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June 19th, 2003, 07:56 AM
June 19, 2003

Gay Marriage Plan: Sign of Sweeping Change in Canada


TORONTO, June 18 — Canada's decision to allow marriage between same-sex couples is only one of many signs that this once tradition-bound society is undergoing social change at an astonishing rate.

Increasingly, Canada has been on a social policy course pursued by many Western European and Scandinavian countries, and over the last few decades it has been moving gradually more out of step with the United States.

Even as the government announced on Tuesday that it would rewrite the definition of marriage, it was also in the process of transforming its drug policies by decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana and, to combat disease, permitting "safe-injection" clinics in Vancouver, British Columbia, for heroin addicts.

The large Indian population remains impoverished, but there are signs that native peoples are taking greater control of their destinies; their leaders now govern two territories, occupying more than a third of Canada's land mass.

As far as the ease with which society changes, Canada is virtually in a category by itself.

Canada is a country that has never had a revolution or civil war, and little social turbulence aside from sporadic rebellions in the 19th century and a splash of terrorism in Quebec in the 1960's and 1970's.

The country's demographics have changed dramatically since then, when the government of Pierre Trudeau opened wide the country's doors to Africans, Asians and West Indians as part of an attempt to fill Canada's huge, underpopulated hinterland. Eighteen percent of the population is now foreign-born compared with about 11 percent in the United States, with little or no debate over whether the effects of such change in culture, demographics and national identity is good or bad.

Only in the last generation have Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver, with one third of the population, become multicultural polyglots, with the towers of Sikh temples and mosques becoming mainstays of the skylines and cuisines and fashion becoming concoctions of spices and patterns that are in the vanguard of globalization.

Toronto, once a homogeneous city of staid British tradition, now counts more than 40 percent of the people as foreign born. There are nearly 2,000 ethnic restaurants, and local radio and television stations broadcast in more than 30 languages.

"Everything from marriage laws to marijuana laws, we are going through a period of accelerated social change," said Neil Bissoondath, an immigrant from Trinidad who is a leading novelist. "There is a general approach to life here that is both evolutionary and revolutionary."

Mr. Bissoondath said the balance went back to the ideals of the Tory founders of Canada, who remained loyal to the British crown and who instilled a laissez-faire conservatism "that says people have a right to live their lives as they like."

That philosophy was a practical necessity in a colony that was bilingual after the British conquered French Quebec, creating relative social peace by allowing greater religious freedoms than even Catholics in England had at the time.

The live-and-let-live approach was codified by the 1982 Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canada's Bill of Rights. Being as young as it is, the charter occupies a vivid corner of the Canadian psyche. So when three senior provincial courts ruled recently that federal marriage law discriminated against same-sex couples, the Liberal Party cabinet decided to go along and not appeal.

While the new law will have to be passed by the House of Commons, little organized resistance has developed.

Few have complained that a national policy pertaining to something as intimate as marriage would be set by courts in Quebec, British Columbia and Ontario rather than a federal body. In part, that reflects the great relative political strength that regional governments have developed in what is known as the Canadian Confederation, where the federal government is weaker than most central governments in the West.

But it also reflects poll results that show a majority of Canadians support expanding marriage to gay couples. Last year, the Quebec provincial assembly enacted unanimously a law giving sweeping parental rights to same-sex couples, with even the most conservative members voting in favor despite lobbying by the Roman Catholic Church.

"Canada has always been in the vanguard in relation to many societies in the world," Prime Minister Jean Chrétien said Tuesday, speaking in French to reporters after he announced the cabinet's decision. "We have met our responsibilities."

Nowhere has the social change been more dramatic than in Mr. Chrétien's home province of Quebec, which as recently as the 1960's was deeply conservative and where the church dominated education and social life. Since the baby-boomer generation started the "quiet revolution" in favor of separatism, big government social programs and secularism, abortion and divorce rates there rose to among the highest in Canada. Meanwhile, church attendance plummeted.

Now the pendulum is moving in the other direction, ever so slightly.

"There is a centrist mentality in Canada that translates into the political system not tolerating the Pat Buchanans nor the leftist equivalent," Michel C. Auger, a political columnist for Le Journal de Montréal, said. "There is a unified fabric here that is a lot stronger on social issues than it seems to be in the United States."

Canada's Celebration of Marriage

The landmark ruling came down from the north with some of the simple delight of a June wedding announcement: "Same-sex couples are capable of forming long, lasting, loving and intimate relationships." In unanimously affirming the obvious, an Ontario appeals court opened the way for Canada to end the bar on marriage between partners of the same sex. Final approval of a milestone law striking down discrimination against gay couples is expected within months. But the northward flow by gay couples from the United States has already begun. Canada has no residency requirements for love-struck people intent on marriage, while Belgium and the Netherlands enacted tighter restrictions in pioneering legal gay unions.

When they head home after the vows and rice, the newlyweds will expect to be treated as legally married people here, as will gay Canadian couples visiting the United States. They should get that respect, both out of simple decency and because this nation has a long history of recognizing legal marriages performed across borders.

Unfortunately, the United States has a long way to go to match Canada's record of tolerance on this issue. In contrast to Canadian jurists, our Supreme Court is only now considering a ban on the antediluvian Texas law criminalizing intimate relations by homosexuals in the privacy of the home. And, far from liberalizing the law of the land as Canada is choosing to do, Congress responded to the gay-marriage issue in 1996 by hastily defining heterosexual union alone as the marriage standard for purposes of federal benefits in the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Right now Vermont recognizes civil unions, a step short of full marriage rights, with a handful of other states installing domestic partner protections. There are cases pending in Massachusetts and New Jersey that could lead to decisions ending marriage discrimination in those states. The American public is not yet as ready to accept marriages between same-sex partners as a natural part of the landscape as polls show Canadians are, but change will be unstoppable in time, whatever the pace proves to be. Canada's choice of a clean break with the past is a stirring moment. Gay couples have a place where they can legally be joined in matrimony, and life goes on, happily ever after or not.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

June 19th, 2003, 03:58 PM
I was impressed in that marijuana was being sold in front of the new city hall in Toronto....

TLOZ Link5
June 19th, 2003, 05:13 PM
I'd give it four or five days before Rev. Fred Phelps brings his whining cultists (a.k.a.: the members of his family comprising the congregation of the Westboro Baptist Church) up to Toronto in protest. *Despite the fact that I consider said cult to be so over; they haven't gotten any coverage in a while. *Not to mention that that wife-beating child slaver is not really one to be exhorting good Christian values.

June 19th, 2003, 05:58 PM
> Rev. Fred Phelps... cultists... protest... wife-beating child slaver...


Whatever that was about, it sounds like it could constitute a a thread all unto itself.


June 19th, 2003, 08:51 PM
I don't care what anyone thinks of the Times editorial page. Stick to the topic.

June 19th, 2003, 11:29 PM
Evidently, this thread took a direction after 02:30 PM which led to several posts (2 of mine included) being deleted.
I would appreciate an explanation.

June 20th, 2003, 05:47 AM
There was nothing wrong with your posts. They were deleted only because they made no sense on their own. Sorry.

June 20th, 2003, 07:10 AM
I never realized Canada was such a volatile subject. :)

June 20th, 2003, 12:55 PM
I don't know what I missed - I'm gone for ONE DAY, and look what happens - anyway, go Canada! I grew up being proud of my country for being the most free of all nations, now other western democracies are clearly taking the lead. Is it the conservative grip on our government? Too much t.v.? Too much sugar?

TLOZ Link5
June 20th, 2003, 06:13 PM
Quote: from chris on 5:58 pm on June 19, 2003
> Rev. Fred Phelps... cultists... protest... wife-beating child slaver...


Whatever that was about, it sounds like it could constitute a a thread all unto itself.


Heh. *Fred Phelps is some Baptist fundie from Kansas. *The whole crux of his twisted version of Christianity is the idea that homosexuality is the most despicable of all sins. *He also says that God hates everybody because some Psalm says so ("The foolish shall not stand in thy sight; though hatest all workers on iniquity, blah blah" ), even though the passage was obviously written by the Psalmist and not inspired directly by God, so the point may very well be moot. *And then there's his whole thing with old-school Calvinism, which states that God picks like ten thousand people to be saved and the rest burn--and we all know that if that were the actual case, then Christianity never would have gotten off the ground.

So anyway, Phelps is a not-very-nice individual. *His church website has the IP address www. god hates[insert nasty three-letter word for gays beginning with F here]s.com. *He's been known to use archaic epithets in reference to gays and lesbians: though his use of the aforementioned f-word is partially explained in the FAQ section of his Website (apparently gays will stoke the fires of hell), it still does not justify his use of words like "queer," "homo," "dyke," etc. *His congregation is comprised mostly of his rather large family (he has thirteen sons and daughters, several of whom are now estanged from him), and they are known for picketing high-profile events that conflict with their (read Phelps') theology--examples: Matthew Sheppard's funeral, as well as those of other prominent homosexuals; the subsequent verdict hearing at Sheppard's murder trial; the AIDS Walk in Washington, where his infuriating presence nearly sparked a riot; the Gay Pride Parade in New York; and Baghdad during Clinton's Presidency to protest his attacks on Iraq, his affair with Monica Lewinsky and the implementation of the "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the military regarding gay servicemen. *They hold a daily rally in a municipal park in their hometown of Topeka.

Aside from the fact that many Biblical scholars have picked apart his ideology left and right (he has been known to decline requests for debate), one of the biggest weapons his detractors use against him is the so-called Fred Phelps Exposé (http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/michael_haggerty/expose3.htm), a lengthy court document chronicling Phelps' history of domestic violence and insight unto the mental state of his wife and family (those of his children who are still members of his congregation are grossly obese, perhaps due to overeating influenced by severe depression; while those who have disassociated themselves from him are in relatively good health). *From the excerpts of it that I've read so far, it's quite an excellent muckraker.

(Edited by TLOZ Link5 at 6:17 pm on June 20, 2003)

November 18th, 2003, 10:25 AM
Associated Press:

Mass. Court Strikes Down Gay-Marriage Ban

BOSTON - Massachusetts' highest court ruled Tuesday that same-sex couples are legally entitled to wed under the state constitution, but stopped short of allowing marriage licenses to be issued to the couples who challenged the law.

The Supreme Judicial Court's 4-3 ruling ordered the Legislature to come up with a solution within 180 days.

The ruling closely matches the 1999 Vermont Supreme Court decision, which led to its Legislature's approval in 2000 of civil unions that give couples many of the same benefits of marriage.

The decision is the latest in a series of victories for gay rights advocates, but fell short of what the seven couples who sued the state had hoped to receive: the right to marry their longtime companion.

The Massachusetts question will now return to the Legislature, which already is considering a constitutional amendment that would legally define a marriage as a union between one man and one woman. The state's powerful Speaker of the House, Tom Finneran of Boston, has endorsed this proposal.

A similar initiative, launched by citizens, was defeated by the Legislature last year on a procedural vote.

Copyright © 2003 The Associated Press.

Welcome back Rush Limbaugh. :D

November 20th, 2003, 07:16 AM
November 20, 2003

A Victory for Gay Marriage

"Without a doubt, this is the happiest day of our lives," declared Gloria Bailey, a 62-year-old Cape Cod resident. Ms. Bailey and her partner were two of the plaintiffs in this week's landmark Massachusetts ruling that says gay people have the right to marry. When the rights of disadvantaged groups are newly recognized, there is often opposition, some of it fierce, and the road ahead may be rough. But like the early court rulings striking down segregation, this has the feel of a legal revolution beginning.

The Supreme Court has begun to find privacy and equal protection rights for gays in the federal Constitution, notably earlier this year, when it struck down Texas' sodomy law. But the Massachusetts court, observing that its state constitution "is, if anything, more protective of individual liberty and equality," leapfrogged over the federal courts, ruling that at least in Massachusetts, gay equality extends to marriage.

The court's logic is persuasive. It notes that marriage is both a social institution and a privileged legal status for things like child custody and survivor benefits. Denying gays the benefits of marriage deprives them of equal protection. The court rejected the state's arguments, including its chief one, that "marriage's primary purpose is procreation." Heterosexuals can marry, the court noted, even if they are unable to have children. The ban is simply about prejudice, the court concluded, much like state laws barring interracial marriage, which lasted until 1967, when the Supreme Court struck them down in Loving v. Virginia.

This week's decision has been greeted with both dismay and joy in Massachusetts and the nation. Gov. Mitt Romney has called for a state constitutional amendment overturning it. But such an amendment cannot be put on the ballot until November 2006, and the ruling's supporters say that by then the voters will have seen that gay marriage does no harm. The decision is also likely to reverberate in the presidential election. President Bush was quick to criticize it, while most Democratic candidates expressed support for gay civil unions, which provide most of the benefits of marriage. Some opponents of gay marriage are talking about amending the federal Constitution to ban it. The Constitution has never been amended to take away minority rights, and now would be a poor time to start.

In recent years, support for gay rights has sharply increased. A newly released poll found that although most Americans oppose gay marriage, views vary a lot by age. Older people oppose it 4 to 1, while young respondents are equally divided. That strongly suggests that eventually the views expressed by the Massachusetts court will be widely held. And Americans will come to regard this week's decision as they now do Loving v. Virginia — as a statement of the obvious.

Toward More Perfect Unions


LOS ANGELES — On Tuesday, the highest court in Massachusetts issued a path-breaking decision, making the state the first to extend to gay couples not just many of the rights and benefits of marriage but the right to marry itself. In another sense, however, the decision is simply one more in a series of steps that have already provided legal rights to tens of thousands of same-sex couples throughout America.

According to data from the 2000 United States census, about one in five people who identified themselves as living with an "unmarried partner'` of the same sex now resides in a jurisdiction that grants some legal recognition to gay unions. While the census didn't count all same-sex couples — only those who identified themselves as such — it greatly advanced our knowledge about the prevalence and distribution of gay couples throughout the United States.

Counting Massachusetts, there are now four states that extend at least some of the rights of marriage to gay couples. Although their laws have no impact on federal rights or religious recognition of same-sex unions, these states have already begun the experiment of gay marriage.

The Hawaii legislature passed a law in 1997 that provides a range of marital benefits and responsibilities to same-sex couples. The Vermont legislature voted in 2000 to allow civil unions between gay couples. And in a series of laws passed in the last several years, California has extended benefits and responsibilities to same-sex couples nearly equivalent to those enjoyed by married couples.

All told, these four states have about 42 million residents, or about 15 percent of the United States population. They are also home to more than 113,000 gay couples, or 19 percent of the 600,000 or so same-sex couples the 2000 census identified in the United States. If the entire gay population is distributed throughout the country in the same way that gay couples are, that would mean that about one in five gay Americans now lives in a jurisdiction that provides some significant legal recognition for his or her relationship.

Opponents of same-sex marriage argue that recognition of such unions undermines the sanctity of marriage, harms children and demoralizes society. There is no evidence of any of this — or of any other harmful impact — in Hawaii, Vermont or California. On the contrary, studies have shown that parents' sexual orientation doesn't hurt their children. As the census shows, gay people are already parents to hundreds of thousands of children. Aren't those children better off if their family's relationships are protected by law?

Partnership is a legal reality for thousands of gay Americans, and a social reality for millions more. Thus the debate over gay marriage need not be distorted by doomsday claims that the future of America is at stake. In many ways that future is already here — and those fears have not come to pass.

William B. Rubenstein, professor of law, and R. Bradley Sears direct the Williams Project of Sexual Orientation Law at UCLA

Massachusetts Ruling on Gay Marriage Bolsters Hopes in N.J.


TRENTON, Nov. 18 — Gay and lesbian couples who want to marry lost a round in New Jersey two weeks ago, but the Massachusetts Supreme Court's ruling that same-sex couples have the right to marry is expected to bolster the New Jersey case as it goes to a higher court.

In New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, the Massachusetts decision on Tuesday is giving new impetus to a political and legal effort that was foundering, gay rights advocates say.

The Massachusetts ruling "should have persuasive value in the New Jersey Supreme Court," said Frank Askin, the director of the Constitutional Litigation Clinic at the Rutgers Law School in Newark. The New Jersey court has given broader rights to gays than the federal courts have, affording more protections, for example, to gays in adoption and parental rights cases.

Still, the prospects for legislative action, in all three states in the New York region, remain doubtful. In New York, Joseph L. Bruno, the Senate majority leader, said Wednesday that legislation to extend the right to marry to gays and lesbians "is not on our agenda at all."

"I don't believe people of the same sex need or ought to be legalized in marriage," Senator Bruno said. Speaker Sheldon Silver, the leader of the Assembly's Democratic majority, has remained publicly neutral on the issue.

In New Jersey, the current legislature has only a few more voting sessions, and legislation recognizing domestic partnerships is stalled in committee.

Gov. James E. McGreevey said in a radio interview on Tuesday night that he opposed the state's sanctioning gay marriages. But Mr. McGreevey does support domestic partnership legislation, said his press secretary, Micah Rasmussen. "He wants to find ways for same-sex couples to enjoy the same benefits that other couples do," Mr. Rasmussen said.

Gov. John G. Rowland of Connecticut said after the Massachusetts ruling on Tuesday that he saw little support for such proposals in the legislature and would veto any that reached his desk.

The Massachusetts court's 4-to-3 decision was the first by a state supreme court to recognize a constitutional right of marriage for same-sex couples, although Vermont recognizes civil unions.

The New Jersey case, Lewis v. Harris, is already being closely watched around the nation. A Superior Court judge in Trenton, Linda Feinberg, dismissed the case on Nov. 5, finding that only the Legislature could establish a right to marry.

But civil liberties advocates said they thought the higher state courts would be more receptive.

And two of the plaintiffs, Cindy Meneghin and Maureen Kilian, partners since 1974, said they were encouraged that Judge Feinberg gave the case close attention. Since the Massachusetts court "acknowledged our humanity," Ms. Meneghin said, "I have equal confidence — more confidence — in New Jersey. We know New Jersey also sees this as a social justice issue, a human rights issue."

But John Tomicki, the executive director of the League of American Families, a conservative lobbying group, said the judge had issued "a clear decision that says the courts must not legislate from the bench."

"The New Jersey courts would be courting disaster for themselves if they moved in that direction," Mr. Tomicki added.

Mr. Tomicki also said that the bill recognizing domestic partnerships had run into difficulty in the Legislature because its language was too broad and that it did not have enough votes in either the Senate or the General Assembly to pass during the current lame-duck session.

But the Assembly sponsor, Loretta Weinberg of Bergen County, said she expected to bring the measure to a committee vote next month. "With a little good will, we'll get it passed in the lame duck," she said.

Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

February 5th, 2004, 08:17 AM
February 5, 2004

Massachusetts Gives New Push to Gay Marriage in Strong Ruling


BOSTON, Feb. 4 — Massachusetts' highest court removed the state's last barrier to gay marriage on Wednesday, ruling that nothing short of full-fledged marriage would comply with the court's earlier ruling in November, and that civil unions would not pass muster.

The ruling means that starting on May 17 same-sex couples can get married in Massachusetts, making it the only state to permit gay marriage. Beyond that, the finding is certain to inflame a divisive debate in state legislatures nationwide and in this year's presidential race.

"The dissimilitude between the terms `civil marriage' and `civil union' is not innocuous," four of seven justices on the state's Supreme Judicial Court found. "It is a considered choice of language that reflects a demonstrable assigning of same-sex, largely homosexual, couples to second-class status."

The ruling came in response to a request by the Massachusetts Senate asking the court whether a bill giving same-sex couples the same rights and benefits of marriage, but calling their relationships civil unions, would comply with its November decision saying that gays had a constitutional right to marry.

The court said that such a bill "would have the effect of maintaining and fostering a stigma of exclusion that the Constitution prohibits. It would deny to same-sex `spouses' only a status that is specially recognized in society and has significant social and other advantages."

"The Massachusetts Constitution," the court said, "does not permit such invidious discrimination, no matter how well intentioned."

The ruling will probably give new impetus to a push by many conservatives for a constitutional amendment that would limit marriage to unions joining a man and a woman.

In a statement Wednesday, President Bush condemned the Massachusetts court's latest ruling but stopped short of explicitly endorsing a constitutional amendment. "Marriage is a sacred institution between a man and a woman," he said. "If activist judges insist on redefining marriage by court order, the only alternative will be the constitutional process. We must do what is legally necessary to defend the sanctity of marriage."

Wednesday's decision caused an uproar in the Massachusetts Legislature, where lawmakers are scheduled on Wednesday to vote on an amendment to the state's Constitution banning same-sex marriage. Many lawmakers in the largely Democratic, largely Roman Catholic body had supported civil unions but not gay marriage and were hoping the court would not force them to make an all-or-nothing decision.

At least one influential legislator, State Representative Eugene O'Flaherty, the chairman of the House Judiciary committee and a backer of civil unions, said he was almost certain to vote for the amendment now.

An amendment could not take effect until November 2006, because it would need to win passage in two consecutive legislative sessions and be approved in a voter referendum.

Nationally, the decision vaults the issue to a more prominent role in the presidential election, especially since the Democratic front-runner, Senator John Kerry, who supports civil unions and opposes same-sex marriage, is from Massachusetts.

It will also undoubtedly unleash activity in legislatures and courtrooms nationwide, as activists on each side of the issue seek to use the Massachusetts ruling to influence policy elsewhere.

Already, 38 states have laws defining marriage as a heterosexual institution, and 16 states are considering constitutional amendments that would ban same-sex marriages. Congress also passed a law in 1996, the Defense of Marriage Act, prohibiting federal recognition of gay marriages and relieving states of any obligation to recognize gay marriages from states where they might be legal.

As recently as Tuesday, fueled in part by the November court decision in Massachusetts — like Wednesday's, a 4-3 ruling — the Ohio Legislature approved a strict ban on same-sex unions, barring state agencies from giving benefits to both gay and heterosexual domestic partners.

Opponents of gay marriage vowed on Wednesday to increase their efforts further and push for an amendment to the federal Constitution.

"This case will determine the future of marriage throughout America," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council. "If same-sex couples `marry' in Massachusetts and move to other states, the Defense of Marriage Act will be left vulnerable to the same federal courts that have banned the Pledge of Allegiance and sanctioned partial-birth abortion."

Sandy Rios, president of Concerned Women for America, said "if the court is allowed to get away with these decisions with no accountability, it is the beginning of the crumbling of our democracy."

Proponents of same-sex marriages said they were hopeful that the Massachusetts ruling might lend legitimacy to such unions in other states. "We are really facing this onslaught of religious- and political-right attacks across the country, but we are hoping that fair-minded people will reject it and will reject this culture war," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

Legal experts said there would inevitably be legal challenges filed by same-sex couples who marry in Massachusetts and move to other states.

"There's going to be a fist fight in Ohio," said Arthur Miller, a Harvard law professor. "There'll be a situation, for example, in which a spouse of a couple married in Massachusetts but living in Ohio tries to inherit and make claims, and that will end up in the U.S. Supreme Court."

Same-sex couples in Massachusetts and other states began marriage plans, but several said they were proceeding cautiously. "When I see those first couples coming from City Hall, I'll say, `it's real, but it's really real,' " said Bev Kunze, 48, a telecommunications manager in Boston who plans to marry her partner of 11 years, Kathleen McCabe, 52, a city planner.

Fred Kuhr, 36, the editor of In Newsweekly, a newspaper for gay men and lesbians, plans to marry his partner, Kip Roberson, 39, director of the Sharon, Mass., public library. But he said, "There are still roadblocks in the way, and even though this is a great day in terms of this issue, I'm not jumping up and down and walking down the aisle just yet."

The prospect of same-sex marriage in Massachusetts raises practical questions: What will life be like for couples who marry here and move back to a state that outlaws same-sex marriages? Or for couples in Massachusetts who would be entitled to state marriage benefits but not federal benefits, like the right to file taxes jointly or qualify for Social Security payments?

Indeed, in a dissenting opinion on Wednesday, Justice Martha B. Sosman listed some discrepancies. For example, she noted, same-sex couples would be ineligible for federal health care or nursing home benefits, and couples living in other states would not have the right to get divorced there.

The majority opinion, however, said, "We would do a grave disservice to every Massachusetts resident, and to our constitutional duty to interpret the law, to conclude that the strong protection of individual rights guaranteed by the Massachusetts Constitution should not be available to their fullest extent in the Commonwealth because those rights may not be acknowledged elsewhere."

Elizabeth Bartholet, a family-law professor at Harvard, said that even though other states might officially disavow gay marriages, a Massachusetts marriage certificate might informally encourage recognition of same-sex unions in areas like employment, health care and education.

"It doesn't mean everyone in that state subscribes to that," she said. "It may, for example, make a real difference in terms of all kinds of employment benefits that may be available to spouses. If you're living in Massachusetts, it's going to be hard for your Texas-based employer to deny you marital benefits."

Representative O'Flaherty said he would try to determine if the Legislature might still be able to draw up a new marriage law that could provide the court with a "rational basis why marriage should be a institution between a man and a woman."

But even the state attorney general, Thomas Reilly, whose office argued against same-sex marriage in the original case, said Wednesday's ruling made clear "same-sex couples have the constitutional right to marry under Massachusetts law."

The court seemed to offer one alternative. In a footnote, the decision found that same-sex unions would not have to be called marriages if "the Legislature were to jettison the term `marriage' altogether."

Some lawmakers suggested they would pass the amendment to give the public a say on it in a referendum. Gov. Mitt Romney agreed, saying "the people of Massachusetts should not be excluded from a decision as fundamental to our society as the definition of marriage."

Should an amendment pass, Mr. O'Flaherty said, legislators might ask the court to issue a stay until the amendment process was complete — a request legal experts thought the court would be unlikely to grant. Just the same, he and others asked, what would happen to same-sex marriages if, two and a half years from now, the state wound up making such marriages illegal?

Katie Zezima contributed reporting for this article.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

February 7th, 2004, 03:56 AM
February 7, 2004

Love That Dare Not Squeak Its Name


Squawk and Milou, male chinstrap penguins, are among several homosexual pairs at the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan. Homosexual behavior has been documented in some 450 animal species, one researcher says.

Roy and Silo, two chinstrap penguins at the Central Park Zoo in Manhattan, are completely devoted to each other. For nearly six years now, they have been inseparable. They exhibit what in penguin parlance is called "ecstatic behavior": that is, they entwine their necks, they vocalize to each other, they have sex. Silo and Roy are, to anthropomorphize a bit, gay penguins. When offered female companionship, they have adamantly refused it. And the females aren't interested in them, either.

At one time, the two seemed so desperate to incubate an egg together that they put a rock in their nest and sat on it, keeping it warm in the folds of their abdomens, said their chief keeper, Rob Gramzay. Finally, he gave them a fertile egg that needed care to hatch. Things went perfectly. Roy and Silo sat on it for the typical 34 days until a chick, Tango, was born. For the next two and a half months they raised Tango, keeping her warm and feeding her food from their beaks until she could go out into the world on her own. Mr. Gramzay is full of praise for them.

"They did a great job," he said. He was standing inside the glassed-in penguin exhibit, where Roy and Silo had just finished lunch. Penguins usually like a swim after they eat, and Silo was in the water. Roy had finished his dip and was up on the beach.

Roy and Silo are hardly unusual. Milou and Squawk, two young males, are also beginning to exhibit courtship behavior, hanging out with each other, billing and bowing. Before them, the Central Park Zoo had Georgey and Mickey, two female Gentoo penguins who tried to incubate eggs together. And Wendell and Cass, a devoted male African penguin pair, live at the New York Aquarium in Coney Island. Indeed, scientists have found homosexual behavior throughout the animal world.

This growing body of science has been increasingly drawn into charged debates about homosexuality in American society, on subjects from gay marriage to sodomy laws, despite reluctance from experts in the field to extrapolate from animals to humans. Gay groups argue that if homosexual behavior occurs in animals, it is natural, and therefore the rights of homosexuals should be protected. On the other hand, some conservative religious groups have condemned the same practices in the past, calling them "animalistic."

But if homosexuality occurs among animals, does that necessarily mean that it is natural for humans, too? And that raises a familiar question: if homosexuality is not a choice, but a result of natural forces that cannot be controlled, can it be immoral?

The open discussion of homosexual behavior in animals is relatively new. "There has been a certain cultural shyness about admitting it," said Frans de Waal, whose 1997 book, "Bonobo: The Forgotten Ape" (University of California Press), unleashed a torrent of discussion about animal sexuality. Bonobos, apes closely related to humans, are wildly energetic sexually. Studies show that whether observed in the wild or in captivity, nearly all are bisexual, and nearly half their sexual interactions are with the same sex. Female bonobos have been observed to engage in homosexual activity almost hourly.

Before his own book, "American scientists who investigated bonobos never discussed sex at all," said Mr. de Waal, director of the Living Links Center of the Yerkes Primate Center at Emory University in Atlanta. "Or they sometimes would show two females having sex together, and would say, `The females are very affectionate.' "

Then in 1999, Bruce Bagemihl published "Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity" (St. Martin's Press), one of the first books of its kind to provide an overview of scholarly studies of same-sex behavior in animals. Mr. Bagemihl said homosexual behavior had been documented in some 450 species. (Homosexuality, he says, refers to any of these behaviors between members of the same sex: long-term bonding, sexual contact, courtship displays or the rearing of young.) Last summer the book was cited by the American Psychiatric Association and other groups in a "friend of the court" brief submitted to the Supreme Court in Lawrence v. Texas, a case challenging a Texas anti-sodomy law. The court struck down the law.

"Sexual Exuberance" was also cited in 2000 by gay rights groups opposed to Ballot Measure 9, a proposed Oregon statute prohibiting teaching about homosexuality or bisexuality in public schools. The measure lost.

In his book Mr. Bagemihl describes homosexual activity in a broad spectrum of animals. He asserts that while same-sex behavior is sometimes found in captivity, it is actually seen more frequently in studies of animals in the wild.

Among birds, for instance, studies show that 10 to 15 percent of female western gulls in some populations in the wild are homosexual. Females perform courtship rituals, like tossing their heads at each other or offering small gifts of food to each other, and they establish nests together. Occasionally they mate with males and produce fertile eggs but then return to their original same-sex partners. Their bonds, too, may persist for years.

Among mammals, male and female bottlenose dolphins frequently engage in homosexual activity, both in captivity and in the wild. Homosexuality is particularly common among young male dolphin calves. One male may protect another that is resting or healing from wounds inflicted by a predator. When one partner dies, the other may search for a new male mate. Researchers have noted that in some cases same-sex behavior is more common for dolphins in captivity.

Male and female rhesus macaques, a type of monkey, also exhibit homosexuality in captivity and in the wild. Males are affectionate to each other, touching, holding and embracing. Females smack their lips at each other and play games like hide-and-seek, peek-a-boo and follow the leader. And both sexes mount members of their own sex.

Paul L. Vasey, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Lethbridge in Canada, who studies homosexual behavior in Japanese macaques, is editing a new book on homosexual behavior in animals, to be published by Cambridge University Press. This kind of behavior among animals has been observed by scientists as far back as the 1700's, but Mr. Vasey said one reason there had been few books on the topic was that "people don't want to do the research because they don't want to have suspicions raised about their sexuality."

Some scientists say homosexual behavior in animals is not necessarily about sex. Marlene Zuk, a professor of biology at the University of California at Riverside and author of "Sexual Selections: What We Can and Can't Learn About Sex From Animals" (University of California Press, 2002), notes that scientists have speculated that homosexuality may have an evolutionary purpose, ensuring the survival of the species. By not producing their own offspring, homosexuals may help support or nurture their relatives' young. "That is a contribution to the gene pool," she said.

For Janet Mann, a professor of biology and psychology at Georgetown University, who has studied same-sex behavior in dolphin calves, their homosexuality "is about bond formation," she said, "not about being sexual for life."

She said that studies showed that adult male dolphins formed long-term alliances, sometimes in large groups. As adults, they cooperate to entice a single female and keep other males from her. Sometimes they share the female, or they may cooperate to help one male. "Male-male cooperation is extremely important," Ms. Mann said. The homosexual behavior of the young calves "could be practicing" for that later, crucial adult period, she added.

But, scientists say, just because homosexuality is observed in animals doesn't mean that it is only genetically based. "Homosexuality is extraordinarily complex and variable," Mr. Bagemihl said. "We look at animals as pure biology and pure genetics, and they are not." He noted that "the occurrence of same-sex behavior in animals provides support for the nurture side as well." He cited as an example the ruff, a type of Arctic sandpiper. There are four different classes of male ruffs, each differing from the others genetically. The two that differ most from each other are most similar in their homosexual behaviors.

Ms. Zuk said, "You have inclinations that are more or less supported by our genes and in some environmental circumstances get expressed." She used the analogy of right- or left-handedness, thought to be genetically based. "But you can teach naturally left-handed children to use their right hand," she pointed out.

Still, scientists warn about drawing conclusions about humans. "For some people, what animals do is a yardstick of what is and isn't natural," Mr. Vasey said. "They make a leap from saying if it's natural, it's morally and ethically desirable."

But he added: "Infanticide is widespread in the animal kingdom. To jump from that to say it is desirable makes no sense. We shouldn't be using animals to craft moral and social policies for the kinds of human societies we want to live in. Animals don't take care of the elderly. I don't particularly think that should be a platform for closing down nursing homes."

Mr. Bagemihl is also wary of extrapolating. "In Nazi Germany, one very common interpretation of homosexuality was that it was animalistic behavior, subhuman," he said.

What the animal studies do show, Ms. Zuk observed, is that "sexuality is a lot broader term than people want to think."

"You have this idea that the animal kingdom is strict, old-fashioned Roman Catholic," she said, "that they have sex just to procreate."

In bonobos, she noted, "you see expressions of sex outside the period when females are fertile. Suddenly you are beginning to see that sex is not necessarily about reproduction."

"Sexual expression means more than making babies," Ms. Zuk said. "Why are we surprised? People are animals."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

February 18th, 2004, 02:00 AM
February 18, 2004

Gay Marriage in the States

Lately it has seemed as if gay marriage was taking over the national policy debate. Massachusetts has been embroiled in a heated constitutional battle because of it. The presidential campaign is circling hesitantly around it. And in the last few days in San Francisco, more than 2,000 gay couples from across the country have flocked to City Hall and stood in the rain to get the marriage licenses suddenly offered to them by the city.

The Massachusetts and San Francisco events are a welcome indication that the nation is having a long-overdue discussion about the right of gay people to marry, and that the states are beginning to serve as laboratories for reform in this important area.

Americans have come a long way in a short time when it comes to gay rights. As recently as 1986, the Supreme Court rejected a claim that the Constitution protects consensual gay sex as "at best, facetious." Last year, however, the court overruled itself and struck down state sodomy laws as violating the Constitution's liberty guarantee. In his majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy portrayed constitutional history as a forward march in which "persons in every generation can invoke" the Constitution "in their own search for greater freedom."

Gays have made significant strides in areas like employment and housing, but have faced considerably more opposition on the right to marry. There are, clearly, some people who object to any recognition of same-sex unions. But for many more, the hesitation concerns the use of the word "marriage." The uncertainty many Americans feel is reflected in the fact that poll responses on this subject vary widely, depending on the precise way in which the questions are worded.

This page fully supports the right of gay men and lesbians to marry, and we believe that in time they will have this right across the nation. But we also see a practical value in how the issue is currently unfolding. Louis Brandeis, the great Supreme Court justice, said he believed that the states should serve as social laboratories for the nation. Massachusetts and California — and Vermont, before them, with its civil unions law — are fulfilling that role right now. They have already started a national discussion of gay marriage, a very healthy thing in itself. If gay marriage takes hold in Massachusetts or California — in both states, the issue is still up in the air — it will allow the residents of slower-moving states to observe the experiment in action.

Opponents of gay marriage have been loudly calling for a constitutional amendment prohibiting any state from recognizing gay marriages. Despite the parade of horribles they haul out, their greatest fear appears to be that giving gay men and women the right to join legally and permanently with the ones they love will work out just fine, and that the American people will see that the fears being foisted on them are unfounded.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

February 18th, 2004, 08:34 AM
I am opposed to permitting gay couples to marry.
I think that it should be a requirement.

February 18th, 2004, 09:49 AM
Like Zippy, I am opposed to permitting gay couples to marry, but for a different reason. :)

I think the institution of marriage has to be abolished, whether for gay or straight couples. There is no need for marriage in modern society, paternity is determined by DNA, and property issues handled by lawyers.

