Long line at Salt Lake County building
December 23rd, 2013
When the county clerks prepared to open across Utah, lines of same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses were waiting. In Salt Lake City the line runs around two floors. (Equality Utah)
In a few minutes, Judge Shelby will hear argument for staying his ruling.
At the moment Judge Shelby has heard argument why his ruling should be stayed until appeal and is taking a little break to ponder the matter. In the meanwhile, marriages continue.
Utah marriages are on for Monday morning
December 22nd, 2013
As we mentioned in our Utah update, the state had requested that the Tenth Circuit stay Judge Shelby’s ruling on marriage equality until such time as they could ask the judge to stay his own ruling.
The Tenth Circuit said, “no”. (Buzzfeed)
“Defendants-Appellants acknowledge that they have not addressed, let alone satisfied, the factors that must be established to be entitled to a stay pending appeal,” the court held. The factors include a showing by the party asking for a stay that they are likely to succeed on appeal, that they would suffer “irreparable injury” if they do not get a stay, that other parties would not injure other parties, and an assessment of where the “public interest” lies.
The judges wrote that the state could refile a similar motion at a later point so long as it complied with the court’s rules. Holmes was appointed to the appellate court by President George W. Bush; Bacharach was appointed by President Obama.
Which means that at 8:00 am, marriage licenses will again be handed out and marriages will occur at least until such time at Judge Shelby rules on whether the state is likely to succeed on appeal. And, considering that he issued his ruling in summary judgement (a sort of “you’re obviously right” ruling), I doubt that he’ll think they have much of a chance.
And, because I’m sure that Governor Herbert will be ranting some more about activist federal judges, let’s meet them:
Above the Law described Judge Jerome Holmes this way when he was appointed to the bench:
Holmes is a highly respected, exceptionally well-credentialed attorney. Who happens to be extremely conservative. Who happens to be African-American. And who happens to be quite outspoken on a number of issues, including affirmative action — which he strongly opposes.
One of our Hill sources describes Holmes as “the next Clarence Thomas,” who has liberals running scared.
And Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), who has a 0% support record from HRC, said this about Bacharach (NewsOK)
“You cannot find a blemish on this man in terms of his personal integrity,” Coburn said, adding that Bacharach had “one of the greatest intellects” he had come across.
“I have never met anybody who knows the Constitution — its limitations, its intent — better than Judge Bacharach,” Coburn said.
These gentlemen, or others on the Tenth Circuit, may eventually issue stay. They may even overturn the ruling. But for now hundreds of same-sex couples can thank them for making their marriage possible.
Israeli committee votes tomorrow on partnership rights
December 21st, 2013
The Ministerial Committee on Legislation will vote Sunday on a controversial bill that aims to change how homosexual couples are viewed by family courts.
Family courts deal with adoption, divorce, and the recognition of unmarried couples for benefits from the state.
The bill, sponsored by MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz), would require family courts to treat same sex couples the same way they treat a man and woman.
Chile elects pro-equality President
December 21st, 2013
Voters in Chile on Sunday returned former president Michelle Bachelet to power.
The 62-year-old Bachelet fended off center-right candidate Evelyn Matthei by winning 62 percent of a runoff vote – the highest of any candidate since Chile returned to democratic elections.
Bachelet also campaigned on gay marriage, reiterating her supporter in several interviews. However, her center-left New Majority coalition has only a slim majority in both houses and a full plate.
Croatian government proposes partnership registry
December 21st, 2013
Croatia began the month with a But the government is proposing that a parnership registry with many of the rights of marriage be adopted. (GayStarNews)
The government has presented ‘life partnership’ legislation today (12 December), allowing same-sex couples to officially register their relationship, inherit property from one another, and represent each other as next of kin.
They will be banned from marrying or adopting children.
With the government’s legislative majority, it means the bill is likely to pass.
The ‘protect marriage’ crowd who crowed three weeks ago will conveniently miss this move.
Roosevelt NM County Clerk resigns
December 20th, 2013
Over next to Texas on the eastern edge of New Mexico is Roosevelt County, about 2,500 square miles of peanuts, Eastern New Mexico University, and not a whole lot else to say for it. But now it has two celebrities. (ABC)
Roosevelt County manager Charlene Webb confirmed that Clerk Donna Carpenter and Deputy Clerk Janet Collins announced their resignations Friday morning.
