how we construct the “other” as the biased ones

After Judge Walker’s decision that Proposition 8 in California is unconstitutional, the rumors have begun: Is he gay? For instance, here’s a clip from CNN (via Pam’s House Blend):

On PHB, Pam Spaulding asks, “In what universe is the sexual orientation of any judge relevant to ANY case?” A justified question. Of course, it doesn’t matter. What matters is how a judge interprets the constitution, evidence, law, and case precedent.

But what matters in a heterosexist society is that “gay” or “homosexual” is painted as the interested party, and that heterosexual is painted as the objective party — or, more accurately, assumed to be objective because it doesn’t have to be “painted” that way. Not that other issues of difference are “the same,” but we can see a similar response when Sotomayor was going through hearings with Congress: her race mattered. Especially when she mentioned that she would have different experiences with which to interpret cases than others, despite the fact that, if I’m remembering accurately, Alito had said something similar about his own experiences: they mattered in his interpretation. But the fundamental difference, in our cultural imagination, is how close to the center, how privileged, someone is. Someone who is not White, or someone who is not straight, must have an interested opinion, an agenda, a bias of some sort. Straight white men are the ones who can be impartial (excepting, of course, the frequent, almost ubiquitous, accusations of “liberal bias” or “conservative bias”).

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