February 18th, 2004, 11:05 AM
Who cares?

Let them get married, I really do not give a squawk. If people who are not religeous are allowed to be married, then it is no longer a religeous act. AS SUCH, it should be allowed, by law.

Condoned is a different thing. If the Catholic Church still forbids it, let them.

I think it is about time that gay couples have to go through marriage tax penalties, divorce court and other such legal benefits that marriage allows.

Just stop showing them kissing each other all the time on the news, will ya! (I have my own hangups about that, but it should not prohibit them from doing something like this).

February 21st, 2004, 02:20 AM
February 21, 2004

Has the Time Arrived to Allow Gay Marriage? (7 Letters)

To the Editor:

Re "Gay Marriage in the States" (editorial, Feb. 18):

Your support for gay marriage is praiseworthy. It is not the sex of the marriage partners that threatens this social institution, as conservatives would have us believe, but the willingness of each couple to abide by self-determined levels of commitment.

The divorce rate in same-sex marriages is likely to be much lower than that of heterosexual marriages. With shotgun weddings and nuptials resulting from parental pressure unlikely, gays and lesbians have a running head start to successful unions.

Princeton, N.J., Feb. 18, 2004

To the Editor:

The actions in California, Massachusetts and Vermont do establish social "laboratories," as you note (editorial, Feb. 18). But I am shocked to see how unperturbed you are by the vastness of this experiment.

The experiment you describe has been foisted on us by a handful of judges and local officials who have circumvented the normal legislative process. Given the large number of people potentially involved, this is reckless and irresponsible.

Considering the damage wrought by other recent social experiments, like no-fault divorce, we should be more circumspect.

New York, Feb. 18, 2004

To the Editor:

Re "Rushing to Say 'I Do' Before the City Is Told `You Can't' " (news article, Feb. 18):

The American experience has been sustained by the idea that we are a nation of laws and not of kings, and therefore no one is above the law. Whatever our view of allowing gay couples to be afforded the same privileges as married couples, we should not take comfort in what is happening in San Francisco.

Abandoning the rule of law should not be seen as the way to solve complex social issues. Would it be applauded if, say, a conservative mayor decided on his own that in his city abortions would be prohibited or that public money could constitutionally be given to private schools? If mayors are allowed, by a nod and a wink, to ignore the rule of law, where will we wind up?

Temple Terrace, Fla., Feb. 19, 2004

To the Editor:

A truth overlooked in the gay marriage debate (editorial, Feb. 18) is that marriage status granted by the states is a civil contract, not a religious one. Consequently, all marriage licenses are evidence of a civil union only.

Sanctity of marriage is a religious concept, relevant to unions consecrated by religious institutions. Perhaps the answer is to legislate civil unions for all, both straight and gay couples.

New York, Feb. 18, 2004

To the Editor:

Re "Gay Marriage in the States" (editorial, Feb. 18):

My partner and I, both United States Army veterans, have been living in a monogamous relationship for 17 years, with the needs and responsibilities of our heterosexual married friends but none of their legal rights. More troublesome is that the rights we do have are in grave danger.

Acceptance of gay marriage is inevitable down the line, but this isn't the year to insist on it. Gay and lesbian couples ought to push instead for full equal rights for civil unions. That will provide far less ammunition for the religious right in the coming campaign.

New York, Feb. 18, 2004

To the Editor:

Re "Gay Marriage in the States" (editorial, Feb. 18):

I hear the question asked over and over again: How would gay marriage have any negative impact on traditional marriage?

Gay marriage devalues the holy institution of marriage even further than it has been devalued by public policy errors like no-fault divorce. Marriage is a special relationship between a man and a woman that has served the good of society throughout history. Gay marriage redefines marriage as something less than an unalienable right ordained by nature, and nature's God.

Marriage is a public institution created for the good of society, not a private institution created for self-fulfillment. If I have an ounce of gold and the government suddenly announces that sandstone will now be called gold and valued equally, what will happen to the value of my gold? It will crash, and so will the economy.

So will it be with gay marriage. Marriage will be further devalued, and so will our entire social order.

Executive Director
New York Christian Coalition
Newburgh, N.Y., Feb. 18, 2004

To the Editor:

Re "Rushing to Say 'I Do' Before the City Is Told 'You Can't' " (news article, Feb. 18):

In this day and age, what we call marriage is really just civil union at the outset, and the marriage grows from within. As a 30-year veteran on the marriage front, I can say with a great deal of confidence that allowing gay marriage as an option is likely to be more beneficial than not.

For most of us, marriage begins with a lifetime commitment, and we succeed or fail on that basis. If that is the standard, and same-sex partners are willing to live up to that goal, I fail to see the harm to anyone.

Davis, Calif., Feb. 18, 2004

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

February 21st, 2004, 09:39 AM
Gay marriage devalues the holy institution of marriage even further than it has been devalued by public policy errors like no-fault divorce.
A simplistic statement, but it can be argued that no-fault divorce hastened, or maybe it was the logical response to, the erosion of the institution of marriage.

Back in the early 70s, the reality of divorce statistics was mostly unacknowledged. The normal life was: you dated, met the right partner, got married, and raised a family. Even TV programs avoided portraying single parents as divorced; they were usually widowed. At a time when homosexuals were getting rudimentary acknowledgement in society, many married people, although we never would have admitted this at the time, envied a lifestyle of relationships without the pressures of contractual commitment. In fact, one of the arguments against homosexual behavior was that there was no real committment in the relationship. How ironic that the debate has reversed.

Probably a greater cause of a divorce rate of over 50% is not the ease of getting out of a marriage, but the ease of getting into one.

February 21st, 2004, 09:24 PM
February 22, 2004

With Albany Mum on Same-Sex Marriage, New York Gay Advocates Look to Courts


ALBANY, Feb. 21 - The census counts 46,490 same-sex-partner households in New York State, and some estimate there are a half-million gay men and lesbians living in the state. Yet New York has been strangely quiet as the issue of same-sex marriage has played out in Boston, in San Francisco, in Vermont and in other states across the country.

There have been no Stonewall-style protests, no street demonstrations at City Hall. Gay and lesbian leaders have not been besieging the State Capitol.

Two declared gay people serving in the State Legislature - both considered activists when it comes to such issues - are not exactly bombarding the legislative leaders with bills to change state laws affecting who can marry and who cannot.

While the silence might seem odd, advocates for expanding the rights of homosexuals and their families say it is based on a combination of pragmatism and resignation. Gay leaders and rank-and-file lawmakers say they do not expect Albany's leaders to address the issue of civil marriages, and certainly not to resolve it, any time in the near future.

Gov. George E. Pataki says he is comfortable with the current laws. His fellow Republican, Joseph L. Bruno, the Senate majority leader, is staunchly against same-sex marriage. The Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, has not taken a position on the issue and his aides say he has no plans to bring it up in conference.

More important, the advocates say, they believe they may have a more effective means for changing the state's laws: the state's courts.

Advocates and lawyers said they were waiting for cases to emerge that may force the courts to address the constitutionality of New York's domestic-relations law, which has historically been interpreted to accept only marriages by those of the opposite sex.

At the same time, they are also looking for cases to better establish the rights of partners in same-sex relationships - primarily by testing the state's recognition of same-sex marriages performed out of state.

As such, advocates and legal experts say, they expect the issue of same-sex marriage to play out in New York in much the same way it has in Massachusetts, before panels of judges.

"I think that what will happen, more quickly than the Legislature acting, is that people will return from other jurisdictions and seek to have some level of governmental recognition, based on being married elsewhere, and that that will precipitate a court review,'' said Assemblywoman Deborah J. Glick, a Democrat from Manhattan who is the Legislature's only openly lesbian lawmaker.

Advocates and gay leaders say they are not quite seeking out a test case to press the issue here but expect one to emerge from the hundreds of marriages that some estimate have taken place between New Yorkers of the same sex in Canada since two provinces of that country made it legal in July, and from the current spate of marriages in San Francisco.

Massachusetts, too, which will start recognizing same-sex marriages in May, may ultimately contribute cases, and there is talk in such disparate places as Chicago and New Mexico of issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

"I would say it's totally true that it's the natural progression that individuals are going to look to have their legal marriages fully honored and respected here in New York,'' said Ross Levi, director of government affairs for the Empire State Pride Agenda, the largest gay and lesbian political organization in the state. "That may lead them, very well, to the courts."

Obviously, gays and lesbians would welcome a victory to allow same-sex marriages in New York, on constitutional grounds, which would require either a court challenge or a new law. But at the least, they are looking to the marriages in other states for court victories on individual social justice issues.

For example, among other things, they want funeral leave from work when a partner dies, the ability to make medical decisions for a partner who cannot and the right to collect death benefits if a partner is a uniformed officer killed in the line of duty - all of which can be addressed in a case seeking those rights in New York's courts.

Of course, should a case reach the Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, it would be received by a bench far more conservative than it has been in the last two decades, said Vincent M. Bonventre, a law professor at Albany Law School.

"That is why groups that represent gay rights are very hesitant to bring a challenge in New York courts for civil unions or gay marriages,'' Mr. Bonventre said. "Because they don't trust this court to be willing to do what it might have done in the past."

Thomas K. Duane, a Democrat from Manhattan and the only openly gay member of the State Senate, said there was also the option of the federal courts.

"If the Legislature doesn't take action, the courts will provide the leadership,'' said Mr. Duane, who is planning a March 3 forum on the topic in Albany and has drafted a marriage equality bill.

Gary D. Buseck, the legal director at Lambda Legal, a national gay and lesbian advocacy group, said the flurry of same-sex marriages elsewhere might finally prompt a serious discussion in New York's Legislature.

Short of that, he said, the developments in California, Canada and Massachusetts might well lead to court cases on recognition of marriage issues "without ever having to touch" the broader constitutional question in New York.

As an example, he spoke of the case of John Langan. A lower court ruled that Mr. Langan must be recognized under the state's wrongful-death statute as the surviving member of a gay couple who had obtained a civil union in Vermont. The case is under appeal.

"That case could just as easily have happened, or could happen in the future, with a couple that has a San Francisco marriage license who are New York residents,'' Mr. Buseck said.

Some gay leaders are also looking to New Jersey, seeing it as more likely to change its laws than New York - or at least more likely to do it sooner. Lambda is now representing seven same-sex couples from New Jersey who tried to get marriage licenses in various places within the state but failed, a case that appears headed for the New Jersey Supreme Court, its highest court

In Massachusetts, it was a court case brought by 14 people, gay and lesbian partners from across the state who all sought marriages licenses in 2001 from their town or city offices, that led to the state's highest court to rule on Nov. 18 that gay couples have the right to marry under the state's Constitution.

In California, the mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, also took a legal-minded approach. Before he opened the doors to same-sex marriages, Mr. Newsom decided that the State Constitution's guarantees of equality allowed the policy; though it has led to some thorny legal questions, opponents so far are faring poorly in the courts.

New York has an array of other laws in place that address the issues that affect homosexuals, including a gay rights bill that was finally passed in December 2002 after 30 years of efforts by advocates. That measure simply added sexual orientation to race, religion, age and other factors that may not be used to discriminate against someone.

In 1989, the Court of Appeals expanded the definition of family to include same-sex partners for the purposes of inhabiting rent-controlled apartments after a tenant dies. A month after the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Pataki issued an executive order making surviving domestic partners eligible for government relief, and the state provides domestic partnership benefits for its employees.

But symbolism in the case of marriage is important, too, and the issue has ignited a battle throughout the nation, become a major issue in the presidential campaign and fueled heated debates in the White House and in Congress.

"There is nothing to say that a few years from now, or sooner, that New York State won't be ready to recognize the equality that our families should have,'' Mr. Levi said.

Meanwhile, if there is little effort in Albany to change the laws to allow same-sex marriages, there is also silence on the other side of the issue. A bill that would outlaw same-sex marriages is just as stalled as the one to allow it.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

February 25th, 2004, 12:49 AM
February 25, 2004

Putting Bias in the Constitution

With his re-election campaign barely started and his conservative base already demanding tribute, President Bush proposes to radically rewrite the Constitution. The amendment he announced support for yesterday could not only keep gay couples from marrying, as he maintains, but could also threaten the basic legal protections gay Americans have won in recent years. It would inject meanspiritedness and exclusion into the document embodying our highest principles and aspirations.

If Mr. Bush had been acting as a president yesterday, rather than a presidential candidate, he would have tried to guide the nation on the divisive question of what rights gay Americans have. Across the nation, elected officials and others have been weighing in on whether they believe gays should be allowed to marry, have civil unions, adopt, visit their partners in hospitals and be free from employment discrimination. Except for a throwaway line about proceeding with "kindness and good will and decency," the president's speech was a call for taking rights away from gay Americans.

President Bush's studied unwillingness to talk about the rights gay people do have is particularly significant given the wording of the Federal Marriage Amendment now pending in Congress. It calls for denying same-sex couples not only marriage, but also its "legal incidents." It could well be used to deny gay couples even economic benefits, which are now widely recognized by cities, states and corporations. Such an amendment could radically roll back the rights of millions of Americans.

In his remarks yesterday, President Bush tried to create a sense of crisis. He talked of the highest Massachusetts court's recognition of gay marriage, San Francisco officials' decision to grant marriage licenses to gay couples and a New Mexico county's doing the same thing. He did not say the New Mexico attorney general found that gay marriages violate state law, the California attorney general is asking the California Supreme Court to review San Francisco's actions, and Massachusetts is considering amending its State Constitution to prohibit gay marriage. The president, who believes so strongly in states' rights in other contexts, should let the states do their jobs and work out their marriage laws before resorting to a constitutional amendment.

The Constitution has been amended over the years to bring women, blacks and young people into fuller citizenship. President Bush's amendment would be the first adopted to stigmatize and exclude a group of Americans. Polls show that while a majority of Americans oppose gay marriage, many would prefer to allow the states to resolve the issue rather than adopting a constitutional amendment. They understand what President Bush does not: the Constitution is too important to be folded, spindled or mutilated for political gain.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

February 26th, 2004, 07:50 AM
February 26, 2004

Bloomberg Explains Stand on Gay Marriage Ban


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, pelted with questions about the gay marriage issue, declined yesterday to say whether or not he supports the idea of such unions. But he reiterated his belief that there was no need for the constitutional amendment proposed by President Bush, saying the matter should be left up to states.

"I believe it is up to the states, not to the federal government," Mr. Bloomberg said at a news conference in the Bronx. "The president seems to call for a constitutional amendment. I don't think we need a constitutional amendment."

The mayor declined to respond to further questions about his beliefs on gay marriage.

On Tuesday, President Bush said he would like an amendment to the Constitution that would ban gay marriage, saying the union of a man and a woman is "the most fundamental institution of civilization.'' Mr. Bloomberg's position on the amendment is his first major departure from the president on a policy issue.

In 2002, the mayor signed Local Law 24, which recognizes civil unions legally entered into in other jurisdictions. But because marriages between people of the same sex are not permitted under New York State law, the mayor will not ask the city clerk to issue licenses to gay couples, said Mr. Bloomberg's press secretary, Edward Skyler.

Mr. Bloomberg has placed himself in an interesting position with gay voters. By going against the president, he endears himself to those who oppose a constitutional amendment. But many gay voters may wish for him to express stronger support for the states to permit gay marriages.

"It's wonderful news that the mayor has publicly spoken out against this amendment," said Alan Van Capelle, the executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, one of the largest gay organizations in the country. "We think it's important that New Yorkers hear from their mayor on this issue."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

February 27th, 2004, 01:31 AM
February 26, 2004

Gay Marriage, the Constitution and Culture Wars (10 Letters)

To the Editor:

Re "Bush Backs Ban in Constitution on Gay Marriage" (front page, Feb. 25):

The sanctity of marriage doesn't depend on keeping same-sex individuals from calling their union a marriage; the sanctity of marriage depends on what individuals put into it.

Why are we attacking the sanctity of our Constitution with an amendment that would prevent individuals who wish to commit to each other through marriage from doing so?

We need to remember that we have a separation of church and state and that "marriage," as a right allowed to all under the Constitution, may be different from "marriage" as performed by a church.

Madison, Wis., Feb. 25, 2004

To the Editor:

Re "Bush Backs Ban in Constitution on Gay Marriage" (front page, Feb. 25): My partner and I go through life loving, respecting and caring for each other, and we try to do the same with every other person whose path we come across. That is also our legacy to Anna, our daughter.

In the six years of our committed relationship, we have never been told by anybody that our love and commitment are different from that of heterosexual couples. Until this week.

Now I can't help but feeling worried, pained, upset and alarmed.

Fremont, Calif., Feb. 25, 2004

To the Editor:

President Bush's proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage (front page, Feb. 25) is the step of a courageous politician.

Too many of our elected officials are afraid of alienating voters on this issue. The president's stand is morally correct and right.

Gays can call their union by any other name. But no! They want it to be called marriage. Marriage is a contract, thousands of years old. It is meant to recognize the contract between a man and a woman.

Gays can have their legally recognized commitments and unions. But they must go by another name. The term "marriage" is taken by heterosexuals. Don't rewrite the dictionary, the Bible or ancient laws of mankind.

New York, Feb. 25, 2004

To the Editor:

President Bush's support for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage is a shrewd political move (front page, Feb. 25).

In one stroke, Mr. Bush has shored up his extreme right wing and unleashed a powerful culture war calculated to divide and dispirit his opponents.

And true to form, he once again abandons his states' rights principles and exploits the basest, most divisive elements of American culture at the expense of tolerance, compassion and a sense of national community.

This is a skillful and shameful harbinger of the nasty general election campaign that is to come.

Berkeley, Calif., Feb. 25, 2004

To the Editor:

Re "Bush Backs Ban in Constitution on Gay Marriage" (front page, Feb. 25):

The proposed amendment would do grave harm to many and nothing to protect marriage. The amendment would not only forbid gay marriage but would deny its "legal incidents."

That could include health benefits, hospital visitation, inheritance, child custody and much more.

In more than 20 years of pastoral ministry, I have seen many threats to marriage, but these threats haven't come from gay men and lesbians. I'm certain that a survey of pastors, priests and rabbis would confirm that adultery, abuse and addictions are far more destructive.

Economic hardship could be added to the list.

There are many people of faith whose voices haven't been heard in this debate. Now is the time for more of us to speak.

New York, Feb. 25, 2004

The writer is an associate professor at Union Theological Seminary.

To the Editor:

Re "Bush Backs Ban in Constitution on Gay Marriage" (front page, Feb. 25):

Perhaps all marriages should first be civil unions, and then if the couple wishes to have their "marriage" blessed, they can go to their church, temple or mosque of choice.

New York, Feb. 25, 2004

To the Editor:

President Bush opposes gay marriage (front page, Feb. 25). John Kerry opposes gay marriage. I oppose gay marriage. The majority of Americans oppose gay marriage.

Gay marriage is wrong and will be destructive to our society. Most people can look at nature to figure this out.

Gay marriage would threaten the domestic tranquillity, general welfare and be a injustice to a large majority of "we the people."

Gays should have a right to civil unions, but not marriage.

Fayetteville, N.C., Feb. 25, 2004

To the Editor:

Regarding a proposed amendment to the Constitution to ban gay marriage, you write that "President Bush proposes to radically rewrite the Constitution" (editorial, Feb. 24). Since when is adding an amendment radically rewriting the Constitution?

And what is "mean-spirited" about reaffirming the definition of "marriage," an institution that has formed an essential part of human society for centuries?

Once you tamper with the definition of "marriage," any combination of members can constitute a marriage, and who is to say it can't? How exactly will one argue against this?

Also, if the definition of marriage changes according to society's fluctuating views, what is to keep society from redefining other words, like "slavery" or "religion"?

Just because we all agree on what these words mean now doesn't mean that they cannot be redefined to conform to one particular group's agenda.

It's not about gay rights but about tampering with established definitions in law.

Falls Church, Va., Feb. 25, 2004

To the Editor:

Re "Putting Bias in the Constitution" (editorial, Feb. 25):

President Bush, like millions of his fellow Americans, is opposed to legally changing the definition of marriage.

Unlike his executive counterpart in San Francisco, who is breaking his oath of office, Mr. Bush is appealing to the rule of law and allowing the people of the United States to have a say.

If a majority wants to make marriage gender-neutral, then Mr. Bush will be voted out. Representatives in Congress and the state legislatures can vote down the amendment, and the issue will be settled.

If a majority wants to keep marriage as it has been throughout the ages, Mr. Bush will be re-elected. The members of Congress and the legislatures should follow the will of the majorities of their constituencies and the amendment should pass.

Why is this editorial page against the grand workings of democracy all of a sudden? Judges and maverick executives are making their own law in the land. It is about time to get the legislative branch to do its job!

Westfield, N.J., Feb. 25, 2004

To the Editor:

Re "Keeping Faith With His Base" (news analysis, front page, Feb. 25):

While I understand the political calculus that would lead the anonymous House Republican leadership aide quoted to say that a gay marriage ban "gets you . . . churchgoing Democrats," it is profoundly insulting on a more personal level.

As a "churchgoing Democrat," I chafe at the implicit attempt of this person to associate me with supporters of this amendment.

From the perspective of my faith, I see this proposed amendment as a convergence between blatant hatred and half-considered theology. Please spare "churchgoing Democrats" from being tarred with this brush!

Louisville, Ky., Feb. 25, 2004

February 27, 2004

Gay Couples to Be Wed Today in New Paltz, Mayor Declares


The battle over gay marriages has moved to the upstate college village of New Paltz, where the mayor announced yesterday that several gay couples would be married there today.

The mayor, Jason West, said his office expected to marry at least six same-sex couples today, in what appeared to be the first such ceremonies in New York State, where same-sex couples have historically been refused marriage licenses.

Mr. West, who is 26 and was elected last year on the Green Party ticket, said that marriages for gay couples was a matter of equal rights. "I will simply be fulfilling my oath of office as mayor to solemnize a marriage and provide equal protection under the law for all citizens," Mr. West said by telephone yesterday.

The national debate over whether gay couples should have the right to marry has gained momentum in recent months, as San Francisco and Boston began to issue licenses. In New York State, advocates and opponents of gay marriage interpret the law differently. Mr. West said the New Paltz marriages would be the first in New York State, though it was not clear last night whether the unions would be legally recognized.

"This is about family values and helping two consenting adults spend the rest of their lives together," the mayor said. "They just want the same standing as other married couples in terms of hospital visitation rights, pensions and other things."

President Bush announced this week that he would support a constitutional amendment against gay marriage. Governor George E. Pataki has said the issue should be decided by the states. Some states have passed laws that outlaw gay marriages. Earlier this month, Ohio became the 38th state to pass such a ban. New York does not have a ban.

In the village of New Paltz, it was a newly arrived gay couple, married in the Netherlands, that inspired two of today's participants in the ceremony. "Basically Jeff, my partner of six years, got wedding envy," one of the men, Billiam van Roestenberg, said. "He saw the pictures and wanted us to have the same." The couple met six years ago on a sidewalk outside Barney's in New York. Mr. van Roestenberg said they had decided to get married "before the Constitution changes."

Mr. van Roestenberg said he and his partner, Jeffrey S. McGowan, both 39, planned for the ceremony to take place in a bed and breakfast inn in a three-story pink Victorian house. But yesterday, more couples called and expressed interest, and Mr. West said the venue might need to be changed to accommodate everyone.

Even if the marriage licenses are issued, the real test will be how they stand up in court against legal challenges. Mr. West said he would defy any such challenges to the marriages. "I am willing to go to jail to hold these marriages," he said. "This is a stand any decent American should take."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

February 27th, 2004, 10:08 AM
Mayor puts state in gay marriage debate

Staff Writer

NEW PALTZ, N.Y. -- The 26-year-old mayor of this Hudson Valley village says he will begin performing gay marriages Friday, calling it "my moral obligation."

Mayor Jason West, who won office last year on the Green Party line, said he intends to marry at least four same-gender couples at a private bed and breakfast in the village. The move could make this college village 75 miles north of New York City another flash point in national debate over gay marriage.

"We as a society have no right to discriminate in marriage any more than we have the right to discriminate when someone votes or when someone wants to hold office," West said in a phone interview. "The people who would forbid gays from marrying in this country are those who would have made Rosa Parks sit in the back of the bus."

In recent months, gay marriage has exploded onto the national scene as judges and local officials have aggressively attempted to redefine marriage. A bill in the New York Legislature would ban same-sex marriages, saying a "marriage or union is absolutely void if contracted by two persons of the same sex, regardless of whether such marriage or union is recognized or solemnized in another jurisdiction."

Similar bills have died without action in the past. At least 34 states have enacted so-called defense of marriage laws.

Amid the furor, President Bush announced Tuesday that he will back a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage — citing recent court decisions.

West said he believes New York state law gives him the power to marry the couples. New York's attorney general has not issued a ruling on the question.

West won the mayor's race in this village dominated by the State University of New York at New Paltz last year at age 26, surprising many residents.

Donna Lieberman, Executive Director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, said nothing specifically outlaws the ceremonies.

"Bravo, bravo for the mayor," she said. "Equal rights for gay couples are long overdue. They are entitled to equal treatment under the law, including the right to marry and the family protections enjoyed by heterosexual couples."

Vincent Bonventre, a professor at Albany Law School, said nothing in New York law explicitly prohibits a same-sex wedding but that the framers of the constitution "clearly were contemplating opposite sex marriages."

In Iowa, 15 gay and lesbian couples plan Friday to seek marriage licenses in Iowa City, testing state law that defines marriage strictly as a union of a man and a woman.

"I fully expect to be turned down, and that in itself is significant," said Janelle Rettig, who is organizing the event with her partner of 15 years, Robin Butler.

Johnson County Recorder Kim Painter said she will uphold state law and deny the requests.

Rettig said she and other gay and lesbian couples from Iowa City, another liberal college town, have been emboldened by support from President Bush and others for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

"What is missing from this whole debate is that these are real people with real concerns and real families," Rettig said. "And when the politicians use us as their political punching bags, they lose sight that we are real people."

Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc.

February 27th, 2004, 09:01 PM
February 27, 2004

Gay Marriage Debate Shifts to Small New York Township


Billiam van Roestenberg, right, and Jeffrey S. McGowan were among the first gay couples to exchange vows in ceremonies today in New Paltz, N.Y.

NEW PALTZ, N.Y., Feb 27 — After making headlines in San Francisco and Massachusetts, the national debate over gay marriage shifted today to the Hudson Valley community of New Paltz, where the mayor performed wedding ceremonies for at least 20 same-sex couples.

"I just want to be equal," said Billiam van Roestenberg, 39, who spoke to CNN after he and his partner, Jeffrey S. McGowan , exchanged vows.

This afternoon, the State Health Department called on Attorney General Eliot Spitzer to seek an injunction to "prevent further illegal conduct" by the mayor, according to a statement issued by the department, whose commissioner, Antonia C. Novello, is appointed by Gov. George E. Pataki. The department also called on Mr. Spitzer to declare the ceremonies that had been performed "null and void."

Mr. Spitzer's office had no immediate comment.

Another couple who exchanged vows here today, Barry Nevins and his partner, who asked that his name not be published, said they had been together for more than four years, and had even exchanged rings and vows on a Caribbean cruise trip.

But today, angered by President Bush's call this week for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriages, they went to New Paltz to take their relationship one step further.

The mayor, Jason West, performed the ceremonies for same-sex couples, saying that it was a matter of equal rights. The 26-year old mayor, elected last year on the Green Party ticket, expressed no concern about any potential legal sanctions against him. "I will be performing these solemnizations for the foreseeable future," he said.

Governor Pataki was weighing whether he should or even could issue an executive order to halt the proceedings, according to two state officials outside the administration. In a brief discussion with reporters early in the day, Mr. Pataki said that New York State law was clear and that no new law was needed.

"This law states that a marriage is between a man and a woman," Mr. Pataki said, according to a transcript provided by his office. "Our attorneys are talking with the Health Department and with the attorney general's office to see what steps they may determine are appropriate."

Aides to Attorney General Spitzer, queried before the Health Department's request for an injunction, said that he too was trying to figure out what the state's legal position should be on Mr. West's actions today.

As in other parts of the United States, the event highlighted divisions of opinion. Couples lined up outside of the Village Hall, some carrying flowers, while a few people carried signs of protest, including one that said, "Gay marriage not morally right."

An official in the town clerk's office said that marriage licenses could not be given out to same-sex couples, and therefore the legal basis for the marriages performed today was in question.

The Village of New Paltz's Web site called the ceremonies "gender-neutral" marriages. And Joshua Rosenkranz, a lawyer for the mayor, contended that under New York State domestic law, a marriage is valid once it is solemnized by an official or judge.

Mr. Nevins, a 42-year-old hospital administrator, said that he had no idea whether his marriage to his partner would be legally recognized any more than their Caribbean marriage ceremony three years ago.

But as with many of the gay couples trying to get marriage licenses, that is not the whole point.

"It is a statement to say that no one has the right to tell me who I can marry," Mr. Nevins said in a telephone interview from the town clerk's office in New Paltz, where he was unable to get a license but was given directions to the mayor's office.

On Tuesday, President Bush, citing San Francisco's decision to issue marriage licenses to gay couples despite state laws that appear to be to the contrary, said that the union of a man and woman is the most enduring human institution. He said he supported an amendment that would counteract "activist judges" who have issued rulings in favor of gay marriage.

More than 3,300 same-sex couples have gotten married in San Francisco since Feb. 12, after the mayor urged municipal officials to issue licenses to same-sex couples, and California courts are now considering legal challenges both to the marriages and to the laws that forbid them.

The comedian and talk show host Rosie O'Donnell, who has become a prominent advocate for gay rights since she announced she was a lesbian in 2002, married her partner of six years in San Francisco on Thursday, an act that she said had been "inspired" by President Bush's remarks.

In addition to New Paltz, the mayor of Schenectady was also considering allowing same-sex marriage ceremonies, according to a state official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because, with events moving so quickly, the official did not want to be seen as encouraging or discouraging such actions.

Today, television trucks converged on New Paltz, located not far from the Hudson River and the Shawangunk Mountains, a ridge of rugged and rocky cliffs popular with rock climbers.

"This would have to be the largest coverage of New Paltz since I joined the department 28 years ago," the township's police chief, Raymond K. Zappone, said.

Mr. Nevins said he and his partner had driven two hours to reach the mayor's office.

"Gay and lesbian people have been persecuted and oppressed," he said. "If Rosie O'Donnell can go and get married, I think we can too."

Marc Santora contributed reporting for this article from Albany, Thomas Crampton contributed reporting from New Paltz and Christine Hauser reported from New York City.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

February 28th, 2004, 10:06 PM
February 29, 2004

Mayor Wedding Gay Couples Has History of Activism


NEW PALTZ, N.Y., Feb. 28 - At age 6, his father says, he refused to eat McDonald's food because of environmental concerns about plastic-foam containers.

At age 17, he declined all Christmas presents, to protest commercialization of the holiday.

On Friday, at age 26, Jason West became the first elected official in New York State to solemnize gay marriage, performing ceremonies for 25 couples.

In undertaking a ceremony that attracted hundreds of supporters and a few protesters, a house painter with a rusted-out pickup truck and unpaid university bills has galvanized the university students in this tree-lined village and, in all likelihood, has sparked a traffic jam of gay couples coming to get married next Saturday.

He has also infuriated establishment politicians and received a few nasty phone messages that he will be passing on to the police.

"I will not be stopped by the threatening phone messages or threats of jail," Mr. West said. "My main concern right now is how to continue the process while making sure not to disrupt the village too much."

Straight, single, ambitious and at ease in front of television cameras, Mr. West said two even more youthful starts of his political career ended in failure. At age 23, in 2000, and again two years later, his bids to join the State Assembly on the Green Party ticket fell flat when he won little more than 3 percent of the vote each time.

"I lost by a landslide both times," Mr. West said. "But we did successfully bring the issues of universal health care and unionizing workers into the debate."

In running last year for mayor of New Paltz, a village about 80 miles north of New York City that is home to a State University of New York campus, Mr. West used a clown on stilts and people dressed in a chicken suit to goad voters into going to the polls. He promised to fight for affordable housing, tenants' rights, environmental protection and open government.

While motivating students - one third of his voters listed campus dormitory addresses - Mr. West also benefited from a vote divided between the 16-year incumbent mayor and a long-serving village trustee who campaigned to replace him. Victorious by a margin of 64 votes out of the 869 cast, Mr. West now leads a village board of which three of five members are in the Green Party.

"It is true the voting for mayor was divided, but we won a majority of the seats because those guys had been in power so long they had lost touch with the true electorate," Mr. West said. "The people in this town are not landlords. They are young, broke and living month to month."

More than 75 percent of the 6,034 village residents are under age 35, and more than 70 percent rent their homes, according to the 2000 census. "There is no urban misery here, but many people are like me," Mr. West said. "We sometimes have trouble meeting our bills."

Mr. West conducted the marriage ceremonies on Friday wearing the only tie he owns, and a $120 suit he purchased from J. C. Penney. "One gay friend criticized my dress sense," Mr. West said.

His vehicle, a 1987 Toyota pickup with large rust holes, was given to him by his father after his own car, a 1987 Ford Taurus, had an electrical failure three weeks ago. "I am waiting for the warmer weather to see if I can revive the car," Mr. West said. "This level of existence is not something that the former village leaders can relate to."

Although he has completed all course work at the local SUNY campus for a double major in history and fine arts, with a 3.7 grade point average, Mr. West said, he has not received a degree because he still owes the university $300 in fees.

His critics decry him as young, inexperienced and more interested in publicity than in maintaining the aging village infrastructure. Critics say he should worry more about how the century-old New Paltz village sewage system is falling apart.

"A village mayor should take care of things like the village sewage system, not issues like gay marriage," said Robert F. Feldman, a long-serving village trustee who lost out to Mr. West in his bid to become mayor. "It was incredibly unfair to drag this village to international attention just to bolster himself."

Mr. Feldman further criticized plans by Mr. West to remove laws prohibiting couches or unlicensed cars from front yards in the village.

For his part, Mr. West said the laws against couches and unlicensed cars on lawns demonstrated how far removed the village's former leaders had become from its electorate.

"The former village leaders don't face the same problems of most people who live here," Mr. West said. "Some people have old cars that break down sometimes, like me for example."

As to charges of capitalizing on the current wave of attention given to gay marriage, Mr. West said he had spoken publicly on the issue as long ago as his 2000 campaign for the State Assembly.

"This really is not about me, it is about 25 couples making a declaration of love, devotion and commitment," Mr. West said. "It is totally crazy that such a small ceremony gets so much attention."


The Joy of Gay Marriage

Lora Pertle, left, and Cissie Bonini, lesbian newlyweds in San Francisco.

Here's the denouement of the epic drama over gay marriage. It's going to happen, it's going to happen within a generation, and it's going to happen even though George W. Bush teed off his re-election campaign this week by calling for a constitutional amendment to outlaw it. As the country has now had weeks to digest, it has already happened in bulk in San Francisco, where images of couples waiting all night in the rain to be wed finally wiped Janet Jackson off our TV screens. The first of those couples, Phyllis Lyon, 79, and Del Martin, 83, were celebrating a partnership of 51 years. Take that, heterosexual marriage! The most famous practitioner of mixed-sex nuptials this year, Britney Spears, partook of a Vegas marriage that clocked in at 55 hours.

Whatever their short-term legal fate, the San Francisco weddings mark a new high-water mark in one of the most fast-paced cultural tsunamis America has seen. As Evan Wolfson, the civil rights lawyer who founded Freedom to Marry, says, "An act as unremarkable as getting a wedding license" has been transformed by the people embracing it, much as the unremarkable act of sitting at a Formica lunch counter was transformed by an act of civil disobedience at a Woolworth's in North Carolina 44 years ago this month. Gavin Newsom, the heterosexual, Irish Catholic mayor of San Francisco, described his proactive strategy for advancing same-sex marriage to Time magazine: "Put a human face on it. Let's not talk about it in theory. Give me a story. Give me lives." And so now there have been thousands of gay wedding stories, many of them with the couples' parents and children in the supporting cast, at the same City Hall where Marilyn Monroe and Joe DiMaggio famously got hitched to no good end a half-century ago.