Webb declined to say why they quit. But county commissioners said it was in protest of Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling declaring it unconstitutional to bar same-sex couples from getting marriage licenses.
Commissioner Bill Cathey said the two had made it clear they would quit “rather than be associated with that.”
If they can’t bring themselves to “be associated with that”, then I respect their decision. If you can’t do the job, step aside so someone else can.
But should they decide that they are the victims and run to Fox News and the Family Research Council to whine about how their own personal religious beliefs could not be dictated to their neighbors, I’ll not be forgiving.
Yeah… about that map
December 20th, 2013
I guess it went up a day too soon.
Utah will likely appeal. But for now marriages are going on and we are now up to 18 States plus DC, a grand total of 120 million US residents, or 39.5% of the population, now live where marriages are equal.
Gov Martinez blows off anti-gay amendment idea
December 20th, 2013
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, a Republican, stayed mostly out of the court battle over marriage. She has not been an ally by any means and has made statements about how “the people should vote”. But her advocacy for “traditional marriage” has been minimal and she’s mostly been invisible on the issue.
Mostly, she’s been ambivalent on same-sex couples. Earlier this year she let a bill die (a pocket veto) that would have added “domestic partner” to an occupational licensing bill for veterans, but said that she would have signed it had it included the federal definition of the term.
In that wake of the marriage decision, a handful of conservative GOP members are making noise about amending the constitution. But it seems Martinez wants no part of the divisiveness that such efforts create. (Fox)
Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican and who has opposed same-sex marriage, said she would have preferred voters deciding the issue rather than the courts. But she urged New Mexicans to “respect one another in their discourse” and turn their focus onto other issues facing the state.
“As we move forward, I am hopeful that we will not be divided, as we must come together to tackle very pressing issues, like reforming education and growing our economy, in the weeks and months ahead,” Martinez said.
A map of marriage at the end of 2013
December 19th, 2013
As we close out the last days of the year, 17 states and DC offer full marriage equality (or are waiting for the effective date of legislation):
District of Columbia
Three more offer everything-but-the-name Domestic Partnerships
And Wisconsin offers limited Domestic Partnership rights.
New Mexico Supremes rule for marriage equality
December 19th, 2013
The Supreme Court of New Mexico has ruled on the decision of some county clerks to offer marriage licenses: (KOB)
The state Supreme Court declared state marriage laws unconstitutional and upheld New Mexico county clerks’ decisions to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The state Supreme Court will now define “civil marriage” as the voluntary union of two persons to the exclusion of all others. In addition, all rights, protections, and responsibilities that result from the marital relationship shall apply equally to both same-gender and opposite-gender married couples.
We’ll bring you more, as more comes in.
UPDATE: From the Ruling
Prohibiting same-gender marriages is not substantially related to the governmental interests advanced by the parties opposing same-gender marriage or to the purposes we have identified. Therefore, barring individuals from marrying and depriving them of the rights, protections, and responsibilities of civil marriage solely because of their sexual orientation violates the Equal Protection Clause under Article II, Section 18 of the New Mexico Constitution. We hold that the State of New Mexico is constitutionally required to allow same-gender couples to marry and must extend to them the rights, protections, and responsibilities that derive from civil marriage under New Mexico law.
UPDATE 2 More:
Because same-gender couples (whether lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, hereinafter “LGBT”) are a discrete group which has been subjected to a history of discrimination and violence, and which has inadequate political power to protect itself from such treatment, the classification at issue must withstand intermediate scrutiny to be constitutional. Accordingly, New Mexico may neither constitutionally deny same-gender couples the right to marry nor deprive them of the rights, protections, and responsibilities of marriage laws, unless the proponents of the legislation—the opponents of same-gender marriage—prove that the discrimination caused by the legislation is “substantially related to an important government interest.”
And here we find that in New Mexico, discrimination against gay people must be held to “intermediate scrutiny”, a higher level that generally assumes that discrimination against gay people is at least somewhat likely to be unconstitutional.
I don’t yet see an effective date, so I assume this is law immediately.
The Ruling was unanimous.
