Box Turtle Bulletin

Box Turtle BulletinNews, analysis and fact-checking of anti-gay rhetoric
“Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife…”
This article can be found at:
Latest Posts

Posts for August, 2010

Prop 8 Rallies Planned

Jim Burroway

August 4th, 2010

As Timothy mentioned yesterday afternoon, we received word that a decision in Perry v. Schwarzenegger is expected this afternoon between 1:00 and 3:00 pm (PDT). Already, Prop 8 supporters have already filed a request for stay of judgment pending appeal, in case Judge Walker strikes down Prop 8. If granted, this would prevent any marriages taking until the Court of Appeals hears the case.

Meanwhile, a large number of rallies are planned in California and across the U.S., forty so far and counting. Rex Wockner is keeping up to date with the latest additions.

Wisconsin ban on all couple recognition upheld by state supreme court

Timothy Kincaid

June 30th, 2010

In 2006, Wisconsin voters passed (59% – 41%) the following referendum:

Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.

This was challenged in court under the argument that this referendum actually addressed two issues rather than one as is required: 1) shall marriage be banned, 2) shall civil unions be banned. Supporters of gay couples argued that those who wished to ban marriage but allow civil unions did not have an option.

Today, the Wisconsin Supreme Court announced their decision (Grand Forks Herald)

The court’s 7-0 ruling concluded that the constitutional amendment was properly put to voters in a statewide referendum in 2006. Justices rejected a lawsuit that claimed the amendment violated a rule limiting constitutional amendments to a single subject.

Court: Wisconsin gay parents don’t have rights

Timothy Kincaid

June 24th, 2010

From the Chicago Tribune:

A Wisconsin appeals court says gay parents do not have full parental rights when it comes to their adopted children.

The court ruled Thursday against a woman who was seeking guardianship of two adopted children for whom she acted as a stay at home mother for years.

Cuz it’s in the interest of the kids, ya know.

Sigh.

Nearly half of all Americans live where there is some recognition of same-sex couples

Timothy Kincaid

March 3rd, 2010

US Map

About 5.1% of Americans (15.5 million) live in areas in which same-sex marriages are legal and equal to opposite-sex marriages: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and the District of Columbia.

Another 58.4 million (19.2%) live in states which have either civil unions or domestic partnerships that offer all the rights and protections of marriage without the name: California, New Jersey, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington. To that we can add two more states (New York and Maryland) in which the local state government will honor marriage occurring elsewhere and we have a total of 32.6% of Americans living with the rights and responsibilities of marriage available to their family.

There are also five states which recognize same-sex couples and offer them limited itemized rights. They are Hawaii, Colorado, Wisconsin, Maine, and Rhode Island and they add an additional 14.2 million Americans (4.7%).

But recognition does not stop there. There are dozens more counties and cities who provide what local recognition and benefits as they can, adding another 14.2 million local residents (4.7% of Americans) who can appreciate that their city officials see them as a couple. Local municipalities include the populations of Salt Lake City, UT; Phoeniz AZ; Tuscon AZ; Duluth, MN; Minneapolis, MN; St. Paul, MN; Lawrence, KS; Columbia, MO; Kansas City, MO; St. Lewis, MO; Ann Arbor, MI; Cook County, IL (Chicago); Urbana, IL; Cleveland, OH; Cleveland Heights, OH; Toledo, OH; Philadelphia, PA; Pittsburgh, PA; Harrisburg, PA; El Paso, TX; Travis County, TX (Austin); Eureka Springs, AK; New Orleans, LA; Carrboro, NC; Chapel Hill, NC; Clarke County, GA (Athens); Fulton County, GA (Atlanta); Broward County, FL (Fort Lauderdale); Key West, FL; Miami-Dade County, FL; and West Palm Beach, FL.

In total about 140 million Americans – about 46% of the nation’s population – live where there is some form of official notice of same-sex couples. So NOM can proclaim “victory” when they have an election in California or Maine, but this ball is rolling and the momentum is in the direction of recognition.