Like other provocative steps in this civil rights movement or the black civil rights movement before it, the San Francisco weddings may cause a morning-after backlash, though perhaps not as stormy as the one President Bush is courting. The big picture remains the same: this is a revolution churning unstoppably through the culture, where it took root long before the law and politicians, especially those in Washington, started to catch up. In 1986, for instance, the Supreme Court upheld antisodomy laws. But even then Hollywood was advancing the story: Rock Hudson, heterosexual heartthrob No. 1 of the 1950's, had died of AIDS just months earlier, and his homosexuality was a revelation in a country where, polls showed, only 24 percent said they knew anyone who was gay.

A few months after Hudson's death, when I was a drama critic covering the rise of AIDS casualties and AIDS plays in the New York theater, Esquire magazine asked me to write an essay contemplating the impact of gay culture on heterosexual American culture. I knew little about it beyond the theater. But as I researched the story, I discovered that the queer eye was everywhere in my supposedly unambiguously straight world, from the Calvin Klein billboards in Times Square to television's "Dynasty." Much of this influence was as unacknowledged, or unrecognized, by heterosexuals, as gay people themselves usually were.

It was an education, and some less compressed version of that education has taken place for many Americans in the years since — through real-life stories like those Mayor Newsom talks about as well as the likes of "Will & Grace." Last year, the Supreme Court finally struck down the antisodomy laws it had upheld just 17 years earlier, and now polls show that more than half of the country knows firsthand someone who is gay. It's hard to hate people you know or discriminate against them by denying them the many civic benefits of marriage. Though all polls show that only a minority are for gay marriage, that minority is still substantially larger than the one that approved of interracial marriage in 1968, a year after the Supreme Court made such marriages legal.

More revealingly, the polls find a clear majority of those ages 18 to 29 in favor of same-sex marriage. In America, generational turnover is destiny — especially when it's plugged into capitalism. In a country where only half the families are intact heterosexual marriages with children, those that break the old mold are a huge developing market — for weddings, tourism, housing and anything else American ingenuity can conjure up for consumption.

The AIDS epidemic, in retrospect, made same-sex marriage inevitable. Americans watched as gay men were turned away at their partners' hospital rooms and denied basic rights granted to heterosexual couples coping with a spouse's terminal illness and death. As the gay civil rights movement gained a life-and-death urgency, the public started to come around, and it has been coming around ever since, at an accelerating rate. As recently as 1993, the year Tom Hanks did his Oscar turn as an AIDS victim in "Philadelphia," fewer than a dozen Fortune 500 companies offered domestic partners health benefits and even a city as relatively progressive as Atlanta erupted over extending them to its employees. That now seems a century, not a decade, ago: today even Wal-Mart is among the nearly 200 such companies offering these benefits, and even a conservative city like Cincinnati is contemplating the repeal of antigay legislation, passed in 1993, that may be hindering its ability to recruit businesses.

But for all these changes, hundreds of federal marriage perks, from a survivor's right to a spouse's Social Security benefits to the sponsorship of foreign partners, are still denied to gay couples, including those who are granted separate-and-not-equal civil unions by local governments. That's why marriage, whatever the word's separate meaning as a spiritual or religious rite, will remain a pressing constitutional issue in a country founded on equality. If marriage laws were set in stone, after all, same-race marriage would still be the only legal kind.

As the fulcrum of a culture war in a presidential campaign year, same-sex marriage now promises to explode with a vengeance as yet absent in San Francisco. America would be the loser, and so might either political party. If Mr. Bush really believed that supporting a constitutional amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage was a political slam-dunk, "he would have endorsed it right after the Massachusetts court decision," says Patrick Guerriero, the head of the Log Cabin Republicans.

What caused the delay? In part, it's that polls show most Americans balk at such an amendment. But now that the president's own polls are down, he's rolled the dice. He's hoping to motivate his base even if that means "embracing the radical right's effort to write graffiti into the Constitution," as Mr. Guerriero puts it. No one seems to know where Mary Cheney is, but other gay Republicans in the administration, in the Bush-Cheney campaign and in the armed services in Iraq have been driven to "soul searching" by the president's move, Mr. Guerriero says. They may have their own stories to tell. The day when a hypocritical segregationist like Strom Thurmond could demagogue one policy on marriage in public and behave quite differently in private is gone with the wind.

The president is so stymied by the very subject of same-sex relationships of any kind that he can't even say the words "gay" or "homosexual" in public. John Kerry, whose stance on gay marriage is no more coherent than his position on the war in Iraq, dodged a reporter's question about Mayor Newsom's weddings this week with the preposterous response, "I haven't really kept up with exactly what he is doing." They both wish gay marriage would just go away.

It won't. And so the vacuum will be enthusiastically filled by Defenders of Marriage eager to foment the bloodiest culture war possible. They are gladly donning the roles played by Lester Maddox and George Wallace in the civil rights era, even at the price of turning women like Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin into the new century's incarnation of Rosa Parks. Though it's easy to laugh at Bill O'Reilly's threat to personally make a citizen's arrest of Mayor Newsom, a scene that would be less redolent of "America's Most Wanted" than "America's Funniest Home Videos," the same cannot be said of the cynical provocations of California's governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, a purported supporter of gay rights. Last Sunday, with no evidence whatsoever, he went on network television to tell Tim Russert that San Francisco may erupt in riots. "The next thing we know there's injured or there's dead people," he added, as if to predict a re-enactment of the assassinations of a gay city supervisor, Harvey Milk, and the mayor of San Francisco, George Moscone, in 1978.

The rhetoric of die-hard segregationists is back as well, complete with its warnings of how untraditional marriages can beget polygamy and bestiality. In a strategy now adopted by President Bush, the Defenders of Marriage repeatedly complain of how "activist judges" are overruling the will of the people — and then go in search of activist judges of their own to quash Mayor Newsom, an official elected by the people. In three states, it is the legislature, not the judiciary, that is trying to speed same-sex marriage anyway.

The full-time Defenders of Marriage also like to pretend that they are "tolerant" of their misguided gay brethren, but their priorities give them away. You'd think they'd be most concerned about divorce, which ends half of all American marriages, or spousal abuse, but a study by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force last fall discovered that 334 documents on the American Family Association's Web site contained the word "homosexual" while "divorce" and "domestic violence" together merited fewer than 70 mentions. Such is the bent of the Family Research Council and the Traditional Values Coalition that they lobbied the Justice Department to deny 9/11 compensation to the domestic partners of those killed in the terrorists' attack, lest it further "the gay agenda at the expense of marriage and family."

By the time the conventions roll around this summer, gay marriages are likely to be a civic fact in Boston, the site of the Democrats' gathering. Mr. Bush is coming into New York, not only a center of gay population and activism but the home of three gay-friendly Republican hosts, George Pataki, Michael Bloomberg and Rudolph Giuliani, who can only lose if there's any replay inside the hall of the gay-baiting Houston convention of '92. If a convention like that could damage the first President Bush's re-election chances back then, imagine what a hot culture war in the much-changed America of 2004 might mean for the second President Bush, in the midst of a real war. It sounds like Chicago '68 to me. Except, of course, that the current Mayor Daley has endorsed same-sex marriage.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

March 1st, 2004, 05:38 AM
March 1, 2004

Same-Sex Weddings Bring Division to an Upstate Village


NEW PALTZ, N.Y., Feb. 29 - Until the past few days, this Hudson Valley hamlet was the kind of place where residents often waved to strangers across Main Street and where diverse views on social issues were tolerated, if not downright encouraged. But since last week, when the mayor, Jason West, thrust it into the national debate over same-sex marriage, New Paltz has become a village divided.

"I must have overheard more than one hundred discussions about gay marriage in the last few days," said Paul D. Schembri, a waiter serving Sunday breakfast at the Main Street Bistro. "The numbers for and against are pretty much split down the middle, but there is a clear divide between the young people who support the marriages and the older residents who really hate what the mayor did."

On Friday, Mayor West, 26, a Green Party member, performed 25 same-sex marriages in the Village Hall parking lot. Since then, more than 800 people from across the country have signed onto a waiting list to wed in the village. The mayor has said he will resume performing same-sex marriages on Saturday.

Whether those same-sex couples will be considered legally wed under state law - and entitled to the same benefits as married couples of the opposite sex - is likely to be decided by the courts.

While some long-term residents say they plan to take action to stop the ceremonies, Mr. West has received strong support from those who voted for him, along with the local gay community.

Mobbed like a rock star when he made a brief impromptu appearance Saturday night at The Wave, a local nightclub frequented by gays, the mayor was pulled onto the stage by a drag queen comedian wearing a red dress.

Shoppers and clerks at the Groovy Blueberry, a shop on Main Street that sells tie-dyed clothing, heaped high praise on the mayor on Sunday morning.

"I supported him before the weddings, but now I feel inspired by him," said Errol H. Stryker, 20, a student at State University of New York at New Paltz who said he cast the first vote of his life to help elect the mayor last May.

A part-time clerk at the Groovy Blueberry, Mr. Stryker said the issue of same-sex marriage spoke to students and other young people in a village that is just a half-hour drive away from the scene of the 1969 Woodstock concert.

"Maybe you don't hear it at the Groovy Blueberry, but quite a few conservative people in this village believe gay marriage is totally wrong," Mr. Stryker said. "They tend to be older than 30 and talk about religious beliefs."

But critics of Mr. West warn that a backlash against the mayor is not far off, especially if the weddings continue.

"I am determined to impeach Jason West if the attorney general says he broke the law," said Robert E. Hebel, who has served for more than a decade on the five-person village board. "If he tries to hold weddings again next Saturday, I will go to Kingston to seek an injunction to stop him."

Mr. Hebel stressed that he had no strong views on same-sex marriage, but he faulted the mayor for failing to consult the village board and for using taxpayer money without proper approval.

Other village residents are outright opposed to same-sex marriages.

"If he keeps going with this, I might just get out there and protest," said Dan Patterson, 42, a house painter who has lived in the village for seven years. "Gay marriage is against natural law and flies in the face of human history."

More than 100 Catholic villagers expressed their views with a frosty silence after Sunday Mass at Saint Joseph's, a church just a few hundred yards from the Village Hall parking lot.

After the priest, the Rev. Maurice Moreau, told parishioners not to give interviews, dozens of them filed in silence past a lone reporter seeking their feelings.

The one member of the congregation who did agree to speak condemned gay marriage. "The Bible says a man should not be with a man," said the member, Smitty W. Conover. "God put us on earth to be married as man and wife, not as a man and man."

In addition to stirring debate, the controversy inspired 25 volunteers to answer telephones on Sunday in the Village Hall and plan this week's weddings in an atmosphere they likened to the civil rights activism of the 1960's.

"This is not about special rights; it is about equal rights," said James V. Fallarino, a university student who has volunteered for the last four days. "We are not going to back down."

A New Paltz official said the village Web site had received 18,000 hits in the last three days, more than in the last two years. And after Mayor West asked for help from other people legally permitted to solemnize weddings in the village, a justice of the peace and a city clerk from upstate New York volunteered their services, according to Rebecca Rotzler, a village trustee.

Marriage Licenses Urged

Hundreds of gays and lesbians joined the speaker of the City Council, Gifford Miller, and other politicians on the steps of City Hall yesterday to demand that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Mayors and city clerks in other communities, including New Paltz, recently started recognizing gay marriages, but Mr. Bloomberg has said he believed New York law prevents it. Mr. Miller, a likely Democratic candidate for mayor next year, urged Mr. Bloomberg to begin issuing the licenses until a court says it is illegal.

Yesterday, Edward Skyler, a spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg, said that if proponents of same-sex marriage persuaded state legislators to change the law, the mayor would make sure the law is followed.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

March 2nd, 2004, 09:07 AM
March 2, 2004

From Ithaca, a New Challenge for New York State on the Issue of Same-Sex Weddings


The national debate on same-sex marriage spread to another college town in upstate New York on Monday, with city officials in Ithaca challenging the state Health Department to refuse marriage applications submitted by gay couples.

Carolyn K. Peterson, the mayor of Ithaca, told a packed news conference at City Hall that the clerk would accept marriage applications by same-sex couples and forward them to the state's Department of Health for a ruling on whether they could be granted. In doing so, she said, she would force the issue into the courts.

"I firmly believe that same-sex partners should have equal protection as other married couples do,'' said Ms. Peterson, a Democrat who took office in January.

The issue of same-sex marriage came to New York on Friday when the mayor of the village of New Paltz solemnized the weddings of 25 same-sex couples.

None of the couples had obtained a marriage license, which may open the mayor, Jason West, to prosecution. State law says it is a misdemeanor crime to perform a marriage for couples who do not have a license. It is far less clear on whether those marriages are legal.

Yesterday, Donald A. Williams, the District Attorney of Ulster County, said he would likely act against Mr. West.

"I cannot ignore charges that an elected official may have broken the law,'' Mr. Williams said, "We will carefully study the legal and factual issues before proceeding, but we have so far found no impediment to prosecution.''

If convicted, Mr. Williams said, the maximum penalty would be a $500 fine or one year in jail.

The marriage process in New York requires couples to obtain a license before undergoing a solemnization ceremony. Ms. Peterson said she had considered following in Mr. West's steps and solemnizing marriages for couples who had not gotten a license, but decided against it. "I can perform a ceremony without a license, but, though very meaningful to the couples, it would just be symbolic,'' she said.

Instead, the Ithaca officials intend to forward unsigned marriage applications to the state Health Department as a way to force a decision. Should the Health Department decline the license applications, Ms. Peterson said, the city would coordinate with students from Cornell University to give legal advice for couples to file suit. Ithaca is home to Cornell and Ithaca College.

By mid-afternoon, five same-sex couples in Ithaca had requested applications for licenses.

"We were prepared to get married today,'' said Margot D. Chiuten, 28, a landscape architect who intends to marry Shawna M. Black, 27.

The couple said they were a bit disappointed they couldn't marry on Monday, but were encouraged that the city and its legal department would be on their side. "We're trying to have a child,'' Ms. Black said. "And we don't want it to be born out of wedlock."

While the residents of the village of New Paltz remained divided over the issue of gay marriage, the surrounding jurisdiction, the town of New Paltz, entered the fray on Monday.

"I am fully in support of gay marriage, as a citizen,'' said Don Wilen, supervisor of the town of New Paltz. "I will see what I can do as an elected official, but I need to first study the impact on our community.''

However, the town's clerk, the only elected official empowered to issue marriage licenses in both the town and village of New Paltz, said she would not change her position.

"I will only issue a license to a man and woman,'' said Marian A. Cappallino, the clerk. "Until the law changes, I will keep this policy in place.''

Within the village of New Paltz, more than 120 people, mostly students from the local State University of New York campus, attended a meeting at Village Hall Monday night to provide logistical support for the marriages. Meanwhile, the mayor's opponents - mainly long-term village residents - sought ways to prevent further marriages.

"We have people looking at ways to stop the mayor doing these marriages,'' said Thomas E. Nyquist, a former mayor of New Paltz who served for 16 years until he was unseated by Mr. West last May. "Jason needs to pay more attention to being mayor.''

For his part, Mr. West, 26, on Monday said most of the village was behind his stance on same-sex marriage, adding that a group from Kansas planning a protest in two weeks will find little local support.

"Anybody coming into this community will find no support for protesting against same-sex marriage,'' Mr. West said. "It is appalling for people to come to our village to spread hate.''

The Rev. Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., said on Monday that more than a dozen supporters would visit New York on March 14 and 15.

"We will picket the Village Hall, we will picket the university and we will picket all five churches in the village after their Sunday services,'' Mr. Phelps said in a telephone interview. "Same-sex marriage is the ultimate insult to God Almighty, and somebody has got to picket these heretics.''

While Gays Rush to the Altar, Albany Takes It Slow


ALBANY, March 1 - When the little-known mayor of the village of New Paltz decided to start performing same-sex wedding ceremonies last week, state leaders were rocked back on their heels, struggling not only with a tangle of legal questions, but also with a situation so fraught with political peril that many are trying to simply stay out of the way.

On Monday, the mayor of Ithaca joined the list of those who have decided to press the issue by asking the state's Health Department if the city clerk can issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples and offering legal help to the couples in the event the state says no.

Even though New York has a long history of tending toward the liberal on cultural issues, some political analysts see gay marriage as one of those cases where it is hard for mainstream politicians with a wide constituency to come out looking good. Adding to the confusion is the suddenness with which this has erupted in New York, giving the elected officials little opportunity to protect themselves against the political consequences.

"It's a kind of damned-if-you-do and damned-if-you-don't situation for most elected officials in the state," said Richard Schrader, a political consultant who worked in the Dinkins administration.

While many politicians have been able to sidestep the issue so far, saying it is for the courts to decide, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has no such luxury.

When the Pataki administration asked Mr. Spitzer to seek an injunction to stop the marriages in New Paltz, Mr. Spitzer declined.

On Monday, the Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno, a Republican from Rensselaer County, said Mr. Spitzer's decision "makes a mockery out of the whole process of governing."

"I believe the law is clear and it prohibits this because the laws of New York State, to my knowledge, define a marriage as between a man and a woman," Mr. Bruno said on WROW-AM radio. "I think the attorney general is wrong."

Mr. Spitzer, while not responding to Mr. Bruno's comments, maintained his legalistic position that he has not sought an injunction because "irreparable harm" was not being done. However, Mr. Spitzer was also quick to emphasize once again that, personally, he supports gay marriage.

Since Mr. Spitzer is considering running for governor in 2006, possibly against Mr. Pataki, his declaration of personal beliefs was revealing because as the attorney for the state he may soon be placed in an awkward position of defending the state Health Department's refusal to issue marriage licenses.

"It is very conceivable that they are running against each other for governor, so it is the beginning of the governor's race," said Joseph Mercurio, a political consultant.

Mr. Spitzer's aides say his predicament is similar to that of Gov. Mario Cuomo, who upheld the laws allowing abortion despite personal reservations. Mr. Spitzer has to separate his legal duties as attorney general from the political implications of his action, his aides said, though they noted he is not unmindful of the political impact his actions may have.

For his part, Mr. Spitzer said, "We are looking at the issue devoid of political pulls one way or the other."

There has been a great deal of pressure on Mr. Spitzer to express a legal opinion on the subject, but he said he would not be "rushed." Still, his top lawyers were moving rapidly to craft a position, aides said. Mr. Spitzer's top staff, including his counsel, David Nocenti and his first deputy, Michele Hirshman, have been working around the clock to write an opinion they hope to release in coming days.

And in a reflection of the delicacy of the matter, aides say the opinion, which has no legal weight but could help frame the debate, will be carefully nuanced.

"In the end, people are still going to be able to see things that they want to see," said a senior aide.

There are three critical questions the attorney general must answer. While the details are yet to be worked out, an aide, speaking on the condition of anonymity, outlined the current thinking.

First, is the mayor of New Paltz guilty of committing a crime by performing marriage ceremonies for couples that have no licenses?

On this score, the aide said, the law and historical evidence are relatively clear that it is a misdemeanor. Prosecution of the crime rests with the Ulster County district attorney, who indicated on Monday that he would pursue it.

Second, who is eligible for marriage licenses?

While historically it has only been heterosexual partners that have been granted that privilege, the aide said Mr. Spitzer would also likely go into detail about how the law can be read as gender-neutral.

Finally, are the marriages that were performed in New Paltz valid?

This is the trickiest question, the aide said, and one that they are still poring through historical evidence to try and figure out.

While Mr. Spitzer appeared to be trying to ride the tiger, the governor has tried to keep his distance from the issue.

In brief public remarks on Friday and Monday, he said he believes New York law is clear on the idea that marriage is between a man and a woman. As far as dealing with the unfolding events, he repeated on Monday his response on Friday: "Health Department attorneys are in consultation with the attorney general, and the attorney general is looking to see what legal actions he believes we should take."

Mr. Pataki has disagreed with President Bush that a constitutional amendment is needed to define marriage as between a man and a woman, saying it is an issue for states to address.

But now that the subject has arrived in New York, Mr. Pataki is not the only politician who is relatively quiet.

The Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, said on Monday he has not discussed the issue with members of his Democratic conference, and therefore has no position on the issue. Mr. Silver is in some ways in the trickiest position. While there have been many Democrats around the state who have been vocal in their calls for gay marriage, Mr. Silver represents many constituents on the Lower East Side of Manhattan whose religion makes it hard for them to accept such marriages.

Thomas K. Duane, a Democrat from Manhattan and the only openly gay member of the State Senate, said many lawmakers were surprised by the speed with which this issue had arisen. However, he was hopeful that the state's top leaders would soon begin speaking out on the topic more openly.

"I think that they are trying to build up their courage," he said.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

March 2nd, 2004, 10:14 AM
I am opposed to permitting gay couples to marry.
I think that it should be a requirement.

See: Massachusetts Supreme Court Orders All Citizens To Gay Marry


March 2nd, 2004, 05:42 PM
Those Supreme Court dimwits misread me again!

March 3rd, 2004, 07:14 AM
March 3, 2004

Police Charge New Paltz Mayor for Marrying Same-Sex Couples


Four days after he thrust his Ulster County village into the national debate over same-sex marriage by conducting ceremonies for 25 gay couples, the mayor of New Paltz was charged yesterday with solemnizing a marriage without a license, a misdemeanor under state law.

The charges against the mayor, Jason West, brought by Ulster County District Attorney Donald A. Williams, came as questions over the legality of gay marriages resonated across the state.

In Albany, Gov. George E. Pataki said he was awaiting a legal opinion from Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, but reiterated a strong personal conviction against gay marriage.

And in Ithaca, where Mayor Carolyn K. Peterson laid out a municipal strategy on Monday to provoke a court ruling on whether state law allows gay marriage, the city clerk was preparing yesterday to forward the marriage license applications of five gay couples to the New York State Department of Health. Mayor Peterson, who supports the rights of gay people to marry, has said Ithaca will offer legal help to gay couples who go to court if their marriage license applications are denied.

In New Paltz, Mayor West was issued a summons at the village hall by the New Paltz town police chief, Raymond K. Zappone. The mayor was charged with 19 criminal counts, fewer than the number of ceremonies he performed on Friday, because the police on the scene provided eyewitness accounts of only 19 ceremonies.

"This is the same as any criminal case, except a person in public office has taken a solemn oath to obey the law," Mr. Williams said. A jail term is not being contemplated, he said.

Mayor West could be fined up to $500 and sentenced to up to a year in jail for each count. He said last night that he intended to plead not guilty. "I have broken no laws, and I intend to proceed with ceremonies on Saturday unless I am advised otherwise by my attorneys," he said.

In an interview, Mayor West said he had hoped Mr. Williams would "stand with me in favor of civil rights and our state constitution."

Governor Pataki, who emerged with Joseph L. Bruno, the Republican majority leader of the State Senate, and Sheldon Silver, the Democratic speaker of the State Assembly, from a meeting called to discussed such issues as tax collections and education financing, faced reporters in a State Capitol hallway who were determined to ask about same-sex marriage.

Mr. Pataki said he would wait for an opinion from Mr. Spitzer before taking any legal action. But he said he believed state law now defines marriage as a union of husband and wife.

"My personal view, just stepping back from a detailed legal analysis, is that the law is clear, the law is being broken, and that it is appropriate to seek an injunction" against more same-sex marriages in the state, Mr. Pataki said. "The attorney general has indicated he does not agree with that," he said. "We are waiting for his analysis."

Mr. Bruno opposes same-sex marriage, and Mr. Silver says it is an issue that must be resolved in court.

Al Baker, in Albany, and Thomas Crampton, in New Paltz, contributed reporting for this article.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

March 3rd, 2004, 08:29 AM
Bush's Gay Marriage Ban

by Richard Goldstein

It Can Happen Here

Is New York's Marriage Law Gender Neutral? The City Council Speaker Says Yes. The Mayor Says No. It's Time for the Rest of us to March.

March 3 - 9, 2004

Gay-marriage activists are mobilizing for a march on City Hall—and possibly the marriage bureau—on Thurs- day. For a change, they won't be squaring off against an evil empire. No one in a position to influence the issue thinks gay couples shouldn't be allowed to wed. But no one wants to be the person to make it happen. And the complexity of city regulations gives everyone plenty of cover.

The City Clerk, Victor Robles, says he can't issue same-sex marriage licenses without the mayor's approval. But a mayoral spokesperson insists that Robles "acts independently."

The mayor, Michael Bloomberg, doesn't "think it is my business who you marry." But he won't tell the clerk to issue licenses to same-sex couples because he believes state law forbids it.

The City Council Speaker, Gifford Miller, begs to differ. He contends that New York's marriage law is gender neutral, and therefore the mayor should let the weddings begin. Of course, the council appoints the City Clerk, so the Speaker might be expected to sway Robles. But Miller says he lacks the power to direct him.

Still, the council isn't sitting idly by. It is weighing several symbolic resolutions on gay marriage: one condemning the proposed federal amendment and another urging the state legislature to reform the marriage statute. What about a more concrete resolution urging the City Clerk to act? Marriage advocates have pushed for such a statement, but it wasn't mentioned by Miller until this reporter started asking questions.

In the council, considering and acting are very different things, especially when it comes to gay rights. A bill requiring large city contractors to offer their workers domestic-partner health coverage has languished for about 18 months, despite the fact that it now enjoys a veto-proof majority. A vote on the measure planned for last month has been postponed until April. Unless they are pushed, most council members are content to let the process unfold at a leisurely pace. And no one has publicly prodded these pols to act on marriage until now.

In fact, national marriage-advocacy groups, concerned about the reaction of New York courts, urged sympathetic officials to lay back. And some local gay officials have been too loyal to hold their leaders' feet to the fire. But after recent events in San Francisco and New Paltz, every "honorable" in New York politics is being forced to take a stand.

At a press conference on the steps of City Hall last Sunday, Miller told the cheering crowd, "This is simply too important an issue to be scared off by politics." But the Speaker surely knows that politics is at the heart of what keeps New Yorkers of the same sex from wedding here and now.

If gays want to marry, says the mayor's spokesperson, they shouldn't hound the city clerk; they should organize to change the law. But it would be easier to move the state capital to Woodstock than to get the state legislature to reform the marriage statute.

Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno had to be dragged into passing a gay rights bill in 2002, and that's where he wants the issue to stop. Meanwhile in the Democrat-dominated assembly, Speaker Shelly Silver, who hasn't taken a public position on gay marriage, is reportedly appalled by the idea. As Richard Gottfried, chief sponsor of the stalled assembly marriage bill, notes, "We have a long way to go" before it reaches the floor. So much for the State Democratic Committee's declaration of support for same-sex mat-rimonial rights.

There the matter would rest, except for two bar association reports asserting that gay marriage is already legal here because the state statute makes no explicit mention of gender. What's more, the state health department, which has been giving New Paltz's mayor grief, doesn't regulate marriage licenses in the city. Says attorney Lawrence C. Moss, a key figure in the local marriage fight, "We have a right to act under current law."

In 2001, when the second bar association report appeared, the president of that organization, former Watergate prosecutor Evan A. Davis, wrote: "We hope to persuade the Attorney General to issue an opinion that the proper construction of New York's statutes permits same-sex marriage." It remains to be seen whether the bar association will send such a message to Eliot Spitzer or a letter to Robles; if it does either that will give marriage advocates a big boost.

"The bar association is often the harbinger for institutional support," says Brad Hoylman, president of Gay and Lesbian Independent Democrats, a political club. "They were very useful on AIDS discrimination and adoption rights." Indeed, the state's high court agreed with the bar association's positions, ruling that that a gay or lesbian couple can adopt a child together and that a tenant cannot be evicted when his or her partner dies. These decisions implicitly recognize that same-sex couples are a family.

But marriage is a far more explosive issue than adoption and tenant rights. It will affect the fortunes of every politician who takes sides. Even Michael Cardoza, the city's corporation counsel, whose legal opinion gave the mayor and the City Clerk shelter, has revised his thinking to suit the role he now plays. Cardoza was the bar association's president back in 1997 when its first marriage report was issued. He approved the report then, but now, Cardoza's spokesperson says, he has "no comment."

City politics is always a bizarre balancing act, but this stunt makes Philippe Petit's high-wire walk between the Twin Towers look easy. Every major player has a lot to gain and lose from taking a stand.

Giff Miller is a longtime supporter of gay-marriage rights, and unlike many politicians who embraced this issue when it looked like pie in the sky, he still talks the talk. But Miller's principles happen to jibe with his mayoral ambitions. Stepping out front will enable him to mine the gay community's major political resource: its willingness to give generously, and in a co- ordinated way, to sympathetic candidates. On the other hand, Miller is seen as a creature of Manhattan, and he can ill afford to narrow that image further to Chelsea and Greenwich Village. This may be the reason why, though he's willing to make a personal statement on the steps of City Hall, Miller is reluctant to put his council on the legislative line. One advocate who met with the Speaker more than a year ago says he favored an "incremental" approach at the time.

Then there's Bloomberg, whose image in the outer boroughs is the political equivalent of the Gowanus Canal. He can't afford to burn his bridges and tunnels further by front-ing for the gay community. No wonder Bloomberg has declared his intention to veto the domestic-partner benefits bill when it finally passes the City Council. He'll have a hard time welcoming the Republican Convention to New York if wedding bells ring in its sodomitic precincts. Still, Bloomberg doesn't want to alienate the gay constituency that voted for him in 2001. The result is an open-minded attitude toward gay marriage coupled with a closed-door policy.

Even Victor Robles is in a tricky spot. He can't guess who the City Council Speaker will be when his tenure comes up for renewal in 2007. Then, too, if he sticks his neck out, some reporter might revisit the 1996 Daily News report of a sexual-harassment complaint against Robles made by a male employee. (The allegation was investigated but didn't lead to legal action.) No wonder Robles's former colleagues on the council want to shield him. No wonder he wants the mayor to take the heat.

Between their vulnerability and their ambition, New York politicians are a calculating lot, and that goes for out-and-proud pols as well. Fealty to the leadership can prevent them from pushing as hard as one might like. In the state assembly, Deborah Glick is close to Speaker Silver. Neither she nor her colleague Danny O'Donnell (Rosie's brother) have made waves about gay marriage. (In fact, Glick has suggested that the courts are the proper place for this issue to be resolved.) Senator Tom Duane is much freer to act, since he's not part of the ruling Republican leadership in that chamber, and Duane is planning to hold a forum on gay marriage on March 3. In the City Council, Christine Quinn is a key Miller lieutenant, and his enthusiasm for this issue enables her to be quite active. (The other queer council members, Margarita Lopez and Phil Reed, haven't ducked the issue, but they aren't as well positioned as Quinn.) In return, she is quick to cover for Miller's shortcomings.

Of course, loyalty begets political power—and goodies for gay constituents. But it doesn't necessarily move the agenda.

As for the marriage-advocacy groups, they haven't always worked together. Empire State Pride Agenda, which was instrumental in getting George Pataki to endorse the state gay-rights bill—and remains tight with the governor—has operated independently and some claim defiantly. Sources say ESPA urged some council members not to attend the Sunday press conference with Miller, and the group is holding its own pro-marriage rally days after the planned demonstrations. Calls to ESPA went unanswered.

The fact that the gay community has no mechanism for overseeing its organizations results in clashing between the suits and the streets. Connie Ress of Marriage Equality U.S.A. has taken pains to harness the energy of militants, but many leaders on this issue seem overly concerned about the prospect of agitation. They want middle-class couples with strollers to converge on the marriage bureau; not a ragtag legion shouting, "Hey, hey, ho, ho, homophobia's got to go!"

To judge from the hundreds who attended an organizing meeting at the city's lesbian and gay center last Friday night, there's more order and less factionalism around this issue than is usually the case. Even some critics of marriage as an institution are willing to fight for that right—and the rest are staying out of sight. Marching on the halls of power has never failed this community. Let's not shrink from it now.

Demonstrators will assemble at City Hall on Thursday at 8 a.m. For further information about joining the protest, visit: www.nymarriagenow.org


March 3rd, 2004, 07:59 PM
Thought the following recent decision,IN THE MATTER OF THE ESTATE OF MARSHALL G. GARDINER, Deceased (http://community.washburnlaw.edu/gln/gardiner/supreme_court.htm), issued by THE SUPREME COURT OF THE STATE OF KANSAS, would interest some of you concerning what a “marriage” legally is.

The Court stated, "The Legislature has declared that the public policy of this state is to recognize only the traditional marriage between 'two parties who are of the opposite sex,' and all other marriages are against public policy and void," Justice Donald Allegrucci wrote. "We cannot ignore what the Legislature has declared to be the policy of this state."

In addition to what the Court stated above, a number of very important points concerning constitutional law are stated by the Court which every freedom loving American ought to study and remember:

“The fundamental rule of statutory construction is that the intent of the legislature governs. When construing a statute, words in common usage are to be given their natural and ordinary meaning.”

The understanding of “marriage” as being a union between one male and one female is the “common usage” definition of marriage from the very founding of our nation. That definition is a legally binding definition within statutory law and is required to be observed by our public servants.

“In determining legislative intent, courts are not limited to consideration of the language used in the statute but may look to the historical background of the statute, the circumstances attending its passage, the purpose to be accomplished, and the effect the statute may have under the various constructions suggested.”

In other words, in determining the intent for which a state has involved itself in, say issuing “marriage licenses”, a review of the historical purposes for which the State has involved itself in issuing marriage licenses and the purposes sought to be accomplished, is very important in determining the intent, which is required to be followed.

The Court went on to say:

“We apply the rules of statutory construction to ascertain the legislative intent as expressed in the statute. We do not read into a statute something that does not come within the wording of the statute. We must give effect to the intention of the legislature as expressed, rather than determine what the law should or should not be.

5. The legislature has declared that the public policy of this state is to recognize only the traditional marriage between two parties who are of the opposite sex.

6. The words "sex," "marriage," "male," and "female" in everyday understanding do not encompass transsexuals. The common, ordinary meaning of "persons of the opposite sex" contemplates what is commonly understood to be a biological man and a biological woman. A post-operative male-to-female transsexual does not fit the common definition of a female.

7. A traditional marriage is the legal relationship between a biological man and a biological woman for the discharge to each other and the community of the duties legally incumbent on those whose relationship is founded on the distinction of sex.”

The reason I posted the above case is simply to give the participants on this board who may be interested in an understanding of our constitutional system, a decision handed down by a Court which abides by the fundamental rules concerning constitutional law, unlike the Massachusetts Court which ignored fundamental rules concerning constitutional law and imposed its personal predilections as law…another word for tyranny. We are fast entering a stage in our society dominated by public servants who are actively engaged in anarchy.

"As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances there is a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air - however slight - lest we become unwitting victims of darkness."___Supreme Court Justice William Douglas

March 3rd, 2004, 08:44 PM
Well done John....(Ashcroft?)

In this context the only defence for an inclusive definition of marriage is that the common usage is bigoted and discriminatory, much the same way the legal term "property" once included non-whites.

It's an interesting topic and I would like to see the intense debate created if President Bush's stated intent to draft and pass a constitutional ammendment is realized.

March 3rd, 2004, 09:51 PM
Well done John....(Ashcroft?)

In this context the only defence for an inclusive definition of marriage is that the common usage is bigoted and discriminatory, much the same way the legal term "property" once included non-whites.

It's an interesting topic and I would like to see the intense debate created if President Bush's stated intent to draft and pass a constitutional ammendment is realized.

For related subject matter see: Charles Krauthammer…and sexually challenged marriages! (http://gigo-soapbox.org/gigo/comments.php?id=111_0_2_0_C)


March 4th, 2004, 06:14 AM
March 4, 2004

Spitzer's Opinion Mixed on Status of Gay Marriage in New York


ALBANY, March 3 — New York State law requires same-sex marriages that are legally performed in other states to be recognized as lawful in New York, but does not now permit such marriages to be performed in the state, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer said on Wednesday in a legal opinion.

Mr. Spitzer said the state's marriage laws, recognizing only unions between a man and a woman, raised "serious constitutional concerns" that would ultimately have to be resolved by the courts. Until the courts ruled, he said, same-sex couples could not be legally married here.

He said his opinion that the state was legally sound in withholding marriage licenses was intended to try to halt the growing push by those who are seeking to change the law by performing same-sex marriages. "One of the messages I was trying to send was: Don't do it," said Mr. Spitzer, a Democrat who is widely discussed as a possible candidate for governor in 2006.

The overall legal opinion was nonetheless hailed by gay-rights groups as "monumental," and it set the stage for gay couples in New York who have been married elsewhere to begin challenging the state to grant them the privileges of marriage.

