. “According to Hill, Indiana law only presumes that a birth mother’s husband is the father of her child. A birth mother’s wife, by contrast, “is never the biological father,” so she does not deserve the presumption of parentage.”

    The above quote brought to mind another “presumption of parentage” situation in this state. My granddaughter Jennifer died at age 24, 5 months pregnant with her 2nd child; she had a possibly fatal seizure condition which endangered her life further with the pregnancy. Jennifer’s mother, my daughter Robin, foster parented her 6 year old granddaughter for the brief time allowed by this state, then had to make the decision to adopt or place her in the foster care system with strangers. She of course opted to adopt her granddaughter, my great-granddaughter Aarionna; they did not know until the adoption proceeding that Jennifer’s name would be removed from Aarionna’s birth certificate and replaced with her grandmother’s name. This was heartbreaking for all of us; it is as if our beautiful Jennifer had never lived, had never loved her child and gave her life to try to carry her 2nd daughter to term.

    Many Indiana laws regarding children and their rights are from some past century; race, homophobia and disregarding a loving mother who gave her life for a 2nd child who died with her doesn’t even have a name for the procedure.

  6. Todd,

    I agree with virtually every part of your message today. While the platitudes come from Biden about bringing our nation together, Republicans continue to be… well, Republicans. How the hell can we heal our divides and do what’s best for the majority of people – including the long-forgotten poor – when we have corporate/banking America funding the Republicans at every level to do their self-serving interests? The sheep-like voters who keep opting against their own best interests – never mind the best interests of the country – continue to make a mockery of democracy, progress, equality and fairness.

    Winning for the sake of winning is a terminal disease.

  7. @Patrick Wiltshire – Wish that could be the case. But even if we win both Georgia Senate races, Mnuchin has already committed he’ll vote against increasing the Court. He’ll always vote with the Repubs when it counts, a true DINO.

  8. Will Boomers go down as the most disappointing generation in American history? I think the answer to my question is yes.

  9. With the Supreme Court decision blocking the State of New York from enforcing restrictions on Church gathering numbers, our current members of the Court have signaled their majority intent to rule by religion and not the law. As that majority is of the same religion, this country is fast slipping into a divide between those who believe and those who do not. This is what the loss of separation of church and state looks like and how “freedom of religion” will be lost as well.

  10. Patrick,

    The 1st thing to do if they win the Senate is not to increase the court, it would be to make the United States a 52 state Republic! Washington DC with 2 senators and Puerto Rico with 2 senators. Then, proceed to court packing. This would definitely give some leeway on Senate votes. And, if a senator like Manchin decides to play games, those extra for senators would be in insulation to a degree, and make it well-known to the West Virginia Sen. that he will be primaried at the 1st opportunity!

    Secondly, On top of that, the Congress should be able to pass competency boards to review all of these right-wing confirmed judges and, judges in general. That they would have to meet certain criteria, before they could be exonerated from investigation! That would include, voting or not voting using a religious ideology! That’s not saying they wouldn’t protect religious rights for the common man, but that they themselves would have to rule with a secularist mindset, putting aside religious dogma. If they have not been able to do that, then they would be subject to removal.

    Thirdly, there should be a readjustment or a back to the future epiphany making spreading spreading false antagonistic conspiracies as truth would be illegal in any way shape or form. Members of Congress would have to strictly abide by this back to the future epiphany or risk being censured and removed from their seat. Of course there would have to be parameters met, and the individual would have to be given a certain amount of leeway in the beginning to reverse and disavow what they have been spreading. If there is a refusal, then disciplinary action would proceed.

    This would have to take the form of a refinement concerning the First Amendment, and other words no ambiguity! The same with presidential pardons and everything else, ambiguity needs to be eliminated.

  11. Indiana is not on the right side of history. When has our state ever been on the right side of history ?

    I can only hope that the next 2 generations will move the moral arc of the universe bend toward justice.

  12. If Indiana “wins” its case, other states may or may not follow. But definitely, the Federal law needs to be changed to recognize the power of Obergfell.

  13. Hi Sheila: I wanted to respond to your previous blog yesterday concerning your 2nd retirement but Thanksgiving got in the way. I remember meeting you at an event in Pawleys Island, SC where you talked about your teaching and the wonderful students you taught over the years.

