The Awards continue (Part I is here)….
Most Important Ethical Act of the Year:
The US Supreme Court’s Decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in which the Supreme Court considered whether states had to recognize a right to same-sex marriages, and narrowly decided that they must. The prejudice against homosexuality is ancient, deep, and complex, mixed up in confounding ways with morality and religion, and deeply divisive. Nonetheless, I felt that the opinion should have been unanimous; it’s a shame that it was not, but in the end, this will not matter. The result was preordained from the moment gays began coming out of the shadows and asserting their humanity and human rights. Since the Stonewall riot, the nation and the culture has learned a great deal about the number of talented and productive gay men and women in our society and our history, the pain, ostracizing, discrimination and mistreatment they have suffered, and the falseness of the myths and fears that lead to this suffering. In the end, as Clarence Darrow said about blacks, it is human beings, not law, that will make gays equal. No topic immediately causes such emotional and intense debate, on this blog or in society, as this one, but the Supreme Court’s decision is a major step toward changing the ethical culture, by asserting that gay men and women have the same rights, in the eyes of the state, to marry those they love and want to build a life with, and by implication, that the beliefs of any religion regarding them or their marriages cannot eliminate that right.
Outstanding Ethical Leadership
Senator Rand Paul. I am neither a Rand Paul supporter, nor an admirer, nor a fan. However, his June filibuster-like Senate speech against National Security Agency counter-terrorism surveillance was a brave, principled, important act, and a great public service. The point Paul made needs to be made again, and again, and again: there is no reason to trust the NSA, and no reason to trust the current federal government either. The fact that on security matters we have no real choice is frightening and disheartening, but nevertheless, no American should be comfortable with his or her private communications, activities and other personal matters being tracked by the NSA, which has proven itself incompetent, dishonest, an untrustworthy.