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Posts for May, 2009

New Hampshire Would be the Sixth What, Exactly?

Timothy Kincaid

May 8th, 2009

New Hampshire could be the sixth gay marriage something-or-other, but finding the language to fit is not a straight-forward task. Considering the methods by which states have reached (and retreated from) marriage rights, putting them in order depends on what one is measuring.

The order in which states have granted recognition to same sex couples

1. District of Columbia 1992 (blocked by Congress until 2002)
2. Hawaii 1997
3. California 1999
4. Vermont 1999
5. Connecticut 2005
6. New Jersey 2004
7. Maine 2004
8. New Hampshire 2007
9. Washington 2007
10. Oregon 2007
11. Maryland 2008
12. Iowa 2009
13. Colorado 2009

The order in which courts have found that states must provide marriage and/or all its rights and benefits to same-sex couples:

1. Hawaii 1993/1997 (reversed by Constitutional amendment)
2. Vermont 1999
3. Massachusetts 2003
4. New Jersey 2006
5. California 2008 (perhaps reversed by Constitutional amendment)
6. Connecticut 2008
7. Iowa 2009

The order in which states provided virtually all of the same benefits as marriage

1. Vermont 1999
2. California 2003 (with subsequent minor adjustments to fix differences)
3. Massachusetts 2003
4. Connecticut 2005
5. District of Columbia 2006 (with adjustment in 2008)
6. New Jersey 2006
7. New Hampshire 2007
8. Oregon 2007
9. Washington 2009
10. Maine 2009

The order in which legal marriages were first performed

1. Massachusetts – 5/17/2004
2. Iowa – 8/31/2007 (only one)
3. California – 6/16/2008
4. Connecticut – 11/4/2008
5. Vermont – 9/1/2009 (Scheduled)
6. Maine – around 9/14/2009 (Scheduled)

The order in which continuous legal marriages began to be offered

1. Massachusetts – 5/17/2004
2. Connecticut – 11/4/2008
3. Iowa – 4/27/09
4. Vermont – 9/1/2009 (Scheduled)
5. Maine – around 9/14/2009 (Scheduled)

And should New Hampshire’s bill be signed, it will be sixth.

Sam Adams and the Double Standard: Part 2

This commentary is the opinion of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Jim Burroway

January 24th, 2009

There’s a lot of confusion over Portland Mayor Sam Adams’ tryst with Beau Breedlove, the intern who Adams admitted to having a sexual relationship with. It’s time to bust some of these myths.

Myth: Because Breedlove was an intern, Adams abused his position of authority when he entered into a sexual relationship with Breedlove.

Fact: Beau Breedlove was a legislative intern in Eugene, not a Portland city intern. They met when Breedlove was interning in the Oregon House for state Rep. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer). Adams did not hold a position of professional authority over Breedlove.

Myth: Breedlove was just a 17-year-old boy.

Fact: According to Adams’ admission, Breedlove was an 18-year-old man when they initiated their sexual affair. At eighteen, Breedlove was old enough to sign contracts, join the army and go to war, and be tried as an adult for any crimes he might feel like committing.

Breedlove, because he is a legal, consenting adult, bears equal responsibility for the affair. What’s more, he appears to have an affinity for older men. Mark Merkle, 39, was Breedlove’s boyfriend for two years until last August.

This was a man, not a boy. Yet we have all sorts of people — gay and straight, Democratic and Republican — screaming for Mayor Adam’s resignation because he lied about having had perfectly legal sex with a perfectly legal consenting adult.

Hold that thought while we look at another set of myths swirling around another politician of note:

Myth: Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) admitted to have had perfectly illegal sex with a prostitute.

Fact: Oh, sorry. That was true. Vitter broke the law, but he didn’t admit to it until the statute of limitations had passed.

Myth: Sen. Vitter apologized to the Republican caucus in the Senate, and received a standing ovation.

Fact: Oh yeah. That part’s true also. Even though Vitter broke the law — something that Adams has apparently not done — he got a standing ovation.

But hey, Vitter’s admission of having engaged in an illegal sex act did come in at number five of Time magazine’s top ten awkward moments.

Let’s re-cap: Illegal sex? Awkward. Legal sex? Give him the heave-ho.

And what about the lying part?