    One instruction you said you gave to your students in the beginning of a particular course was “if you learn nothing else in this course please begin the answer to my test questions with a first sentence that starts with “It all depends” or “It’s complicated”.

    I love it and have used it on my wife when she says things like “should we remodel our kitchen?” or “could you take out the trash?”. She then gives me a really weird look !

    I would echo Terry Munson’s plea for you to somehow become a part of the Build Back Better task force of the Biden team, time permitting of course. But whatever you decide, please enjoy and keep the blog alive!

  14. Hopefully the time will come when the name “Trump” will have faded into the countries history of making mistakes and then correcting them. I’m looking forward to the first entire day when that name doesn’t appear to me written or spoken.

    Until then Trump will keep his name in lights by being despicable him surrounded by all of the little despicables.

    As that change is underway the news needs to be about what Democrats are actually doing to rebuild the country preparing for the century that we are in and what we are, a democratic republican with no monarch and an electorate that staffs an evolving political leadership team with people who actually work hard for the good of all of us equally showing no preference for any of us as individuals.

    We have given the Biden/Harris team only an opportunity to demonstrate their skills. It’s easy to guess that we will be both impressed and disappointed by the results that they actually deliver. That’s always been the case but lately the disappointment have greatly outnumbered the impressive accomplishments.

    We the people said, “not good enough” to the Trump alliance and changed our leadership as the Constitution gives us the right and responsibility to do. That’s a new start.

  15. When O When are we going to accept people for what they are and accord them all the rights, privileges and immunities that “the rest of us” (who are also what we are) enjoy? What rock did Hill climb from under? So I happen to know Mayor Pete, who calls me “Dad.” I didn’t need to have a court decision to legitimize my marriage; he did, which in itself is an admission by the greater society that they have mistreated a minority among us. We need not endorse escapees from the cave like Hill in their attempts to have their own views become public policy via legislation and court decisions. Public policy should be uniform whether those affected (all of us) are straight, white, black, rich, poor, male, female etc., and the Hills of this world should be sent back to the cave from whence they came. GRRRRRR!

  16. Have same-sex married friends with minor children here in Indiana. After their children were born, the non-birth parent adopted them “legally” here in Indiana. This was before same-sex marriage was allowed in Indiana. (The couple were married out-of-state.) By this case wouldn’t Indiana undo all its adoptions by unmarried, non- biological parents/individuals? This Supreme Court case chipping away at Obergefell v. Hodges by allowing states to withhold marital privileges from same-sex spouses would be the first step to destroying marital benefits of all same sex marriages, including my own. This would be devastating. It would impact everything from ownership and property rights, estate issues, to matters involving support and health care decisions and benefits, and much more. It is wrong! It should not be allowed to happen!

  17. With a little help from his friends, couldn’t Biden, without being vitriolic, teach Republicans why showing love and empathy and patriotism forms the bedrock of a society striving to move forward? The challenge is to realign these people’s values in a way that is supportive of a civil society and a common purpose. Since they didn’t learn those attitudes in school, or somehow forgot them, we need to put forth maximum effort to re-educate them to understand that if we don’t work together we weaken our country. Until we all agree that the furtherance of our nation’s interests is in the interest of all and only works when we set aside petty differences, we will remain at a national stand still. Lincoln laid it all out more than 155 years ago in his “house divided” speech. That is the fundamental truth we all need to cherish. Otherwise, what’s the point of the American idea?

  18. The GOP in the past, present and into the future will carry out a “Scorched Earth Campaign.

    Per Wiki: A scorched-earth policy is a military strategy that aims to destroy anything that might be useful to the enemy. Any assets that could be used by the enemy may be targeted, which usually includes obvious weapons, transport vehicles, communication sites, and industrial resources. However, anything useful to the advancing enemy may be targeted, including food stores and agricultural areas and water sources.

    The GOP will use what ever is legally possible to hinder, stop or reverse what they ideologically object to.

    As Pierre Tristam writes: “As Trumpism goes, as Trumpism has always been, destruction is the strategy. The more of it the more fealty among those swarms that didn’t send him packing and that now act like modern-day flagellants, their pogroms for now limited to murdering reality.”

    “It’s about keeping the destruction going. Without it, there’s no Trumpism.”

    Tristam also writes concerning elected GOP types and those looking to make the team Trump: “Their servility is a symptom of their self-hatred: They know they’re lost at the next primary if they don’t embrace the lie. These are the same Republicans who swallowed whole Trump’s birther conspiracy–not because they believed it.”