For Halloween, these Sheboygan residents were Blithering Idiots

Timothy Kincaid

November 11th, 2009

It seems that common sense wasn’t very common in Sheboygan, WI, this Halloween. In fact, it was missing altogether.

For fun, let’s see how many really stupid decisions we can count in this story.

The incident began Oct. 31 when [a 20 year-od gay man] told police he was at [Julia] Laack’s house, 1603 S. 13th St., drinking heavily with the three adults and several other juveniles.

He said at one point a 15-year-old boy pulled him into a bathroom to ask if he was gay, and he said yes, but nothing else happened. The boy told police the two hugged after the 20-year-old told him he was the best-looking guy in the house and he would like to take him home.

Oh but it gets worse.

laack

Laack saw the two together in the bathroom, and she confronted the victim when he was back at the house drinking with the group Nov. 3.

The victim said Laack told him what happened in the bathroom is wrong and he shouldn’t get away with it, saying, “You are going to get us money for this.” Tibbs said they should “just kill” him.

Laack later told police the victim was told he could pay money, get beaten up or have his actions reported to police. The victim said he was confused and tried to leave, but Laack blocked the door and Tibbs said blood would be shed if he tried to leave again.

Wow. I think I lost track of how many truly abysmal choices were made.

The 20 year old then contacted police who recorded the next demand for payment. And now Julia E. Laack, Ethan T. Massey and Bret A. Tibbs are facing multiple extortion charges.

Wisconsin to Keep Domestic Partnerships

Timothy Kincaid

November 4th, 2009

On this day that we mourn the loss of equality in one state, we can rejoice that another has had a victory in its efforts to provide some measure of protection to its gay citizens.

In 2006, Wisconsin voters passed a constitutional amendment by 59%-41% which banned both same-sex marriage and “legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage”. And anti-gay activists rejoiced, believing that this ensured that lifelong committed gay couples would be denied any and all rights that were given willy-nilly to any six times divorced, drunken Vegas chapel, heterosexual couple.

But in June, the governor signed a budget which included the authorization of a registry for domestic partners and which granted a very limited number of specific rights.

Determined that gay couples should not be allowed to enjoy hospital visitation rights, inheritance rights, joint tenancy rights, and the ability to take Family Medical Leave (FMLA) to care for a sick/injured partner or non-biological/non-adopted child, anti-gay activists sued claiming that such a registry violated the “no rights for gay people” clause of the state constitution.

And they appealed directly to the state supreme court, hoping that such protections could be denied promptly. The Wisconsin Supreme Court did not grant their wish. (KSTP)

The state Supreme Court has rejected a lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s domestic partner registry.

The court offered no explanation in an order issued Tuesday.

But while this is a victory for decency and equality, it is not settled. They can still go through the process of trial court and appeals.

Congrats, Wisconsin Couples

Timothy Kincaid

August 3rd, 2009

Today is the day that Wisconsin same-sex couples can register as domestic partners. Most of the small list of rights and benefits deal with health care or probate issues. (Capital Times)

The extension of health care benefits to same-sex couples is one highlight of the registry. Other perks include the ability for same-sex couples to inherit their partner’s property or other assets, even if they do not have a will. Without these protections, the property and other assets of gay men and lesbians without a will would go to their parents or siblings — not their significant other — at the time of death.

What to bring if you plan to register: Couples must provide proof of residence, certified copies of their birth certificates and their Social Security numbers. For those who have been previously married, a certified death certificate or divorce judgment is required. The fee is also the same as for a marriage license, $115 in cash per couple in Dane County.

Who qualifies for the registry: Two individuals must be at least 18 years old, be of the same gender, share a common residence, not be nearer of kin than second cousins, and not be married or in another domestic partnership.

This day is historic in that Wisconsin became the first midwestern state to grant recognition of same-sex couples by legislation and it is the first state with a clause banning “legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage” to offer any limited recognition at all.