It is also almost certain to set off a wave of lawsuits in the state, sending the issue to the courts: exactly where lawmakers, advocates and lawyers had long predicted it would be resolved.

Mr. Spitzer's opinion, unusual for both the speed with which it was produced and the intense interest it generated, capped a day in which the issue of same-sex marriages continued to roil both the state and country. The mayor of New Paltz, a village in upstate New York, vowed to defy the law, as did another upstate mayor. Protesters stood on the steps of City Hall in New York City and demanded that Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg take a stand on the issue.

New York's governor, George E. Pataki, a Republican, said in strong terms that he personally believes marriage is between a man and a woman. In the state Capitol, lawmakers held a forum on legislation to make same-sex marriages legal.

In Washington, lawmakers debated the wisdom of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, while advocacy groups on both sides of the issue staged news conferences. At the same time, in Portland, Ore., county officials issued dozens of licenses to gay couples after deciding that Oregon law allowed the unions.

It was only a week ago that President Bush, saying the union of a man and a woman is "the most fundamental institution of civilization," called for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

His announcement came after a Massachusetts court decision that paved the way for same-sex marriages to occur there, and after the mayor of San Francisco sought to change state law by granting licenses and performing same-sex marriages.

Mr. Spitzer was drawn into the controversy last Friday after the mayor of New Paltz, Jason West, began performing marriage ceremonies for people who did not have marriage licenses. The State Health Department has refused to grant the licenses, saying New York's law expressly forbids it.

Mr. Spitzer concurred.

"It is our view that the Legislature did not intend to authorize same-sex marriage," the opinion said. According to that reading of the law, Mr. Spitzer said, the state is right not to issue marriage licenses, and the ceremonies already performed should be voided.

The opinion, which was signed by Caitlin Halligan, the solicitor general, but released by Mr. Spitzer at a Manhattan news conference, also clearly states, "The exclusion of same-sex couples from eligibility for marriage, however, presents serious constitutional concerns."

Mr. Spitzer has built up a national reputation by pursuing high-profile cases against corporations and the securities industry. He has made it clear he personally believes that same-sex marriage should be allowed, but that in acting as attorney general, he must separate his personal beliefs from his duties as attorney general.

In the 28-page analysis, which cites dozens of court cases from Hawaii to Vermont, Mr. Spitzer struck a decidedly nuanced tone. While the opinion is not legally binding, it will certainly help frame the debate, lawmakers and advocates for gay rights said.

Many gay advocates said Mr. Spitzer's reading of the current law was not nearly as important as his finding that New York should, based on legal precedent, recognize same-sex marriages lawfully performed in other jurisdictions. In fact, before the events in New Paltz, many gay rights advocates thought this was going to be the avenue through which New York's marriage laws would be challenged.

"Today in New York, one of the most incredible steps occurred," said David Buckel, marriage project director for Lambda Legal. "New York State became the first state in the nation to clarify that same-sex marriages performed out of state will be respected here."

Mr. Buckel said there are several hundred gay couples in New York who were married legally in Canada, where such unions are allowed in two provinces.

Mr. Spitzer, in the opinion, said that "whether the domestic relations law permits same-sex marriages performed in New York has no bearing on whether New York will recognize as spouses those parties to a same-sex marriage validly performed under the law of other jurisdictions."

New York is one of 12 states that did not follow the federal government's lead and adopt a law that would expressly forbid same-sex marriages. Of the 12, it is the first whose attorney general has said his state should recognize same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions, advocates and aides to Mr. Spitzer said.

Dennis Poust, spokesman for the New York State Catholic Conference, vowed to ratchet up the pressure on legislators to pass a law barring recognition of same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. "We don't agree with that part of the opinion at all," he said.

Mr. Spitzer, in an interview, said the most relevant court case on the matter as far as New York was concerned is Langan v. St. Vincent's Hospital, which was decided by the New York State Supreme Court in 2003 but is still being appealed.

In that case, the court concluded that a party in a Vermont "civil union" must be treated as a "spouse" for purposes of New York's wrongful death statute.

While the debate over gay marriage at times seems like a struggle over semantics, there are substantial health, tax and other benefits involved.

Mr. Spitzer's personal support for same-sex marriages has put him at odds with Governor Pataki. Asked Wednesday about the subject before Mr. Spitzer's legal opinion was released, Mr. Pataki said: "I believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman. That's my personal opinion as well as the law of the state."

In the opinion, Mr. Spitzer relied largely on historical precedent in his argument for reading that the state's Domestic Relations Law, or D.R.L., as applied to only a man and a woman.

"While the text of D.R.L. does not expressly bar marriage of same-sex couples, the inclusion in the D.R.L. of gender-specific terms to describe parties to a marriage, as well as historical context of its enactment, indicates that the Legislature did not intend to authorize same-sex marriage," the opinion says. It notes the use of the words "husband" and "wife" as well as "bride" and "groom."

Mr. Spitzer notes that the original law was enacted in 1896, and its silence on the issue of same-sex marriage "is presumably due to the apparent lack of any practice of same-sex marriage at the time."

Even as Mr. Spitzer laid out his interpretation of the law, and the governor condemned those he deemed in violation of it, another small-town mayor said he would begin solemnizing marriages between gay couples, starting on Thursday.

Speaking before a Senate committee in Albany, Mayor John H. Shields of Nyack, a village in Rockland County, said he felt compelled to act. He likened the marriages to acts of civil disobedience by women in the suffrage movement or by blacks during the civil rights movement. "All I can say is historically I am in good company," he said.

After Mr. Shields spoke, Mayor West of New Paltz, whose actions served as a catalyst for this debate, walked into the packed hearing room and received an emotional ovation that lasted at least five minutes.

Senator Thomas K. Duane, a Democrat and the only openly gay member of the Senate, was near tears as he lauded the mayor as someone who struck a historic blow for civil rights.

On the other hand, Joseph L. Bruno, the Senate Republican majority leader, sternly rebuked Mr. West, saying: "People ought to obey the laws equally and they shouldn't pick and choose. A mayor like that who defies the law could start issuing pistol permits tomorrow."

Looking forward, Mr. Bruno said, "If the laws don't change, then anyone who performs this ceremony, here in this state, is breaking the law."

'It Is Our View That the Legislature Did Not Intend to Authorize Same-Sex Marriage'


Following are excerpts from an opinion released yesterday by the New York State attorney general's office about the legality of same-sex marriages under the state domestic relations law. The full text is at nytimes.com/nyregion.

Application of Statutory Provisions to Same Sex Couples

We can provide no certain guidance as to how New York courts will ultimately rule with respect to whether New York law permits or prohibits marriage by same-sex couples. Although the D.R.L. does not explicitly prohibit same-sex marriages, it is our view that the Legislature did not intend to authorize same-sex marriage. The exclusion of same-sex couples from eligibility for marriage, however, presents serious constitutional concerns

Statutory Language

While the text of the D.R.L. does not expressly bar marriage of same-sex couples, the inclusion in the D.R.L. of gender-specific terms to describe parties to a marriage, as well as the historical context of its enactment, indicates that the Legislature did not intend to authorize same-sex marriage.

The D.R.L. includes no express requirement that married persons be of the opposite sex. Nor does it declare invalid marriages between persons of the same sex; the provisions enumerating marriages that are "absolutely void" or "voidable" make no mention of same-sex marriage

Equal Protection Clause

One question is whether the D.R.L., if interpreted to prohibit same-sex marriages, comports with the equal protection clauses of the federal and New York State Constitutions. A court might treat the D.R.L. as imposing a gender-based classification. Such classifications are subject to heightened scrutiny. The courts would need to find the prohibition supported by a legitimate state interest in order to uphold it.

Several state interests might be proffered in support of a prohibition on same-sex marriage, including promoting procreation and the welfare of children, and maintaining the traditional understanding of marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

New York's Treatment of Same-Sex Relationships

New York law has recognized the legitimacy of committed same-sex relationships in numerous ways, thereby drawing into question the state's interest in maintaining the historical understanding of marriage as confined to opposite-sex partners.

Recognition of Same-Sex Unions Performed Out-of-State

In general, New York common law requires recognizing as valid a marriage, or its legal equivalent, if it was validly executed in another state, regardless of whether the union at issue would be permitted under New York's Domestic Relations Law. The only exceptions to this rule occur where recognition has been expressly prohibited by statute, or the union is abhorrent to New York's public policy. The abhorrence exception is so narrow that only marriages involving "polygamy or incest in a degree regarded generally as within the prohibition of natural law" have been deemed abhorrent by the courts.


Because the purpose of the marriage licensing process is to "provide a definite, well-chartered procedure for entrance into marriage, so that parties following the statutory requirements can have a fair degree of certainty in their marital status" we recommend that clerks not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and officiants not solemnize the marriages of same-sex couples, until these issues are adjudicated by the courts. Finally, we note that the issue of recognizing same-sex unions from other jurisdictions presents a distinct legal question. Consistent with the holding of the only state court to have ruled on this question, New York law presumptively requires that parties to such unions must be treated as spouses for purposes of New York law.

Full Text of the Attorney General's Opinion (http://www.nytimes.com/packages/html/nyregion/20040304_gay.pdf)

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

March 4th, 2004, 06:55 AM
March 4, 2004

Despite Charges, Mayor Pledges to Keep Marrying Gay Couples


NEW PALTZ, N.Y., March 3 - Shortly after being arraigned on misdemeanor charges on Wednesday for the same-sex marriage ceremonies he performed in this village last week, Mayor Jason West defiantly said he would continue solemnizing such marriages. Standing before Village Hall in the same parking lot where he married 25 gay couples on Friday, Mr. West, 26, called gay marriage the greatest civil rights issue of his generation.

"The issue before us today is one of civil rights, human rights," Mr. West told a crowd of supporters. "Marriage is the act of making public what is written in two people's hearts."

Earlier, as he walked from Village Hall to the courthouse, a crowd that the police estimated at more than 450 held aloft placards and chanted in support. "All great leaders have gone to jail,'' read one placard with a photograph of Nelson Mandela. Others simply said "Go West!" or "Keep Your Laws Off My Vows."

Escorted into the courtroom by his father and sister as a tuba played "We Shall Overcome," Mr. West said nothing during the hearing before Judge Jonathan D. Katz until he pleaded not guilty to 19 counts of marrying couples who did not have marriage licenses.

The court appearance at 6 p.m. came amid a whirlwind day in which the mayor juggled preparations for a regular Village Board meeting with national television appearances and a drive to Albany to testify before the State Legislature.

It also came on the same day that Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's office issued an opinion recommending that local officials not issue marriage licenses to gays or solemnize gay marriages until the courts settle the matter. Officials who do so could face prosecution, the opinion said, although there is no penalty in the law for those exchanging vows.

An outpouring of support from around the country has paralyzed the Village Hall telephone system, with a team of volunteers working to clear a backlog of voice messages. One man even wrote an e-mail message saying he had contributed $300 to clear the debt that Mr. West, a housepainter, needed to pay to receive his college diploma. The vast majority of telephone messages were in favor of the mayor's actions, the volunteers said, but some members of the Village Board worried that the gay marriage issue had eclipsed important public business. "We have urgent issues in this village that the mayor must not neglect," said Robert E. Hebel, a village trustee.

Law Dept. Backs Barring Marriage Licenses for Gays; Mayor Is Pressed to Take Stand


The city's Law Department told the city clerk yesterday that gay couples should be denied marriage licenses, as City Council members and gay groups increased their pressure on Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to take a personal position on same-sex marriages.

Mr. Bloomberg, a Republican who has already expressed his opposition to a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, has refused since he ran for mayor to say whether he supports the idea of same-sex marriages.

During a news conference yesterday in Brooklyn, in which he was peppered with questions about the issue, he again declined to take a stand. "My personal views, I've always said for three years, are not something that I am going to discuss," he said.

Shortly after the news conference, the city's corporation counsel, Michael A. Cardozo, issued a 10-page legal opinion, which concluded, "It is appropriate for the city clerk to continue the current practice of declining to provide marriage licenses or perform ceremonies for same-sex couples."

In refusing to reveal his personal opinion on whether gays ought to be allowed to marry, while firmly promising to uphold current laws, Mr. Bloomberg appears to be taking the calculated political risk that saying nothing will cost him nothing.

Many people close to the mayor say they suspect he supports gay marriage - as much as he supports any type of marriage, which is to say not much. "I'm sort of on record as not being in favor of marriage, period, for myself,'' he said last year.

Further, Mr. Bloomberg has a record of supporting equal rights for gays. His company, Bloomberg L.P., was among the first media companies to provide benefits for domestic partners, and it has sponsored benefits and conferences for gay groups.

As mayor, Mr. Bloomberg has signed a law that recognizes gay marriages and civil unions that were legally sanctioned in other jurisdictions, and a law adding transgender protection to the city's human rights law. He has played host to receptions at Gracie Mansion for the gay pride parade, and he marches in the gay St. Patrick's Day parade in Queens, although some gay groups have criticized him for marching in the main parade in Manhattan, which excludes openly gay marchers.

But Mr. Bloomberg may have concluded that supporters of gay marriage who feel strongly enough to take the issue to the polls will probably vote for a Democrat next year, anyway. What is more, an expression of even mild support for gay marriage may push its proponents to press the mayor further to break the law. At the same time, Mr. Bloomberg's conservative base, wobbly as it is, would almost certainly not appreciate his actively supporting same-sex weddings.

So he has instead taken a third route: opposing a constitutional amendment that President Bush supports, but even many other Republicans reject, and hoping Council Speaker Gifford Miller, a potential rival in 2005, and others will fail to make gay marriage a wedge issue.

"There is some downside risk," said Douglas Muzzio, a professor of public affairs at Baruch College. "But I don't think he can support gay marriage. That would really put him in conflict with a sitting president who is having his convention in New York City, not to mention his conservative electoral base."

Yesterday, several council members convened on the steps of City Hall in what they said was the first of many demonstrations to press the mayor to express his opinion on the issue. Councilwoman Christine Quinn, a Democrat representing Greenwich Village and Chelsea, who helped organized the protest, said, "We're demanding Michael Bloomberg come out of the closet, and tell us his position on this issue."

Today, dozens of gay and lesbian couples are expected to descend on the city clerk's office in Manhattan to demand marriage licenses in protest of the state law prohibiting their issue.

"I think that people that want to change the marriage laws should go to Albany; that's where laws are made," Mr. Bloomberg said yesterday. "For those that want to grandstand and recommend that we break the law, I think their time would be much better spent in trying to actually effect the change that they say they want rather than just go out there for political purposes."

He said he did not expect gay marriage to become a vexing election issue. "Maybe it will be important if you want to know who is going to enforce the law," he said. "Whatever the laws are on the books, whether I personally agree or disagree with them, I will enforce the laws."

Mr. Bloomberg sighed with relief when a final question was posed: How did the mayor like filming an episode of "Law and Order" yesterday? (He did.)

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

March 5th, 2004, 02:01 AM
March 5, 2004

With Polite Refusal, Same-Sex Marriage Issue Reaches City Hall


The growing fight over same-sex unions reached New York City yesterday as dozens of gay and lesbian couples seeking marriage licenses were turned away at the City Clerk's office in Manhattan and hundreds of protesters demanding same-sex marriage rights rallied outside City Hall.

The rebuffs at the marriage-license counter were not confrontational, just a genteel turning away, two by two, like suffragettes a century ago at the polling place. The protest demonstration was also peaceful, if noisy; Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg urged the supplicants to take their cause to Albany. But it was the opening salvo of New York's gay and lesbian community for equal marriage rights.

A day after the New York Attorney General, Eliot Spitzer, declared that current laws prohibited same-sex weddings, but suggested - in a kind of blueprint for gay advocates - that the courts would ultimately resolve the issue, the first constitutional challenge appeared to be taking shape in Nyack, N.Y., where a gay mayor was denied a marriage license yesterday and vowed to sue the state.

And the mayor of New Paltz, who has already solemnized the marriages of 25 gay couples and faces criminal charges of violating the 19th-century laws reserving marriage for a man and a woman, said he would perform more same-sex marriages this weekend. Supporters hailed him as a hero, but a religious-rights law firm in Florida said it would ask a court to oust him from office.

Since the wedding march for gays and lesbians began in San Francisco three weeks ago, officials in California, New Mexico and Oregon have allowed same-sex marriages, Massachusetts has signaled its approval, President Bush has called for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and lawmakers, and conservative and gay-rights groups have joined a debate that has roiled the nation.

Comparing their cause to the black civil rights struggle of the 1960's and the women's movement, a coalition of gay-rights advocates and civil liberties lawyers has begun a campaign that seems destined for prominence in the presidential election race this year and has already drawn politicians at all levels into the maelstrom. Yesterday, the fight moved into New York City, and spread out upstate.

Bypassing the triumphal arch of the Municipal Building on Centre Street in downtown Manhattan, the line of three dozen gay and lesbian couples - 72 people in all - moved through a side door up to the City Clerk's office on the second floor. But instead of marriage licenses, or even applications for licenses, they received letters saying that state laws dating from 1896 prohibited same-sex marriage.

The letters, signed by City Clerk Victor L. Robles and accompanied by a hefty packet of 50 pages of legal interpretations by Attorney General Spitzer and the city corporation counsel, Michael A. Cardozo, were polite but firm.

"Thank you for visiting the Office of the City Clerk to apply for a marriage license," it said. "We are, however, unable to accept your request. New York State law does not authorize this office to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples."

The applicants were given instructions on how to apply for domestic partnership status. The couples, some of whom had lined up as early as 6:30 a.m., two hours before the clerk's office opened, were hardly disillusioned.

"There was a glimmer of hope, but we're not living in a fantasy world," said Judith Tax, 61, a Manhattan psychotherapist, who was there with her fiancée, Rabbi Nancy Wiener, 45, a teacher at Hebrew Union College. "We're not a scary horde out to destroy the community. We want to participate."

Rabbi Wiener said she and Ms. Tax had been domestic partners for 17 years and had brought along the paperwork to prove it, 11 documents that customarily accrue in a marriage, including last wills and testaments, health care proxies and durable powers of attorney naming one another as the responsible partner in life.

Across the way, spilling over a sidewalk on the eastern perimeter of City Hall, 750 demonstrators marched in a light rain, carrying signs and chanting slogans in support of legalized gay and lesbian unions.

"Gay, straight, black or white, marriage is a civil right," they chanted.

Inside City Hall, the mayor said: "My message is simple. If you want to change the laws, don't grandstand. Go to Albany and get it done." He has a record of supporting civil rights for gays; he has signed a law that recognizes gay marriages and civil unions sanctioned in jurisdictions outside New York, and has also gone on record as opposing the constitutional amendment President Bush has proposed. But he has refused to reveal his own opinion on gay marriage, saying only that he will uphold the laws.

In Nyack, a Rockland County village of 6,500, where artists, writers and working-class people live and antiques dealers dot Main Street, Mayor John Shields, 60, a retired schoolteacher, and his partner, Bob Streams, 32, a car salesman, applied for a marriage license at the Orangetown clerk's office, as did six other gay and lesbian couples and two women whose partners were not present.

It was a friendly encounter. The Orangetown clerk, Charlotte E. Madigan, who had been alerted in advance, greeted the mayor with a smile before politely declining his request and handing him a one-sentence statement. "Based on the opinions of the NYS Attorney General and the Department of Health, I am not legally authorized as Town Clerk to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples," it said.

Smiling and shaking hands with all, Ms. Madigan repeated her performance for each couple.

"I am disappointed but not surprised by what happened here," Mr. Shields said. "I will fight this as long as my attorneys are willing." His lawyers - Norman Siegel, former executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, and Steven J. Hyman, said they would file suit against Orangetown next week.

Mr. Siegel said he would argue that the state's marriage law, despite using terms like "husband," "wife," "bride," and "groom," is gender-neutral, with no requirement that the partners be of opposite sex. He said he would also argue that the domestic relations law violates the State Constitution, which provides for equal protection under the law.

In New Paltz, a college town 75 miles north of Manhattan, Mayor Jason West, who solemnized the weddings of 25 same-sex couples last Friday and has been charged with 19 misdemeanors for officiating without marriage licenses, said he planned to perform ceremonies for "a dozen or two" same-sex couples this weekend. He added: "We have over 1,200 couples on our waiting list."

Janon Fisher, at City Hall, and Thomas Crampton, in Nyack and New Paltz, contributed reporting for this article.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

TLOZ Link5
March 5th, 2004, 03:19 AM
Yeesh, and now on the AOL boards right-wingers are complimenting the City for "turning away the gays." Cripes...Bloomberg upholds the law to avoid controversy and suddenly we go from being an American Teheran to Houston on the Hudson.

March 5th, 2004, 08:14 AM
Is that Yews-ton or House-ton, pardner?

TLOZ Link5
March 5th, 2004, 12:24 PM
Is that Yews-ton or House-ton, pardner?

Need I answer, or can you infer it for yourself? :roll:

March 6th, 2004, 04:37 PM
March 6, 2004

Bloomberg Said to Want State to Legalize Same-Sex Marriages


Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has refused in his two years in office to disclose his personal views on gay and lesbian marriage, told 80 journalists at a lesbian and gay fund-raising dinner in Manhattan Thursday night that he favored changing state law to legalize same-sex unions, four people who were there said yesterday.

On a day when the struggle for gay and lesbian marriage rights in New York moved into the courts with the first of many anticipated lawsuits and into the streets with auto caravans and protests on Long Island, the mayor of an upstate community said he would temporarily suspend his performing of same-sex marriages and Gov. George E. Pataki vowed again to uphold the existing marriage law.

But it was Mr. Bloomberg who was caught in the day's spotlight, although reluctantly. The mayor, who has a long record of supporting civil rights for gays but has resisted voicing personal opinions that might alienate his conservative supporters, has been under intense pressure to make his views known as the campaign for gay and lesbian marriage rights has blossomed in New York in recent weeks.

But he had steadfastly resisted the entreaties until Thursday night, and many who heard him speak at a $1,000-a-plate dinner of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association were surprised to hear him say he favored a change in the law.

No tape recordings were rolling, and various auditors were somewhat fuzzy trying to remember his exact words. But there appeared to be little doubt that Mr. Bloomberg, for the first time, had spoken of his carefully guarded feelings, and had done so almost casually in remarks to about 100 people, most of them working journalists, at the home of the dinner's host, Greg Morey, at 38 East First Street.

"He did say in certain terms that `I think the law should be changed,' " Eric Hegedus, vice president of the journalists association, recalled yesterday.

Pamela Strother, president of the association, remembered it all as less assertive. "My recollection is that he said something like he wished the law were different," she said. "But as soon as he said it, I knew he had finally expressed a personal view. A whole bunch of eyebrows were raised, and a couple of people clapped their hands."

Bob Witeck, the chief executive officer of Witeck-Combs Communications, a Washington-based public relations firm, said Mr. Bloomberg had been unequivocal. "Definitely, he said the law should be enforced, but that it should be changed." A New York Times critic who attended the dinner as a guest also confirmed that the mayor had said he favored changing the law.

After receiving a flurry of calls yesterday, Edward Skyler, the mayor's press secretary, summoned the City Hall press corps to his office to view a taped interview with the mayor to be aired Sunday on Channel 11. Asked to illuminate his views on gay marriage, Mr. Bloomberg said he was opposed to discrimination and said he had always thought civil unions should have the same rights as marriages.

Pressed further, he said he had "sort of gone back and forth on that."

Peppered with questions, Mr. Skyler said he had not been present for the mayor's remarks and, while noting that he had talked to Mr. Bloomberg about them, declined to detail or characterize them.

No ground rules for reporting were enumerated at the dinner, several guests said. Specifically, they said, there was no talk of going "off the record" or speaking "on background."

Beyond the mayor's acknowledgment that he favors changing the law, two people who were at the dinner quoted Mr. Bloomberg as saying he would work behind the scenes in Albany for changes in the marriage law. Others said they did not hear the remark, though no one denied that it had been made.

But gay rights strategists noted that lobbying by the mayor in Albany — or even his overt support — would be unlikely to change the law. They said that with Governor Pataki and State Senator Joseph Bruno opposed to same-sex marriage and pulling the strings in a Legislature where nothing is done without their approval, legislation to change the marriage law seems virtually out of the question.

The courts — and the court of public opinion — are the most likely venues for changes in the law, the strategists said. And those were the forums where the fight was taken yesterday.

Hours after being denied a marriage license by the New York City clerk, a gay couple filed suit in State Supreme Court in Manhattan — the first of many expected in the state in the current campaign — challenging the constitutionality of the 1896 state law that has always been interpreted as reserving marriage to a man and a woman.

"This lawsuit seeks and will win full equality in marriage for same-sex couples," said Kevin M. Cathhart, executive director of Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, which represents the couple, Nevin Cohen, 42, an environmental planner, and Daniel Hernandez, 46, a real estate developer. Each wore a wedding ring at a crowded news conference after the filing.

"The reason that Daniel and I are here today is really quite simple," Mr. Cohen said. "We love each other very much. We've been in a committed, strong relationship for over five years. Our friends and family recognize us as a loving couple, and getting married just seems like the natural next step for us to take."

Mr. Hernandez said that he and Mr. Cohen planned to adopt children and refused to go to California or Massachusetts to be married. "We set up a house here and a home," he said. "It's in New York that we want to get married. We don't want to go to another state or another country to be married. We want to be married right here at home."

Their suit names the city clerk, Victor L. Robles, as the defendant, but its real target was New York's domestic relations law. They charged that the statute discriminated against same-sex couples, depriving them of constitutional rights to due process and equal protection under the law.

On Long Island, meanwhile, a horn-honking caravan of 125 cars led by a blue-and-white bus carried more than 200 people, including 50 gay couples, to town clerks' offices in Babylon, Brookhaven, Islip and other communities, seeking marriage licenses. At each stop, they were turned away, as expected. But the sum of the day's rounds — part theater, part legal tactic — was hardly a defeat.

The rejections laid the groundwork for more lawsuits; reporters and television cameras trailing the caravan ensured extensive publicity, and none of the participants seemed discouraged. Indeed, there was a sense of growing momentum to a campaign that has brought the national debate over gay and lesbian rights, and especially over same-sex marriage, to New York in recent days.

"Shame! Shame!" the protesters shouted at stop after stop as the caravan of gay couples rode about, ostensibly in search of a clerk willing to issue marriage licenses. Outside town halls in Babylon and Brookhaven, protesters chanted, "Two, four, six, eight, the law shall not discriminate," and held up signs proclaiming: "Marriage is a human right, not a heterosexual privilege."

Adopting some language of the civil rights movement of the 1960's, David Kilmnick, executive director of Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth, which organized the caravan, declared, "Just like they denied Rosa Parks of sitting in the front of the bus, we today have been denied to sit on the front of the marriage bus, but we will keep coming back week after week until we get that right."

Upstate, the mayor of New Paltz, Jason West, a 26-year-old Green Party activist who drew the national debate into New York last week by performing 25 same-sex marriages in the village parking lot, said yesterday that he would postpone a second round of gay and lesbian marriages planned for today.

Mr. West, who was charged this week with 19 misdemeanors for solemnizing unlicensed weddings, said that before proceeding he wanted to consult with Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who handed down an advisory opinion on Wednesday that said New York's marriage law did not permit gay weddings, though he suggested that the courts would resolve the issue.

Despite Mr. West's announcement, it appeared that same-sex marriages would resume in New Paltz today. A group of local residents found several clergymen to solemnize marriages starting at noon. They would not be licensed, and such marriages would likely face challenges in state courts.

Governor Pataki said there was no doubt of it. "You cannot take the law into your own hands," the governor declared in Albany. Asked about his personal feelings on same-sex marriages, he replied: "I am comfortable with the laws in the state as they currently exist."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

March 6th, 2004, 09:26 PM
March 7, 2004

Same-Sex Marriage Blurs Lines on Both Sides of the Political Aisle


Gay activists see Gov. George E. Pataki as one of the best governors in the country on issues that matter to them, even though he insists that marriage should be between only a man and a woman. That position puts the moderate Republican governor in the same camp as many conservative Republicans - and moderate Democrats - across the nation.

The state's Democratic attorney general, Eliot Spitzer, has said he favors marriage between people of the same sex, but he issued an advisory opinion saying that New York law defines marriage as between a man and a woman and that the courts are the appropriate place to resolve what he called serious constitutional concerns.

As the national firestorm over same-sex marriage works its way into local governments, Democrats and Republicans alike are being forced to face the fact that all politics is local, and that the more immediate the issue becomes, the less relevant are party labels and previous positions.

While gay and lesbian couples have seized the initiative by walking into town halls across the country seeking to be married, members of Congress, the State Legislature, the City Council, lobbyists, political strategists, advocacy groups, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and others have struggled to chart a course through a debate that has raised such passions that it is likened to other seminal flashpoints in contemporary American history, from the fight over abortion to the battle for civil rights.

Like the abortion debate, the very personal and deeply divisive issue of same-sex marriage falls to elected officials and the political process. Conventional wisdom held that it was an issue that worked for Republicans while undermining Democrats. Yet the speed and intensity of the issue and the furor surrounding it - fueled by President Bush's call for a constitutional amendment banning the practice - has knocked even some Republicans off their footing.

"For years, choice was the hot button that got conservatives and liberals up in arms," one adviser to a Democratic elected official said. "Could this be the new issue?"

As the debate evolves, officials in New York are mindful of the pitfalls they can face along with their colleagues nationally: Republicans say they risk looking mean-spirited; Democrats say they risk looking too liberal.

Many New York officials have tried to hide from the issue, or in many cases straddle it, doing all they can to parse their answers in such a way as to be grandly noncommittal without angering the left or the right among their constituents.

Mayor Bloomberg, who has a long record of supporting civil rights for gays but has resisted voicing personal opinions that might alienate his conservative supporters, reiterated yesterday his position that civil unions conveyed the same rights as marriages under the law, and that he opposed a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

But, speaking to reporters in Rockaway before marching in the 29th annual Queens County St. Patrick's Day parade, Mr. Bloomberg refused to be drawn out on whether he favored the legalization of gay marriage. "I've gone back and forth in my mind as to where I really stand, but I think everybody deserves to have the same rights," he said. Asked if he would go to Albany to lobby for a change in the state's marriage law, he said: "We'll see. I go to Albany a lot."

In more than two years as mayor, Mr. Bloomberg has refused to discuss his personal views on gay and lesbian marriage. But at a fund-raising dinner attended by 80 gay and lesbian journalists Thursday night, Mr. Bloomberg said for the first time publicly that he favored changing state law to legalize same-sex unions, according to four people who attended. Two people also quoted him as saying he would quietly lobby for the change in Albany.

But yesterday, as the mayor sought more neutral ground, the City Council speaker, Gifford Miller, who plans to run for mayor and was also at the parade, seemed determined to keep Mr. Bloomberg's personal views in the public arena. "I think it's terrific if the mayor has come out very clearly and said that he's for same-sex marriages," he said. "I hope that is his position, and I hope that he'll stick to it."

The issue broke so suddenly, and with such ferocity, nationally and then again in New York, that many people were caught short. That was true not only of elected officials, but of the organizations and individuals pushing for gay rights, including the state's top gay advocacy group, the Empire State Pride Agenda, which has not criticized Mr. Pataki for his position.

Since its creation in 1990, the group has evolved into an effective lobbying organization that works well with Democrats and Republicans. It even hired the lobbying firm of a former state Republican Party chairman, William D. Powers, in 2002, the year when the Republican-dominated State Senate passed, and Governor Pataki signed, a gay rights bill that the Assembly had passed every year for more than a decade.

The group is now trying to calm both its constituents, who want a gay marriage law passed, and legislators, who either oppose the idea or do not want to take a formal position on it right now.

In New York, the Assembly has never voted on a gay marriage bill, and while such a bill would have no chance of passing the Republican-controlled Senate, the Assembly has often passed so-called one-house bills to make statements.

But not this time. In fact, the Assembly's only openly gay member, Deborah Glick, says not only that is she unsure about such a bill making it through the Assembly - where Democrats outnumber Republicans 102 to 47 - but that she isn't sure there are enough votes to block a bill that would outlaw same-sex marriages in New York.

"Things are moving very fast," Ms. Glick said. "It's a totally grass-roots, energized movement that to me is something I haven't seen since the late 60's and early 70's." But she added, "Legislative bodies tend to be reactive, and advances in law come as a reflection of how people live their lives, not the reverse."

In general, the issue is more problematic for New York's Democrats. One Democratic political consultant who works for an elected official said that this was an issue that drew an impassioned response from people on the right - who oppose gay marriage - but not quite as impassioned a response from those on the left.

At the same time, Democrats count gays and lesbians as part of their political base. But political strategists said that increasingly, gays and lesbians were voting based on issues and not on party affiliations - thus the growing alliance, for example, between the Pride Agenda and Mr. Pataki. "It is a very important community, particularly for Democrats," said Bill de Blasio, a political strategist and Democratic city councilman from Brooklyn. "It is an extremely crucial part of any winning coalition."

The importance of the gay and lesbian vote in Democratic circles may well be gauged by the actions of two political leaders, both with their sights on higher office. Mr. Miller, has called on Mayor Bloomberg to order the city clerk to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a position that political strategists said could help him in a Democratic primary but prove more problematic in a general election.

The second figure is Mr. Spitzer, who is expected to run for governor. Mr. Spitzer has long held the position that gays and lesbians should have the right to marry, but his legal opinion last week surprised everyone by focusing not just on what the state's law says about same-sex marriage, but on what it says about same-sex marriages performed in other states. Mr. Spitzer said the law required New York to recognize marriages performed legally outside the state - a decision hailed by gay rights activists, and one that would certainly help Mr. Spitzer should he find himself in a primary, many strategists said.

New York Republicans have a different problem altogether. The state has three registered Democrats for every registered Republican (the ratio is five to one in New York City). New York Republicans need to appear socially moderate, and indeed often are on such issues as abortion.

While Republican strategists say that they can do fine in New York by staking a position that defines marriage as between a man and a woman, they have also said that Mr. Bush's call for a constitutional amendment threatens to make all Republicans appear intolerant.

And in general, Democrats, no matter what their position, get more leeway on the issue than Republicans. Senator Charles E. Schumer, for example, voted in favor of the so-called Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, but recently won praise from advocates of same-sex marriage for coming out strongly against Mr. Bush's proposed amendment.

"He can say that he, like the country, has learned a lot in the last several years," said Evan Wolfson, the executive of Freedom to Marry, a New York-based coalition. "It's never wrong to take a fresh look at a civil rights question."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

March 6th, 2004, 10:43 PM
March 7, 2004

The Road to Gay Marriage

When Massachusetts' highest court ruled that gays have a right to marry, it opened a floodgate. From San Francisco to New Paltz, N.Y., thousands of gay couples have wed, and the movement shows no sign of slowing. There has been opposition, from the White House down, but support has come from across the nation and the political spectrum. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Republican governor of the most populous state, said it would be "fine" with him if California allowed gay marriage. The student newspaper at Baylor, the world's largest Baptist university, ran a pro-gay-marriage editorial.

At an anti-gay-marriage meeting in Washington last week, Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, warned that the "wildfire" of same-sex marriages will spread unless opponents mobilize. But even if they do, it is unlikely gay marriage can or will be halted. Opponents are pinning their hopes on a federal constitutional amendment, but even many Americans who are skittish about gay marriage do not want to enshrine intolerance as one of the nation's fundamental principles. The founders made it extremely hard to amend the Constitution, and it is unlikely this effort will succeed.

With allies in the White House and both houses of Congress, gay marriage opponents want the issue decided in Washington. But it appears we are embarking on 50 national conversations, not one. Following the lead of Vermont, which has civil unions, and Massachusetts, other states will weigh what rights to accord same-sex couples, and how to treat marriages and unions from other states. When the federal government does act, it is likely that, as with the Supreme Court's 1967 ruling on interracial marriage, it will be to lift up those states that failed to give all their citizens equal rights.

The idea of marriage between two people of the same sex is still very new, and for some unsettling, but we have been down this road before. This debate follows the same narrative arc as women's liberation, racial integration, disability rights and every other march of marginalized Americans into the mainstream. Same-sex marriage seems destined to have the same trajectory: from being too outlandish to be taken seriously, to being branded offensive and lawless, to eventual acceptance.