    So do not look for the “Moderate Republicans” to reassert control of the GOP. The “Moderate Republicans” are either extinct or will be if they outwardly oppose Trumpism.

  19. birth cert,and the spouses name,though not biological.did that leave a door open for a challenge? seems the biological name would be there as a define as the blood civil or legal same sex marrage, the contract would be given rights to the couple via marriage/civil union,without regard to biological other half. if the challenge now is,the name on the birthcert has to be the unions names,then they dilibertly gave passage to a challenge..i didnt read the law, but if this opens a challenge for eroding the rights of the joined couple, then again,we have allowed the law makers to decide again. where was the discussion prior to the laws passage? did the supreme court acknowlege this,or did they dismiss this? or was it relevant?seems the need to vote further to rid us of people as law makers who see our freedoms as fair game to challenge. we need a further voice to overcome the thin air of public awareness,and get back onto a offense to challenge those who see others needs as trivial. defending is great,but the need for a offense over what we witnessed this past election, sums up the need to go offensive.. we still didnt win,we only prolonged the need. challenge a family for political gain,ya gotta be some kind of schmuck..

  20. Professor Kennedy,
    Thank you for once again spreading truth and calling Curtis Hill out for exactly what he is. My wife and I are one of the eight Indiana couples who have been fighting this for over 5 years now. We were the last couple to join the lawsuit and really threw a wrench in the state’s argument as my wife is the birth mother of my biological child. Initially the Indiana Health Department tried to tell me I had to go through a step parent adoption process and adopt my biological child. I was absolutely insulted and disgusted by that suggestion. I actually posed the question “Can’t you just give me a paternity test?” and was told no because I was a woman. I explained that I have cheeks just like men have cheeks so I didn’t understand the issue of me being a woman if they were going to do a DNA cheek swab to verify paternity … or do they do genitalia checks also while doing paternity tests on a regular basis?! The answer was “silence” by the health department rep. Hill’s arguments are discriminatory in every way and honestly I don’t understand what his end game is here? What’s his next step? There has to be something besides just “sticking it to the libs” no?! I’m waiting for the true motivation to reveal itself for someone who has no skin in the game. The simple solution is a verbiage change or addition of the word “parent” to the Indiana birth certificate questionnaire form. After Judge Walton Pratt found in our favor in 2016, I practically strutted into the health department with the court order which simply states we are the “parents” of our daughter. We have won not once but twice against Hill’s ridiculous motivations and have hope this will end. There’s always hope as we all fought this not only for ourselves but in hopes other couples in our situation wouldn’t and shakil to have to. We are so grateful to all the attorneys who have invested their time in this, particularly Karen Celestino-Horseman who has worked tirelessly. Professor Kennedy, your insight is invaluable and while I wish you the best in stepping away from teaching, your heart filled knowledge will be missed. I attended several of your lectures in the early 00’s and have remained a huge fan of you since. Best to you and yours this holiday season.


    Jackie Phillips-Stackman

  21. Curtis Hill sounds like one of those folks who seems to believe they have been appointed by god to make sure everyone follows “the rules”. “The rules” seem to be a buffet-pick of loosely interpreted prescriptions in Leviticus. There is no dealing with these folks rationally; they are irrational. They will tell you they are “Christians” and yet they never remember Christ’s admonition to “Judge not . . . .” I’m guessing their lives are pretty empty and meaningless unless they rallying “against” someone or something.
    Kudos to Ms. Phillips-Stackman, et al, for their willingness and courage to stand up for what’s right and rational. (Love the suggestion about the cheek swab!) There are many of us out there who hope you win, hands down! Stay strong!

  22. According to the late Judge Charles Deiter of the Marion County Probate Court “families are made in more than one way”. And he was all in favor of same-sex marriage/adoptions.

  23. I should have noted that I’m referring to the public colloquial use of free speech, not the real definition that only abridges government from suppressing or preferring a person’s speech.

    Consider Ivanka posing with Goya Beans in the white house. The public reaction was swift. The WH reaction was:

    “Only the media and the cancel culture movement would criticize Ivanka for showing her personal support for a company that has been unfairly mocked, boycotted and ridiculed for supporting this administration…”

    A private citizen can make the statement above. (And then I’d tell them they were being stupid, and why. 🙂 The government cannot.

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