Recently in Same-Sex Marriage Category

May 19, 2008

Same-Sex Marriage Legal in California!

On May 15th, after four years of litigation and many decades of discrimination, California became the second
U.S. state to provide full marriage equality for all of its citizens. Starting June 14, same-sex couples all over California will begin tying the matrimonial knot and celebrating a new summer of love.

In a 4-3 decision, the California Supreme Court ruled on the case challenging the state's marriage statutes, concluding that "in view of the substance and significance of the fundamental right to form a family relationship, the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples."

The Court's 120-page opinion -- click here for a press release boiling it down -- analyzes California Family Code Section 308.5 (also known as Prop. 22, or the Knight Initiative) which states that only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid in California; reviews the history and scope of the constitutional right to marry in California; and addresses the equal protection issues raised by the limitation of the word "marriage" to opposite-sex couples.

About time! But despite this great victory for same-sex families, there is no rest for the weary. As the New York Times reports, right-wing groups are working to qualify a ballot measure for the November election that would enshrine marriage discrimination in the California Constitution by way of a constitutional amendment limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples. According to SFGate.com, "The constitutional amendment will qualify for the November ballot if officials determine that at least 694,354 of the [1.1 million signatures gathered] are valid, a decision due by mid-June." If passed, the measure would nullify last week's Supreme Court decision and eliminate marriage equality.

The answers to many common questions about what marriage equality means can be found here, at the website of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the lead counsel on the marriage cases.

March 5, 2008

California Supreme Court Considers Same-Sex Marriage

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While the nation was focused on the big presidential primaries on March 4, California was also court-watching, as the California Supreme Court heard arguments in lawsuits seeking an end to discriminatory marriage laws in the Golden State.

Lawyers for the parties seeking marriage equality argued that it's unconstitutional to keep gays and lesbians from marrying a same-sex partner, while the opposing side countered that tradition and public opinion support continuing the current ban on same-sex marriage. The justices were very active in questioning both sides, and it's hard to tell what they're thinking, but to me it appeared that some of them, at least, were leaning toward ruling in favor of marriage equality for all California citizens. Their pointed inquiry into how same-sex marriage "undermines" heterosexual marriage certainly exposed the weakness in that particular bit of bigotry, and they also appeared to reject the notion that children always thrive when raised by biological parents of the opposite sex. (In fact, studies show that children of lesbians and gay men do just as well as kids with opposite-sex parents.)

We'll find out within 90 days what the justices are thinking -- that's the time limit for the court to rule. Lots more about the arguments and the issues in the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, and New York Times. And if you're up for nearly four hours of court-watching, you can see the argument on the California Channel's site under the link for "What's New." Finally, there's an interesting summary of the argument session at Leonard Link.

January 24, 2008

Al Gore Supports Same-Sex Marriage

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I would have expected it to be bigger news that Al Gore has come out (no pun intended) in favor of same-sex marriage. In a video statement on his website, current.com, Gore says that "gay men and women ought to have the same rights as heterosexual men and women ... to join together in marriage." The Advocate today provides a written transcript of the video statement.

First the Mayor of San Diego, now the former Vice President, Academy Award-winner, and Nobel Laureate. Who's next? It most likely won't be one of the major Democratic presidential candidates, all of whom support marriage-lite in the form of civil unions. But we can always hope that Gore's eloquent expression of the reality of this issue gets their attention and the attention of the nation.

September 20, 2007

Same-Sex Marriage Loses in Maryland, Integrity Wins in San Diego

Maryland court prohibits same-sex marriage. On Monday, Maryland's highest court upheld a state law prohibiting same-sex partners from marrying. As reported in the Washington Post, Tuesday's decision overturned a 2006 lower court ruling that struck down the law limiting marriage to one man and one woman. The judges on Tuesday said that limiting marriage to a man and woman supports the state's interest in fostering procreation--not an unusual argument against same-sex marriage, but rather a ridiculous one when you consider that people well beyond childbearing years are not prohibited from marrying, nor are heterosexual couples quizzed about their childbearing intentions before marriage licenses are issued.

San Diego Mayor supports same-sex marraige. At the other end of the spectrum, the Mayor of San Diego did a sudden about-face on Wednesday when he reversed his earlier opposition to same-sex marriage and agreed to sign a City Council resolution supporting a challenge to California's same-sex marriage ban. In an emotional press conference, Mayor Jerry Sanders (a Republican and a former police chief) said that his adult daughter is a lesbian, and that he has come to believe that the separate-but-equal status of civil unions and domestic partnerships do not offer true equality to same-sex couples.

Speaking of his daughter and other gay and lesbian community members, including some of his staff, the Mayor said: "I want for them the same thing that we all want for our loved ones -- for each of them to find a mate whom they love deeply and who loves them back; someone with whom they can grow old together and share life's experiences. And I want their relationships to be protected equally under the law. In the end, I couldn't look any of them in the face and tell them that their relationship -- their very lives -- were any less meaningful than the marriage I share with my wife Rana."

A politician standing up for what is right, probably at the risk of his job -- always a nice thing to see.

To learn more about same-sex partnerships and their legal implications, read A Legal Guide for Lesbian & Gay Couples, by Attorneys Denis Clifford & Frederick Hertz, and Emily Doskow, legal editor.