The Flood of Gay Marriages

The television images from San Francisco brought gay marriage into America's living rooms in a way no court decision could. Mayor Gavin Newsom's critics called his actions lawless, but the law was, and still is, murky. When California's attorney general asked the State Supreme Court to address same-sex marriage, it declined to stop the city from performing the ceremonies right away, or to invalidate those already performed. When New Paltz's mayor began performing same-sex marriages, New York law seemed similarly uncertain.

The rebellious mayors have so far acted honorably. Testing the law is a civil rights tradition: Jim Crow laws were undone by blacks who refused to obey them. Visible protests of questionable laws can, as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. wrote in "Letter From Birmingham Jail," "dramatize" an issue so "it can no longer be ignored." The mayors have succeeded in dramatizing the issue. But for them to defy court orders requires a far greater crisis than is present here. If courts direct officials not to perform gay marriages, they should not.

The Role of `Activist Judges'

Opponents of gay marriage have tried to place all of the blame for recent events on "activist judges." Senator John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, has called for a Congressional investigation of "judicial invalidation of traditional marriage laws." The judiciary, however, is only one part of a much larger story. Gay rights and gay marriages are being driven by an array of social forces and institutions. In California, the driving force has been an elected mayor, with the support of his constituents. In that case, it is gay marriage opponents who are asking judges to step in.

To the extent that the courts do have a leading role, it is perfectly natural. Gay marriage opponents like to portray judges as alien beings, but state court judges are an integral part of state government. They were elected, or appointed by someone who was. The founders created three equal branches, and a Constitution setting out broad principles, at both the national and state levels. Courts are supposed to give life to phrases like "equal protection" and "due process." Much of the nation's progress, from integration to religious freedom, has been won just this way.

The Emerging Legal Patchwork

As more courts and legislatures take up the issue, the rules for gay civil unions and marriages will most likely vary considerably across the nation. More states can be expected to follow Vermont's lead and allow civil unions that carry most of the rights of marriage. Others may allow gay marriage. This is hardly unusual, since states have historically made their own marriage and divorce rules. Currently, some people, such as first cousins, can marry in some states but not others.

The last great constitutional transformation of marriage in this country, the invalidation of laws against interracial marriage, moved slowly. In 1948, California became the first state in the nation to strike down its laws against interracial marriages. It was not until 1967 that the Supreme Court held Virginia's law unconstitutional, and created a rule that applied nationally.

The Battle for Interstate Recognition

Popular attention is now on wedding ceremonies for people of the same sex, but a no less important issue is whether states will recognize gay marriages and unions performed in other states. In 1996, Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act, which says no state can be forced to recognize gay marriages. But the law has not been tested, and it should eventually be found to violate the constitutional requirement that states respect each other's legal acts. As a practical matter, the nation is too tightly bound today for people's marriages to dissolve, and child custody arrangements to change, merely because they move to another state.

Whether or not they have to recognize other states' civil unions and gay marriages, states clearly have the option to. Whether they will is likely to be the next important chapter of the gay marriage story. Couples who are married or who have civil unions will return to their home states, or move to new ones, and seek to have their status recognized. Attorney General Eliot Spitzer of New York, in an opinion last week, strongly suggested New York's law requires it to recognize gay marriages and civil unions entered into elsewhere. At least one New York court has already reached this conclusion.

Final Destination

The controversy over same-sex weddings has obscured the remarkable transformation in opinion over civil unions. Less than 20 years ago, the United States Supreme Court enthusiastically upheld a Georgia law making gay sex a crime. Last year, the court reversed itself, and a national consensus seems to be forming that gay couples have a right to, at the least, enter into civil unions that carry the same rights as marriage. Even President Bush, who has endorsed a constitutional amendment to prohibit gay marriage, has suggested he had no problem with states' recognizing civil unions.

Civil unions, with rights similar to marriage, are a major step, but ultimately only an interim one. As both sides in the debate agree, marriage is something more than a mere bundle of legal rights. Whatever else the state is handing out when it issues a marriage license, whatever approval or endorsement it is providing, will ultimately have to be made available to all Americans equally.

To the Virginia judge who ruled that Mildred Jeter, a black woman, and Richard Loving, a white man, could not marry, the reason was self-evident. "Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents," he wrote. "And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages." Calling marriage one of the "basic civil rights of man," the Supreme Court ruled in 1967 that Virginia had to let interracial couples marry. Thirty-seven years from now, the reasons for opposing gay marriage will no doubt feel just as archaic, and the right to enter into it will be just as widely accepted.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

March 8th, 2004, 06:28 AM
New York And Gay Marriage (http://www.gothamgazette.com/article/feature-commentary/20040308/202/905)

March 9th, 2004, 08:16 AM
March 9, 2004

Mayors Asked to Face the Music, as in a Same-Sex Wedding March


Mayors in New York bring their own views to the same-sex marriage issue. From top, Carolyn K. Peterson of Ithaca, Jason West of New Paltz and John Shields of Nyack.

In the struggle over same-sex marriage in New York, small-town mayors suddenly emerged last week as the unlikely protagonists, becoming engines for social and political change. The actions of mayors in places like New Paltz and Nyack fed the debate and helped trigger a declaration by the attorney general that gays and lesbians were not permitted to wed under current state law.

While the overwhelming majority of the state's more than 600 mayors may have watched the tempest from the sidelines, the latest developments forced them to engage in their own soul-searching.

Even those with few gay constituents were considering the implications of their power to solemnize marriages in a quickly shifting landscape of sexual politics. That landscape expanded yesterday into New Jersey, where the deputy mayor of Asbury Park married a gay couple who had been issued a license by the town clerk's office.

In a sampling of opinion of mayors from a bedroom community in Westchester County to a hardscrabble Southern Tier city, most seemed relieved at the determination by Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, saying it took the onus off them to wade into a contentious issue. Only one, the mayor of Buffalo, said he had recently been asked to perform marriages for same-sex couples.

Like private citizens everywhere, their views ranged widely on whether gay marriage should be legalized in New York. And their willingness to wed same-sex couples if the law were to change did not always adhere to party stereotypes. The mayor of Oswego, a Republican, said he would most likely preside over such ceremonies, despite his support of a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. The mayor of Elmira, a Democrat, said he would not.

None seemed interested in following the path of Jason West, the New Paltz mayor now facing misdemeanor charges for solemnizing the marriages of 25 same-sex couples in late February.

But even those elected officials who are supportive of same-sex unions differed sharply on Mr. West's defiance of the law. "They're pushing the envelope, and God bless them," said Jeremy Wilber, the supervisor of the arty, left-leaning town of Woodstock. He was referring to Mr. West and also the mayor of Nyack, John Shields, an openly gay retired schoolteacher who pledged to sue the state after being denied a marriage license on Thursday.

"Somebody had to sit at that counter in the late 1950's and 60's and push that envelope," added Mr. Wilber, who, as a supervisor in New York, the top elected official in a town, is allowed to perform weddings only with the Town Board's permission.

Anthony M. Masiello, the mayor of Buffalo, is a defender of same-sex unions. Yet he said he believed that Mr. West's acts of civil disobedience also had the potential to disrupt personal lives. "I'm not going to break any laws or create chaos by illegally marrying people," said Mr. Masiello, who has had a handful of inquiries from same-sex couples. "Why create a false sense of legality? That's counterproductive."

Still others, like Brian D. Monahan of Dobbs Ferry in Westchester, said constituents expected mayors to stay focused on the nuts and bolts of municipal life. "I don't think it's right to use an office that you've been elected to as a podium for your position on a national issue," he said. "I'm elected to deal with issues about parking and traffic and zoning, and I do that."

Last week in Ithaca, the mayor, Carolyn K. Peterson, a Democrat, announced that the city would accept marriage applications by same-sex couples and forward them to the State Department of Health. In doing so, she said, she would force the issue into the courts.

With the rapid pace of developments around the nation, it may not be long before mayors in New York must decide whether to say "I do" when approached by same-sex partners wishing to become spouses.

Some mayors, like Stephen M. Hughes, a Democrat of Elmira, a city with a population of 30,000, appear confident that their positions reflect those of their communities. Mr. Hughes is staunchly opposed to any form of gay union, be it a domestic partnership or marriage. He said he did not receive a single angry phone call after he explained his opposition to gay marriage on a local television station. "The response that I've received has been overwhelmingly supportive," he said.

If the law does change, Mr. Hughes said, he is considering his own brand of civil disobedience. Not only would he refuse to preside over any same-sex weddings, but he would also urge the city not to issue marriage licenses to gay partners. "It would be my position that we would fight that with every fiber of our being here locally," he said.

In some cases, a mayor's set of political beliefs would seem to contradict his approach as mayor. For example, John J. Gosek, a Republican and the mayor of Oswego, a city on Lake Ontario, said that while he supported President Bush's call for a constitutional ban, he would nonetheless marry same-sex couples if such unions became legal in New York.

"I've done more than 20 marriages in four years for strangers, members of the military," he said. "I certainly wouldn't turn them down if it was legal. It's part of the job."

Mr. Gosek said he doubted residents would object. "We're facing job-creation issues and budget problems," he said. "I really, truly don't think it's an issue here."

In Rochester, Mayor William A. Johnson Jr., a Democrat, said he felt conflicted after considering the issue. On one hand, he said he is an "old Southern Baptist," raised to believe that marriage is between a man and a woman. At the same time, Mr. Johnson, who is black, cannot help viewing the push for gay marriage through the lens of blacks' struggle for civil rights.

"It takes a while for your gut to catch up with your head, and that's what's happening for a lot of us," he said.

Perhaps no mayor in the state was feeling as torn as Daniel Stewart, the openly gay and Republican leader of Plattsburgh, a small city near the Canadian border. Mr. Stewart had advised President Bush on gay issues during his campaign for the White House, urging him not to "turn back the clock" on the progress made under President Bill Clinton.

A few years ago, Mayor Stewart advocated a form of civil union rather than traditional marriage for gay couples. But after presiding over the marriages of more than 40 heterosexual couples, he said he has changed his mind.

"Watching the smiles, the happiness, the excitement, you go home, look at your partner and say, 'We're not getting the same rights,' " he said. "I've had an ideological change."

Suzanne Moore contributed reporting for this article.


Tackling the Tough Issues Head-On Is the Village Way


NEW PALTZ, N.Y., March 6 - The first legal challenge to same-sex marriage in New York took more than a 26-year-old mayor willing to risk criminal prosecution. It took a village.

When Jason West, the mayor of the Village of New Paltz, solemnized 25 same-sex marriages last month, he set off a chain of events that put same-sex marriage on the public agenda from Albany to Ithaca to New York City. He was, however, simply acting in the tradition of a community long committed to taking a critical stance on a number of issues.

"The mayor may have started this rolling, but you can see this is now a villagewide issue with a cast of hundreds," said Charles I. Clement, co-owner of the pink Victorian bed-and-breakfast that now serves as headquarters for the same-sex marriage initiative. "The level of energy around this issue here is a total buzz."

Much of that energy and enthusiasm has come from politically active university students. More than one-third of the 6,000 village residents are students at the State University of New York campus here.

Even long-term residents, some critical of Mr. West on the gay marriage issue, say it is only right that the small village make big statements.

"It is occasionally necessary for our Village Board to address issues beyond our borders," said Thomas E. Nyquist, the mayor of 16 years who was unseated by Mr. West in the village elections last May. "Taking a political stand is not something new to this village."

The Village Board, under the leadership of Mr. Nyquist, protested apartheid-era South Africa by withdrawing funds from Barclays Bank in the early 1990's, and early last year voted unanimously to condemn the Patriot Act as impinging on civil liberties.

"I do not criticize Jason West for taking a stance in favor of same-sex marriage," Mr. Nyquist said. "I criticize Jason West for breaking the law and acting without the full knowledge and backing of the Village Board."

Mr. Nyquist is not the only critic. On Friday, one resident successfully petitioned for an injunction to stop the mayor from performing any more same-sex marriages for a month.

And other residents criticize Mr. West for unfairly burdening local taxpayers. In addition to the overtime parking management at marriage-related events, a phalanx of more than a dozen police officers worked overtime to escort Mr. West into a crowd of hundreds of supporters after he was arraigned at the local courthouse for solemnizing couples without marriage licenses.

To his supporters, however, the mayor exercised his constitutional duty to protect the equal rights of same-sex couples.

"As far as I am concerned, he did not break the law; he just interpreted it differently from the attorney general," said James V. Fallarino, a student volunteer who helped organize more marriages scheduled for March 13. "This community has a history of activism, so the level of support for the mayor does not surprise me at all."

That enthusiasm has volunteers from the village and the university speaking of their cause in terms that echo the civil rights movement. And, like those earlier advocates, they are skipping meals and rarely sleeping more than a few hours each night.

The first days after the marriages had volunteers flooding the Village Hall to offer assistance. Emptying the mayor's voice-mail message box proved a perpetual task as news media requests, words of support and occasional criticism flooded the recording device.

"We finally reduced the number of messages from 100 down to almost 10," said Brittany M. Turner, who hardly left the Village Hall for four days running. "The problem came when the person who knows how to download the messages onto a CD also volunteered to drive the mayor to testify in Albany."

At times, the enthusiasm of volunteers in New Paltz led to moments verging on farce.

The mayor's driver to Albany also used his van to carry Mr. West home past a crowd of waiting journalists - a journey of several hundred yards down a village street.

Members of the 200-strong army of volunteers occasionally found themselves ill-suited to fulfilling assigned tasks.

"I spent the last two days trying to figure out who - and why - signed me up to run the Web site," Mr. Fallarino told a meeting of a dozen organizers shortly before midnight on Thursday. "I can do many things, but I know nothing about the Web. Please let me out."

Another volunteer at the same meeting urged a time change the next day because of conflicting planned activities: "I can't start until after 1 p.m. tomorrow because I am supposed to be making a banner about mercury poisoning."

In addition to the students, businesses in New Paltz have pitched in to help the cause. The mayor and his delegation ate free when they met to discuss tactics at the Gilded Otter, a microbrewery, and Yanni's, a Greek restaurant.

When Mr. West decided to refrain from solemnizing marriages and open a dialogue with Eliot Spitzer, the state's attorney general - who said what the mayor had been doing was illegal - volunteers organizing further same-sex marriages quickly moved out of the Village Hall and into LeFevre House, the bed-and-breakfast owned by Mr. Clement and his male partner.

Other donations from businesses have included scented glitter candles for each newlywed couple from Old Flame, a shop on Main Street, and wedding bouquets donated by a florist.

"This cause lets you see the sort of people who live in New Paltz," said Jonathan M. Wright, who constantly warned visiting journalists that buying coffee at Starbucks would hurt local venues. "My level of commitment can be seen in my considering getting a mobile phone after swearing them off years ago."

Asbury Park Deputy Mayor Officiates at a Gay Marriage


The movement for same-sex marriages reached New Jersey yesterday when a gay couple who had been issued a marriage license by the city clerk's office were married in Asbury Park by the deputy mayor.

Though city officials said that authorizing the marriage license was permitted by New Jersey law, state officials quickly disagreed, and the state's attorney general said he would seek an injunction this week to bar such actions.

"We think that what the official in Asbury Park is doing is issuing invalid documents," Attorney General Peter C. Harvey said, adding that the license was "a worthless piece of paper."

Mayors and clergy members in New York have conducted marriage ceremonies for dozens of same-sex couples in the past two weeks, but all took place without the customary marriage licenses, and will probably face court challenges.

In Asbury Park, however, the city's deputy clerk, Dawn Tomek, said yesterday that she had studied state law before she issued the license and believed that no stature was violated. New Jersey's law, she said, does not specifically ban or permit same-sex marriages.

"I went by the Constitutions of the United States and of New Jersey, both of which guarantee equal rights," Ms. Tomek said after she joined a celebration for the couple at a local pub.

During the day, she said, she issued marriage licenses to six other couples, all male.

Lawyers said it was not clear whether the deputy mayor in Asbury Park would face prosecution for performing a marriage without a valid license. But Mr. Harvey said that his office did not intend to prosecute anyone.

The possible threat of government intervention did not seem to dampen the moment for the two men, who said they had been companions for 15 years.

"The city was kind enough to let us do it, and we're very happy," said Louis Navarrete, 42, the owner of an antiques shop in Asbury Park, while celebrating with his partner, Ric Best, 43, and a few friends in a pub off Main Street. "From my understanding, it's all legal and everything's cool. If something's unjust, change it. And the only way to change things is to change them."

Mr. Navarrete said that he and Mr. Best had obtained a marriage license in midafternoon on Friday from Ms. Tomek, had waited the required 72 hours for the license to become valid and returned to City Hall yesterday afternoon. Asbury Park's deputy mayor, James Bruno, performed the ceremony about 3:30 p.m. in the City Council chambers.

"It felt like any other wedding I've done," Mr. Bruno, a divorced father of two, said at the celebration at the pub. "It was a very cool thing - the atmosphere, the friends. I have gay neighbors and gay friends. They're like anybody else. They cut their grass. They walk the dog. They pay their taxes."

Of possible legal challenges the two men may face, Mr. Bruno said, "We'll have to wait and see and let the chips fall where they may."

New Jersey's marriage law is now being challenged in court, in a case filed by seven same-sex couples who were denied licenses almost two years ago. "New Jersey law does not allow for the issuance of licenses to same-sex couples," said their lawyer, David Buckel of Lambda Legal, a Manhattan-based advocacy group, noting that the statutes used the words "husband and wife" and "bride and groom."

"We agreed," Mr. Buckel said. "The attorney general agreed. Everybody agreed."

Judge Linda Feinberg of Superior Court in Trenton held in a decision on Nov. 5 that the issue must be left to the Legislature. But the case is now before the Appellate Division, leaving open the possibility that New Jersey's higher courts may find a right to marry under the State Constitution, as the Massachusetts Supreme Court did several months ago.

Micah Rasmussen, a spokesman for Gov. James E. McGreevey, said the governor had asked Attorney General Harvey "to determine if this marriage license was issued legally under New Jersey law and, if not, to take appropriate action." The governor has not supported gay marriage, although he backed the state's new domestic partnership law, which Mr. Rasmussen said was the strongest in the nation.

Decades ago, Asbury Park, a community of about 17,000 near the northern end of the Jersey Shore, was a popular resort. Grand hotels and houses once graced its wide boardwalk, but as they deteriorated over time they eventually became dreary boarding homes for the mentally ill in the 1970's. In recent years, Asbury Park has entertained several developers' plans for ambitious rejuvenations of its oceanfront. But the projects have floundered financially, and restoration has been slow.

Several years ago, Deputy Mayor Bruno said, gays began moving into Asbury Park. He said the community now numbered about 800 and was growing. He said he officiated at yesterday's ceremony as a service to "my constituents." He added that Asbury Park's mayor, Kevin Sanders, had chosen not to conduct the ceremony and authorized him to do so.

Mr. Navarrete said that he and Mr. Best, an artist, moved to Asbury Park in 2001. In recent months, he said, he went often to City Hall and asked Ms. Tomek, jokingly, if she would issue him and Mr. Best a marriage license. Last week, after the spate of gay marriages in San Francisco and New Paltz, N.Y., he renewed his request. This time, he said, Ms. Tomek said she would study the issue, and, "Friday, she said yes."

Karen DeMasters contributed reporting for this article from Asbury Park, N.J.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

March 10th, 2004, 12:32 PM
I was just contemplating that common-law marriage has long been a recognized in law as every bit as valid as an actual marriage.

Common law marriage is usually defined as a couple (assummed to be opposite sex) who co-habitat, intermingle finances and provide emotional support. It was recognized because there have been times when marriage was more cost-prohibitive than it is now (lisence* taxes, doweries, etc...) and the absence of documentation shouldn't deprive wives and children of the protection marriage implies.

It seems that the presence of two different forms of marriage hasn't "degraded" the state of Church-sanctioned, State-lisenced marriage?

And hasn't the courts recognition of common-law marriage set a precendent that it's in society's best interest to define marriage more broadly than narrowly?

*I am incapable of spelling this word. GRRRRRR!

March 11th, 2004, 12:12 AM
March 11, 2004

Mayor Bloomberg's Commitment Issue

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and marriage do not go together like a horse and carriage. He is divorced. He has said that he doesn't see matrimony again in his future. He doesn't officiate at weddings at Gracie Mansion, a previously time-honored tradition for mayors of New York. And it seems that he has a problem committing on the issue of gay marriage.

In the month or so since performing same-sex marriages became a point of civil disobedience for a handful of other American mayors, Mr. Bloomberg has tried to deflect interest in his personal opinion of the debate. He said the city simply enforced the law made in Albany, which does not allow such unions. Go there to get the law changed, he told critics. Gay supporters were disappointed, especially in view of the mayor's long history as a backer of civil rights for gays and his early comments rejecting President Bush's idea of amending the Constitution to bar marriage for people of the same sex.

Then Mr. Bloomberg jumped off the fence — or so it seemed. Speaking to gay and lesbian journalists earlier this month, the mayor was heard to say that he favors allowing same-sex civil unions. Others quoted him as saying he would quietly lobby to change state law. The mayor, however, could not recall being so definitive in his comments. For Mr. Bloomberg, it seems, his remarks were thinking out loud and not a final position. He has since said he is still trying to decide where he stands.

One of the most interesting aspects of the Bloomberg mayoralty has been watching Mr. Bloomberg, a lifelong Democrat, trying to stay comfortable in the Republican garb he adopted when he was looking for a way to run for office. To be re-elected, Mr. Bloomberg will need to convince Democratic voters in this overwhelmingly Democratic city that he still thinks like them, while keeping the city's Republicans contented enough to forestall any serious competition for the party nomination. That balancing act may be difficult this summer, when the city is the host of the Republican National Convention. And as the mayor's back-and-forth on gay marriage shows, it's not all that easy the rest of the time, either.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

March 17th, 2004, 11:46 AM
March 17, 2004


Bans on Interracial Unions Offer Perspective on Gay Ones


Without a constitutional amendment banning gay marriages, President Bush warned on Feb. 24, there is a grave risk that "every state would be forced to recognize any relationship that judges in Boston or officials in San Francisco choose to call a marriage."

The president invoked the Constitution's "full faith and credit" clause, which requires states to honor court judgments from other states, as the basis for his alarm.

But legal scholars say that an examination of the last wrenching national debate over the definition of marriage — when, only 50 years ago, a majority of states banned interracial marriages — demonstrates that the president misunderstood the legal terrain.

"No state has ever been required by the full faith and credit clause to recognize any marriage they didn't want to," said Andrew Koppelman, a law professor at Northwestern University and the author of "The Gay Rights Question in Contemporary American Law."

Indeed, until the Supreme Court struck down all laws banning interracial marriage in 1967, the nation lived with a patchwork of laws on the question. Those states that found interracial marriages offensive to their public policies were not required to recognize such marriages performed elsewhere, though sometimes they did, but as a matter of choice rather than constitutional compulsion. That experience is instructive, legal scholars say, about what is likely to happen when Massachusetts starts performing gay marriages in May.

Attorney General Eliot L. Spitzer of New York has provided an example of what the analogous patchwork in the gay marriage context might look like. Mr. Spitzer, in an informal advisory opinion issued on March 3, said he expected New York to recognize gay marriages from other states because they are not "abhorrent to New York's public policy." Thirty-eight other states, on the other hand, in enacting Defense of Marriage Acts, have expressed the view that such marriages do offend their public policies.

Mr. Spitzer based his assessment on state law and not the federal Constitution, and he based his description of New York's public policy on a single decision of a Manhattan trial court last year that is still under appeal.

There is a second reason same-sex marriages in Massachusetts are likely to have a more limited effect than the president suggested. An obscure 1913 law in that state makes void all marriages performed there where the couple is not eligible to be married in their home state. That law, too, was born in part from an effort to prohibit interracial marriages.

Last week, the California Supreme Court stopped the gay marriages being performed in the second place cited by the president. The court will hear arguments on the question later this year.

In 1967, when the United States Supreme Court struck down all bans on interracial marriage, it acted on the most fundamental constitutional grounds, saying that the laws violated both due process and equal protection.

No one believes that the court is likely to say anything like that about gay unions anytime soon.

What is notable about the 1967 decision for the gay marriage debate, then, is that it did not mention the full faith and credit clause. Although the case involved a Virginia couple prosecuted for violating that state's ban on interracial marriage by visiting the District of Columbia, which allowed such marriages, the Supreme Court did not suggest that Virginia was obligated to recognize the marriage.

To the contrary, the decision affirmed that marriages are generally a matter to be left to the individual states. That is consistent with hundreds of decisions over centuries, based on state rather than federal law, that allowed states to decline to recognize marriages that violated their own strong public policies.

Indeed, in the context of interracial marriages, courts in states that banned such unions routinely declined to recognize those performed in states where they were legal.

But the decisions were not uniform. Indeed, the way courts treated interracial marriages illuminates how gay marriages are likely to be treated.

The decisions fall into broad categories, generally turning on whether the couple in question intended to evade their home state's laws. That principle, legal experts say, is likely to govern many disputes about gay marriages performed in Massachusetts.

"The Jim Crow judges were horrifyingly wrong about many things," Professor Koppelman wrote in the Texas Law Review in 1998, "but they did understand the problem of moral pluralism in a federal system, and we can learn something important from the solutions they devised."

Opposition to interracial marriage in the last century was in many ways more vehement than opposition to gay marriage today. It was, for instance, a criminal offense in many states. None of the 38 states that expressly forbid gay marriage by statute today go that far.

Yet in cases where evasion was not at issue, courts were often surprisingly receptive to the recognition of interracial marriages.

In some cases, an interracial couple who were legally married in their home state moved, after years of living together, to a state where such marriages were banned. Court decisions about whether to recognize such marriages were about evenly divided.

In other cases, such a couple never left the state where they were legally married but sought to use the courts in a state where their marriage was theoretically invalid in an injury, property or inheritance case where something turned on their marital status. In such cases, the courts very often recognized the marriage.

William Rubenstein, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said a theme ran through the cases.

"The less you look like you're playing games," Professor Rubenstein said, "the more likely a court is to recognize the relationship."

The entire discussion may be academic in the case of Massachusetts, given its 1913 law.

Linda Hutchenrider, president of the Massachusetts Town Clerks Association, said her group was awaiting legal guidance on the meaning of the law and how to enforce it.

"We're not the marriage police," Ms. Hutchenrider said.

But the law would seem, she continued, to void marriages of out-of state gay couples. "It really seems to fit," she said.

She added that Mr. Spitzer seemed to have overlooked the Massachusetts law, which appears not to allow New York couples to be married there in the first place.

"It becomes a chicken and the egg thing," Ms. Hutchenrider said.

Matt Coles, director of the American Civil Liberty Union's Lesbian, Gay Rights and AIDS Project, said he was reluctant to compare the gay rights movement to the civil rights movement.

"One struggle has never been like another, in overriding ways," Mr. Coles said. "That said, interracial marriage draws a more powerful analogy than any other."


Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

March 20th, 2004, 01:36 AM
March 20, 2004


Hiding Behind the Constitution



Neither Democrats nor Republicans have distinguished themselves in the debate over gay marriage. Politicians of both parties — led by President Bush, with his proposed amendment banning gay marriage — have avoided the main issue and sought refuge in the abstractions of the Constitution. Instead of asking what kind of society we want, they argue about what our structure of government can permit.

Politicians generally like a constitutional discussion because it allows them a way to avoid controversial topics by reframing them in terms of the two organizing principles of our system of government: separation of powers and federalism.

First, consider the Republicans. They have a simple message: gay marriage is all about "judicial activism" — that is, judges who overstep their bounds. A February report from the Senate Republican Policy Committee is representative of the strategy. Called "Judicial Activism Forces Same-Sex Marriage on Nation," it uses the title phrase five times. (Memo to Republicans: the mayor of San Francisco is not a judge.)

The appeal of this argument is that it turns the debate over gay marriage into an arid discussion about the "separation of powers," a concept enshrined in the Constitution. American governments have three branches — legislative, executive and judicial. The legislative branch is charged with making laws, the executive with enforcing them, and the judiciary with interpreting them. According to the Republicans, "activist judges," like those in Massachusetts who interpreted that state's Constitution to require gay marriage, are engaging in lawmaking that should be left to the legislative branch.

Whether or not you agree — and Republicans themselves didn't seem to mind judicial activism when it delivered the presidency to George W. Bush — Republicans have managed to redirect the conversation. Their rhetoric is a way for Republicans to run to the center. They can appease their conservative base by opposing gay marriage, but their reasons for doing so will not offend more moderate Republicans.

The Democrats aren't much better. They too have a simple message: gay marriage is all about states' rights. John Kerry, for example, has said that "the issue of marriage should be left to the states."

This argument is intended to refocus the debate on constitutional conceptions of federalism. American government is divided between the federal and state governments. The federal government has limited powers, and it has historically not been involved in family law. According to Democrats, laws about marriage — including gay marriage — are properly the concern of the states.

Whether or not you agree — and Democrats themselves have long favored the use of federal power to guarantee civil rights, even in family law, for African-Americans — Democrats have succeeded in shifting the debate. Their rhetoric allows them to claim the center: they can placate their liberal base by not opposing gay marriage, but by leaving it to the states they don't risk alienating more moderate Democrats.

It should not be surprising that the controversy over gay marriage has turned into a debate about the structural principles in the Constitution. This is how slavery was debated for America's first 100 years, and the rights of African-Americans and women were discussed in these terms for the next hundred.

Would America be better off if public discourse were about issues, not abstractions? Many people think so, but the question is complicated. In a country of 280 million people, with a variety of ethnic, racial, cultural, religious and geographic divisions, maybe it's not so terrible that our peculiar constitutional structure enables evasive public discourse. Explicit discussions about social issues can become very divisive very quickly, making compromise less likely.

But Americans should realize that when politicians talk about activist judges or states' rights, they shouldn't be taken too seriously. They don't really care about that stuff. They just think no one will vote for them if they speak their minds.

William B. Rubenstein is a professor of law at U.C.L.A.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

March 29th, 2004, 11:17 PM
March 30, 2004

What Marriage Means to Gays: All That Law Allows Others


Homosexual couples lining up to wed in recent weeks have often faced the same simple question their heterosexual counterparts ask themselves, often after years together: why marry?

"For one thing, we are in love and want to announce it publicly before the whole world," said Curtis L. Woolbright, 36, who wants to marry his partner of three years, Daniel S. Reyes, 30. "But we also want all the advantages straight couples get for the price of a $35 marriage license down at City Hall."

Angered by restrictions against same-sex marriage, Mr. Woolbright and Mr. Reyes signed on to a lawsuit by the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, which is suing the State of New York to allow gay couples to marry. Same-sex couples in the United States cannot get recognition of their marriage on the federal level, as a result of the Defense of Marriage Act signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996.

That law states that all of the more than 1,100 references to marriage in federal law cannot be applied to same-sex couples. Many of those references use marriage to determine benefits and privileges for such things as immigration rights, shared filing of income taxes and veterans' and Social Security benefits.

Homosexual couples eager to formalize their relationship do have options short of a lawsuit or a legally contentious marriage ceremony. Couples can hire a lawyer to create a legal framework that mimics some aspects of marriage, such as inheritance rights, sharing of property and visitation rights in hospitals.

Some cities, including New York, have domestic-partnership programs that offer limited benefits under city regulations, like succession rights for rent-stabilized apartments and survivor benefits for city employees. Some jurisdictions - New York State is one of the few nationwide - have made as yet untested statements offering recognition of same-sex marriages that are legally performed in countries like Canada and the Netherlands, or of civil unions that take place in Vermont.

For all those options, though, Mr. Woolbright still insists on marriage.

The city's domestic-partnership program "may be among the best in the country, and a legal structure may be reassuring, but I don't want them," said Mr. Woolbright, who lives in Harlem. "They don't offer as much protection as a marriage, and they cost too much."

Describing himself and his partner as the kind of people who go to lengths to save a few dollars in sales tax with a shopping trip to New Jersey, Mr. Woolbright said most gay couples simply cannot afford the most basic legal advice on how to protect themselves as a couple.

Mr. Woolbright and his partner split their rent and share one checking and one savings account and are both working to pay off Mr. Reyes's university loans, but under the law the two men are strangers, with none of the special rights and protections conferred on a married couple.

"We talked to a lawyer about legally formalizing our relationship, and he immediately started speaking about thousands of dollars," Mr. Woolbright said. "I am a waiter at a Midtown steakhouse, and my partner works for a nonprofit, so there is no way we can afford it."

Even when a couple can afford the best legal approximation of a marriage, the benefits are limited and remain open to challenge.

"Even the wealthiest couples taking full advantage of everything a lawyer can offer can never be secure in knowing they are fully protected," said Judith E. Turkel, a lawyer who has represented lesbian and gay couples for more than 20 years. "I sometimes have remote relatives - who have never met the deceased - challenging a will intended to leave everything to a surviving partner of many, many years."

The most harrowing consequences can come with a medical emergency, as James Krause, 53, learned three years ago when he took his partner of 15 years, Brendan Daly, 54, to a hospital in Westchester County with creeping paralysis brought on by shingles.

"When I drove Brendan to the hospital, the numbness had spread from his feet up to the waist, and doctors said it could hit his respiratory system," Mr. Krause said. "But after he checked in, specifically writing down my name as nearest relative and spouse, they didn't let me visit him."

Mr. Krause said that both the attending physician and a neurologist refused to let him see Mr. Daly or learn about his medical condition for nine days. "The doctor hung up the phone on me even though we had mutual health care proxies, powers of attorney and living wills," Mr. Krause said. "Six days after he had gone into the hospital, I finally had to sneak past a guard to see Brendan."

Since then, Mr. Krause and Mr. Daly have moved to Westchester, partly because the move enables them to register under the county's domestic-partner system.

"As registered partners and legal residents, they can no longer deny visitation rights," said Mr. Krause, who said he had been treated for congestive heart failure. "If something happens in another county, we could face all the same problems."

Choosing to live in a place that accepts gay couples has been all-important to Doug Robinson, 53, and Michael J. Elsasser, 49, of Manhattan. Partners for 17 years, the men have raised two adopted boys, Justin, 18, and Zachary, 15, from infancy.

As it stands, however, only Mr. Robinson has full parental rights. Like many gay couples with adopted children, the men arranged a single-parent adoption, which would not be necessary or even possible for a married couple. "We have been meaning to go through with the second-parent adoption, but it is intrusive and can cost several thousand dollars," Mr. Robinson said. "We are busy raising the boys and seem to spend all our spare money on sneakers, summer camp and tutors."

By choosing to live in a relatively gay-friendly city, the men hope to minimize complications. To ensure Mr. Elsasser's ability to act on behalf of their children, they have signed a series of health care documents that they hope will be respected in an emergency.

"Society sends very strange signals with the current setup," Mr. Elsasser said. "Gay couples are told that we can adopt a kid, but we cannot give him or her a legally recognized family."

Beyond recognition from the government and hospitals, however, Mr. Elsasser said his family had been financially penalized by private companies that refuse to recognize spousal rights for everything from health club memberships and frequent flyer miles to museum entry and extra drivers on rental cars.

"You may be able to count the government rights and benefits given in relation to marriage," Mr. Elsasser said. "But it is impossible measure the advantages given to married couples by companies."


Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

April 2nd, 2004, 12:01 AM
April 2, 2004

Gay Soldiers and Teachers

At a time when Massachusetts legislators are scrambling to amend their state's Constitution to ban gay marriages and President Bush supports a federal constitutional amendment to do the same, it is worth recalling the enormous strides made in tolerance toward gay men and lesbians on a wide range of other issues in recent years. The trend gives some reason to hope that gay marriage will eventually be deemed acceptable and no threat to heterosexual Americans.

The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative research and advocacy group, has been collecting poll results on gay issues going back three decades. The numbers document a profound change in attitudes, most strikingly on employment issues but also in areas like adoption rights, legal benefits and acceptance of gay relations.

Although Congress and the Pentagon have balked at letting gays serve openly in the military, a Gallup poll last year found that an astonishing 80 percent of the respondents thought gays should be allowed in the armed forces, up from only 51 percent in 1977. Approval for hiring gay teachers for elementary schools jumped to 61 percent from 27 percent over the same period. Most gay athletes may be afraid to identify themselves publicly, but fully 86 percent of the public thinks that they should be hired for professional sports. A majority of the public thinks gays are just fine as members of the clergy, and three-fifths say they would vote for a well-qualified gay presidential candidate.