It’s been a good year for marriage. In 2013, the number doubled from 8 states plus the District of Columbia to the new total: 17 states plus DC.
NJ marriage bill pulled
December 16th, 2013
Over the weekend I wrote about a bill that might have great political advantage for the Democratic Party in New Jersey (and the nation) but which could have negative consequences on gay people.
This bill has now been pulled. (NJ.com)
“After conferring with Lambda Legal, the national gay rights law organization, we have decided to pull from consideration for now the proposed legislation that would write marriage equality into law,” Weinberg said in a statement. “The issue is still new and legally complex, and we want to be able to fully understand all the potential legal ramifications of our efforts as we work to reach our goal of bringing marriage equality firmly and permanently into our laws.”
Does being anti-marriage make you a homophobe?
December 16th, 2013
Brandon Ambrosino, writing in the Atlantic, argues that being against gay marriage doesn’t make you a homophobe.
If it’s “anti-gay” to question the arguments of marriage-equality advocates, and if the word “homophobic” is exhausted on me or on polite dissenters, then what should we call someone who beats up gay people, or prefers not to hire them? Disagreement is not the same thing as discrimination. Our language ought to reflect that distinction.
I would argue that an essential feature of the term “homophobia” must include personal animus or malice toward the gay community. Simply having reservations about gay marriage might be anti-gay marriage, but if the reservations are articulated in a respectful way, I see no reason to dismiss the person holding those reservations as anti-gay people. In other words, I think it’s quite possible for marriage-equality opponents to have flawed reasoning without necessarily having flawed character. When we hastily label our opposition with terms like “anti-gay,” we make an unwarranted leap from the first description to the second.
Irrespective of the fact that this piece made anti-gay activists giddy, he’s right. It gains us no new converts by calling our opponents names, and (perhaps not too surprisingly) telling someone that they are your enemy often makes them so.
It is also true that there are some who oppose civil and/or religious gay marriage who do so not out of animus. It is entirely possible for someone to truly believe the disingenuous arguments about “the children needing opposite sex parents”. Or to support rights, but not quite be comfortable with the history and religious associations with the word marriage. Or to have stepped out of a time machine from 1994.
It is also true that there are many who do not favor same-sex marriage simply because they’ve not yet gotten used to the idea and it’s what everyone they know believes. We should be cautious not to conflate the not-yet-supporter with the wild-eyed opponent.
Yet, Ambrosino’s critics also have merit to their rebuttal. This debate is no longer novel nor is this a debate reserved to some ivory tower. It becomes increasing more difficult with each passing year to simultaneously hold to opposition to marriage equality while also being a person of good will and intent.
But I think it is still possible.
So, yes, I would agree with Ambrosino that being against gay marriage doesn’t make you a homophobe. But it does give you something in common with one.
NJ Democrats seek marriage bill
December 14th, 2013
In October, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples must be allowed marriage on the same terms as heterosexual couples. Now New Jersey Democrats are seeking to pass legislation to change the laws on the books.
This is being presented as a protection should the Supreme Court decide to change its mind in the future, but it’s hard to see it as anything other than a political move having nothing to do with same-sex couples or marriage.
Republican Governor Christie somehow managed to come out of the marriage debate smelling like a rose. Although he had opposed – and vetoed – a marriage equality bill, when he opted not to appeal the decision, the public perception was that he was not extremist and many even believe that Christie “changed his mind” and supported equality.
This did not sit well with Democratic leaders in the state who, predicting Christie’s presidential aspirations, lost one of the points on which he could be portrayed as right-wing and out of the mainstream in a general election. They are gambling that a new bill could put cut Christie both ways: if he signs the bill, it would hurt him in the primary; and if he vetoes the bill, it fires up the base in opposition.
Unfortunately, and ironically, it is gay couples who could lose in the process.
I recognize the political reality that in some states it has been necessary to include religious protections in order to get legislation passed. I also recognize that the inclusion of such language implies that there is validity to the notion that somehow gay marriage imposes in some way on religious freedom. The best legislation is one in which same-sex couples simply are added to the framework without any histrionics or hand-wringing over ookie-spookie horrors that Teh Ghey might bring.