Anti-gays, of course, have sued to stop gay people from being able to cover their loved ones on their health insurance or visit them in the hospital. It’s not that they hate you, want to make your life as difficult as possible, or see you as an enemy in a culture war. Oh no, they just want to protect marriage, you see.

Wisconsin Gets Domestic Partnerships

Jim Burroway

June 29th, 2009

Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle signed the state budget into law today. That budget includes provisions for a Domestic Partnership registry to provide protections for same-sex couples as well as insurance rights for State employees. Protections include hospital visitation rights, inheritance rights, joint tenancy rights, and the ability to take Family Medical Leave (FMLA) to care for a sick/injured partner or non-biological/non-adopted child.

Wisconsin’s Domestic Partnerships

Timothy Kincaid

June 18th, 2009

In 2006, voters in Wisconsin passed the following amendment to their state constitution:

Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.

The second part of that amendment effectively bans the creation of civil unions or of domestic partnership agreements that are “identical or substantially similar to that of marriage”. However, as part of the budget process, the State Senate and Assembly have passed language (pdf 1,743 pages), at the request of the Governor, that establishes domestic partnerships within the state.

The domestic partnerships are dissimilar to marriage in that while marriage requires a license and the performance of a specific ceremony, domestic partnerships are recognized by means of a registry:

Under the bill, a domestic partnership may be formed by two individuals who are at least 18 years old, are not married or in another domestic partnership, share a common residence, are not nearer of kin than second cousins, and are members of the same sex.

To form a domestic partnership, the individuals apply for a declaration of domestic partnership to the county clerk of the county in which at least one of them has resided for at least 30 days. Each applicant must submit identification and a certified copy of his or her birth certificate, as well as any other document affecting the domestic partnership status, such as a death certificate or a certificate of termination of domestic partnership. The clerk must then issue a declaration of domestic partnership, which the parties must complete and submit to the register of deeds of the county in which they reside. The register of deeds must record the declaration and send the original to the state registrar of vital statistics.

The domestic partnerships receive certain specific rights which are similar to those granted by marriage:

  • Inheritance Rights:
    • Inherit if intestate or if the will was written before registration
    • Full property interest the decedent had in a home
    • Inherit partner’s interest in a boat
    • The rights to probate court and summary procedures
    • Exemptions for certain personal items and for limited exemptions from the estate’s creditors
    • Inherit wages due from an employer
  • Wrongful death actions and death benefits under workers compensation
  • The right to bar former partners from testifying about private communications
  • Employment Benefits:
    • The right to family leave to care for a domestic partner
    • Pension benefits provided to public employees
    • Fraternal benefit society may provide insurance coverage to domestic partners
    • Local governments may provide health and life insurance for domestic partners
    • Protection in state government employment from arbitrary discrimination based on domestic partner status.
  • Joint tenancy rights in property

While these are far fewer rights than come with marriage, they will not be of insignificant benefit to same-sex Wisconsin couples. The budget has differences between the House and Senate versions which will be hammered out but domestic partnerships are likely to survive and to be signed by Governor Doyle.

Wisconsin Senate Approves Domestic Partnerships

Jim Burroway

June 17th, 2009

The Wisconsin Senate approved this year’s controversial budget by a very tight vote of 17-16. Tucked in that budget was a provision to provide for a Domestic Partnership registry. Among the very limited benefits of Domestic Partnerships include provisions for jointly owning property, hospital visitation rights and inheritance. Domestic partners of state employees would also be eligible to receive the same state retirement and health insurance benefits as spouses.

The State Assembly passed the budget last week with the same Domestic Partnership provisions by a vote of 50-48. There, the registry endured a separate 50-48 vote to remain a part of the budget. The budget now goes to a conference committee to iron out differences before final approval in both houses and the governor’s signature.

If domestic partnerships become law, Wisconsin would be the first state with an existing constitutional amendment banning both same-sex marriage and civil unions to provide domestic partnership protections for same-sex couples.