Let’s cross the political aisle and consider Bill Clinton. After all, he lied under oath about a sexual encounter with an intern who really was his subordinate. But Clinton defenders said, well yeah, what do you expect? After all, his sex life is private, they said. He didn’t want his wife to find out, they said. He was protecting his daughter, they said. Who wouldn’t lie under those circumstances, they said. Besides, it was all a political witch hunt, they said.

That rallying cry that went “When Clinton lied, nobody died”? Gee, why don’t I see a similar call for perspective here among progressives?

Adams didn’t lie under oath. Instead, he told a very stupid lie about a very private matter that was none of anyone’s business while running for political office. Goodness! That’s never happened before!

So let’s re-cap again. Lies about gay sex with a consenting adult you have no authority over? Even liberals will call for your resignation. Lies about straight sex under oath with an intern you actually have authority over? You not only get to stay in office, but when your term finally reaches its natural conclusion, you get to enjoy the highest approval ratings of any president in history.

Nice presidential library you got there, Bill.

Hundreds of people have rallied in front of city hall to support their beleaguered mayor. Another rally is scheduled for Tuesday at noon.

No Sex Please, We’re Gay

Guest Commentary

Jack Drescher, MD

January 23rd, 2009

Jack Drescher, MD, is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City. Dr. Drescher is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, and presently serves as a Consultant to APA’s Committee on Public Affairs. He is past Chair of APA’s Committee on GLB Issues. Dr. Drescher is Author of Psychoanalytic Therapy and the Gay Man (The Analytic Press) and is Emeritus Editor of the Journal of Gay and Lesbian Mental Health.

The city of Portland, Oregon is being rocked by a political sex scandal. This one has many of the familiar ingredients of the genre: a sexual relationship between a politician and an intern, a newspaper ferreting out the story, a lying elected official and an ineffective cover up an affair, calls to come clean, a belated admission of culpability, and a sense that the public trust has once again been betrayed.

In this case, the sex involves Portland’s newly elected Mayor Sam Adams and an eighteen-year-old male intern. And the scandal is stirring debate in Portland’s LGBT community, pitting those who believe the Mayor should be forgiven his transgressions and those clamoring for his resignation.

Gay people calling for a gay politician’s head for having sex? This seems a far cry from the attitudes that prevailed within the fledgling gay liberation movement that emerged after the 1969 Stonewall riots.  In the 1970s, gay liberation was seen as a metaphor for other forms of liberation:  third world countries were to be liberated from colonial oppression; African-Americans and other people of color were to be liberated from white oppression; women were to be liberated from male domination; gays and lesbians were to be freed from heterosexual oppression.

At the time, freedom from heterosexual oppression was also taken to mean opposing conventional, heterosexual beliefs about what constituted acceptable forms of sexuality.  Gay writers like John Rechy idealized and glamorized the sexual outlaws who sexually engaged with anonymous and multiple partners.  It was a time when calling someone “promiscuous” could reasonably be interpreted as envy of that person’s sexual prowess.

This early movement called for decriminalizing all consensual sexual activities between adults.  Some would even argue for legalizing sexual activities between adults and minors.  Sexual liberation meant there could be no bad sex as long as the sex was voluntary.

How times have changed.  Today, the LGBT civil rights movement has shifted its focus from a radical sexual liberation to more conservative issues, like the right to marry, the right to raise children, the right to serve in the military, and access to health care.  The Stonewall’s bottle-throwing drag queens could never have imagined that the movement they fired up would one day bring us Log Cabin Republicans or openly gay evangelical Christians.

How did this happen?  Among other reasons, the sexual outlaws of the 1970s did not envision the devastation of the AIDS epidemic that emerged in the 1980s.   And although the gay liberation movement did not bring about a radical rethinking of acceptable forms of open sexual expression among the heterosexual majority, it did create what might be called a gay consciousness in the general culture.  The generations who came after the sexual liberationists would shape their gay and lesbian identities to suit their own needs.

Thus it appears that while those early sexual transgressors may have paved the way for Mayor Adams to win his election as an openly gay man, the cost of mainstream acceptance has required giving up the more outre elements of sexual liberation.  He should not be surprised if the LGBT community does not support him.  Today, there are millions of kids being raised by gay and lesbian parents.  And just like straight parents, they don’t want politicians coming on to their kids.

