France Legalizes Marriage Equality

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France has become the 14th country to legally recognize same sex marriages. After bitter debate, public protests and numerous violent acts against gays, the French Government finalized the law allowing gay marriage as well as gay adoption. The vote was 331-225 in favor.

Marriages will start in June. The the full AP article here

Marriage News Watch 4-15-16

Marriage News Watch from the American Foundation for Equal Rights (AFER)

Video: First Traditional African Wedding for Gay Couple

History making gay couple wed in traditional African wedding.  I love how accepting the guests and family are.  Best of luck to the handsome husbands!

A Condensed (and hilarious) Version of the SCOTUS Arguments on Prop 8

SCOTUS

Don’t have the time to read the full transcripts of the SCOTUS Prop 8 oral arguments?  You’re in luck.  Courtney Milan has made a “Truncated Transcript”.  It is very funny helps us read between the lines of Tuesday’s historic event.

Among my favorites:

BREYER: I’m going to ask you an extremely long question riddled with nonspecific nouns, and you’re going to have to guess what I mean by it.

COOPER: I’m pretty sure the answer is no? But let’s stop talking about whether I should be allowed to talk, and get on to what I’m going to be talking about. Which is: nostalgia. Nostalgia for the good old days of traditional, bedrock values. Man, back in 1971, this Court said there was no federal question as to same-sex marriage. Those were the fuckingdays.

GINSBURG: The Supreme Court hadn’t even recognized gender-based classifications then.

COOPER: Are you harshing on my nostalgia?

FANTASY GINSBURG: I was alive back then, and trust me, I am not feeling particularly nostalgic for the time.

And…

COOPER: Traditional bedrock of society. Let me say the words traditional and bedrock a couple more times. It’s really all about the tradition. And the nostalgia. The tradition of marriage is one of rearing children together, you know. And we don’t want to disrupt society by making marriage about anything else, like love or affection between two adults.

SCALIA: Tell me, Counsel. Gay marriage: Bad for children, or the worst for children?

COOPER: We really don’t know. Gay marriage is so new. We have no evidence. It could be that gay marriage will cause aliens to descend on this planet and eat the flesh of all children under the age of sixteen. Or maybe not. We just don’t know. We have to think of the children.

KENNEDY: This is extremely persuasive to me.

The whole thing is here and definitely worth your time.

 

How Did We Get Here? DOMA’s Journey to the SCOTUS

DOMA/s Journey

 

via United for Marriage

American Academy of Pediatrics Endorses Same Sex Marriage

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Just days before the Supreme Court of the United States is set to hear arguments regarding same sex marriages, a prominent group of Amercian pediatricians has released a report supporting same sex unions. The report, published on the American Academy of Pediatrics website today, sites research that:

“Parents’ sexual orientation has no effect on a child’s development. Kids fare just as well in gay or straight families when they are nurturing and financially and emotionally stable.”

The policy also cites statistics that say more than 2 million children are being reared in same sex households, many of whom do now live in states that allow gays to marry.

The timing of the release is important. According to the Academy’s president, Dr. Thomas McInterney, “We wanted that policy statement available for the justices to review.”

The Academy has previously supported same sex parents in statements and briefs filed to the SCOTUS.

I can’t wait to hear the bigot’s react!

 

Read the policy statement here
 

Watch: Hillary Clinton for Marriage Equality

Hilary Clinton stands for Marriage Equality for LGBT Americans.

(from HRC)

Bill Clinton for Marriage Equality

In the most recent video, Bill Clinton for Marriage Equality, from Marriage News Watch, we learn that not only is the former president for gay rights but that in addition to forward movement for Colorado’s civil unions, there are several favorable polls for marriage equality in key political states.

See more videos from Marriage News Watch here.

UFC Fighter Supports Marriage Equality

Pro Football Players Chris Kluwe of the Minnesota Vikings, and Brendon Ayanbadejo of the Baltimore Ravens signed a brief to the Supreme court last month supporting marriage equality for gays and lesbians.  This week, Outsports reports that a UFC fighter,  ”Suga” Rashad Evans has signed on as well.  This is big news.