In New Jersey, the State Supreme Court decision did just that; it put marriage between same-sex couples on exactly equal ground with opposite sex couples. And any new bill, should it include religious protections, would enact limitations on same-sex marriage that are not currently present.
The executive director of Garden State Equality has opposed writing such a bill for exactly that reason.
In response, the legislators have changed the bill to reduce the protections granted. (NJ.com)
Lesniak said the new bill continues to have an exemption for religious organizations. But he said only church-affiliated groups that use an event space exclusively for their members would be able to turn away gay couples who wish to get married there. Clergy would not be required to perform gay marriages, but proponents say that exemption would be covered under the First Amendment anyway.
“It does not go as far as the bill that the governor vetoed,” Lesniak said.
“If you open up your facilities, you can’t discriminate.”
And therein lies the problem. A bill that did nothing more than change the language of the state law (as did California) to remove gender would possibly be an easy signature for Christie. It would merely codify existing law.
What this does, however, is define the exceptions to the law. By stating who is exempt, the bill implies who is not exempt.
As the law exists right now, there is no formalized conflict between gay rights and religious rights. While it’s likely that a religious fraternity like the Knights of Columbus could make a religious freedom case for refusing to rent their hall for a same-sex wedding, this is a matter of non-discrimination law, not marriage.
But by specifically excluding some entities – and telling the newspapers that this bill doesn’t protect the Knight of Columbus – this politicizes the marriage bill and announces a threat on the existing presumption of religious protection that the Knights have currently.
Of course, removing the Knights of Columbus protection from the previous bill – and announcing it – is designed specifically to invite a veto by the governor. I can’t imagine Christie signing the “Knights of Columbus must host gay marriages” bill. They’re trying to force his hand.
But it’s possible that Christie will not do as the Democrats in New Jersey plan. While he may not sign such a bill, he may consider a veto too difficult to explain.
And he has the option of ignoring the bill for 45 days at which time it becomes law without his signature.
Should he allow the bill to become law it is almost inevitable that someone will flounce down to the nearest Knights of Columbus to “I’ll show them” and demand to rent the hall. And then we will have one more item on the list of grievances that our opponents pull out to scream about how we are attacking them. Which will be true. And will suck.
But should they pass this bill, the Democrats may have more ammo to use against Christie should he run for President. At our expense.
Pressure on for Australian marriage bill
December 14th, 2013
The big news was on Wednesday, when the High Court reversed the “same-sex marriage”* bill enacted by the Australian Capital Territory. But other movement has kept the issue from being past and forgotten.
New South Wales’ upper house of Parliament narrowly defeated a marriage equality bill on Thursday. The Green Party in Western Australia proposed a marriage bill on the same day that the Court ruled, which seems unlikely to advance. Earlier in the week, a fringe Catholic morality party, the Democratic Labor Party, had proposed a referendum on the issue which was defeated by the unlikely combination of the conservative ruling Liberal Party and the Green Party. And last month the Governor-General (the Queen’s representative and titular head of state) indicated her support for marriage equality.
Yesterday, Federal Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull said that Parliament may change the marriage laws to allow same-sex couples to marry. (Guardian)
Turnbull said he thought it was “very likely” that the parliament would consider a private member’s bill and that the Coalition party room would agree to a conscience vote, rather than a repeat of the situation last year when Coalition members were bound to vote against same-sex marriage.
“As to whether that would then result in the bill being passed, it’s probably a bit early to say because it’s a new parliament, there’s a lot of new members, but I think there is a reasonable prospect of a change to the law in this parliament,” Turnbull told ABC radio on Friday.
In an apparent argument that Australia was slipping behind similar countries elsewhere, Turnbull added: “I just note that if you look around the world, you know the big English speaking countries we feel ourselves culturally close to, all of them now recognise same-sex marriage: New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada and now about a third of the United States.”
Much of the issue depends on whether Prime Minister Tony Abbott will allow his party members to vote their conscience, or whether they will be required to vote in accordance with the party’s stance. As about two thirds of Australians support marriage equality, and as several Liberal MPs are expected to (or could be pressured to) support the bill, there is a good chance that it could prevail.
A number of other Liberal politicians, including the premiers of states and territories, have opined that a conscience vote should be allowed. And should that happen, Turnbull has indicated willingness to co-sponsor the bill.