Sam Adams and the Double Standard

This commentary is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily reflect those of other authors at Box Turtle Bulletin.

Jim Burroway

January 21st, 2009

In 2005, Sam Adams, then a Portland, Oregon, city councilman, met 17-year-old Beau Breedlove. Adams was 42 at the time. Adams admits now that after Breedlove turned 18, they had a brief romantic liaison. When news of the liaison hit the wires, prominent voices began calling for Adams’ resignation.

In 1992, Jerry Seinfeld, a comedian with a hit television series, met and began dating 17-year-old high school student Shoshanna Lonstein. Seinfeld was 38 at the time. The following year, Seinfeld hit number three in the Neilson ratings, and went to number one in 1994. Seinfeld and Lonstein broke up in 1997. He later met Jessica Sklar and began dating her — even though she had just returned from a three-week honeymoon in Italy when they met. Through it all, Americans voted with their remotes and Seinfeld continued to top the Neilson ratings.

The Portland Tribune thinks Adams should resign because:

We don’t believe the public makes much of a distinction when it comes to a man over 40 having sex with either a 17-year-old or an 18-year-old. And it makes no difference if the teenager is male or female – it’s sexual opportunism, pure and simple.

While we may question the wisdom of Adams taking up with someone so much younger than himself, it should not be the cause of scandal itself. But we know that in the double-standards which apply to gays and lesbians, this is scandalous. In fact, merely being gay is scandalous in many quarters — even in relatively liberal city of Los Angeles. But what Adams did is no more scandalous than the behavior of America’s most beloved comedian of the last decade.

The Portland Oregonian thinks Adams should resign because he lied about the affair:

Adams said this week that he lied because he did not think voters would believe him if he said that his relationship with Breedlove was not illegal. Perhaps he was right, but it was not renewed faith in the judgment of Portlanders that prompted the mayor to come clean with them. It was simply that he was being pressed by the Willamette Week newspaper, and the lie was not sustainable on any of several levels.

So now, Portlanders are left with a mayor whose election was built on a lie.

I hadn’t followed the election, so I don’t know to what extent the mayor’s election was “built on a lie.” Nevertheless, I’m very disappointed in his deplorable lie.

It was about as deplorable as the one President Bill Clinton told about his sexual affair — under oath! Should Adams resign? I seem to recall that Clinton didn’t resign. Not only that, but Clinton left office with a 73% approval rating — the highest of any departing president since polling began seventy years earlier.

But as we all know, a gay man’s affair with an 18-year-old is much, much worse than a straight man’s affair with a 17-year-old. And a lie told by a gay man about his affair is way worse than a lie told by a straight man — under oath! Straight men are forgivable — maybe even adorable in their failings. Gay men aren’t.

That is, if you accept the premise that double standards are acceptable.

Hang in there Mayor. Yes, I’m very disappointed in you. You screwed up (no pun intended) and that screw-up reflects badly on all of us (another double standard, yes, but there it is). But if you’re going to resign, save it for something really important.

I’m disappointed, Sam Adams

Timothy Kincaid

January 20th, 2009

Sam Adams is the newly elected mayor of Portland, Oregon. He is the first openly gay mayor of a major US city. He is also coming under public criticism for a lack of judgment.

In 2005, Sam met a young man with the unlikely name of Beau Breedlove. Beau was 17. The two became friendly and, after Beau turned 18 they had a brief romantic liaison. Sam was 42 and a city councilman.

Now I’m not faulting Sam for finding Beau alluring. Many a relationship has successfully weathered age disparity. And the attentions of a handsome young man can do wonders to the ego when you’ve crossed the 40 divide. And while 18 is awfully young, Beau was also an adult.

But Sam lied. He told the media, the voters, and anyone who would listen that their friendship was simply that of a mentor. And Adams won the election in November May by a landslide.

But surely the Monica Lewinsky scandal has shown us that we can forgive our politicians for their lustful peccadilloes… just don’t lie to us. You can offer “no comment”, you can demand the privacy of your personal life, you can imply that the media is simply prurient, you can “defend the honor of this aide and all aides against besmirchment and insinuation”, but don’t lie.

I’m disappointed in you, Sam Adams.

