Equality moved a step closer for gays and lesbians on Thursday when a conservative judge ruled in favor of same-sex marriage.

Judge Dennis Jacobs is the chief judge of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

George Bush I appointed him, and Jacobs is known as one of the most conservative judges on the court.

The case involved the lesbian couple, Edith Windsor and Thea Spyer, who had been together for forty-four years and who married in Toronto in 2007. When Spyer died two years later, Windsor had to shell out $300,000 in estate taxes that she would not have owed if her spouse had been a man.

Judge Jacobs ruled that this discrimination was unconstitutional because it violated the equal protection clause.

Jacobs also ruled that laws that discriminate against gays and lesbians require “heightened scrutiny” to pass muster.

In this case, the law against same-sex marriage did not clear that hurdle because the ban was “not related to an important government interest.”

He is absolutely right about that. The ban is a relic of a religious doctrine, and there is no important government interest in preventing women from marrying women or men from marrying men. All the arguments that have been adduced—about “the sanctity of the family,” about marriage as a procreative institution, about the well-being of children in a same-sex marriage—have been proven to be meritless.

Judge Jacobs also correctly pointed out that “homosexuals are not in a position to adequately protect themselves from the discriminatory wishes of the majoritarian public.”

That’s why we have laws, rights, and an independent judiciary: to protect people from the tyranny of the majority.

This decision will stand as a landmark along the road to full equality for gays and lesbians. That road is getting shorter by the day.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story “Romney in Denial about Lethal Lack of Health Insurance."

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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