There are lots of theories to explain these more tolerant attitudes. Our own guess is that as more and more gays have acknowledged their sexual orientation, straight Americans have come to see that gays are not deviants to be feared, but valued friends, neighbors and colleagues who are not much different from anyone else. Sadly, the poll data shows little easing of opposition to gay marriages in recent years, with roughly three-fifths or more of the public still opposed. That opposition might melt away if some state had the courage to legalize gay marriage and everyone could see that it posed no threat whatever to heterosexual unions.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

April 2nd, 2004, 10:08 AM
The Fast-Changing Status of Same-Sex Married Couples in New York (http://gothamgazette.com/article/civilrights/20040402/3/939)

April 8th, 2004, 11:44 AM
April 8, 2004

In a Lawsuit, Same-Sex Couples Say New York State Ruined Their Wedding Plans


The American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit yesterday against New York State's Department of Health on behalf of 13 same-sex couples whose plans to be married by the mayor of New Paltz were thwarted after criminal charges were brought against him.

The marriages never took place because Mayor Jason West, who officiated at 25 same-sex marriages in February, was charged with 19 misdemeanor counts of solemnizing unlicensed marriages and placed under a court injunction to cease doing so. The same charge was filed against two Unitarian ministers who stepped in to solemnize marriages in the mayor's place.

The lawsuit, filed in State Supreme Court in Albany, brings to three the number of suits filed in New York recently by advocates of same-sex marriage. Each has been filed in a different jurisdiction, covering three of the state's four judicial departments and challenging the law in slightly different ways.

The first lawsuit, filed by five couples backed by the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, sued the clerk of the City of New York because he would not issue marriage licenses to them. Outside New York City, the State Department of Health administers marriage licenses.

The second lawsuit was filed by 10 couples from Nyack, including the mayor and his partner, against the town clerk of Orangetown and the State Health Department. Backed by the former executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, Norman Siegel, the suit contends that the clerk broke with proper procedure by refusing to issue licenses to same-sex couples.

"We welcome the number of lawsuits from different areas and perspectives," Mr. Siegel said yesterday, "because this shows that it is not an issue divided by upstate-downstate."

An argument common to the lawsuits is that any law barring same-sex marriage denies lesbians and gays the guarantees of equal protection and due process under the state's constitution.

For all the geographical and legal differences, however, the lawyers involved expect the cases to be amalgamated in the two years it may take to reach the state's highest judicial level, the Court of Appeals.

"These cases stand a much greater chance of getting a conclusive outcome than the previous attempt to tackle same-sex marriage through a lawsuit," said Peter J. W. Sherwin, a partner at the Proskauer Rose law firm and chairman of the New York State Bar Association's civil rights committee. "The timing is right for the courts to decide on this issue, in part because it is not coming out of the blue this time."

Previously, the highest-profile litigation relating to same-sex marriage came with a 1996 lawsuit by a male couple against the city clerk of Ithaca for the right to wed, Mr. Sherwin said, adding that the court dismissed the case on appeal because the Department of Health was not named as a defendant.

In announcing its lawsuit yesterday, the American Civil Liberties Union tried to personalize the argument for same-sex marriage rights by presenting most of the plaintiffs at a news conference in Manhattan. "It is not about partisan politics, it is not about culture wars," said Roberta A. Kaplan of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, who is co-counsel in the lawsuit. "It is about having the right to visit one's spouse in the hospital or make a medical decision in case of emergency."

Citing reasons that included immigration issues, health insurance and parental rights, the couples elaborated on ways they said marriage would change their lives.

Sylvia L. Samuels, who is awaiting a liver transplant, said she wanted Diane P. Gallagher, her partner of 24 years, to have the same parental and medical rights as a wife or husband. "We already had experience with this issue in North Carolina when we went to the emergency room when Sylvia had a biking accident," Ms. Gallagher said. "They would not let me have access to her and even snickered when I explained we were domestic partners."

Amy B. Tripi and her partner of seven years, Jeanne L. Vitale, want the sanction of marriage so they can avoid paying a fee of several thousand dollars to undertake the lengthy process of adoption by a second parent, which will start after Ms. Tripi gives birth to a child, expected in September. "It is not just the cost or the trouble," Ms. Vitale said. "It is about what happens if something happens to the baby when Amy is away."

Wade O. Nichols brought a photograph of his partner of five years, Francis Shen, a Taiwanese citizen, to the news conference. Since the federal government does not recognize same-sex marriage, Mr. Shen cannot obtain the citizenship rights normally accorded to the spouse of a United States citizen. "I have been forced to live most of my time in Taiwan," Mr. Nichols said. For many couples, it was a simple question of civil rights. "We are New Yorkers, we are U.S. citizens and we want our rights protected," said Alice Muniz, a New York City police officer who has been with her partner, Oneida Garcia, for four years.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

April 14th, 2004, 02:22 PM
Gotham Gazette - http://www.gothamgazette.com/article/law/20040414/13/949

The Right To Marry

by Emily Jane Goodman

April 04, 2004

Assemblyman Daniel O' Donnell from the Upper West Side and his partner John Banta are among 13 same sex couples who have commenced a lawsuit against the State of New York and the New York State Department of Health, claiming the right to marry. According to the complaint, which seeks to declare the state's Domestic Relations Law unconstitutional, "they are here to ask that this Court perform what is perhaps its most solemn and sacred duty -- namely, ensuring that the basic rights of being a New Yorker and an American are extended to all..."

The case of Sylvia Samuels, Diane Gallagher et al v. New York State was filed in Supreme Court in Albany on behalf of couples from various parts of the state including Brooklyn and Manhattan. The complaint alleges that "the institution of marriage reflects legally the reality of life as a committed couple, creating vitally important protections, rights and obligations." The plaintiffs submit that "marriage is the universally recognized social structure...both a personal and a very public commitment.”

The lawsuit, the third such to be commenced in New York this year, relies on the equal protection and due process clauses of the State Constitution which protects against discrimination based on sexual orientation. "Denying same sex couples the ability to marry...deprives them of the equal protection of the laws based on their sexual orientation." Plaintiffs' counsel argue that New York State's constitution guarantees same sex couples the right to marry, but that the Domestic Relations Law which governs marriage does not. This law, they argue, is therefore unconstitutional. Specifically, it “discriminates based on gender because it allows a man and a woman to marry, but does not allow a man to marry a man, or a woman to marry a woman."

According to the complaint, the plaintiffs’ rights of free speech have also been violated. "Marriage is an important public act of speech that represents to the community at large the nature of two people's commitment to each other. The public expression of emotional support and public commitment two people make when they marry is a unique form of public expression that can only be made through a civil marriage ceremony or contract. " Equal access to this "unique public act of speech must be provided equally regardless of gender or sexual orientation."

Court papers filed refer to earlier discriminatory marriage laws such as disallowing slaves to marry and criminalizing interracial marriage. But plaintiffs argue, "Having created the institution of civil marriage through which individuals can proclaim their commitment in a unique way, the state cannot allow access to that institution on a discriminatory basis."

The most recent US census counted 46,449 New York State households as being comprised of same-sex unmarried partners, according to plaintiffs. They also cite an Urban Institute study that says New York City has the largest gay population of any American city. "The State of New York has had a long and distinctive tradition of affording protection to gays and lesbians...and New York has long been a center for gay and lesbian life and culture."

While plaintiffs commend efforts at civil unions and domestic partnerships, and many of them have formalized their relationship in that way, "they fall short of reflecting the commitment that two people who build a life together have, and they fail adequately to protect the relationships of same sex couples."

Some of the New York City residents have registered under the domestic partnership law, but that does not provide the same rights benefits or obligations as marriage such as medical decision making, adoption, rights of inheritance, tax benefits. Moreover, domestic partnerships are not necessarily recognized by employers, insurers or other jurisdictions.

The first named parties to the action are two women who have been together for 24 years, raised children and have grandchildren. One of them, Sylvia Samuels, who works for the city, is seriously ill and wants her partner, Diane Gallagher, to be able to make health care decisions and hospital visits which may be limited to a spouse or family member as traditionally defined.

Alice J. Muniz, a New York City police officer, working out of the 23 precinct in East Harlem, has maintained a committed relationship with Oneida Garcia for the last four years, living together in Brooklyn with their children from prior relationships. Marriage, they say, would have a positive effect on their children.

John Wessel and William O'Connor are about to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their relationship. They are in the art business and own property together. One of their reasons for wanting to marry is to benefit from inheritance tax laws now limited to married survivors only.

Attorney Daniel O'Donnell, who is the first openly gay man to be elected to the Assembly (he is also Rosie O’Donnell’s brother), has been in a couple with John Banta since they met at college in the late 1970s. They describe themselves as "soulmates," but have not registered as domestic partners. "Nothing short of marriage is acceptable," they say.

Counsel for the plaintiffs summarize the lawsuit this way: "Defendants can offer no adequate justification for the exclusoin of same sex couples from the legal institution of marriage."

The plaintiffs are represented by the Manhattan law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP, the ACLU and the NYCLU. An answer in opposition is expected to be filed by Attorney General Elliot Spitzer.

Emily Jane Goodman is a New York State Supreme Court Justice.

June 8th, 2004, 07:20 AM
June 8, 2004

Court Says New Paltz Mayor Can't Hold Gay Weddings


A State Supreme Court justice yesterday permanently barred the mayor of New Paltz, N.Y., from conducting same-sex marriages without licenses, stressing the importance of public officials' obeying even those laws that they consider unjust.

The ruling, which did not address the constitutionality of the state's marriage laws, is the country's first permanent injunction issued by a court that bars a public official from conducting same-sex marriages, according to the Lambda Legal Education and Defense Fund, a national gay rights group. The California Supreme Court heard arguments late last month on a similar case, against Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, and a ruling is pending.

In his decision yesterday, Justice E. Michael Kavanagh of State Supreme Court in Ulster County took exception to the notion that public officials like the New Paltz mayor, Jason West, could resist laws that they believe to be unconstitutional.

"That an elected official may willfully violate a law any time he or she believes it is unconstitutional has profound and unsettling implications," Justice Kavanagh wrote. "This view, if accepted, would mean that the mayor is a law unto himself."

E. Joshua Rosenkranz, a lawyer for Mayor West, said he intended to appeal the decision. "This does not stop with Judge Kavanagh," Mr. Rosenkranz said. "This is only the beginning of the process."

In addition to the injunction, sought by a trustee on the New Paltz village board, Mr. West also faces criminal charges for the more than 20 same-sex marriage ceremonies he performed on a platform outside the low brick village hall in late February. The Ulster County district attorney charged Mr. West with the criminal misdemeanor of solemnizing marriages for people without licenses.

Members of the Unitarian clergy took up solemnizing the marriages after the charges were filed against the mayor, and even today a group in the village, the New Paltz Equality Initiative, continues organizing same-sex marriages by various clergy at a pace of about 40 a month.

Though the ruling yesterday did not settle the question of whether same-sex marriage may be permitted, Justice Kavanagh said the central issue was that officials must obey the law.

"The decision regarding who may marry in New York must in the first instance be made by our elected representatives in the State Legislature," Justice Kavanagh wrote. "Until that time, the mayor by his office is obligated to comply with the law and abide by it."

The mayor may disagree with the law on a constitutional basis, but that does not mean he can act on that feeling, Mr. Kavanagh wrote.

The opponents of same-sex marriage who had sought the injunction against Mr. West hailed the decision as stopping a potential nationwide flood of same-sex marriages.

"The upholding of this injunction is big news because any other decision would have allowed mayors across the country to begin marrying same-sex couples," said Rena M. Lindevaldsen, a lawyer from the Florida-based law firm Liberty Counsel. The firm represented the New Paltz trustee, Robert E. Hebel, who sought the injunction against Mayor West. "This is the first decision finally showing that public officials must uphold the law."

To Mr. West and his lawyers, however, the decision was based on arguments that the judge defined too narrowly.

"When Jason West took an oath to uphold the Constitution of the State of New York, that was more than an empty promise," Mr. Rosenkranz said. "His oath obligated him to resist being compliant in a violation of constitutional rights."

The issue at hand is not a narrow question of licensing, Mr. Rosen- kranz added.

"The only reason these people were denied a license was because it was a same-sex marriage," Mr. Rosenkranz said. "The only reason Jason West acted as he did was because their constitutional rights had been violated."

In addition to the two proceedings that involve Mr. West, four cases involving same-sex marriage are working their way through New York's courts.

In one case, two Unitarian clergywomen face criminal charges for solemnizing marriages without licenses, and the other three cases are civil suits brought by same-sex couples against government agencies.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

Lagging Behind In The Fight For Gay Rights (http://gothamgazette.com/article/civilrights/20040608/3/1001)

July 14th, 2004, 12:30 AM
July 14, 2004

Judge Clears Unitarian Ministers Over Same-Sex Unions


The Revs. Dawn Sangrey, left, and Kay A. Greenleaf, Unitarian ministers, during a protest in March.

Charges brought against two Unitarian ministers who performed same-sex marriages were dropped yesterday in a decision issued by Town Justice Judith M. Reichler in New Paltz, N.Y.

Justice Reichler's dismissal followed a similar ruling last month by a separate judge in a case against the mayor of New Paltz, Jason West.

"I'm feeling great," said the Rev. Kay A. Greenleaf, one of the ministers, on hearing the news. "It is just wonderful."

While the rulings do not make same-sex marriages legal in New York, advocates for the cause say the decision will greatly strengthen their position.

"This decision shows what happens when courts in New York start examining the constitutional arguments for discriminating against same-sex couples," said Susan Sommer, supervising lawyer for the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, a group that has filed suit to allow same-sex couples in New York City to wed. "This court got it dead right, and it will strengthen our case."

Mr. West and the two ministers, Ms. Greenleaf and the Rev. Dawn Sangrey, had been charged by the Ulster County district attorney with officiating at 13 weddings on March 6 for couples without a marriage license.

The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum fine of $250 and a prison sentence of up to one year.

The ceremonies followed marriages conducted by the mayor of San Francisco, with Mr. West and the clergywomen asserting that same-sex marriage is guaranteed to gay couples under the equal protection clauses of New York's Constitution.

In her ruling in Town Court, Justice Reichler brushed aside prosecution arguments against same-sex marriages that included a defense of heterosexual marriages as a longstanding tradition and that the state has an interest in prohibiting same-sex marriages.

"Tradition does not justify unconstitutional treatment," Justice Reichler wrote in her decision. "Slavery was also a traditional institution."

As to whether a gay or lesbian couple could create a family, the decision states that any definition of family is problematic.

"The definition of family has changed so much over the years that it is difficult to speak of an average American family," the decision says. "Concepts that were once considered essential to the definition have been abandoned or even declared illegal."

As for arguments that marriage between heterosexuals is in the state's interest because of procreation, the decision states that such arguments have an underlying anti-gay bias.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 14th, 2004, 12:59 AM
July 14, 2004

Politicking on Marriage

It is heartening to see that the Republicans who had hoped to score political points today by holding a Senate vote on adding a ban on same-sex marriage to the Constitution have run into unexpectedly broad resistance across the ideological spectrum. Liberals and moderates opposed to writing bigotry into the Constitution are being joined by a growing number of conservatives who see nothing conservative about federalizing marriage law or turning America's most essential legal document into an election-year football. With support for the amendment now well below the necessary 67 senators, the calls to put it to a vote just before the Democratic National Convention are nothing more than divisive politics. The Senate should let the Federal Marriage Amendment die a quiet death.

Early in the election season, Republicans seized on gay marriage as a promising cultural issue to use against Democrats. Republicans have been working hard to put referendums against gay marriage on individual state ballots to draw religious conservatives to the polls in November. In Washington, Congressional Republicans have been eager to schedule a vote on the Federal Marriage Amendment to force Democrats — particularly Senators John Kerry and John Edwards, who oppose both gay marriage and the amendment — to take a public stand.

One great surprise of this campaign, however, has been just how little traction the issue is getting. Polls show that even many voters who oppose gay marriage do not favor the drastic step of amending the Constitution to prohibit it. And most Americans have the good sense to realize that, whatever their feelings about same-sex marriage, issues like the economy and the war in Iraq matter much more. When President Bush campaigned recently in Ohio, where conservatives are trying to put a gay-marriage ban on the ballot, he was greeted by a newspaper advertisement taken out by a gay-rights group that said: "Jobs lost in Ohio since 2001: 255,000; gay marriages in Ohio: 0. Focus on Americans' real priorities, Mr. President."

Even many conservative Republicans, it turns out, do not favor a constitutional amendment. In Washington State, George Nethercutt, the conservative Republican congressman running against Senator Patty Murray, has joined Ms. Murray in opposing it. Lynne Cheney, the vice president's wife and a leading cultural conservative in her own right, said recently that states should take the lead in deciding issues relating to marriage.

Now it appears that the Federal Marriage Amendment may not have the support of a Senate majority, much less the two-thirds that constitutional amendments need. Since the effort appears futile, backers of the amendment seem to be trifling with the issue simply to rally their base. The Constitution, the embodiment of American democracy, deserves better than that.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

July 15th, 2004, 01:47 PM
Quotes from supporters of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA):
"I would argue that the future of our country hangs in the balance because the future of marriage hangs in the balance."
From the Associated Press

Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO):
"Marriage does matter. It matters to our children; it matters to America. Marriage is the foundation of a free society, and courts are redefining marriage."
New York Times

July 15th, 2004, 02:21 PM
Quotes from supporters of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.

Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA):
"I would argue that the future of our country hangs in the balance because the future of marriage hangs in the balance."
From the Associated Press

Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO):
"Marriage does matter. It matters to our children; it matters to America. Marriage is the foundation of a free society, and courts are redefining marriage."
New York Times

Um, what the hell are they smoking? Marriage is the foundation of free society? Um, he is getting his metaphors mixed up.

Marriage is SUPPOSED to be the foundation of a healthy family. And healthy families help keep america strong. So if he wanted to run a stereotypical phobic anti-gay chain of logic, he could say that gay marriage would help undermine the traditional social fabric that the country was based on.

Fair enough, so long as he mentions that it is already undermined, and something like a socially different look on an intitution is not as damage as a general devauation of the institution to begin with.

there will be very few that will look at marriage being ruined by this. They will still traditionally hate gays, or anyone different. They will look down apon a gay couple being married, but do I think that this will do anything else?


AAMOF, divorce rates might actually go DOWN.

So how is this devaluing the institution of Love and Trust?

Just because you don't like the thought of two odf the same going with each other does not make it right for you to forbid the whole shebang.

How many people here LIKE the idea of their parents having sex? I don't, but if I used that as a reason for forbidding them getting married, well.....

'Nuff said.

July 15th, 2004, 08:21 PM
I had no trouble accepting it.

I refused to acknowledge that they were ever teenagers.

I don't wanna go there.

July 16th, 2004, 01:40 AM
July 16, 2004


Failure Is Not an Option, It's Mandatory



For three days this week the nation was transfixed by the spectacle of the United States Senate, in all its august majesty, doing precisely the opposite of statesmanlike deliberation. Instead, it was debating the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would not only have discriminated against a large group of citizens, but also was doomed to defeat from the get-go. Everyone knew this harebrained notion would never draw the two-thirds majority required for a constitutional amendment, and yet here were all these conservatives lining up to speak for it, wasting day after day with their meandering remarks about culture while more important business went unattended. What explains this folly?

Not simple bigotry, as some pundits declared, or even simple politics. While it is true that the amendment was a classic election-year ploy, it owes its power as much to a peculiar narrative of class hostility as it does to homophobia or ideology. And in this narrative, success comes by losing.

For more than three decades, the Republican Party has relied on the "culture war" to rescue their chances every four years, from Richard Nixon's campaign against the liberal news media to George H. W. Bush's campaign against the liberal flag-burners. In this culture war, the real divide is between "regular people" and an endlessly scheming "liberal elite." This strategy allows them to depict themselves as friends of the common people even as they gut workplace safety rules and lay plans to turn Social Security over to Wall Street. Most important, it has allowed Republicans to speak the language of populism.

The amendment may have failed as law, but as pseudopopulist theater it was a masterpiece. Each important element of the culture-war narrative was there. Consider first its choice of targets: while the Senate's culture warriors denied feeling any hostility to gay people, they made no secret of their disgust with liberal judges, a tiny, arrogant group that believes it knows best in all things and harbors an unfathomable determination to run down American culture and thus made this measure necessary.

Sam Brownback, senator from my home state, Kansas, may have put it best: "Most Americans believe homosexuals have a right to live as they choose. They do not believe a small group of activists or a tiny judicial elite have a right to redefine marriage and impose a radical social experiment on our entire society."

What's more, according to the outraged senators, these liberal judges were acting according to a plan. Maybe no one used the term "conspiracy," but Mr. Brownback asserted that the Massachusetts judges who allowed gay marriages to proceed there were merely mouthing a "predetermined outcome"; Orrin Hatch of Utah asserted that "these were not a bunch of random, coincidental legal events"; and Jim Bunning of Kentucky warned how "the liberals, who have no respect for the law" had "plotted out a state-by-state strategy" that they were now carrying out, one domino at a time.

Our age-old folkways, in other words, are today under siege from a cabal of know-it-all elites. The common people are being trampled by the intellectuals. This is precisely the same formula that was used, to great effect, in the nasty spat over evolution that Kansans endured in 1999, in which the elitists said to be forcing their views on the unassuming world were biology professors and those scheming paleontologists.

And, as do the partisans of each of these other culture-causes, the proponents of the marriage amendment made soaring, grandiose claims for the significance of the issue they were debating. While editorialists across the nation tut-tutted and reminded the senators that they had important work they ought to be doing, the senators fired back that in fact they were debating that most important of all possible subjects. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who took particular offense at the charges of insignificance, argued that this was a debate about nothing less than "the glue that holds the basic foundational societal unit together." Wake up, America!

Of course, as everyone pointed out, the whole enterprise was doomed to failure from the start. It didn't have to be that way; conservatives could have chosen any number of more promising avenues to challenge or limit the Massachusetts ruling. Instead they went with a constitutional amendment, the one method where failure was absolutely guaranteed — along with front-page coverage

Then again, what culture war offensive isn't doomed to failure from the start? Indeed, the inevitability of defeat seems to be a critical element of the melodrama, on issues from school prayer to evolution and even abortion.

Failure on the cultural front serves to magnify the outrage felt by conservative true believers; it mobilizes the base. Failure sharpens the distinctions between conservatives and liberals. Failure allows for endless grandstanding without any real-world consequences that might upset more moderate Republicans or the party's all-important corporate wing. You might even say that grand and garish defeat — especially if accompanied by the ridicule of the sophisticated — is the culture warrior's very object.

The issue is all-important; the issue is incapable of being won. Only when the battle is defined this way can it achieve the desired results, have its magical polarizing effect. Only with a proposed constitutional amendment could the legalistic, cavilling Democrats be counted on to vote "no," and only with an offensive so blunt and so sweeping could the universal hostility of the press be secured.

Losing is prima facie evidence that the basic conservative claim is true: that the country is run by liberals; that the world is unfair; that the majority is persecuted by a sinister elite. And that therefore you, my red-state friend, had better get out there and vote as if your civilization depended on it.

Thomas Frank is the author, most recently, of "What's the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America."

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

August 22nd, 2004, 05:10 PM
The following was moved from another thread.

Posted by johnwk (http://forums.wirednewyork.com/profile.php?mode=viewprofile&u=564)

Anarchist marriages annulled, traditional marriage upheld!

San Francisco’s same sex homosexual anarchist marriages have been annulled by the Court! See: BILL LOCKYER v. NANCY ALFARO (http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data2/californiastatecases/s122923.pdf)

As it turns out, Mayor Gavin Newsom did in fact engage in anarchy by siding with militant homosexuals who have little regard for the rule of law.

The only remaining question now is why Newsome is not charged with being an accomplice in the furtherance of a fraudulent act…using his office of public trust to assist in the issuance of fraudulent marriage licenses?

Surely he should at least be fined to recover the State’s legal expense doled out to reverse his actions, and also be compelled to pay the expenses incurred by three thousand plus homosexual same sex couples who were issued those fraudulent marriage licenses, not to mention the pain and suffering inflicted upon those couples [fraudulently led to believe they were legally “married” when they were not] because of Newsome’s criminal conduct, which he ought to also be made to provide compensation for.

On a different note see:Standhardt v. Superior Court (http://www.cofad1.state.az.us/opinionfiles/SA/SA030150.pdf) upholding traditional marriage!

In the decision the Court recognized and noted the unique and inherent value to society that “marriage”, as known in America since its founding (http://www.lectlaw.com/def2/m087.htm) , contributes to society, and that the state does indeed have a legitimate and compelling state interest to recognize, protect and encourage “marriage” via specially tailored legislation which is just not applicable to same sex homosexual couples who are greedily attempting to access the same benefits provided to married couples without contributing to society what the institution of marriage contributes in return.

Part of the Court’s opinion reads as follows:

“The State contends it has a legitimate interest in encouraging procreation and child-rearing within the stable environment traditionally associated with marriage, and that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples is rationally related to that interest. Essentially, the State asserts that by legally sanctioning a heterosexual relationship through marriage, thereby imposing both obligations and benefits on the couple and inserting the State in the relationship, the State communicates to parents and prospective parents that their long-term, committed relationships are uniquely important as a public concern. See Moran v. Moran, 188 Ariz. 139, 144, 933 P. 2d 1207, 1212 (App. 1996) (describing marriage as relationship with which State vitally concerned “for it is the foundation of the family and of society, without which there would be neither civilization nor progress”) (citation omitted); Soos v. Super. Ct., 182 Ariz. 470, 474 897 P.3d 1356, 1360 (App. 1994) (“Marriage and procreation are fundamental to the very existence and survival of the race.”) (quoting Skinner, 316 U.S. at 541); see also Jackson v. Tangreen, 199 Ariz. 306, 313, Par 27, 18 P.3d 100, 107 (App. 2000) (recognizing State has legitimate interest in “promoting healthy family relationships that enable childen to become well-adjusted, responsible adults”) (citation omitted).…..

Petitioners lastly argue that the State’s limitation of marriage to opposite-sex unions is not reasonably related to its interests in procreation, because excluding same-sex couples from the marriage relationship does not impact procreation. We agree with Petitioners that allowing same-sex couples to marry would not inhibit opposite-sex couples from procreating. But the reasonableness of the State’s position is not dependent on the contrary conclusion. Rather, as previously explained, supra Par 38, the State does not have the same interest in sanctioning marriages between couples who are incapable of procreating as it does with opposite-sex couples. We therefore reject Petitioners’ argument.

Par.41 In summary, Petitioners have failed to prove that the State’s prohibition of same-sex marriage is not rationally related to a legitimate state interest. We hold that the State has a legitimate interest in encouraging procreation and child-rearing within the marital relationship, and that limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples is rationally related to that interest. Even assuming that the State’s reasoning for prohibiting same-sex marriages is debatable, see Murphy, 117 Ariz. At 61, 570 P.2d at 1074, or arguably unwise, see Exxon Corp. v. Governor of Maryland, 437 U.S. 117 124 (1978), it is not “arbitrary or irrational,” see Big D constr. Corp., 163 Ariz. At 566, 789 p.ed at 1067 Consequently, A.R.S. PP 25-101(c) and -125 (A) do not violate Petitioners’ substantive due process or explicit privacy rights and must be upheld.”

See: Standhardt v. Superior Court (http://www.cofad1.state.az.us/opinionfiles/SA/SA030150.pdf)


"As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances there is a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be aware of change in the air - however slight - lest we become unwitting victims of darkness."___Supreme Court Justice William Douglas

August 23rd, 2004, 11:32 AM
Why are you so worked up about that, JohnWK?

August 25th, 2004, 09:48 PM

Republican Platform Backs Gay Marriage Ban

By John Whitesides, Political Correspondent

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Republicans crafting the party's platform backed a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage on Wednesday in a sharp contrast to plans to put the party's more moderate face on display at next week's convention.

The platform, a non-binding statement of party principles and positions that largely endorses President Bush's views, also defended the war in Iraq as a necessary step in the fight to make America safer and drew an implied contrast with Democratic presidential challenger John Kerry.

"As Republicans we do not equivocate, as others have done, about whether America should have gone to war in Iraq," the draft of the platform said. "The best intelligence at the time indicated that Saddam Hussein was a threat."

The 91-page draft supported a constitutional ban on abortions, a stance taken in previous party platforms, and endorsed Bush's restrictions on federal funding of stem cell research.

The platform's "strong" support for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages came one day after Vice President Dick Cheney, who has a lesbian daughter, broke with the president on the issue. Cheney said the matter should be left to individual states.

The language drew strong protests from Republican gay and abortion rights supporters, who said the party was missing a crucial opportunity to broaden its support and contrasted the move with the moderate line-up of speakers planned for next week's convention.

"This was a chance to unite the party and demonstrate that the GOP's inclusiveness doesn't end with the prime time speaking lineup," said Ann Stone, chairwoman of Republicans for Choice. "It was their chance to show George Bush as a uniter not a divider, but clearly they have failed."


Among the key prime-time speakers at next week's convention are moderate Republicans like former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani and California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Bush has walked a fine line in convention planning, trying to woo undecided swing voters by presenting a moderate face of the party in prime time without alienating his conservative base supporters.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe said the platform showed Republicans were going to "fake" moderation, "but the American people need to look no further than their platform to see who they really are."

The largely conservative delegates crafting the platform rejected a "unity" plank put forward by a coalition of gay and abortion rights groups that would have welcomed opposing views on the two issues.

But the full platform committee approved on a 74-18 vote an amendment calling Republicans "the party of the open door" that would "respect and accept" differing views. Tennessee Sen. Bill Frist, the platform committee chairman, said the language was intended to demonstrate the party's inclusiveness.

"No one will be shut out of the Republican Party based on their position on any single issue," said Kansas delegate Stephen Cloud, sponsor of the amendment.

Stone called the compromise "crumbs" and "pretty pathetic."

The draft platform offered praise for Bush's aggressive approach in the war on terror, contrasting his efforts with the "pin-prick" anti-terror strikes of the Clinton administration.

The platform, which will be adopted at next week's convention, said leaders of both parties should make it clear they would not "cut and run" in Iraq and criticized Kerry for saying he would look for opportunities to reduce the U.S. troop presence in Iraq.

"We condemn inconsistent, ambiguous, and politically expedient statements on that point," the platform said.

Copyright © 2004 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.

Vice President Dick Cheney, who has a lesbian daughter, broke with the president on the issue.
Well, that's gotta be awkward for George and Dick.

September 4th, 2004, 03:32 PM
Whats anyones reason for not supporting it? (Zippy and Edward) Whats wrong? It doesnt hurt anyone. I say give gays their right to marry, after all this is a free society. Our country needs to learn some tolerance.

September 4th, 2004, 04:35 PM
What led you to that conclusion? I posted the article above FYI. It doesn't mean I agree with the platform.


September 4th, 2004, 05:16 PM
I thought you pasted on the first or second page that you "opposed" gay marriage or something like that.

I dont really care I was JW

September 4th, 2004, 06:21 PM
If you mean this...

I am opposed to permitting gay couples to marry.
I think that it should be a requirement. :)

It was a sarcastic comment about marriage. I think that it [marriage] should be a requirement [for gay couples].

September 4th, 2004, 09:01 PM
Oh woops...sorry, read it wrong. :?

October 23rd, 2004, 10:48 AM
October 23, 2004

God and Sex


So when God made homosexuals who fall deeply, achingly in love with each other, did he goof?

That seems implicit in the measures opposing gay marriage on the ballots of 11 states. All may pass; Oregon is the only state where the outcome seems uncertain.

Over the last couple of months, I've been researching the question of how the Bible regards homosexuality. Social liberals tend to be uncomfortable with religious arguments, but that is the ground on which political battles are often decided in America - as when a Texas governor, Miriam "Ma" Ferguson, barred the teaching of foreign languages about 80 years ago, saying, "If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it's good enough for us."

I think it's presumptuous of conservatives to assume that God is on their side. But since Americans are twice as likely to believe in the Devil as in evolution, I also think it's stupid of liberals to forfeit the religious field.

Some scholars, like Daniel Helminiak, author of "What the Bible Really Says About Homosexuality," argue that the Bible is not anti-gay. I don't really buy that.

It's true that the story of Sodom is treated by both modern scholars and by ancient Ezekiel as about hospitality, rather than homosexuality. In Sodom, Lot puts up two male strangers for the night. When a lustful mob demands they be handed over, Lot offers his two virgin daughters instead. After some further unpleasantness, God destroys Sodom. As Mark Jordan notes in "The Invention of Sodomy in Christian Theology," it was only in the 11th century that theologians began to condemn homosexuality as sodomy.

In fact, the most obvious lesson from Sodom is that when you're attacked by an angry mob, the holy thing to do is to offer up your virgin daughters.

Still, the traditionalists seem to me basically correct that the Old Testament does condemn at least male anal sex (scholars disagree about whether the Hebrew phrasing encompasses other sexual contact). While homosexuality never made the Top 10 lists of commandments, a plain reading of the Book of Leviticus is that male anal sex is every bit as bad as other practices that the text condemns, like wearing a polyester-and-cotton shirt (Leviticus 19:19).

As for the New Testament, Jesus never said a word about gays, while he explicitly advised a wealthy man to give away all his assets and arguably warned against bank accounts ("do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth").

Likewise, Jesus praises those who make themselves eunuchs for the Kingdom of Heaven, but conservative Christians rarely lead the way with self-castration.

Theologians point out that that the Bible is big enough to encompass gay relationships and tolerance - as well as episodic condemnations of gays. For example, 1 Samuel can be read as describing gay affairs between David and Jonathan.

In the New Testament, Matthew and Luke describe how Jesus cured the beloved servant of a centurion - and some scholars argue that the wording suggests that the pair were lovers, yet Jesus didn't blanch.

The religious right cites one part of the New Testament that clearly does condemn male homosexuality - not in Jesus' words, but in Paul's. The right has a tougher time explaining why lesbians shouldn't marry because the Bible has no unequivocal condemnation of lesbian sex.

A passage in Romans 1 objects to women engaging in "unnatural" sex, and this probably does mean lesbian sex, according to Bernadette Brooten, the author of a fascinating study of early Christian attitudes toward lesbians. But it's also possible that Paul was referring to sex during menstruation or to women who are aggressive during sex.

In any case, do we really want to make Paul our lawgiver? Will we enforce Paul's instruction that women veil themselves and keep their hair long? (Note to President Bush: If you want to obey Paul, why don't you start by veiling Laura and keeping her hair long, and only then move on to barring gay marriages.)

Given these ambiguities, is there any solution? One would be to emphasize the sentiment in Genesis that "it is not good for the human to be alone," and allow gay lovers to marry.

Or there's another solution. Paul disapproves of marriage except for the sex-obsessed, saying that it is best "to remain unmarried as I am." So if we're going to cherry-pick biblical phrases and ignore the central message of love, then perhaps we should just ban marriage altogether?

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

a Texas governor, Miriam "Ma" Ferguson, barred the teaching of foreign languages about 80 years ago, saying, "If English was good enough for Jesus Christ, it's good enough for us."

Well, maybe he didn't speak English, but Jesus was a Conservative Republican, right?

October 23rd, 2004, 11:23 AM
"Ma" Ferguson is so good, she could be a president :lol:

... then perhaps we should just ban marriage altogether? Finally - that's what I've been saying all along! And now New York Times is on my side...

October 23rd, 2004, 11:35 AM
The Mayor of San Francisco made an interesting proposition. He suggested the the legal codes be changed to license "civil unions" and that laws whose application is based on "marriage", be amended to read "civil union" This way, EVERYONE has access to civil unions - with civil rights and equal application of law to all. Religious institutions could continue to sanction and ritualize "marriage" with no damage to other.

Of course, this argument was developed in reaction to those who were saying civil marriage and civil union could be equal, however different the name. The reaction to the proposed change was predictable.

November 14th, 2004, 07:40 PM
I wonder if the majority of New yorkers support gay marriage/ unions?

I couldnt imagine that they wouldnt

November 15th, 2004, 02:33 PM
On the surface, Gay marriage sounds like a good idea. However the more I think about it, the more I become opposed to the idea, and feel that civil unions under the law are the more appropriate way. Marriage at its foundation is a religious term, and so the religious institutions should have the say in what defines a marriage. However, with the seperation of church and state taken into account, civil unions should be more appropriate for such liberal ideas as gay marriage. Additionally, I feel that this would uphold the "sanctity of marriage" as W likes to call it, as childish weddings like britney spears' could more easily be avoided by terming such vegas weddings as civil unions instead.