Gay Mayor Sworn In

Jim Burroway

January 3rd, 2009

Sam Adams, who was elected to replace Portland Oregon’s outgoing mayor Tom Potter, was sworn into office on New Years Day. About 40 people were present, including Adams’ partner Peter Zuckerman. Portland is now the largest U.S. city with an openly gay mayor.

Indian Tribe Recognizes Same-Sex Marriage

Timothy Kincaid

August 20th, 2008

The Coquille, a Native American tribe in southern Oregon have become the first in the United States to decide to recognize same-sex marriage (The Oregonian).

As a federally recognized sovereign nation, the tribe is not bound by Oregon’s constitution. And on May 8, the tribe adopted a law that recognizes same-sex marriage and extends to gay and lesbian couples all the tribal benefits of marriage.

And while the state cannot interfere in inter-tribal matters, the planned marriage between Kitzen and Jeni Branting could play a part in a larger legal question.

Because the Coquille is federally recognized, a marriage “occurring within the tribe would actually be federally recognized,” Gilley said. And that would violate the Defense of Marriage Act, a federal law that says the federal government “may not treat same-sex relationships as marriages for any purpose.”

As a result, the marriage between the Brantings – who share the same last name after changing it to reflect their commitment – could become a test case if challenged by the federal government. Gilley said it could test the boundaries of tribal independence nationwide. .

“This could be a test of sovereignty,” he said.

Anti-Gay Activists Surrender From Coast to Coast

Jim Burroway

June 19th, 2008

Anti-gay activists in Maine and Oregon have abandoned efforts to repeal nondiscrimination laws.

First in Maine, where an effort to repeal that state’s anti-discrimination laws have floundered:

An initiative campaign to repeal Maine’s gay rights law and put in place roadblocks to gay marriages and adoptions is being abandoned, leaders of the campaign said Thursday.

“We’re pulling the plug,” said Michael Heath, executive director of the Christian Civic League of Maine. Heath said the evangelical group failed to attract voter, volunteer and financial support it needed to continue its campaign.

This is yet another indication that the tide may be turning. As we reported on Monday, Oregon anti-gay activists abandoned their efforts to repeal two state laws. One initiative targeted a state law banning discrimination in employment, housing and public accommodations. The other initiative sought to repeal that state’s domestic partnership law. Now they’ve conceded that they can’t collect enough signatures in time:

Organizers conceded Monday that their initiatives to repeal two Oregon gay rights laws will not make the November ballot.

The fact that the initiatives are stalled offers more evidence that opponents are losing support, say gay rights activists, who were also celebrating the legalization of same-sex marriages in California on Monday.

But conservatives and church groups that are pushing the Oregon initiatives say their support is growing. “We’re just getting stronger,” said Marylin Shannon of Brooks, a former Republican state senator and chief petitioner in the initiative drives. “The network is growing daily.”

Marylin’s bluster is so precious, isn’t it?

Oregonians Support Civil Unions

Timothy Kincaid

June 16th, 2008

Oregon Live reports:

Social conservatives and church groups are admitting defeat in their efforts to collect signatures for initiatives to repeal two Oregon gay rights laws in this November’s election.

The campaigns were aimed at derailing a domestic partnership law and another new law banning discrimination based on sexual orientation. Both were enacted by the 2007 Legislature.

32% of US Citizens Covered by Couple Recognition

Timothy Kincaid

May 29th, 2008

With the announcement by Governor Paterson of New York that his state would enact policies to recognize out of state same-sex marriages (in accordance with a court ruling), the gay citizens of the first and third largest states now can rest assured that their state government will honor their marriages.

Though same-sex marriages may (as of June 17th) take place only in Massachusetts and California, such marriages are now recognized in New York and (perhaps) Rhode Island. In total 63 million Americans, or 20.7%, live in marriage recognition states.

States that allow all or nearly all of the attributes of marriage under some other name, New Jersey, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Oregon, contribute another 18 million, or 5.9%. Those who offer limited recognition, Washington, Maine, Hawaii, Maryland, and the District of Columbia, have populations totaling 15 million or 5.0%.

In total 31.6% of US residents are able to avail themselves of protections for their same-sex families.

The sky hasn’t fallen.

