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Idaho's defending its ban on gay marriage with this utterly baffling mixed metaphor

Even Idaho Governor Butch Otter (R-ID) is baffled by this one.
Even Idaho Governor Butch Otter (R-ID) is baffled by this one.
Scott Olson/Getty Images
Dylan Matthews is a senior correspondent and head writer for Vox's Future Perfect section and has worked at Vox since 2014. He is particularly interested in global health and pandemic prevention, anti-poverty efforts, economic policy and theory, and conflicts about the right way to do philanthropy.

This sentence, from a brief filed by the state of Idaho in a bid to defend its same-sex marriage ban in court, is just extraordinary:

What the brief appears to be attempting to say is that the Supreme Court decision to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act in United States v. Windsor was premised on a claim that honoring some state marriages and not others constituted unconstitutional discrimination between the states, rather than unconstitutional discrimination between people on the basis of sexual orientation. This strikes me as a uncommonly obtuse reading of the the ruling, which goes on at great length at the harm DOMA caused to same-sex couples and their children. But whatever your view on the jurisprudential matter at hand, the metaphor mixing going on here is absurd. It may not be the worst mixed metaphor ever* but it's a contender.

The case in question, Latta v. Otter, is one of many same-sex marriage cases currently making their way through the federal courts. A district court ruled, as have many others across the country, that the ban was unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment's equal protection and due process clauses. The case is now pending in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where the sides are beginning to file briefs; the defendants started, followed by a response by the plaintiffs, and then another set of defendant replies. The quote above is from one of the latter briefs, filed by the state of Idaho and Ada County Clerk Chris Rich; Rich is also a target of the lawsuit, as his office is responsible for issuing marriage licenses in the Ada County, which includes Boise, where all the couples suing live.

Thanks to Ben Dreyfuss for the pointer.

* The Economist has a good contender in this line from Philip Mirowski's Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste: "Yet the nightmare cast its shroud in the guise of a contagion of a deer-in-the-headlights paralysis."

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