November 15th, 2004, 02:56 PM
People really ought to educate themselves on the issue here. The issue is the RIGHTS of MARRIAGE, not "gay" marriage as the Republicans have craftily renamed it. Gays seek equal application of the law. A marriage license entitles straight people and people who think they are straight the ability to sign up for a license and with it, gain access to 1,049 rights and responsibilities. "Marriage" is the trigger to make those rights accessible and applicable. Gays seek those rights, first and foremost. The rights exist and they carry great benefit, responsibility and protection. The current wording of the law makes those rights accessible to any human being who is a citizen of this country.

The "Gay Marriage Amendment" seeks to create a special class of people - namely homosexuals - who would be denied these rights by means of writing them, as a class of people, out of the constitution. Of course, conservatives and religious leaders have successfully argued against creating a "special class" of Americans with "special rights" as they argued against gays in areas of hate crimes legislation and anti-discrimination laws. In arguing against adding "sexual orientation" to these laws, they stated that the law protects and applies to everyone - gays, they counseled, needed to redirect their efforts to the areas of enforcement.

Civil (legal) marriage carries no religious baggage. It is a license that states two people have been joined legally. For over 200 years, the law has made no stipulation regarding the gender or sexual organs of the two people being joined. Given that this is America and we believe in equal access and equal protection under the law, what is the argument for creating a law applicable only to homosexuals. In developing this argument, please address how it does not conflict with equal access and protection under the law and make no references whatsoever to religion. The law, as written, has existed for over 200 years, please explain the rational for amending that defines the harm that a marriage of same sexed individuals (currently allowed by law) would do to the country.

November 15th, 2004, 05:47 PM
BrooklynRider: thanks for an excellent post. Unfortunately, the argument we hear presented from advocates via the media is not centered around "equal access to and equal protection" under the law. Instead, we hear emotional cries to defend the "sanctity" of marriage (and our high divorce rates expose this conceit!). Thank you for exposing the truth behind their dishonest claims to prevent conferring "special status" to an elite group of people. . . for instead, it is a way to exclude and deny a segment of society the very access to and protection under the law that you have defended so persuasively.

November 16th, 2004, 07:32 AM
I never felt that my marriage vows were taken in the presence of God, but in the presence of family and friends.

Wouldn't religious institutions be able to refuse to perform the ceremony, thus preserving the sanctity?

November 16th, 2004, 06:29 PM
Certainly, religious groups can refuse to marry people who do not meet that congregation's requirements. But the issue here is to deny both civil marriage and civil unions to gays and lesbians (Reference the past election where several states have banned civil unions as well as marriage). Thus the urtext is political, not theological. Religous language offers a flimsy camouflauge for the denial of civil rights that BrooklynRider has so well illustrated above. I agree that it is a question of moral values, but turned on its head and cruelly perverted. Discrimination and exclusion of a specific group of people is contrary to the principles upon which this country was founded.

Because I have a strong background in theology from a premiere university, I am dismayed and perplexed at how our religious leaders say nothing and meekly acquiese to the radical fringe. And we dare wonder why the moderate mullahs in the Middle East are silent? Radicalism fueled by zealotry and hatred is becoming the political (and religious) terrorism of our age.

December 3rd, 2004, 02:22 PM
Simple solution, stop recognising "marriage" as any sort of civil ceremony or status.

If you want to get "married" you are more than welcome to, at your church. It does not confer ANY special status to you in the name of the government. Individual companies (such as who you work for, or your insurance company) can treat the marriage as they see fit.

Now, if you want legal recognition of the union, you have to file for a civil union. This is an official ceremony, done strictly within the structure of the local authorities.

You can have both a marriage AND a civil union if you so choose, but each would be a SEPERATE ENTITY.

December 9th, 2004, 10:20 PM
December 10, 2004

Canada's Supreme Court Clears Way for Same-Sex Marriage Law


TORONTO, Dec. 9 - The Supreme Court gave the go-ahead on Thursday to the federal government to introduce legislation that would redefine marriage nationwide to include same-sex couples, but it stopped short of ruling that the traditional definition of marriage was unconstitutional.

The decision was largely symbolic because the high courts of six provinces and one territory, representing 85 percent of the population, have already ruled that the traditional definition of marriage as a union between a man and a woman was discriminatory and unconstitutional. But the decision will give political cover to the government as it pushes legislation that has been promised for more than a year but remains controversial in the governing Liberal Party.

A decision by the Ontario Court of Appeals in June 2003 made Canada the third country after Belgium and the Netherlands to permit gays and lesbians to marry. More than 3,000 same-sex couples have married in Canada since then, including many American couples.

But the House of Commons has taken almost two years to address the issue, which is particularly controversial in rural areas and the conservative province of Alberta.

The decision on Thursday was interpreted differently by opponents and supporters of same-sex marriage, and appeared to clear the way for a heated parliamentary debate that is likely to cause fissures in the Liberal caucus.

Stephen J. Harper, leader of the Conservative Party and an opponent of changing the definition of marriage, said he viewed the decision as less than sweeping. "The court had plenty of chance to say there is only one definition of marriage, and it did not say that," he said, promising a fight in the House of Commons.

But gay rights groups welcomed the decision as a victory.

"The Supreme Court today gave a green light to the government's proposed equal marriage legislation," said Alex Munter, co-chairman of Canadians for Equal Marriage, "reflecting Canadian values and Canadians' commitment to fairness."

Prime Minister Paul Martin, who is Roman Catholic, had said he was personally ambivalent about the issue. But after the Supreme Court decision, he expressed enthusiasm for an expansion of marriage rights because, "I do not believe you can have two classes of citizens." He promised to press ahead expeditiously with the legislation, which is likely to pass the House of Commons by a narrow margin.

"Several centuries ago, it would have been understood that marriage be available only to opposite-sex couples," the Supreme Court ruling noted. "The recognition of same-sex marriage in several Canadian jurisdictions as well as two European countries belies the assertion that the same is true today."

The court said that as a matter of religious freedom, priests and other religious officials would not be obliged to preside over same-sex marriages. It also ruled that the federal government had exclusive authority over the definition of marriage.

"I think this will engender a debate across the country," Mr. Martin told reporters. "We are a mature nation and can undertake the debate."

The ruling, known here as a reference, was requested last year by Jean Chrétien, who was prime minister at the time, after he abandoned federal government efforts to appeal lower court rulings that declared traditional marriage laws discriminatory and in violation of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Canada's Bill of Rights.

Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

February 4th, 2005, 03:11 PM
From msnbc (http://msnbc.msn.com/id/6914743/):

N.Y. judge strikes down gay marriage ban
Ruling says same-sex couple can’t be denied equal rights
MSNBC staff and news service reports
Updated: 2:54 p.m. ET Feb. 4, 2005

NEW YORK - A judge declared Friday that a law banning same-sex marriage violated the state constitution, a ruling that would allow gay couples to wed if it was upheld on appeal.

The judge, Justice Doris Ling-Cohan of the state Supreme Court, ruled in favor of five gay couples who were denied marriage licenses last year. She stayed the ruling for 30 days to allow time for appeals.

“Similar to opposite-sex couples, same-sex couples are entitled to the same fundamental right to follow their hearts and publicly commit to a lifetime partnership with the person of their choosing,” she said in her ruling.

“The recognition that this fundamental right applies equally to same-sex couples cannot legitimately be said to harm anyone.”

Susan Sommer, a lawyer for the Lambda Legal Defense Fund who presented the case for five couples who brought the lawsuit, said Ling-Cohan “recognized that unless gay people can marry, they are not being treated equally under the law.”

“Same-sex couples need the protections and security marriage provides, and this ruling says they’re entitled to get them the same way straight couples do,” she said.

The ruling could put New York in conflict with federal rulings after a judge in Tampa, Fla., upheld the federal law Wednesday that allows states to ban same-sex marriages.

Gay-rights activists celebrate
Lambda Legal, meanwhile, was jubilant.

“Today we won a historic victory in our New York marriage case!” the group said in a statement.

One of the couples, Mary Jo Kennedy and Jo-Ann Shain, said they were thrilled by the ruling and believed that it would offer their family increased legal protection. They have been together 23 years and have a 15-year-old daughter.

“We’re just overjoyed,” Shain said. “We didn’t think it would ever happen.”

TLOZ Link5
February 4th, 2005, 06:01 PM
This certainly has the members of Free Republic riled-up.

February 4th, 2005, 11:44 PM
February 5, 2005

Judge's Ruling Opens Window for Gay Marriage in New York


http://graphics10.nytimes.com/images/dropcap/a.gif New York State judge in Manhattan ruled yesterday that a state law that effectively denied gay couples the right to marry violated the state Constitution, a decision that raised the possibility that the city would begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as soon as next month.

The ruling, by Justice Doris Ling-Cohan, was the first on the state level to side with proponents of gay marriage. In her 62-page decision, she wrote that the state's Domestic Relations Law, which dates to 1909 and limits marriage to unions between opposite-sex couples, deprived gay couples of equal protection and due process rights under the state Constitution.

She likened the law to those that once barred interracial marriages and said that words currently used in defining legal marriages - husband and wife, groom and bride - "shall be construed to apply equally to either men or women."

The issue of gay marriage has roiled the country, and it became a factor in the presidential race last fall as voters in numerous states enacted ballot initiatives limiting marriages to heterosexual couples. Just this week, President Bush, in his State of the Union speech, once again embraced a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

In Massachusetts, the high state court has said that gay marriage is compelled under the Constitution, and couples have been marrying by the thousands. In San Francisco, the mayor issued licenses, but the state's high court ruled that the mayor did not have authority to issue the licenses.

And so the implications of the New York judge's ruling yesterday are far from settled. The ruling applies only to New York City, and in a number of cases in other counties across the state, judges have upheld the state's marriage laws. As a result, many lawyers, as well as state and city officials, expect that the question will eventually have to be settled by the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals.

Most immediately, though, the city, which was named as the defendant in the lawsuit brought by Lambda Legal on behalf of five New York City couples, has to decide whether to appeal yesterday's ruling. A lawyer for the city yesterday said simply that he was studying the ruling and considering options.

But legal experts say that, according to the ruling, if the city does not appeal within 30 days, the city clerk's office would be required to issue a license to any gay couple that applies, something gay couples across the city and state have been seeking for years. And in her ruling, Justice Ling-Cohan all but ordered the city clerk to do so.

"It's about time it came about," said Bettina D. Hindin, an expert in matrimonial law at the Manhattan-based firm Slade & Newman. "It knocks the stuffing out of anyone who would say that couples should not marry because of some draconian law from the early 20th century."

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, a Republican, stayed silent on the issue yesterday. In the past, Mr. Bloomberg has supported overhauling state law to allow gay marriage. He is likely to be all the more sensitive now, as he seeks re-election in a city with a powerful gay vote.

Mr. Bloomberg's political rivals wasted no time in expressing their opinions. Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx borough president, and City Council Speaker Gifford Miller, both Democrats, put out statements last night calling upon the mayor to support the decision. At the same time, the mayor is also facing two potential Republican primary challengers who would surely use his support for the ruling against him with more conservative voters.

One city official said yesterday that the decision on whether to appeal yesterday's ruling might depend in part on whether city lawyers concluded that they were professionally bound to challenge a decision that set a different standard for New York City than for other counties.

To forgo an appeal could, at least temporarily, "turn New York City into a gay marriage Mecca," said one city official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

One of the many open questions is whether others, such as religious groups or conservative organizations, could seek to short-circuit the ruling or file lawsuits themselves in an attempt to have the state's higher courts take up the issue. State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer's office said through a spokeswoman that it would not intercede, asserting that the ruling pertained solely to New York City.

Mr. Spitzer's office issued an opinion last year that said state law did not allow gay marriage, after a mayor in New Paltz, a village in upstate New York, began marrying gay couples without licenses. But the office indicated that the question could only be settled by the state's highest court, the Court of Appeals, and several legal experts interviewed yesterday agreed.

"Sooner or later, a case raising the exact same issue is going to get to the Court of Appeals and whatever it rules will be the final word," said Vincent Bonventre, a professor at Albany Law School and an expert on the Court of Appeals. "It will make no difference what anyone else has said about it. If the Court of Appeals rules no, that's the end of it."

The court is already being asked to consider an appeal for another gay marriage case - Samuels v. New York State Department of Health - with almost identical issues, he said. In that case, a lower court judge rejected efforts to challenge the state's marriage laws.

At least three other state judges have ruled against gay marriage proponents, most recently on Thursday in Ulster County. In that ruling, State Supreme Court Justice E. Michael Kavanagh ruled it was proper to deny two couples married by an Albany minister licenses, because state law limited marriage to opposite-sex couples.

Gov. George E. Pataki echoed that opinion yesterday. He said, through aides, that he opposed the ruling. A spokesman would not comment when asked whether Mr. Pataki could intercede in any way.

"The governor strongly believes that the judge's decision is wrong," said Kevin Quinn, a spokesman for Mr. Pataki. "New York's marriage laws are clear that marriage is between a man and a woman and any changes to our laws should be made through the legislative process, not by a judge or local officials."

Jim Rutenberg contributed reporting for this article.

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February 5th, 2005, 11:35 PM
February 6, 2005

Mayor Seeks Quick Appeal on Gay Ruling


http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/dropcap/a.gif day after a judge in Manhattan issued the first New York State court ruling in support of gay marriage, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said New York City would appeal the decision, effectively closing the door on such marriages until the issue is decided by a higher court.

Speaking on a Chinatown sidewalk yesterday afternoon after attending a community event, Mr. Bloomberg told reporters that the city would try "to expedite the appeal directly to the highest court," the state's Court of Appeals, "so that people will have a right once and for all to know where they stand."

With New York's highest court now likely to face an issue that has proved its political potency around the country, Mr. Bloomberg said he personally favored gay marriage. It was the first time, according to his aides, that he has so clearly stated his position in public.

He went further last night at a dinner held by the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group, where he told the guests at the Waldorf-Astoria that he would "work with you to change the law" in Albany if the lower court ruling - which he called "something to celebrate" - was struck down.

"I think people have the right to love, to live with and to marry whoever they want, regardless of their sexual orientation," the mayor said as hundreds of guests stood and cheered.

Later, the same audience booed Mr. Bloomberg when he said once again that the city would appeal Friday's ruling by Justice Doris Ling-Cohan, who found that the state's Domestic Relations Law violated New York's constitutional guarantee of equal protection and due process.

In his remarks in Chinatown, the mayor said city lawyers had told him that the ruling "was incorrect, that the current state Constitution does not permit same-sex marriages."

Lawyers for the city had made that same argument before Justice Ling-Cohan, who ruled in a suit brought by Lambda Legal on behalf of five gay couples who had been denied marriage licenses.

Lambda Legal's supervising lawyer, Susan Sommer, expressed disappointment yesterday that the city planned to appeal the ruling but said, "We're pleased that the mayor agrees with the judge and many New Yorkers that same-sex couples must be allowed to marry."

Political rivals in the coming mayoral election and some gay elected officials criticized Mr. Bloomberg for taking what they described as a legalistic position that seemed aimed at appealing to voters on both sides of the issue.

But the import of his remarks reverberated far beyond the mayoral campaign. Lawyers said the ruling on Friday, combined with the mayor's decision to appeal it, virtually guaranteed that the state's highest court, the seven-member Court of Appeals, would make a definitive ruling on gay marriage for the state.

"The issue will be squarely in the lap of the Court of Appeals," said Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, which is involved in another case raising the same questions. "They will have the obligation and the opportunity to decide whether the New York State Constitution provides that our marriage laws give the same rights for same-sex couples as it does for heterosexual couples."

A decision on gay marriage would likely be among the most controversial by the Court of Appeals in many years and would almost certainly spark calls for further action.

For example, if the court were to allow gay marriage, opponents would likely seek a change in state law or a constitutional amendment barring such unions. It could also spur efforts in state courts around the country by gay-marriage proponents who have been pressing for rulings similar to that of the highest court in Massachusetts allowing gay marriage.

New York's Court of Appeals once had a reputation as a liberal panel, and last June a 4-to-3 majority effectively declared the state's death penalty unconstitutional.

But the court has become more conservative in recent years, and some lawyers say some appointees of Gov. George E. Pataki would likely disagree with Justice Ling-Cohan's decision.

Governor Pataki appointed four of the court's judges. Three are appointees of his predecessor, Mario M. Cuomo.

In her decision on Friday, Justice Ling-Cohan wrote that "same-sex couples are entitled to the same fundamental right to follow their hearts and publicly commit to a lifetime partnership with the person of their choosing," A spokesman for the governor said that he "strongly believes that the judge's decision is wrong."

Lawyers who have been involved in a series of cases that raise the same issues said the gay-marriage question would almost certainly bypass intermediate appellate courts and move directly to the Court of Appeals, in Albany.

"I think a broad-based, philosophical consideration of the entire issue is going to take place," said Terence L. Kindlon, an Albany lawyer, who on Thursday lost a ruling in an Albany case in which a judge determined that state law limited marriage to opposite-sex couples.

In recent months, there have been three rulings by state justices finding that there is no right to gay marriage in New York.

Justice Ling-Cohan's decision caught Mr. Bloomberg and his aides off guard on Friday and put them into a tight political box. The mayor could use gay support in trying to attract the city's overwhelmingly liberal electorate in November. But he is facing challengers in a Republican primary that could be decided by socially conservative voters.

His announcement yesterday drew criticism from both flanks. Fernando Ferrer, the former Bronx borough president and the perceived front-runner in the race for the Democratic mayoral nomination, said that Mr. Bloomberg "says that he believes one thing but will do another."

Thomas V. Ognibene, the former Republican leader of the City Council who plans to run against Mr. Bloomberg in the primary, called the mayor's position "politically spineless" and "a cop-out."

The mayor's aides were clearly hoping his public support for gay marriage would soften reaction to his move to appeal Friday's decision. But the results were not definitive.

City Councilwoman Christine Quinn, who is gay and represents Greenwich Village, Chelsea and Hell's Kitchen, said she was horrified by his decision to appeal and called his support for gay marriage a "Johnny-come-lately position."

Alan Van Capelle, the director of Empire State Pride Agenda, said the reaction of the gay community might not be known for some time. "When gay and lesbian New Yorkers realize the only thing stopping them from getting marriage licenses was Bloomberg," he said, "they're going to have to make a decision about how angry they are with this mayor."

Asked during his sidewalk news conference if he would lobby for a change in the law to permit gay marriage, Mr. Bloomberg told reporters, "I think I'm doing that right now."

On the streets, opinion was divided. In Tompkins Square Park, Jeffrey Weinrich, 43, said he agreed with Justice Ling-Cohan. "It's completely discriminatory," he said, "to take a certain segment of the population and say they don't have the same rights as the rest of the population."

But not far away, Dianna Difo, an employee at a Manhattan law firm, said a decision as important as the place of marriage in society should not be left to one judge. "Law is based on the Ten Commandments," she said. "Law comes from the Bible or from religion."

In Chelsea, Carlo Calloni, 32, who said he was gay, had a list of reasons why the decision seemed right. "But I also like it from a romantic point of view," he said, adding that he would like to make a public declaration "in front of my friends and say this is my partner and we declare our love and monogamy."

Winnie Hu and Colin Moynihan contributed reporting for this article.

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February 6th, 2005, 12:13 AM
February 6, 2005

Bloomberg Hears Ayes And Nays


http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/dropcap/t.gifhere was nothing easy about Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's task last night.

The mayor, compelled by a judge's ruling that same-sex marriages should be allowed in New York, had to at once explain why the city was going to appeal the decision and square that with his personal views.

Dashing from the Waldorf-Astoria hotel to the Astoria World Manor in Queens, and addressing gay rights supporters at both places, Mr. Bloomberg used the evening to make his first public statement in favor of same-sex marriage.

At both events, he was cheered for his personal stance, then booed for his decision to appeal the ruling, then cheered again for vowing to fight for same-sex marriage.

At the first stop, a dinner for the Human Rights Campaign that began with a speech by Carson Kressley, of "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," who was dressed as SpongeBob SquarePants, Mr. Bloomberg stated, "I think people have the right to love, to live with and to marry whoever they want, regardless of their sexual orientation."

The crowd rose to its feet. But then Mr. Bloomberg referred to the court decision, saying, "We cannot pretend it was the final answer." He explained that he did not want to offer people false hope. "That is why we are going to appeal the decision," he said.

Shouts of derision and hissing filled the room. Moments later, though, Mr. Bloomberg had the audience cheering again, saying he will work to change the law if need be.

At the Lesbian & Gay Pride dinner-dance in Queens, all the gentility of the Waldorf was gone. Mr. Bloomberg was loudly heckled as a "liar" and a "hypocrite."

Several times he had to stop his speech, at one point piqued enough to sarcastically call one loud dissenter "a real gentleman."

Despite the hostility, Mr. Bloomberg did not bolt, taking the time to shake the hand of anyone who was not yelling at him.

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February 7th, 2005, 11:58 AM
From rawstoryq: (http://rawstoryq.com/news/2005/index.php?p=3)

LGBT Legal Expert Art Leonard Comments on NY Court Ruling (http://rawstoryq.com/news/2005/index.php?p=3)

Art Leonard, a professor of law at New York University wrote and circulated the following analysis of today’s ruling by Justice Lyng-Cohan. According to Leonard, the decision “opens up a ton of issues, as much political as legal.”

First, attempts to enact a DOMA in New York have so far gone nowhere, mainly because there were several rulings, most importantly a 2nd Dept. Appellate Division decision that the Court of Appeals refused to review, rejecting the argument that the marriage law exclusion of same-sex couples was unconstitutional. As long as those rulings were on the books, it was hard for the Republicans in Albany to make much headway on the need for a DOMA. That situation was about to potentially change, since the Appellate Division is considering an appeal from a trial court ruling from Long Island that gave full faith and credit to a Vermont civil union in the context of a wrongful death proceeding brought by a surviving partner. An affirmance by the Appellate Division in that case could fuel support for a DOMA. Of course, a DOMA would do nothing to Justice Lyng-Cohan’s opinion, which is constitutionally based.

Second, Attorney General Spitzer, whose informal opinion letter of last spring said that denial of marriage to same-sex couples raised serious constitutional questions, is really put in a tight spot here. He refused to intervene in this case to defend the statute. (The nominal defendant is the NY City Clerk, and the City Law Department defended the case.) On the other hand, his office is defending other marriage cases that were filed outside the City. Justice Lyng-Cohan specifically ordered that the plaintiffs serve Spitzer’s office with a copy of her opinion. The 30-day stay, which is normal in this kind of case, is really more for Spitzer’s benefit than for the City. The City could decide not to appeal, but then Spitzer would have to - if not as a matter of his legal duty, then as a matter of his political necessity. After all, he has declared his candidacy for governor, and no matter his personal views (he says that he favors same-sex marriage), it would probably be a political liability in a state-wide race to have been seen to have shirked his “duty” to defend the marriage law.

Third, what about a state constitutional amendment? New York is one of those states where amending the constitution is not a quick and easy process. Proposals have to go through two elected legislatures before they get put on the ballot, similar to the Massachusetts process. An alternative is for the calling of a state constitutional convention, which can propose amendments. Either way, this is not a simple quicky process like some other states where the legislature can just vote to put something on the ballot and then it happens quickly, as in the 13 states that passed anti-marriage amendments during 2004. The politics in the legislature is also interesting. The State Senate, controlled by the Republicans, would probably easily approve an anti-marriage amendment, since only a simple majority is required. The Assembly, controlled by the Democrats, would be a different story. (Indeed, there is speculation that the Democrats would even pass a gay marriage bill if they thought it had a prayer in the Senate.) It is unclear how an amendment would fare in the Assembly if Justice Lyng-Cohan’s decision were sustained by the Appellate Division, 1st Department. Assuming the City and/or the State appeal, however, this is again not a quicky process in New York. With briefing and scheduling a hearing, it could be quite a long time before we had an Appellate Division decision, and I suspect the Assembly members would want to lie low on this issue before there is any appellate ruling. After all, just yesterday (Thursday) an upstate judge ruled the other way in one of the pending marriage cases.

So it would be easy for folks who want to avoid this issue in the legislature to say that doing anything now, based on one trial court decision, would be premature.

All bets may be off, however, if one of the appellate rulings elsewhere suddenly comes through positively, especially in New Jersey, which is Lambda’s other big marriage case at the moment, and where an opinion could come out of the Appellate Division at any time.

Lots of speculation here. As to an amendment, it may all come down to Shelly Silver, the Democratic leader in the Assembly.

Art Leonard
NY Law School

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February 8th, 2005, 10:36 AM
February 8, 2005

City Will Request a Quick Decision on Gay Marriage


http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/dropcap/l.gifawyers for New York City said yesterday that they would ask the state's highest court to review as quickly as possible a ruling that gay couples should be allowed to marry.

Today, the city plans to file its appeal of a state judge's decision on Friday that New York law violates gay couples' constitutional rights.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who has said he personally supports gay marriage, announced Saturday that the city would appeal the ruling, by Justice Doris Ling-Cohan of State Supreme Court in Manhattan, saying it was legally incorrect.

The city's appeal, at least for now, shut down the prospect, raised by the ruling, that gay couples from across the country would come to New York to marry.

Michael A. Cardozo, the city's chief lawyer, said in a statement yesterday that the city would take its appeal directly to the Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, skipping an intermediate court, "so that a decision on this important issue can be reached as quickly as possible."

Mr. Bloomberg and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who is representing the state in three similar cases, reiterated yesterday their calls for the Court of Appeals to consider the issue. State judges in other New York cities have ruled against gay marriage in recent months, and only the Court of Appeals has the legal authority to apply the law evenly throughout the state, officials said.

The court, so far, has been tight-lipped. Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye, at a news conference in Albany yesterday, said she expected a gay-marriage case to reach the Court of Appeals eventually, but she declined to comment on Friday's ruling. She would also not say if she favored an expedited appeal, or comment on the clashing decisions in New York courts on marriage rights for same-sex couples.

"I expect someday the issue will come to us, in this case or another case," said Judge Kaye, speaking to reporters after her annual address on the state of the judiciary.

During a question-and-answer session at a community center in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, yesterday, Mr. Bloomberg said that although he believes that gay marriage should be legal, it is up to the Legislature to change the law.

"I think it is in everybody's interest to have the courts finally decide what our current laws say," he said, "and then if we want to change those laws let the Albany Legislature do that or not do that."

The seven-member Court of Appeals is obliged to consider all cases that, like this one, raise direct constitutional issues. It is rare for the court to take a case that bypasses lower courts - it has heard only four in the past 15 years - but with calls from the mayor and the attorney general, it might feel pressure to comply, legal experts said.

In requesting expedited consideration, officials are trying to shorten the time between the filing of an appeal and the issuing of a decision, which took an average of 259 days in 2003, according to a court spokesman.

At a rally last night at the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center in Manhattan, exultation and anger were present in equal measure.

Gifford Miller, the City Council speaker, said that while he was "elated" by Justice Ling-Cohan's ruling, he was disappointed by Mayor Bloomberg's decision to appeal it.

Lawyers for the gay couples suing the city say its arguments in the latest case are weak. One is that because marriage is traditionally understood as a union between a man and a woman, same-sex couples do not enjoy the fundamental right to marry.

"It isn't such a good argument," said Susan Sommer, a lawyer for Lambda Legal and the supervising lawyer in the case. "Similar arguments had been made restricting marriage to people of the same race."

Lawyers for the state made similar arguments in another gay-marriage case, Samuels v. New York State Department of Education, whose plaintiffs are pursuing an appeal, said a lawyer who has heard arguments in the case. The lawyer said the earliest the Court of Appeals would consider that case would be autumn.

Jim Rutenberg, Patrick D. Healy and Nicholas Confessore contributed reporting for this article.

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February 8th, 2005, 10:19 PM
February 9, 2005

Mayor's Words and Actions Are at Odds on Gay Marriage


http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/dropcap/m.gifayor Michael R. Bloomberg said he personally believed same-sex couples had a right to marry, and that his decision to appeal a judge's ruling allowing it was merely an attempt to clarify the law once and for all.

But in legal papers, the Bloomberg administration has argued its position that state law does not permit gay marriages, and it has done so with an aggressiveness that some gay rights advocates say is at odds with the mayor's assertion that he simply wants guidance from New York's highest court.

In a brief filed in connection with a lower court case brought against the city by five gay couples last year, the administration stated, "There is no fundamental right to marry someone of the same sex." It quoted an earlier court decision defining "the institution of marriage as a union of man and woman," a tradition it said was "as old as the Book of Genesis." The city also said states had the authority to regulate marriage, noting that "aunts and uncles are prohibited from marrying their nieces and nephews."

"There is no deeply rooted history or tradition of same-sex marriage, in either this country or this state," the city said in its brief. "As a matter of history and tradition, marriage has always been defined as the union of a man and a woman."

Elsewhere in the 75-page document, the city "acknowledges that same-sex couples can establish committed, caring relationships and can be fine parents." But it then argued that allowing same-sex marriages in New York could create many problems, and it cited hypothetical examples of child-custody dilemmas posed by a gay couple - referred to as Ms. A and Ms. B - who adopt a child and then get divorced.

"Other problematic situations could arise even if the couple did not break up," the brief said. "For example, if Ms. A (not the biological parent) and C travel to Ohio to visit Ms. A's college roommate, and are involved in a serious automobile accident, will an Ohio hospital recognize Ms. A's right to make medical decisions for C?"

City lawyers have said that in an adversarial courtroom setting, they have little choice but to aggressively present their case, and they cannot simply ask the appeals court for a ruling without first offering arguments. Bettina B. Plevan, president of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, said it was logical that the city's lawyers would pursue the same line of argument on appeal, although their strategy for how to present it could change.

"I would expect they will pursue the argument on appeal as they raised it," she said. "But the tone, and what they say, could change if they want it to change."

Yesterday, the city formally filed its notice of intent to appeal the ruling last week in the lower court case. In that case, Justice Doris Ling-Cohan of Manhattan Supreme Court rejected the arguments contained in the administration's brief and found that New York's Domestic Relations Law violated the state's constitutional guarantees of equal protection and due process.

The city has not yet drafted a new brief for its appeal. Alan Van Capelle, the executive director of Empire State Pride Agenda, said he hoped "that as this court case proceeds, the city would refrain from making those traditionally horrible arguments that gays and lesbians are disrupting the foundation of marriage."

Mr. Bloomberg's decision to appeal drew criticism yesterday from Mayor Gavin Newsom of San Francisco, who decided to hand out marriage licenses to thousands of same-sex couples last winter despite a California law against gay marriage. A state judge invalidated the licenses months later.

Mr. Newsom said he did not believe Mr. Bloomberg's statements supporting gay marriage squared with the city's aggressive legal opposition to it. "You can't say you're for something and advance an agenda that contradicts what you're for by appealing it," Mr. Newsom said.

Edward Skyler, Mr. Bloomberg's spokesman, said the mayor chose to appeal on the advice of the city's lawyers, despite his own "philosophical belief that gay marriages should be allowed."

"As the chief executive of the city he has a responsibility to seek a legal opinion from the Law Department and then see that the law is followed," Mr. Skyler said.

To advocates of same-sex marriage, some of the arguments used by the city strike at the heart of their cause, and seem to run counter to the mayor's stated objectives. Mr. Bloomberg has said he wants the Court of Appeals to rule on the constitutionality of gay marriage, and that if it determines there is no legal basis for it, he would help change the law to permit it.

In its lower court brief, however, the city suggested that because laws in each state differed, the Legislature could determine that it "would be well advised not to authorize same-sex marriage at this time."

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March 7th, 2005, 06:36 AM
March 7, 2005

Connecticut Takes Steps Toward Gay Civil Unions

By WILLIAM YARDLEY (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=WILLIAM%20YARDLEY&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=WILLIAM%20YARDLEY&inline=nyt-per)

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/dropcap/h.gifARTFORD, March 6 - The debate over a bill that would allow same-sex civil unions in Connecticut in some ways has been predictable: Some church groups and Republican lawmakers are opposed, calling the measure a slippery slope to gay marriage. Some Democrats are in favor, saying gays are being denied important rights and protections.

Yet in other ways, the debate may seem counterintuitive.

"I don't have any trouble with the concept," Gov. M. Jodi Rell, a Republican, said on Friday when asked about civil unions. "I've said all along I don't support any kind of discrimination and I don't believe in discrimination of any kind. If we can address those concerns without marriage, then I am open to the concept."

In fact, the governor, who emphasized that she wanted to read the bill closely before committing, may be more open to the idea than Anne Stanback, president of Love Makes a Family, the state's leading advocacy group for same-sex marriage.

"We don't support civil unions in concept," Ms. Stanback said. "We're saying that we don't think that Connecticut needs to take a half-step to marriage."

Given that 11 states voted on Election Day to ban gay marriage, central figures in Connecticut could seem to be out of sync with national developments. But lawmakers and gay activists say the shifting and relatively muted debate here reflects views that have evolved rapidly in response to historic changes in neighboring states.

It has been five years since Vermont, following a court ruling, became the first state to establish civil unions between same-sex couples. It has been less than a year since Massachusetts, following a court ruling, began allowing same-sex couples to marry.

And in Manhattan last month, a state judge ruled that a law that effectively banned gay marriage violated the State Constitution. The ruling, which is under appeal, could open the door to gay marriage in New York State if it is upheld by the Court of Appeals, the state's highest court.

But in Connecticut, the exit ramp to New England and its distinctive style of social liberalism, no court ruling has been necessary to push state-sanctioned civil unions toward what lawmakers in both parties say is likely passage. And while changes in neighboring states may have altered perspectives here, some say the state has long been known for tolerance, or at least pragmatic apathy.

"I think there's a broad consensus in Connecticut that what consenting adults do, the public doesn't question that," said Robert M. Ward, a Republican who is the State House minority leader.

Yet some gay activists worry that allowing civil unions will mean losing momentum for the real goal - gay marriage. Mary L. Bonauto, a gay rights lawyer, said that while civil unions can improve couples' rights to state benefits in areas like health care and personal taxes, those couples might not receive the same Social Security, pension and 401(k) benefits given to married couples. Ms. Stanback and others say only marriage will bring full legal and cultural protections.

"Massachusetts is the gold standard," Ms. Stanback said. "What Love Makes a Family felt was that with Massachusetts allowing gay marriage, the five-year-old civil unions law in Vermont was no longer the standard to shoot for."

Last month the Judiciary Committee of the Democrat-controlled General Assembly easily passed the bill that would allow gay and lesbian couples to be joined in civil unions. The bill, which must be considered by the full General Assembly and the governor, would make Connecticut the fourth state, after Vermont, Massachusetts and California to give same-sex couples many of the protections of marriage, if not necessarily marital status.

The committee, which approved the measure by a 2-to-1 ratio, rejected proposed amendments that defined marriage as the union of a man and a woman. And one Democrat voted against the bill because it did not allow gay marriage.

Going into the vote, Ms. Stanback's group had insisted it would accept nothing less than marriage. That position generated criticism from some lawmakers, including those who said it threatened the civil unions bill. Now the group is no longer opposing the civil unions bill, but it plans to continue to push for marriage.

"It is discrimination to exclude gays and lesbians from the civil institution of marriage," Ms. Stanback said, referring to Mrs. Rell's opposition to discrimination.

Michael P. Lawlor, a Democrat who is the House co-chairman of the Judiciary Committee and who supports gay marriage, said adopting civil unions now would increase the chance for gay marriage in the future. He said other residents are becoming accustomed to gay couples as social peers - as neighbors who raise children, for example.

"Once you become comfortable with that, then it's hard to argue against civil unions," he said, "and it will be hard to argue against marriage."

Andrew J. McDonald, a Democrat who is the committee's Senate co-chairman, said one key to the debate in Connecticut has been casting civil unions as a civil rights issue rather than one with religious or cultural undertones.

By removing the word marriage from the equation, he said, "People started to realize this was really just a bundle of legal rights."

Mr. Ward, the Republican leader, said that while he and some other Republicans were likely to support a civil unions bill, marriage was another matter for lawmakers and voters. "When you call it marriage," he said, "they view it as literally changing the definition of the word."