Portland Elects Gay Mayor

Jim Burroway

May 21st, 2008

Portland mayor Sam AdamsPortland elected Sam Adams to be the city’s mayor yesterday, making Portland the largest city so far to elect an openly gay city executive. As of 11:33 PDT last night, he was leading his closest rival, businessman Sho Dozono by a margin of 58% to 34% with 77% of the votes counted.

“I’m running not to be a gay mayor, but a great mayor,” he said after giving his victory speech last night. “But I’m very cognizant, very aware that I’m the first openly gay mayor of a major American city. That’s a real honor”

Marriage Rights Around the World

Timothy Kincaid

May 15th, 2008

The following countries offer some form of recognition to same-sex couples:

Marriage

Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, South Africa, United States (Massachusetts, California)

Civil Unions

New Zealand, Brazil (Rio Grande do Sul), Argentina (Buenos Aires, Rio Negro), Mexico (Coahuila), Uruguay, United States (Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, New Jersey)

Registered Partnership or Domestic Partnership

Denmark, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Finland, Luxembourg, , Slovenia, United Kingdom, Czech Republic, Italy (City of Padua), Switzerland, Hungary, Australia (Tasmania), United States (Maine, Washington, Oregon)

Other Methods of Limited Recognition

France (PACS), Germany (Life Partnership), Croatia (Law of Same-Sex Relationships), Andorra (Stable Union of a Couple), Mexico (Mexico City – PACS), Colombia (Common-law marriage inheritance rights), Israel (Limited recognition of foreign legal arrangements), United States (Hawaii – Reciprocal Benefits; New York – recognition of out-of-state legal marriages)

Although recognition is in a rapid state of change, this is my best understanding of the current rights provided. Several nations are in the process of adding or revising recognition.

Oregon Activists Seek To Repeal Civil Unions

Jim Burroway

April 1st, 2008

Last February, we reported that Oregon’s civil unions law finally went into effect after a last minute court challenge was set aside. That victory however wasn’t enough to deter anti-gay activists from trying to turn back the clock.  State Rep. Sal Esquivel, state Senator Gary Georgeand former Sen. Marilyn Shannon filed Initiative Petition 146 Monday with the Oregon Secretary of State to repeal the Family Fairness Act. The group needs to collect 82,769 signatures to put it on the ballot.

This initiative petition joins two others which seek to set aside the new civil unions law. Another initiative seeks to set aside Oregon’s recently enacted anti-discrimination law.

Paying More – Getting Less

Timothy Kincaid

March 26th, 2008

gaytax1.bmpHey gay couples, grab your checkbooks. It’s that time of year where you get to pay more than your brother and his wife.

If you are part of a couple, you usually would benefit from filing an income tax return as a married couple. While this is not always the case, it is especially true for those couples in which one of the partners has a much lower income than the other.

Some states have decided that they value their gay citizens and seek to encourage stable families and have changed their laws so as to treat gay couples the same as heterosexual couples in their tax law. Massachusetts, California, Vermont, and Connecticut all allow for couples to file joint tax returns (this may also be the case in New Jersey, New Hampshire, Maine, Washington and Oregon and perhaps for some Rhode Island and New York residents – I haven’t researched every state).

But while this is to be commended and advanced in more states, it isn’t as simple as it seems. The federal government doesn’t care what the states have determined, they only recognize marriage as between a man and a woman. Thus, gay couples get to jump through hoops and make multiple tax returns. This becomes costly whenever you have a complicated return.

For example, a California couple in a Domestic Partnership has to prepare its state return as though they were a married couple. But CA tax law relies on federal tax treatment of certain situations, so this couple often has to prepare a federal income tax return as a married couple in order to apply the appropriate treatment on their state returns.

But they can’t file that federal joint return. The IRS won’t accept it. Instead they have to prepare federal returns as though they were unrelated roommates.

Add in some complexity, such as multiple state returns, and you may end up paying your accountant a much higher rate due to the extra time they incur.

If you can. Some accountants may not be familiar with the procedures at all.

H&R Block, the nation’s largest tax firm, is being sued by the ACLU because their online do-it-yourself system can’t accomodate Connecticut’s civil unions. Connecticut gay couples have to pay about $150 more and go into the H&R Block office in order to get their returns prepared correctly.

So the next time you hear some anti-gay whine about “special rights”, remind them that you pay more for your government than they do.

UPDATE

Reader John brought to my attention one of the stupidest and cruelest inconsistencies.