Wisconsin Assembly Passes Domestic Partnerships

Jim Burroway

June 13th, 2009

The Wisconsin Assembly pulled an all-nighter overnight to finally pass a budget in the early hours of Saturday morning. That 50-48 party line vote by the Democrat-controlled Assembly for the $62.2 billion budget also included important policy changes, including the establishment of a Domestic Partnership registry for same-sex couples. Among the very limited benefits of Domestic Partnerships include provisions for jointly owning property, hospital visitation rights and inheritance. Domestic partners of state employees would also be eligible to receive the same state retirement and health insurance benefits as spouses.

The budget will now go to the Senate, which is expected to vote on it sometime next week.

If domestic partnerships become law, Wisconsin would be the first state with an existing constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions to provide domestic partnership protections for same-sex couples.

Wisconsin May Offer Recognition

Timothy Kincaid

May 22nd, 2009

In 2006, Wisonsin voters passed the following amendments by a margin of 59%-41%:

“Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state. A legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals shall not be valid or recognized in this state.”

Now the legislature is seeking to find a place short of “substantially similar” to allow recognition for same-sex couples. (Chicago Tribune)

The Legislature’s budget committee voted 12-4 Friday for a plan allowing gay and lesbian couples who live together to form domestic partnerships and receive some of the same benefits as married couples.

The Wisconsin plan would allow couples who register with their county register of deeds to jointly own property, inherit each other’s assets and visit each other in the hospital, among other things.

Wisconsin Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Const. Amendment

Timothy Kincaid

May 14th, 2009

Per the Wisconsin Radio Network:

The court announced on Thursday it will review a case brought by William McConkey.

The UW-Oskosh political science professor filed a lawsuit challenging the 2006 amendment on the grounds that it was improperly put before voters. McConkey argues the ballot question not only asked voters to ban gay marriage, but also any “similar” legal arrangement such as civil unions. He says the question was unconstitutional because the issues should have been put to voters separately.

Former Milwaukee Archbishop Admits He’s Gay

Jim Burroway

May 12th, 2009

When public figures come out of the closet, the event is usually greeted with joy and applause in the gay community. But when that event is tainted with scandal, the reaction is considerably muted. When New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey announced that he was “a gay American” and was resigning just as a scandal was about to bust open, it was, shall we say, a mixed bag.

And so when the next coming out involves a Catholic Archbishop who was accused of sexual assaulting a seminarian and hiding pedophile priests, I’m reminded that there are those who I really don’t want as a member of my club.

In a soon-to-be released memoir, A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church: Memoirs of a Catholic Archbishop, former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland acknowledges he is gay. He also discusses his struggles with his homosexuality and the teachings of the Catholic church. According to Publisher’s Weekly:

When Weakland resigned as Milwaukee archbishop in 2002 after revelations of a past homosexual relationship and a confidential payout, it was seen as another stunning episode in the unfolding clergy abuse scandal. It was especially painful to liberal Catholics who viewed Weakland as their champion. Weakland was publicly penitent, but other events that year—chief among them the resignation of Cardinal Bernard Law in Boston—made Weakland’s drama a footnote. With this frank and well-told memoir, that’s no longer the case. A Benedictine monk, Weakland is up front about his homosexuality in a church that preferred to ignore gays, and about his failures in overseeing pedophile priests. But this is really the poignant journey of a soul, not a mea culpa about sex, with chapters on his hardscrabble boyhood and fascinating, and sometimes sobering, insights into the life of a bishop and the tensions between the American Catholic Church and the Vatican. At points the narrative has more than enough detail on the life of a globe-trotting abbot. But overall this is an invaluable historical record and a moving personal confession. (June)

Weakland stepped down soon after Paul Marcoux, a former Marquette University theology student, revealed in May 2002 that he was paid $450,000 in archdiocese money to settle a sexual assault claim he made against the Weakland. The incident allegedly occurred more than two decades earlier. Weakland denied the assault, but apologized for concealing the payment.

