The Daily Agenda for Monday, October 1
October 1st, 2012
Will the U.S. Supreme Court Kill Prop 8 Today? That’s the question on everyone’s mind this morning. We do know that Hollingsworth v. Perry, which is the Federal case challenging the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8, was up for consideration for last week’s U.S. Supreme Court conference. And we know that the case did not appear on the list of cases which the Supreme Court has accepted to hear. Today, we will learn whether it will appear on another list of cases which the Supreme Court has decided not to accept. If it appears on that list, then that means that the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal’s ruling which upheld the lower court’s striking down Prop 8 as unconstitutional will stand and gay couples in California will soon have their right to marriage restored. But if it doesn’t appear on today’s list, then that means that the Supreme Court is still weighing whether to hear the case or not. The court’s next conference to decide the cases to accept is Friday, October 5. There is some speculation that the court may refuse to hear the case due to the very narrow constitutional basis of the Ninth Circuit Court’s opinion. There is also speculation that the court may not decide to take any action on the case until after the November elections.
Another same-sex marriage case before the Supreme Court, Windsor v. USA, challenges the constitutionality of Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. It was brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Edie Windsor, who is required to pay $363,000 in federal estate taxes following the death of her legally-wedded wife in 2007. If she had been in an opposite-sex marriage, her estate tax bill would have been zero. The lower court ruled that, based on a rational basis review, Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional. While the case is being appealed to the Second District Court of Appeals, Windsor’s attorneys have filed a petition or certiorari directly to the Supreme Court asking for the cast to be reviewed without waiting for the Second Circuit’s review because of Windsor’s age (she is 83) and poor health. There are currently four other DOMA challenges making their way through the Appeals courts, and the U.S. Department of Justice has asked the Supreme Court to hear three of those cases along withWindsor for a more comprehensive look at DOMA’s constitutionality. Therefore it is likely that the Supreme Court may decide to delay acting on Windsor v USA until it can also hear one or more of the other cases as well.
There are two other LGBT related cases before the court. In Diaz v. Brewer, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that Arizona’s Republican Gov. Jan Brewer cannot withdraw domestic parner benefits from state employees without violating the Constitution’s Equal Protection clause. And in National Organization for Marriage v. McKee, NOM is again trying to get the Supreme Court’s attention in its efforts to circumvent Maine’s finance disclosure laws. Neither case appeared on last week’s order papers for cases which the Supreme Court accepted, and like the others, we may learn today whether the court has decided to reject those appeals. The Supreme Court refused to hear an earlier similar challenge from NOM in February.
TODAY IN HISTORY:
Denmark Begins Registering Partnerships: 1989. Axil and Eigil Axgil made world history when they became the first gay couple to enter into a Registered Partnership in Copenhagen, after 40 years together. The Axgils, who had been living under the same surname (an amalgamation of their given names) for 32 years, were among ten couples registered that day when Denmark became the first country in the world to provide legal recognition for same-sex couples.
While the new law provided many of the rights and obligations of marriage, Registered Partnerships remained a second class institution by omitting adoption rights, artificial insemination availability, or religious wedding ceremonies in state-run Lutheran Churches. In 1996, Registered Partnerships were extended to Greenland. Several bills which would provide full marriage equality have been debated in the Folketing over the past several years, with the most recent bill being rejected by the ruling coalition in June 2010, but the Folketing did decide to extend adoption rights to Registered Partnerships a month later.
In July of 2012, the Folketing approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage by a vote of 85-24. The law took effect on July 15. Axil and Eigil didn’t live to see full marriage equality in Denmark; Eigel passed away in 1995 and Axel joined him in 2011.
George Cecil Ives: 1867. The Sacred Band of Thebes, the army of ancient Thebans instituted in 387 B.C., was an elite force of 150 pairs of male lovers. The theory went that soldiers would fight harder and better if they were defending a lover. The Sacred Band met its end fifty years later when the rest of the Theban army fled the forces of Philip II of Macedonia at the battle of Chaeronea. The Sacred Band, instead of fleeing, fought to its death. And so when, in 1897, the German-English poet, writer, and early gay-rights campaigner decided to found a secret society for gay men, he named it the Order of Chaeronea in honor of the brave Sacred Band.
George Ives was already well connected with England’s gay scene, having probably had a brief fling with Oscar Wilde followed, later, with a brief affair with Lord Alfred Douglas. Wilde’s sensational run-in with the law, which dominated the papers of London in 1895, undoubtedly had an affect on Ives. After Wilde was released from prison, he wrote Ives, that he believed that a more humanitarian climate may slowly emerge. “I have no doubt we shall win, but the road is long, and red with monstrous martyrdoms,” Wilde wrote. “Nothing but the repeal of the Criminal Law Amendment Act would do any good.” Ives was ready to take on the work of changing society and laying the grounds for repeal, but he couldn’t convince Wilde to join him in what he called the “Cause.” Wilde, his health broken from two years at hard labor, had already given his measure of martyrdom. We don’t know how many other people Ives managed to enlist into the “Cause,” but we do know that some of the members included the Uranian poets Charles Kains Jackson and John Gambril Nicholson, the Rev. Samuel Elsworth Cottam (an Anglican priest who published a gay magazine called Chameleon), and the eccentric Catholic priest and occult expert Montague Summers.
Ives’s Order was influenced greatly by the Aesthetic movement — of which Wilde was but one very visible proponent — which mixed philosophy, idealism and art as part of what Wilde’s biographer, Neil McKenna, described as “a new gospel of Beauty.” Members of the Order of Chaeronea observed an elaborate system of rituals, ceremonies, seals, codes, passwords, and a calendar dating from the year of the Battle of Cheronea (1897 was written as C2235). New members swore that “you will never vex or persecute lovers,” and that “all real love shall be to you as sanctuary.”
In 1914, Ives co-founded the British Society for the Study of Sex Psychology with Edward Carpenter and Magnus Hirschfeld, to promote the scientific study of sex and with it a more rational attitude toward sexual matters. Ives was very interested in the penal reform movement, and wrote several articles and lectures on the subject. When he died in 1950, he left behind a large archive covering his lfie and work, including 122 volumes of diaries 45 volumes of scrapbooks, the latter consisting of clippings on such topics as sensational crimes, penal methods, cross-dressing, homosexuality and cricket scores. His diaries have been a treasure trove of information for historians examining the early gay rights movement in England. His papers were purchased in 1977 by the Harry Ransom Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin.
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And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?