If your brother receives insurance covering his wife, it’s a tax free benefit. If you receive insurance covering your same-sex spouse, the federal government considers that to be a taxable part of your income. Yes, they actually make you pay income taxes on the amount of health insurance that you receive from your company for your spouse if you are gay.

I guess that concern about Americans without health insurance extends only to heterosexuals.

Oregon Civil Unions Get The Go-Ahead

Jim Burroway

February 1st, 2008

Just a few days before Oregon’s civil unions law was to go in effect on January 1, U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman issued a temporary injunction bringing the plans for countless couples to a halt.

Judge Mosman acted on a suit brought by opponents to Oregon’s civil unions law who sought to overturn the legislature’s action by placing a referendum on the ballot. Their petition drive however drive fell 96 signatures short of the 55,179 needed put the measure on the ballot. The lawsuit, brought by the Alliance Defense Fund, claimed that signatures were wrongly rejected.

Yesterday, Judge Mosman, a 2003 Bush appointee, lifted his injunction and ruled for the lawyers for the state and Basic Rights Oregon. The Alliance Defense Fund promised to appeal, and anti-gay activists said they would start another petition drive.

Were Oregon Domestic Partnerships Put on Hold by an Activist Judge?

Timothy Kincaid

December 31st, 2007

UPDATED

mosman.jpgWhen courts find that constitutional protections include gay people, anti-gays often raise the cry of “Activist Judge”. It seems to matter little if the judge has a long history of conservative affiliation or careful judicial determination.

Well, it may be that in the latest judicial decision on the rights of same-sex couples there actually was an activist judge, an anti-gay activist judge.

This is not Judge Michael W. Mosman’s first words on gay couples and their right to equivalent treatment. An Oregonian article from April 21, 2003 (via www.sodomylaws.org) provides us with some disturbing precedent.

Mosman, 46, emerged as the top candidate in January after Ray Baum, a lawyer for Smith’s family business, withdrew. But controversy erupted in March, when Basic Rights disclosed Mosman’s role in a pivotal 1986 case, Bowers V. Hardwick.

The group uncovered and presented to Smith two “bench memos” that Mosman had written as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr. Mosman urged Powell to uphold Georgia’s anti-sodomy law against a claim that police invaded a man’s privacy by arresting him in his home.

Powell, who was the tie-breaking vote, later regretting making the legal decision to deny the same constitutional protections to the sex life of gay couples that the Supreme Court granted to heterosexual couples. It would not be until Lawrence v. Texas in 2003 that gay persons would no longer be automatic criminals in many states.

It is unclear at this point whether Mosman’s advice to Powell was due to legal position or how much was due to his own religious idealogy. In a book referenced by the article he suggest that another legal argument might have been more convincing. However, the language used by Mosman in 1986 makes quite clear that at that time he did not include gay and lesbian families within even the broadest definition of “family relationship”.

“Without belaboring the point, I am convinced that the right of privacy as it relates to this case has been limited thus far to marriage and other family relationships,” Mosman wrote to Powell. “So limited, the right of privacy does not extend to protect ‘sexual freedom’ in the absence of fundamental values of family and procreation.”

Judge Mosman met with the Democratic Oregon Senator, Ron Wyden, at the time of his confimation and convinced him of his impartiality and that he was not an anti-gay advocate. I am wondering if Wyden regrets his support. For that matter, I wonder if Senator Gordon Smith, the Republican who nominated him is having second thoughts. Both are long time allies of the gay community with Senator Smith often leading Republican support in the Senate.

In the upcoming months we will see whether or not this judge is abusing his authority to impose on Oregonians his own personal values. I’m not encouraged that the judge found a new “fundamental right” where none had been before – what appears to be a “fundamental right” not to have your signature disqualified if it doesn’t meet the established decades-standing requirements that were known to all upon the distribution of petitions. Further he determined that allowing gay Oregonians to form domestic partnerships would do irreparible harm to the anti-gay activists in Arizona (or perhaps to local anti-gays, I’m not certain) that were fighting against any measure of equality and dignity for gay persons.

We will, of course, keep you updated.

UPDATE

Judge Mosman ruled for the state and for gay couples. Clearly my concerns were unwarranted.

It feels wonderful to be wrong about him.