The UFC is an ultra- macho organization that has been sited as homophobic in the past.  That seems to be changing.  In January, UFC President, who had previously been criticized for using anti gay slurs, said ”If you’re an athlete in the UFC and you are gay, I could care less. You will not be treated any different.”  Also, Liz Caramouche, a female rising star in the  UFC, came out as a lesbian last year.

And now Evans has added his support.  The light-heavyweight fighter told Outsports:

“I’ve never been a homophobe, never understood what that is all about. I knew some people who were gay and never cared about their sexuality. But at the same time, I didn’t fully understand the issues around gay people until my friend BA started telling me about his full public support for gay marriage. We talked about the issue and I decided its not enough to not be against a minority, if you want things to go better for them you have to speak up with them.

I’m a UFC fighter, a macho-type sport. I am a heterosexual guy in a tough macho sport, which is exactly the reason I feel a duty to say I support gay marriage and gay rights.

“I have nothing to gain personally from supporting this issue, and that’s the point. Society as a whole is better when there is equality, and I want to live in a country where everyone has the same rights because we all benefit from that.

“What people overlook is that is isn’t a sex issue, its a love issue. There’s no justifiable reason for trying to get in the way of two people who love each other.

“I have kids. I don’t want them growing up in a society where they, or their friends, could be second class citizens based on which person they fall in love with or who they want to be happy with.”

It seems macho-type athletes aren’t as concerned as they once were about supporting gay rights.  Let’s hope this amazing support from these men spurs others to step forward.

Read the full article here.

DOMA Digest

I follow gay rights news.  I have to.  I am married to a man.  Because of that, there is so much denied to us as a couple.  There are over 1500 rights we don’t have that straight couples do.  Some are annoying, like hospital visitation.  For us, in our state, we need to sign a form requesting that our husband is our “relative” that can make decisions.  Some rights cost us more money than straight couples.  We cannot file taxes as a married couple.  I cannot claim my husband as a dependent, even though he is a student and I am funding his schooling (which is triple the cost of residence – more on that later).  I can’t add him to my insurance plan, so we need to pay for two separate policies.  If I die, he is not entitled to spousal benefits and inheritance laws.  Some laws affect us very deeply.  My husband Canadian, and because of our discriminatory laws, I cannot sponsor him for residency here – so when his student visa expires in a few years, we have some very tough decisions to make.

Most of our problems stem from a law named the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA.  DOMA is on our minds very frequently, as it is a lot of gay couples in our situation.  But in talking with friends and family, I realize that not everyone is as aware of DOMA as we are.  Even some gay friends are either totally unaware or grossly uneducated about this horrid law. I thought I would go through and give an overview of DOMA and where it stands now.

What is DOMA

DOMA was a law passed with bitarisan support in 1996.  It was signed into law that year by President Bill Clinton.  DOMA states, in summary:

Defense of Marriage Act – Amends the Federal judicial code to provide that no State, territory, or possession of the United States or Indian tribe shall be required to give effect to any marriage between persons of the same sex under the laws of any other such jurisdiction or to any right or claim arising from such relationship. Establishes a Federal definition of: (1) “marriage” as only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife; and (2) “spouse” as only a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or wife. (source)

In effect, it means that even if you allowed to marry in your state, or in another country, that marriage does not need to be recognized by other states, and that there is no federal recognition of your marriage.

Same Sex Marriage

The first state to allow gay couples to get married was Massachusetts in 2004.  Since then the list has grown to include Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Maine, Maryland,  New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Washington.  California allowed gays to wed for a short time in 2008, after the CA Supreme Court ruled that a law barring same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.  That year, voters in the state approved Proposition 8, defining marriage as between one man and one woman.  The details and fate of Prop 8 is a long story, but in terms of state recognition of marriage, CA does recognize the more than 18,000 couples that were legally married there between May and Nov, 2008.

There are several state that offer civil unions – that is a marriage like status with most of the same rights married couples receive in those states (but again, no federal recognition).  They are New Jersey, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois and Rhode Island.  Domestic Partnerships are a third tier of state recognition, and they are recognized in California, Nevada and Wisconsin.  Other states, counties and cities offer a variety of registries for same sex couples that offer a handful of rights.