It is far to early to predict, but Abbott has made a statement that could hint at a potential compromise. (Pink News)
On Friday, Mr Abbott said his position on the issue had not changed and that he remains opposed to equal marriage.
He said the High Court decision was obviously disappointing for the same-sex couples who had recently married in the ACT.
“They knew that there was this possibility that their marriages might fall foul of the High Court and obviously it’s disappointing for them,” he said.
“Let’s see what the future holds.”
* quotation marks are around “same-sex marriage” not as scare-quotes, but because the ACT sought to bypass federal control over marriage law by declaring that their bill was not about marriage but rather about an entirely separate institution called “same-sex marriage”.
Congregations find each other
December 4th, 2013
There’s an interesting story out of Minnesota about a pastor of a predominantly African American church who lost most of his congregation after voting for recognition of marriage equality in the United Church of Christ denomination. (Star Tribune)
[Oliver] White’s struggling, nearly 20-year-old congregation saw its situation worsen in 2005 when he voted with a majority of delegates in favor of a resolution supporting gay marriage at a national UCC assembly. His vote didn’t go over well with most of the 320 Grace Community members, White said. Membership dropped to nearly 100, he says.
Last July, the church White led for 22 years — Grace United Community Church of Christ in St. Paul — closed its doors after two thirds of the congregation left because White voiced his support for same-sex marriage.
For more than a year and without much success, White searched for a place for his remaining members to worship. Then, he called Clark Memorial United Church of Christ in South St. Paul –where the older, shrinking congregation was looking for ways to save its building.
“She said, ‘We need you and you need us. Quid pro quo,’” White recalled. “I said, ‘They got a building and I got a young congregation. Maybe this could work.’”
White’s predominantly black congregation, Grace Community, now worships alongside the mostly white members of Clark Memorial Church in South St. Paul in an unusual partnership that grew out of both congregations’ advocacy for gay rights.
“I have to scratch my head and wonder, ‘Oliver, what are you doing there?’ ” said White, 71, during a recent interview. “Then I come to realize, we’re all people and if I can be an advocate for the LGBT community, then why can’t I be an advocate for bringing people together in one accord, which is what I’m trying to do.”
I’m sure the very different worship traditions are new and challenging to both congregations, but also probably quite exciting.
Filipino President ambivalent about marriage
December 4th, 2013
Filipino President Benigno Aquino remains uncommitted on the issue of marriage equality: (Rappler)
“One side of me says human rights are supposed to be universal. On the other hand, if we go into gay marriages, then of course the next step will be adoption and I don’t know if… I still have to look at it from the child’s perspective,” he said. “Is that something that is desirable in an environment for a child?”
Aquino also questioned whether it would affect the children in “understanding the world” or if it would “induce more confusion.”
His stance is the same as his original opinion from two years ago.
This could be a reflection of the position of the nation. The Philippines is heavily Catholic and (ironically) history suggests that such demographics open opportunities for marriage equality advancement.
Israel moves closer to couple recognition
December 4th, 2013
On Sunday morning the Ministerial Committee on Legislative Affairs authorized a new bill which attempts to mend the Income Tax Act and grant same-sex couples with children the same tax exemptions enjoyed by their heterosexual counterparts.
“We are talking about tens of thousands of shekels given to the parents of children under 18, sums which were prevented from same-sex parents,” said MK Adi Kol (Yesh Atid) who proposed the bill.
In addition there are proposed bills that would allow secular marriage, including same-sex marriage. Currently in Israel all marriages are distinctly religious and are under the auspices of religious bodies, mostly Orthodox Judaism. Secular and other marriages that would not be allowed to be conducted in Israel are nevertheless recognized by the state.
Giving a boost to the movement is the endorsement of President Shimon Peres
In an interview with Ynet on Sunday while in Mexico’s Guadalajara, Peres said that “even a person who is a homosexual is a human being, and he has rights. We have no power to take away (their) rights.”
Peres added: “We cannot take away someone’s rights because they are different. We cannot take away their right to breathe, right to eat or right to start a family. We must allow everyone to live as is natural to them.”