On Monday Night, Pop a Cork or Light a Candle

Timothy Kincaid

December 30th, 2007

us_ssm_laws.pngAfter midnight while the world is celebrating a new year, gay couples in New Hampshire will be celebrating new equality. Civil Unions will become legal there.

Meanwhile those couples in Oregon who were expecting to join in Domestic Partnerships will have a while longer to wait. The state has a peculiar system whereby a law can be delayed in implementation if there are enough signatures collected to force a vote of the populace.

Those who opposed allowing same-sex couples have any rights similar to those granted to opposite-sex couples gathered signatures but fell 96 short of the 55,179 required to stop the law. However they were able to find a judge to put the celebrations on a hold until he can hear their complaints about possible legal signatures that were invalidated.

The surprise ruling comes four days before the law would allow gay couples to gain most of the same legal benefits of marriage. Couples across Oregon were planning to show up at county offices Wednesday to register as partners.

But U.S. District Judge Michael Mosman ruled that they will have to wait. He set a Feb. 1 hearing to decide a lawsuit challenging the state’s methods for verifying signatures on a November 2008 referendum.

Mosman said attorneys for opponents showed that the rights of voters may have been violated if their signatures were wrongly rejected. Setting the next hearing in a month reduces the harm to people who would be affected by the new law, he said.

Those who had hoped to strengthen their families will instead light a candle.

In New Hampshire champagne will flow and tears and smiles abound in midnight ceremonies planned by those who just can’t wait any longer.

Whether you will be lighting a candle or toasting in new freedoms, have a very happy, healthy and sane New Year. And resolve to do your part in 2008 to bring about equality for gay couples across the nation and around the world.

Oregon Domestic Partners Breathe Easy Again

Timothy Kincaid

October 8th, 2007

As we reported a few weeks ago, the Oregon state legislature voted in a domestic partnership law. Oregon laws can be challenged by petition and signature efforts were made to halt this bill until it was defeated (or ratified) by referendum.

KVAL is reporting that although Let Oregon Vote had turned in 63,000 signatures, not enough were valid.

State elections officials reported Monday the effort fell only 116 valid signatures short of the 55,179 needed to suspend the law and place it on the November 2008 ballot for a popular vote.

That means that as of Jan. 1, Oregon will join eight other states that have approved spousal rights in some form for same-sex couples – Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Maine, California, Washington and Hawaii.

It has not yet been announced whether a petition to reverse the companion non-discrimination bill has received enough valid signatures to go on the ballot.

Pro-Discrimination Group Seeking Last Minute Signatures

Timothy Kincaid

September 26th, 2007

Oregon has a provision whereby a vote of the legislature can be put to a vote of the people if adequate signatures can be obtained. Oregon has 2.1 million registered voters and requires 55,179 voters to sign a petition in order for the issue to reach the ballot.

Anti-gay activists in Oregon are collecting signatures to put SB2 – an anti-discrimination law – and HB2007 – a civil unions bill – up to the vote of the people.

Today at 3:00 pm is the deadline for turning in these signatures and placing the legislative action on the 2008 ballot. Otherwise they become law.

According to the Statesman Journal, as of Tuesday the group seeking to keep discrimination legal and civil unions absent had about 55,000 signatures. However, they are still seeking a buffer of about 8,000 signatures as there are always signatures that are not valid on every petition. If they do not get their buffer, they will not file.

UPDATE

Per Oregon Live,

Marylin Shannon, a former state senator and spokeswoman for Defense of Marriage Again, said the groups had delivered nearly 63,000 signatures to overturn each of the two laws.

Now the verification process begins (probably by sampling). If the Secretary of State determines that there are adequate signatures, the two bills go to the voters for confirmation in November 2008.

Domestic Partnership, Non-Discrimination Laws Signed In Oregon

Jim Burroway

May 9th, 2007

Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski signed two important bills into law today. One will allow same-sex couples to enter into “domestic partnerships,” with many of the benefits currently available to married couples. The other bans discrimination against gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders in employment, housing and other public accommodations. Both become effective January 1.

Oregon joins California, Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey, Vermont, and Washington state in offering civil unions or domestic partnerships, although the definitions vary widely among these states. Only Massachusetts allows same-sex marriage. New Hampshire’s legislature recently passed its own civil unions bill which is expected to be signed into law soon.

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