Weakland was a favorite among liberal Catholics because of his strong stance on social justice issues and liturgical reform. In a recent statement, Weakland said Christians needed to speak more openly about gays in the priesthood without the “hysteria” that often characterizes the debate.

State Marriage Equality Update

Timothy Kincaid

April 9th, 2009

There has been a lot of movement recently in various states on the issue of recognition for same-sex couples. Here is a brief synopsis (I apologize if I missed anything):

Arkansas – on March 27, a bill was killed that would have banned cities and counties from creating domestic partner registries.

California – the State Supreme Court is deliberating on whether Proposition 8 is constitutional and, if so, what impact it has on the 18,000 same-sex couples who married between June and November 2008.

Colorado – at least two initiative drives are underway to either change the constitution to allow for gay marriage or alternately to statutorily create civil unions. The legislature has just passed a Designated Beneficiary Agreement Act, which has been signed by the Governor.

Connecticut – last week codified – with bipartisan support – marriage equality in the state’s laws to agree with the decision of the state Supreme Court.

Delaware – proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage defeated in the Senate in the last week in March.

Hawaii – Civil Unions bill was tied up in committee. Although the bill has a strong majority of support in the Senate, they voted not to pull it from committee.

Illinois – a bill (HB 0178) has been introduced to legalize same-sex marriage along with a bill (HB 2234) to enact Civil Unions. The marriage bill is resting in the Rules Committee but the Civil Unions bill passed out of committee in March and now faces a House vote.

Iowa – last week the Supreme Court found that the state must recognize same-sex marriage. It will go into effect on April 27. The Governor, the Senate Majority Leader, and the Speaker of the House have all announced that they will oppose efforts to change the Constitution. Iowa has no initiative process so it would require a change in leadership and several years before it would be possible to revoke this right.

Maine – both a marriage bill and a civil unions bill are before the legislature. The Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on April 24. Gov. John Baldacci is “keeping an open mind”.

Maryland – on April 7, the State Senate upgraded benefits offered to same-sex couples in domestic partnership relationships but do not allow for official state recognition of those relationships.

Minnesota – there is a bill before the legislature to provide new marriage equality. It is unlikely to pass.

Nevada – a bill to provide Domestic Partnerships with all the rights and obligations of marriage has passed out of committee and is before the Senate.

New Hampshire – at the end of March the House passed a bill to allow for gay marriage. It will be considered by the Senate, where Democrats have a 14-9 advantage (a dozen Republicans in the House supported the bill). Governor John Lynch has not stated whether he will veto the legislation, should it pass.

New Jersey – a commission has found that civil unions are inadequate and polls have found that residents favor gay marriage but a bill before the legislature appears not to be moving.

New Mexico – in March the Senate defeated efforts to enact Domestic Partnerships.

New York – the Governor has announced that he will push for a vote in the Senate on gay marriage. Although marriage equality has passed in the House, without support from some Republicans, the votes do not appear to be there in the Senate.

Rhode Island – a gay marriage bill is unlikely to make it out of committee. A “reciprocal beneficiary agreements” bill, a darling of anti-gays who want to label gay couples as identical to roommates or cousins, has been proposed as a “compromise”.

Vermont – this week the legislature overrode the governor’s veto to pass marriage equality.

Washington - a bill to upgrade the state’s Domestic Partnerships to provide all the rights and obligations of marriage has passed the Senate and will come before the House soon.

West Virginia – last week the House of Delegates defeated a proposed state constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage.

Wisconsin - the Supreme Court is being asked to review the constitutional ban on marriage. The Governor, in his budget, has proposed Domestic Partnership benefits.

Wyoming – in February the House defeated a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

District of Columbia – the Council voted unanimously to recognize out of state marriages. Same-sex marriage bill expected later this year.

Newer Posts | Older Posts