Repeal of DOMA

There is currently a bill, the Respect for Marriage Act (RMA) being introduced in congress.  The bill repeals doma, and according to the Human Rights Campaign:

…restores the rights of all lawfully married couples—including same-sex couples—to receive the benefits of marriage under federal law.  The bill also provides same-sex couples with certainty that federal benefits and protections would flow from a valid marriage celebrated in a state where such marriages are legal, even if a couple moves or travels to another state.

In a Republican lead House of Representatives, the bill has little chance of passage.

Court Challenges

There have been numerous challenges to DOMA’s constitutionality.  Most recently, challenges have focused on section 3 of the law – the part stating that marriage must be between one man and one woman to be recognized federally.  Nine courts have found DOMA to be unconstitutional based on the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which states, “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Several of these cases have been appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States.  The court has agreed to hear arguments on one of the cases so far.  In the case The United States vs. Windor, Edith Windsor filed a case in.  When her longtime partner (together 40 years) and wife (married in Canada in 2007), Thea died, Ms Windsor was forced to pay over $300,000 in inheritance tax.  In the state of New York, where they lived and where same sex marriage is now legal,  a straight widow would pay nothing.  Lower courts have ruled in Ms Windsor’s favor, and when her case was appealed to the SCOTUS, Attorney General Eric Holder refused to defend DOMA.  House Republicans decided to take up the fight and hired Attorney Paul Clement.

Most people agree, it is only a matter of time before gay couples are allowed the right to marry in this country.  For some of us, the clock is ticking.  Will the Supreme Court make a decision this year striking down all anti marriage equality laws and constitutional amendments?  Probably not – most experts agree their ruling, if in favor of gay Americans, will be narrow…. but their decision may be a huge catalyst to speed up the the inevitable.

Below is a huge list of supporters of equality – ones that took the time to make that support official by sending a message to the SCOTUS -

Amicus Briefs

Oral arguments are set to be heard in late March 2013.  Prior to that, friend of the court briefs, or amicus briefs, as allowed to be filed.  Here is a list of those filed in support of Ms Windsor:

  • 278 Employers And Organizations Representing Employers
  • 212 Members of Congress
  • 15 States and the District of Columbia
  • American Bar Association
  • American Humanist Association et. al.
  • American Jewish Committee
  • American Historical Association and Historians
  • American Psychological Association et. al.
  • American Sociological Association
  • Anti-Defamation League et. al.
  • Former Cabinet Secretaries and Administrative Officials
  • Center for Fair Administration of Taxes
  • Cato Institute and Constitutional Accountability Center
  • Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington
  • Constitutional Law Scholars
  • Family and Child Welfare Professors
  • Family Equality Council et. al.
  • Family Law Professors and American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
  • Former Federal Election Commission Officials
  • Federalism Scholars
  • Former Federal Intelligence Officer
  • Former Senators Bill Bradley, Tom Daschle, Christopher J. Dodd and Alan K. Simplson
  • Gay and Lesbian Medical Association
  • Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and Lambda Legal
  • Gary J. Gates, Williams Distinguished Scholar at UCLA School of Law
  • Institute for Justice
  • Labor Organizations
  • Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Bar Associations and Public Interest and Legal Service Organizations
  • Los Angeles County Bar Association
  • Former Military Officials
  • NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund
  • Honorable Judge John K. Olson
  • Organization of American Historians and the American Studies Association
  • Outserve-SLDN
  • Partnership for NYC
  • Professors Nan D. Hunter, Suzanne B. Goldgberg et. al.
  • Political Science Professors
  • Religious Organizations
  • Scholars of the Constitutional Rights of Children
  • Services and Advocacy for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Elders et. al.
  • Survivors of Sexual Orientation Change Therapies
  • Utah Pride Center, Campaign for Southern Equality, Equality Federation and Twenty-Five Statewide Equality Organizations
  • Women’s Law Center et. al. (you can read pdf’s of each brief here)
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