Michael Glatze marries
December 2nd, 2013
On October 26th, ex-gay writer Michael Glatze and his lovely wife Rebekah were married under the canopy of trees in a riverside park. The bride wore a gown and veil; the groom wore khakis.
I am of two minds in writing this. One the one hand, Michael Glatze has presented himself as being on “the other side” of homosexuality and as having been “healed”. His marriage is very likely going to be used by him as an evidence of his testimony. Commenting is fair game.
On the other hand, Glatze’s history of religious confusion and his bizarre racist and sexist writing suggest that he may well be suffering from mental health issues. Discussing his marriage feels a bit cruel.
I don’t know anything about his new wife Rebekah, but I wish them both much wedded bliss. I hope Glatze finds true happiness in his marriage.
However, Glatze’s writing in May of this year suggest that Michael Glatze is not fully reconciled with his chosen sexual identity and that Rebekah may find her new life trying. Glatze’s hypothesis is that homosexuality is a perversion of the spiritual union that should be between man and God. (WND)
Thus, since God is male and His creation – man – is male, the appropriate relationship (under the Headship of Christ) is to be satisfied in spiritual union with God. That is why Paul, in 1 Corinthians 6, says we have “become one spirit” with God. And, it is also why Paul describes, in Romans 1, the pattern of degradation that takes place when men turn from God. Ultimately, it results in homosexuality, because the man – seeking for a spiritual fellowship with God – positions himself either as a “god” for another man, or in the position of worshiping another man as “god.”
And with God as Glatze’s spiritual male lover, there may not be much room for Rebekah. And, to the extent there is, it will not be an equal union.
Men lead society, and women follow. What men elect to do will have an effect on the responses of women. That, also, is the natural order of things…
This simply does not have the hallmark of something that will end well.
Croatia bans gay marriage
December 1st, 2013
In an entirely expected move, the citizens of Croatia have voted to deny civil equality to their gay neighbors and relatives. (Guardian)
A majority of Croatians have voted in a referendum to ban gay marriages in what is a major victory for the Catholic Church-backed conservatives in the European Union’s newest nation.
The state electoral commission, citing initial results, said 65% of those who voted answered “yes” to the referendum question: “Do you agree that marriage is matrimony between a man and a woman?” About 34% voted against.
Cardinal Dolan: Church has been out-marketed
November 30th, 2013
“Well, I think maybe we’ve been outmarketed sometimes,” he said on Meet the Press, according to a preview of the Sunday interview reported by the Associated Press. “We’ve been caricatured as being antigay.”
This is the explanation Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Catholic Archbishop of New York, gives for the reason that the United States is marching firmly in the direction of marriage equality. (The interview can be seen Sunday night on NBC’s Meet the Press.)
“When you have forces like Hollywood, when you have forces like politicians, when you have forces like some opinion-molders that are behind it, it’s a tough battle,” he said.
The Cardinal is correct that public image and social pressure were the factors that swept away the argument of the American Catholic Bishops and which will result in equality not only in the United States but in most of the Christian and Catholic World. But Hollywood and politicians only deserve part of the credit.
The real credit lies elsewhere.
America has come to know who Catholic Cardinals are. Media stopped giving the Church a pass and over the past decade or so the real lives of Catholic priests have been exposed.
The public has discovered that all that they feared and despised about gay people – irresponsible sexuality, a threat to their children, flaunters of law and social order – had been blamed on the wrong party. It was not Hairdresser Joe that their sons needed to be warned about, but Father Joe.
And through it all, the Bishops – in their arrogance – failed miserably in maintaining their image. They fought futile public battles to keep their crimes a secret, they threw nuns out of convents in order to raise money to pay their settlements, they put forward spokesmen who demanded that the public obey their will without question, all while parading their own wealth and power and political connections. And, in the process, the Church lost its credibility on matters of morality and social good.
And, most foolish of all, they failed to address the very real, very identifiable needs of same-sex couples. While the public was looking at a problem and seeking a solution, the Church could have endorsed civil unions as a means to address the economic and political inequalities, while holding marriage as sacred and separate.
But instead they adopted absolutism and offered nothing. And did so in very nasty terms.
The Church could have easily won the battle over the legal recognition of same-sex marriage, but they were caricatured as anti-gay and they were terribly out-marketed. By themselves.