Every several years or so, perhaps every decade or so, a work of art captures my emotions and imagination, and sticks in my memory, even though it may be several years between viewings – assuming I ever see the original of the work at all. One such is Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party; another is Rembrandt’s Slaughtered Ox; another, Picasso’s Guernica; still another, Edouard Manet’s The Old Musician. I have never seen the originals of the Rembrandt and the Picasso. I know them only from reproductions. But they haunt me. I recently discovered another such image while visiting the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, DC: Patricia Cronin’s Memorial to a Marriage (hereafter Memorial ).
Memorial is a bronze sculpture, cast from a marble original, depicting two women lovers,
I have a lot of friends who are immigrants, many of whom are Muslim, and an at-least-equal number of friends who are native-born Americans (several of whom are also Muslim). Among many in both groups are people who express confidence in the US Constitution to serve as a bulwark against any abuse or deprivation of civil rights and constitutional liberties on the part of the new Administration. Without exception, they have an almost religious reverence for the Constitution as the secular equivalent of Martin Luther’s “mighty fortress”. As someone who also reveres the Constitution – a secular faith I came to rather late in life -- and who shares that almost-religious regard for the Document, I have no wish to disabuse them of this attitude. But I want their reverence to be a historical
Mark Twain is supposed to have said “History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes”, though the exact source of this Twain-ism is surprisingly elusive. But even if he did not say it, he should have. Or someone should have. The rhyming of history is especially evident, given the proliferation of State-level religious-freedom restoration acts (RFRA) protecting individuals and businesses from criminal and civil penalties for discrimination against LGBTQ -- specifically, though not exclusively, transgender -- people in commercial transactions. The most obvious question that gets begged is why States are expending this much effort in light of the requirements of, for example, Title II of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Unfortunately, Title II of the Federal law is altogether “porous” in