The most recent public poll in the state, released last June by Quinnipiac University, showed that 59 percent supported civil unions, while 50 percent opposed gay marriage and 45 percent supported it.

Opponents of gay marriage and civil unions plan a rally at the Capitol on April 24.

Marie T. Hilliard, executive director of the Connecticut Catholic Conference, is helping organize the rally. She said that her group wanted a referendum on civil unions and marriage and that she believed Mrs. Rell, who opposes gay marriage, might be wary once she reviewed the civil unions bill.

"I don't think it's a slam-dunk," Ms. Hilliard said. "I think if you look line by line at the bill, it was much more than anyone really intended when they used the word civil union. Every right that's been ascribed in marriage is ascribed to couples in civil unions."

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March 7th, 2005, 06:38 AM
March 7, 2005


Civil Unions in Connecticut

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/dropcap/c.gifonnecticut is seriously considering giving gay couples the ability to have their relationships legalized in civil unions. A civil union bill took a critical step toward passage when it was approved, 25 to 13, by the Legislature's powerful Judiciary Committee recently, and supporters believe they have the votes in the House and Senate. Gov. M. Jodi Rell has said she supports at least the concept of civil unions.

Gay rights advocates have mixed reactions, since they had hoped for a law that would give them the same rights and privileges as any married couple, and call it a marriage. Love Makes a Family, the largest gay rights organization in Connecticut, lobbied against the civil union bill in committee, arguing that it would make gay couples "separate and unequal." But later, the group changed its position. "We will not stand in the way of expanding our rights," wrote Anne Stanback, the president of Love Makes a Family, in The Hartford Courant.

Ms. Stanback and her allies were right to insist that gay couples should have the same right to marry and create families as other Americans and to urge the Connecticut Legislature to call their unions marriages. But the existing measure goes far toward giving gay couples the rights and protections of marriage, and gay rights advocates also were correct when they decided not to make the perfect the enemy of the good this year in Hartford.

The measure would treat gays joined in civil unions as spouses in a myriad of important ways, including rights of inheritance and making medical decisions. It's an important step in supporting the stability of gay families, and one that should not be dismissed because it does not take us right to the end of the road: marriages recognized beyond a single state's borders.

If the civil union law is enacted, Connecticut and California will be the only states to have enacted broad laws of this kind voluntarily. Vermont passed a civil union law under court pressure, and a court decision forced Massachusetts officials to recognize gay marriage. It's no small thing for a state legislature to take this step on its own. The constitutional rights of every American are safest when they're protected not by the judiciary alone, but also by the strong support of the citizenry as a whole.

Copyright 2005 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html) The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

bohemian rhapsody
March 8th, 2005, 01:42 AM
Simple solution, stop recognising "marriage" as any sort of civil ceremony or status.

If you want to get "married" you are more than welcome to, at your church. It does not confer ANY special status to you in the name of the government. Individual companies (such as who you work for, or your insurance company) can treat the marriage as they see fit.

Now, if you want legal recognition of the union, you have to file for a civil union. This is an official ceremony, done strictly within the structure of the local authorities.

You can have both a marriage AND a civil union if you so choose, but each would be a SEPERATE ENTITY.

Good idea.
My problem with this movement against "gay marriage", as they call it, is that as far as the law is concerned, marriage really has nothing to do with religion/God. People put that on marriage themselves depending on their beliefs and religious affiliations. Under the law, marriage gives people certain rights that I don't think should be denied to any certain group of people.

TLOZ Link5
November 15th, 2005, 12:12 AM
Geesh, Connecticut has legalized gay marriage and this thread hasn't been revived? Oh well.

But in any case, I was doing a paper for Spanish about "una tema controversial" and, during my research, found this handy-dandy Wiki whose content is self-revelatory in the URL. Just so we're all clear that homosexuality is not "unnatural," given that it occurs in nature...often.


November 15th, 2005, 04:03 PM
If gay people wants to get married, it's not my damn business.

November 15th, 2005, 04:21 PM
If gay people wants to get married, it's not my damn business.

It's not your blessed one either... ;)

December 9th, 2005, 11:10 AM
http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/misc/logoprinter.gif (http://www.nytimes.com/)
December 9, 2005
Court Voids Ruling Backing Gay Marriage

By ANEMONA HARTOCOLLIS (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=ANEMONA%20HARTOCOLLIS&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=ANEMONA%20HARTOCOLLIS&inline=nyt-per)
An appellate court yesterday reversed a lower court ruling that would have permitted same-sex marriage in New York City.

By a 4-1 majority, the appellate panel not only rejected the lower court's ruling that state law forbidding same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, but said that the state had a legitimate and rational interest in promoting heterosexual marriage.

The majority's 20-page decision offered a ringing defense of heterosexual marriage, which the court portrayed as an important way of ensuring child welfare and social stability.

"Marriage promotes sharing of resources between men, women and the children that they procreate," said the panel of the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court. "It is based on the presumption that the optimal situation for child-rearing is having both biological parents present in a committed, socially esteemed relationship."

Moreover, the panel said, decisions about the legitimacy of same-sex marriage are more properly left to the Legislature.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/michael_r_bloomberg/index.html?inline=nyt-per) reiterated yesterday that he was personally in favor of permitting same-sex marriage, and that the city had appealed the lower court decision only as a way of clarifying the law.

"As I have said, this issue should be decided by the state's highest court, and I assume today's decision will be appealed," Mr. Bloomberg said in a written statement. "If today's decision is affirmed by the Court of Appeals, I will urge the Legislature to change the State's Domestic Relations Law to permit gay marriage."

Susan L. Sommer, a lawyer for the plaintiffs, confirmed that they would appeal.

The suit was filed by a gay and lesbian rights group, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, on behalf of five same-sex couples in New York City, against the city clerk, Victor L. Robles, who issues marriage licenses.
Daniel Hernandez, 48, the lead plaintiff along with his partner, Nevin Cohen, said yesterday that he was "incredibly disappointed" by the ruling.
He said it had been depressing to go to oral arguments in the case, in which the city's lawyers, arguing that same-sex marriage was against the law, "treated our relationships as though they were insignificant and not these really strong, loving relationships that people in our community have."

Ms. Sommer said that while there were other challenges to the state's marriage law pending in other jurisdictions, the decision yesterday appeared to put this lawsuit on track to be the first to reach the high court.
Because the suit argues state issues rather than federal ones, she said, it will not go to the United States Supreme Court.

The decision overturned a Feb. 7 ruling by Justice Doris Ling-Cohan of State Supreme Court in Manhattan. Justice Ling-Cohan found that state marriage law violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the State Constitution. She permanently enjoined the city from denying a marriage license to any couple on the ground that they were of the same sex, a decision that has been stayed pending the appeals.

The panel also overturned Justice Ling-Cohan's ruling that gender-specific terms in state marriage law, such as "husband, "wife," "groom" and "bride," should be construed to apply equally to men and women.
The definition of marriage now enshrined in state law, "expresses an important, long-recognized public policy supporting, among other things, procreation, child welfare and social stability - all legitimate state interest," the appellate majority said.

Ms. Sommer, the lawyer, took issue with the court's contention that marriage law was a matter for the Legislature to decide, comparing it to other civil rights issues. "If the Legislature doesn't live up to its duty, it's entirely the role of the courts in a constitutional democracy to step in and protect individuals and minorities," she said.

She said that while the appellate division might be appealing to tradition, there was nothing sacrosanct about tradition, which has evolved over time. "Not so long ago, marriage was viewed legally and culturally as a patriarchal institution in which the husband essentially owned his wife as chattel," Ms. Sommer said.

She said that to say that state law intended marriage to protect the conception and raising of children flew in the face of state law that "completely acknowledges and supports the rights of same-sex couples to rear children."

State Senator Thomas Duane of Lower Manhattan, who has sponsored a bill to legalize same-sex marriage, said yesterday that the Senate and Assembly leaders had indicated that they would not push legislation to override court rulings in favor of same-sex marriage.

December 9th, 2005, 11:52 AM
If gay people want to gain full civil rights, the best path is by claiming "exempt" on their W-4 form and stop paying taxes. Especially in this city, it would make an immediate dent in the budget and then the issue would shift to "responsibilities of citizens", which then could be argued based on equal application of law.

Make it about money. It's the only way to get and hold anyone's attention.

December 9th, 2005, 12:18 PM
Bloomberg Says He Will Push For Legalizing Same Sex Marriage

NY 1
December 09, 2005


Supporters of same-sex marriage – including Mayor Michael Bloomberg – are vowing to take their fight to the state's highest court following a ruling Thursday blocking same sex marriage.

The ruling overturns a February ruling by the state Supreme Court that said it was unconstitutional to deny gay couples the right to marry.

The earlier ruling conflicted with decisions made on four other cases saying same-sex marriage was not permissible.

Bloomberg says that if Thursday’s decision is affirmed by the Court of Appeals, he'll urge the Legislature to change the law to permit gay marriage.

Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is currently defending the state in those four cases in another appellate court.

It's expected that one of these five cases will make it to the court of appeals – the state's highest court.

December 9th, 2005, 12:26 PM
Maybe he'll put his mandate to good work. I'm a bit discouraged by the midwester talking points the court cited in yesterday's decision. As the use of gendered colloquiallisms really were intended to justify discrimination 100 years later.

TLOZ Link5
December 9th, 2005, 06:38 PM
Didn't I tell ya, Ryan?

Wait...didn't Bloomberg make the appeal against Judge Ling-Cohan's decision to begin with?

What is Spitzer's view on same-sex marriages?

As long as I'm asking questions, what the hell is the "homosexual agenda"?

December 9th, 2005, 07:31 PM
Brokeback Merits Box-Office Boom

By Rex Reed
New York Observer


Kimberley French/Focus Features
Jake Gyllenhaal, left, and Heath Ledger in "Brokeback Mountain."


Brokeback Mountain is an American masterpiece. Riding in on a crest of critical raves from Venice and Toronto, the new film by the visually gifted Ang Lee, with Larry McMurtry co-adapting a screenplay that throbs with realism from the acclaimed New Yorker short story by Pulitzer Prize winner Annie Proulx, is finally here, with quality and artistry stamped all over it like labels on a Vuitton trunk. Weirdly enough, we still live in a time when a film about two rugged Marlboro men in love can also be dogged by controversy. Silly and antediluvian as raised eyebrows are in the 21st century, I say bring ’em on, as long as they turn Brokeback Mountain into the box-office triumph it deserves to be.

When I say Brokeback Mountain is a masterpiece, I don’t mean gay masterpiece. In fact, it’s not so much a gay movie as it is a beautifully directed, sensitively acted, gorgeously photographed love story about two people in the right place at the wrong time, who fall in love serendipitously and against their better judgment, and spend the next 20 years of their lives burdened by their compromises. The accidental lovers could be any unconventional couple—interracial, a cop and a drag queen, or an older teacher and a younger pupil. Same-sex love in the Biblical sense is just one of the taboos forbidden by some segments of not-so-polite society. Only a fool would try to analyze love ...

Full review here: http://www.observer.com/culture_rexreed.asp


Riding the High Country, Finding and Losing Love

By STEPHEN HOLDEN (http://query.nytimes.com/search/query?ppds=bylL&v1=STEPHEN HOLDEN&fdq=19960101&td=sysdate&sort=newest&ac=STEPHEN HOLDEN&inline=nyt-per)
NY Times
December 9, 2005


THE lonesome chill that seeps through Ang Lee's (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/filmography.html?p_id=166472&inline=nyt-per) epic western, "Brokeback Mountain," (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/movie.html?v_id=301840&inline=nyt_ttl) is as bone deep as the movie's heartbreaking story of two cowboys who fall in love almost by accident. It is embedded in the craggy landscape where their idyll begins and ends. It creeps into the farthest corners of the wide-open spaces they share with coyotes, bears and herds of sheep and rises like a stifled cry into the big, empty sky that stretches beyond the horizon.

One night, when their campfire dies, and the biting cold drives them to huddle together in a bedroll, a sudden spark between Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/filmography.html?p_id=268296&inline=nyt-per)) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/filmography.html?p_id=29408&inline=nyt-per)) flares into an undying flame.

The same mood of acute desolation permeates the spare, gnarly prose of Annie Proulx's short story, first published in The New Yorker in 1997, adapted by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana. Mr. McMurtry knows about loneliness. Its ache suffused his novel and his screenplay for "The Last Picture Show," (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/movie.html?v_id=28358&inline=nyt_ttl) made into a film 34 years ago by Peter Bogdanovich (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/filmography.html?p_id=82288&inline=nyt-per).

The sexual bouts between these two ranch hands who have never heard the term gay (in 1963, when the story begins, it was still a code word transiting into the mainstream) are described by Ms. Proulx as "quick, rough, laughing and snorting."

That's exactly how Mr. Lee films their first sexual grappling (discreetly) in the shadows of the cramped little tent. The next morning, Ennis mumbles, "I'm no queer." And Jack replies, "Me neither." Still, they do it again, and again, in the daylight as well as at night. Sometimes their pent-up passions explode in ferocious roughhouse that is indistinguishable from fighting.

This moving and majestic film would be a landmark if only because it is the first Hollywood movie to unmask the homoerotic strain in American culture that Leslie Fiedler discerned in his notorious 1948 Partisan Review essay, "Come Back to the Raft Ag'in, Huck Honey." Fiedler characterized the bond between Huckleberry Finn and Jim, a runaway slave, as an unconscious romantic attachment shared by two males of different races as they flee the more constraining and civilizing domain of women. He went on to identify that bond as a recurrent theme in American literature.

In popular culture, Fiedler's Freudianism certainly could be applied to the Lone Ranger and Tonto. Minus the ethnic division, it might also be widened to include a long line of westerns and buddy movies, from "Red River" (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/titlelist.html?v_idlist=40717;128432&inline=nyt_ttl) to "Midnight Cowboy" (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/movie.html?v_id=32558&inline=nyt_ttl) to "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" (http://movies2.nytimes.com/gst/movies/titlelist.html?v_idlist=7672;197549&inline=nyt_ttl): the pure male bonding that dare not explore its shadow side.

Full review here: http://movies2.nytimes.com/2005/12/09/movies/09brok.html

December 9th, 2005, 08:10 PM
Didn't I tell ya, Ryan?

Yes, you did, but I'm a foolishly optimistic person

What is Spitzer's view on same-sex marriages?

Supposedly, he personally supports it, and thinks there's not much legal reason to continue to deny them. He is on the campaign trail though, so that means marriage is for republicans only.

As long as I'm asking questions, what the hell is the "homosexual agenda"?

Mine includes healthcare benefits and cheaper car insurance...

Lofter, I don't think Brokeback Mountain has much to do with this thread - from what I've read the characters don't do much more than make out.

TLOZ Link5
January 10th, 2006, 06:08 PM
National laws on homosexuality as of the beginning of 2006; I was hoping that South Africa and the UK's recent legalizations of gay marriage might spark some interest here:


January 10th, 2006, 06:31 PM
At least as far as Italy goes the map is incorrect. There are actually more regions where same-sex unions are legal than depicted.

For more info:


Interesting to note that Campania, Puglia and Lazio are in the very Catholic regions of the south.

TLOZ Link5
January 10th, 2006, 10:41 PM
Yes, on the article where I got the map there was a more recent version of a map on the status of gay marriage in Europe. I noticed that there were more Italian provinces that had legalized civil unions on that map, but I chose the world map because it's obviously more thorough, if a bit obsolete. Italy's only one relatively small, however unquestionably glorious, nation among many.

And, though they're obviously too small to be shown on the world map, civil unions (well, really domestic partnerships) are also legal in DC and Hawaii.

January 12th, 2006, 04:49 PM
Interesting to note that Campania, Puglia and Lazio are in the very Catholic regions of the south.
But Spain is also very Catholic and they're among the most progressive countries on this front. I don't think Catholic culture breeds bigotry as much as other subcultures. The most Catholic part of the U.S. - the Northeast - is also the most gay friendly. There's a huge gap between the pope, who is preaching to the developing world, and modern Catholics.

January 12th, 2006, 08:32 PM
Spain is a special case IMO. The catholic church was so closely associated with Franco, that Spain has swung dramatically in the opposite direction opposing any sort of restrictive church dogma simply because of its prior association wth fascism.

January 27th, 2006, 02:05 PM
The Republicans must be in trouble they're spouting of against the homos again. Pretty transparent - this one is.

GOP to force Federal Marriage Amendment vote in 2006
Melissa McEwan
Published: January 27, 2006

Print This | Email This

A Republican effort to ban gay marriage nationwide will be returned to the Senate floor in 2006, RAW STORY has learned.

The Marriage Protection Amendment was originally introduced by Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) in 2003, and leveraged as a wedge issue by the GOP during the 2004 election cycle as a way of mobilizing its base to vote against same-sex marriage.

Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO), a co-sponsor of the 2005 joint resolution, has confirmed that Senate Majority leader Bill Frist (R- TN) will attempt to bring the controversial legislation to the floor this year for a full vote.

"Senator Bill Frist has indicated he will try to bring the Marriage Protection Amendment to a full vote again this year," Allard spokeswoman Angela de Rocha told RAW STORY. "Senator Allard believes that a constitutional amendment is the best way to make it crystal clear that marriage is between a man and a woman."

Senator Frist's office did not return a call seeking comment.

The proposal to amend the Constitution with a definition for what constitutes marriage became a central GOP platform issue after the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled that the state could not "deny the protections, benefits and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry."

Although the primary concerns of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered (GLBT) community are equal rights and protection under the law, including visitation, property and child custody rights, the GOP has successfully framed the legislation as a religious argument rather than a legal issue in order to fire up their base and rally them to the voting booths.

The November 2004 election saw 11 states -- championed by conservative groups like Focus on the Family -- approve constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage. The concept of the nebulous "moral values" voter emerged as the reason given for the perceived mandate in President George W. Bush's reelection.

Yet what was seen as a moral victory by conservatives soon became a political bargaining tool, one that did very little to affect the stalled status of the once promised amendment that drove so many voters to cast their ballot.

According to a New York Times article from January 2005, the Arlington Group, a coalition of various conservative Christian groups, was concerned that the campaign promise of a marriage amendment banning same-sex unions was not the first priority on the President's agenda:

"We couldn't help but notice the contrast between how the president is approaching the difficult issue of Social Security privatization where the public is deeply divided and the marriage issue where public opinion is overwhelmingly on his side," the letter said.

The public sentiment on same-sex unions differs greatly from the view of conservative groups pushing to amend the constitution. A Pew Research poll conducted in August of last year found that 53 percent of Americans polled supported civil unions, which would confer upon same-sex couples the same rights enjoyed by married couples. Thirty-five percent favored gay marriage.

The Republican Party is likewise divided on the issue. . The emphasis on gay marriage and the "moral values" banner were conspicuously absent from the GOP's 2006 agenda outlined by President Bush's Deputy Chief of Staff and Republican National Committee political advisor, Karl Rove, during his Jan. 20 speech at the winter meeting of the RNC.

In the Senate, John McCain (R-AZ) and John Sununu (R-NH) have also expressed an unwillingness to support a federal amendment prohibiting gay marriage.

Nonetheless, Dave Noble, Political Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce, said the Taskforce is prepared for the GOP to make the amendment a campaign issue again this year.

"Congress has a terrible approval rating, and they need something to avoid talking about the issues that people want them to talk about," Noble says. "Wouldn't it be great to have people focus on same-sex marriage instead of the corruption issues facing Congress?"

Christopher Labonte, Deputy Political Director of the Human Rights Campaign, America's largest gay lobby, agrees.

"This is always about politics; it's a wedge issue," Labonte says. "They know they don't have the votes, but they use it to avoid talking about what the American people really want to be talking about—security, healthcare, education."

After Senate Republicans' cloture motion to force a direct vote was defeated in July 2004 and House Republicans failed to secure the 290 votes required for adoption of the amendment in September of that year, the legislation was reintroduced in early 2005. In November, the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution voted the Marriage Protection Amendment into the full committee by a vote of 5-4, positioning the legislation for a reemergence in time for this year's midterms.

As the Marriage Protection Amendment makes its way back into the public discourse, the HRC intends to "fight it just like we did last time," according to Labonte, "with a broad-based coalition and the American people."

Frist rejected the notion that the amendment is politically motivated during a June 2004 vote.

"That's the most common question: 'Why do you bring up the marriage amendment at this point in time?' And 'These are for political reasons, coming into the convention.' And the answer is 'Absolutely, no.'"

Frist cited the attempts of "activist judges" to redefine marriage, and the need "to protect marriage for what it's been in this country for hundreds of years."

Noble said gay rights groups intend to fight back.

He said a progressive coalition will mobilize to make calls and write letters, in combination with "a press campaign to make sure people know that this is nothing more than an attempt to pull wool over the voters' eyes."

"Democrats will hopefully see, like they did in 2004, that this is a trick by the GOP to distract from the real issues," he added.

He expects Sens. Russ Feingold (D-WI), Harry Reid (D-NV), Richard Durbin (D-IL), and Ted Kennedy (D-MA) will reiterate their opposition to the legislation

January 27th, 2006, 03:22 PM
Republicans probably see it this way: Start up on the Gay Marriage thing again, and force the Dems to state their positions.

It's win-win for Reps: If the Dems say they're FOR gay marriage then that hurts the Dems with lots of voters in the "Heartland". If Dems say they're ANTI gay marriage then that is just more ammo for the Reps to continue on.

But maybe -- just maybe -- the American people will say that it's no big deal for gays to marry. Kinda doubt it, though --

I think the overrideing consensus will be: civil unions, yes; marriage, no way.

January 27th, 2006, 11:39 PM
Dems ought to avoid making any statement and just let it come to vote. Last time it was defeated, something like 67 to 33.

January 28th, 2006, 01:07 AM
That ^^ would be a very smart move.

But a politician keeping the mouth shut????????????

January 28th, 2006, 06:10 AM
Ryan: about what I am trying to say here: note that Campania, Puglia and Lazio, regions of the south and very Catholic, now have same-sex unions. That is my point.

I agree with your other points. Remember too that Catholics in the US have traditionally been democrats.


TLOZ Link5
January 31st, 2006, 10:14 PM
I'm surprised that Bush made only one passing remark about gay marriage in the State of the Union speech — and even then he just said something about "redefining marriage", more or less.

January 31st, 2006, 10:30 PM
But, that one little remark will be the justification for pursuing the Marrriage Amendment again in 2006. Everything he says and does has some evil end to it.

TLOZ Link5
February 1st, 2006, 06:15 PM
He has no chance.

An excerpt from Coretta Scott King's obituary in yesterday's New York Blade:

"Gay and lesbian people have families, and their families should have legal protection, whether by marriage or civil unions," King said during a speech in New Jersey.

Brava. Bush should have been aware of that before he honored her in yesterday's SotU address.

February 2nd, 2006, 12:56 PM
She really was a right-on woman. I think the halo of MLK allowed her to let go of petty politics and say what she thought. Not that much attention was paid lately, but it's cool that it was out there...

February 9th, 2006, 12:36 AM
A bit off topic, but why not? And why are they so surprised that gay penguins don't want to mate with the girls?

Germany's gay zoo penguins still fending off female advances

Wed Feb 8, 2006
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20060208/od_afp/germanyswedenscience_060208200822;_ylt=AroDLHzvjnj _W4R8pIH_I5Ws0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3NW1oMDRpBHNlYwM3NTc-

Six gay penguins at a German zoo are still refusing to mate with females of the species flown in from Sweden in 2005, the zoo said.

The problem was that the female Humboldt penguins have proven too shy in their advances, the director of the zoo in the northern port city of Bremerhaven said.

"The Swedes will not make the first move," Heike Kueck said.

The females were flown in last year in a bid to bring the males to mate and help save the Humboldt species from extinction.

Kueck said last year she was optimistic the initiative would be successful because zoo keepers had noticed that at one point a female penguin had managed to cause a couple of males to "separate".

The zoo has 10 male penguins of which six have shown strong signs of preferring male company and formed couples among themselves.

The initiative to "turn" the penguins and make them mate had prompted a furious response from gay rights groups.

In a statement posted on its Internet website, the zoo on Wednesday sought to defend itself from fresh criticism.

"We will be delighted if the penguins form even one heterosexual couple and manage to produce first an egg, and then a little one," it said.

"But of course we accept the male couples that have formed and we are not trying to enforce heterosexuality, as we were accused of doing last year."

Copyright © 2006 Agence France Presse (http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/afp/SIG=122dhv7qk/**http%3A%2F%2Fwww.afp.com%2Fenglish%2Flinks%2F%3F pid%3Dcopyright)

February 15th, 2006, 06:11 PM
N.J. Court Hears Gay Marriage Arguments

The Associated Press

Wednesday, February 15, 2006; 3:32 PM

TRENTON, N.J. -- New Jersey Supreme Court justices grilled lawyers on the issue of same-sex marriage Wednesday, asking what business the state has barring such unions, but also whether lifting the ban could open the door to legalizing polygamy.

The case involves seven same-sex couples who sued the state, saying it is violating its own constitution by denying them the right to marry.

"How do plaintiffs answer their children's questions about why they are not married?" asked attorney David Buckell, arguing for the couples. "The only answer is that the state does not think their relationships are worthy."

Conservative groups filed documents contending that allowing same-sex marriage would harm society. The state did not make that argument in defending its ban, but said allowing same-sex marriage is an issue for legislators, not judges.

"To allow same-sex couples to marry would not be removing a barrier to marriage, but redefining marriage itself," Deputy Attorney General Patrick DeAlmeida told the court.

DeAlmeida fielded the brunt of the judges' questions in the hour-long hearing, including what might be protected by preventing same-sex marriage in New Jersey, one of 16 states where it is specifically illegal to discriminate based on sexual orientation. The state also has no legal barriers for same-sex couples to adopt children and recognizes domestic partnerships, though those do not offer all the legal protections of marriage.

"The Legislature has an interest in protecting the institution of marriage," DeAlmeida said.

Chief Justice Deborah T. Poritz responded: "It's not as if the institution of marriage hasn't changed in rather dramatic ways."

When asked about polygamy, Buckell said that marrying multiple partners is a different subject because it would introduce new issues, such as how divorce would work.

"You seem to be arguing that because it's complicated with polygamy" there's a legal difference, Poritz said, cautioning the lawyer to tread gingerly with that contention.

The court is not expected to issue a decision for months.

Outside the court building, about 40 people on each side of the debate rallied for their causes.

Members of groups such as Garden State Equality and the National Organization for Women waved black and orange signs reading "Marriage Equality" and chanting: "Two, four, six, eight, we're the state that doesn't hate."

"I've been with my partner for 20 years, I want what everyone else wants with marriage," said Stephen Wisner, 34, of Maplewood, who was among those shaking signs at passing traffic.

Opponents of same-sex unions prayed and sang hymns and "God Bless America." John Tomicki, chairman of the New Jersey Coalition to Rescue and Protect Marriage, said marriage is sacred and should be restricted to heterosexual couples.

"That's where our culture and history has been for thousands of years," Tomicki said.

Massachusetts is the only state that allows gay marriage, although Vermont and Connecticut allow same-sex civil unions that confer the same legal rights heterosexual married couples get.

Eighteen states have amended their constitutions to ban gay marriage. On Wednesday, Idaho lawmakers approved letting voters there decide in November whether to amend the state constitution to read that "a marriage between a man and a woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized."___

Associated Press Writer Chris Newmarker contributed to this report.
© 2006 The Associated Press

TLOZ Link5
February 15th, 2006, 07:01 PM
10 Reasons Why Gay Marriage Is Wrong (courtesy of www.collegeslackers.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=9991 )

1) Being gay is not natural. Real Americans always reject unnatural things like eyeglasses, polyester, and air conditioning. Also apparently those homosexual animals have picked up some unnatural behavior.

2) Gay marriage will encourage people to be gay, in the same way that hanging around tall people will make you tall.

3) Gay marriage will change the foundation of society; we could never adapt to new social norms. Just like we haven't adapted to cars, the service-sector economy, or longer life spans.

4) Straight marriage has been around a long time and hasn't changed at all; women are still property, blacks still can't marry whites, and divorce is still illegal.

5) Straight marriage will be less meaningful if gay marriage were allowed; the sanctity of Britney Spears' 55-hour just-for-fun marriage would be destroyed.

6) Straight marriages are valid because they produce children. Gay couples, infertile couples, and old people shouldn't be allowed to marry because our orphanages aren't full yet, and the world needs more children.

7) Obviously gay parents will raise gay children, since straight parents only raise straight children.

8) Gay marriage is not supported by religion. In a theocracy like ours, the values of one religion are imposed on the entire country. That's why we have only one religion in America.

9) Children can never succeed without a male and a female role model at home. That's why we as a society expressly forbid single parents to raise children.

10) Legalizing gay marriage will open the door to all kinds of crazy behavior. People may even wish to marry their pets because a dog has legal standing and can sign a marriage contract.

February 15th, 2006, 07:28 PM
Related: God Hates Shrimp (http://www.godhatesshrimp.com/).

TLOZ Link5
February 19th, 2006, 10:00 PM
Been reading up on this lately and it gets me really pissed off...how wonderful to think that homophobes in this country who want to recriminalize homosexuality essentially want the United States to emulate what is now the most murderous country on Earth. That's right, Jamaica now officially has a higher murder rate than Colombia (which doesn't have any laws making homosexuality a criminal offense) or South Africa (which recently legalized gay marriage). In fact, despite all of the political turmoil there, even HAITI (which likewise doesn't make persecuting gay people part of the political agenda) has a murder rate that's a mere FRACTION of Jamaica's. At least Sean Paul has enough sense to stand up to the idiocy and tell his fellow countrymen to cool it.



Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender persons living in Jamaica face being the victim of bias-motivated crimes and criminal sanctions from the government. LGBT people should take great care before traveling to Jamaica.

Criminal Code

Section 76 of the Jamaica criminal code punishes "acts of gross indecency" and "buggery" with up to ten years imprisonment with hard labor. The law has been interpreted to include male homosexual conduct between consenting adults in private. While the law is technically silent on the subject of female homosexuality, a person's real or perceived sexual orientation, be it gay or lesbian, is often seen as a justification for discrimination, harassment, theft, and even murder.


Verbal and physical gay-bashing is tolerated in Jamaica, and this has prompted hundreds of LGBT Jamaicans to seek asylum in nations such as Great Britain. In 1997, a suggestion by a government health minister to distribute condoms to prisoners as a means of prevention of the spread of AIDS-HIV caused a riot and the murder of six suspected gay prisoners.


The social and legal stigma that surrounds homosexality and cross-dressing in Jamaica has prevented the creation of a visible LGBT community. Several high profile events have occured that illustrate the high degree of homophobia that exists in Jamaica.

* In December of 1997, the Jamaica government imposed a ban on gay-themed cruise ships, on the grounds that homosexuality violated the religious mores of the Jamaican people. (TLOZ's note: Oh, and murder doesn't?)

* LGBT Jamaicans whoat speak about their situation to the local or international press often fear reprisals from being "outed." Their is good reason to be afraid, as in June 2004 the nation's leading gay rights activist, Brian Williamson, was found dead in what many LGBT Jamaicans feel was a bias-motivated murder.

* Some Jamaican reggae singers advocate violence against homosexuals in their songs, and as a result of the controversy several of their concerts in western Europe were cancelled.

Political Activism

Neither one of the two major political parties in Jamaica have expressed any official support for gay rights. The ruling Peoples National Party views international criticism of its human rights record as meddling, and either claims that homophobia is not a serious problem or that gay rights violate the socially conservative values of the Jamaican people.

The Jamaican Labour Party has likewise avoided the issue, although in 2004, the former Jamaican Attorney General and Justice Minister, Dr Oswald Hardider, stated that he felt that Jamaican law should follow the advice of the Wolfden Committee in Britain and decriminalize homosexuality and prostitution when it occured between consenting adults in private. None of the other minor political parties have endorsed gay rights.

In 2004 the Human Rights Watch issued a report on the status of LGBT people in Jamaica and documented widespread homophobia and argued that the high level of intolerance was harming public efforts to combat violence and the AIDS-HIV pandemic. In February 2005, the report was discussed in America, by Jamaican activists, health experts and governmental officials via a panel discussion.

The only LGBT rights orgnization in Jamaica is the Jamaican Forum for Lesbians, All-Sexuals and Gays (J-FLAG). The organization was created in 1998, and has thus far been unsuccessful in persuading the government to address gay rights concerns.

February 20th, 2006, 07:44 AM
Lieutenant Who Won Pension Rights for Her Domestic Partner Dies at 49

By MICHAEL WILSON (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/w/michael_wilson/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
NY Times
Feb. 20, 2006


A New Jersey police lieutenant who last month won a long campaign to pass on pension benefits to her domestic partner died on Saturday.

The lieutenant, Laurel Hester, 49, had lung cancer, and her battle with the disease lent her cause a profound urgency as the Ocean County freeholders repeatedly refused to consider a resolution allowing county law enforcement employees to designate someone other than a spouse as a pension beneficiary.

The freeholders reversed their position on Jan. 25 after negotiations led to a statewide change in the rules, allowing police and fire department employees to name anyone, not just a spouse, as a beneficiary.

Lieutenant Hester died in the house in Point Pleasant that she owned with her partner, Stacie Andree. "I can't help but feel relieved that she's not in pain anymore and she's going to be taken care of," Ms. Andree said yesterday. "She's done a lot of good."

Lieutenant Hester began her career with the Ocean County prosecutor's office in 1982, said Dane Wells, who worked as her partner in the prosecutor's office. She was placed on sick leave in the fall of 2004, Mr. Wells said, and officially retired last month.

Ms. Andree, 30, said she met Lieutenant Hester six years ago, and they registered as domestic partners on Oct. 28, 2004. But under pension rules, police and fire employees could name domestic partners as beneficiaries only with the approval of county officials.

On Jan. 18, Lieutenant Hester appeared on a videotape during a freeholders meeting asking for "a change for good."

The pension would allow Ms. Andree, a mechanic, to keep their house, she said that day.

When, the following week, the freeholders met to approve the change in benefits, Lieutenant Hester appeared in a wheelchair and removed an oxygen tube to thank the freeholders.

"You have made yourselves an example of what democracy is all about," she said.

Her condition rapidly declined after the meeting, Ms. Andree said.

Copyright 2006 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

February 21st, 2006, 10:22 AM
Seems there should be a test of sorts that people must pass before anyone gets married ...

Sicko "Marriage Contract" One For The Ages

Repulsive "Wifely Expectations" pact emerges in Iowa kidnap case


FEBRUARY 17--This country, as you know, is filled with the deranged. And then there's Travis Frey, a 33-year-old Iowa man who is facing charges that he tried to kidnap his own wife (not to mention a separate child pornography rap).

Frey, prosecutors contend, apparently is a rather demanding guy. In fact, he actually drew up a bizarre four-page marriage document--a "Contract of Wifely Expectations"--that sought to establish guidelines for his spouse in terms of hygiene, clothing, and sexual activities.


In return for fulfilling certain requirements, Frey (pictured above) offered "Good Behavior Days," or GBDs. Each GBD, Frey wrote, could be redeemed by his wife to "get out of doing the things" he requested daily. A copy of the proposed contract, which Frey's wife never signed and later provided to cops, can be found below.

While we normally point out the highlights of most documents, there are so many in this demented, and very graphic, contract, we really can't do it justice. So set aside ten minutes--and prepare to be repulsed. (4 pages)

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/graphics/art3/0217062contract1.gif (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/0217062contract2.html)

< 1 2 (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/0217062contract2.html) 3 (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/0217062contract3.html) 4 (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/0217062contract4.html) > (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/0217062contract2.html)

February 21st, 2006, 11:11 AM
Drives to ban gay adoption heat up in 16 states

By Andrea Stone
Tue Feb 21, 7:19 AM ET

http://news.yahoo.com/s/usatoday/drivestobangayadoptionheatupin16states;_ylt=AqCtU8 tSbllIfopN9Pc_FpBAw_IE;_ylu=X3oDMTA3OXIzMDMzBHNlYw M3MDM-

Efforts to ban gays and lesbians from adopting children are emerging across the USA as a second front in the culture wars that began during the 2004 elections over same-sex marriage.

Steps to pass laws or secure November ballot initiatives are underway in at least 16 states, adoption, gay rights and conservative groups say. Some - such as Ohio, Georgia and Kentucky - approved constitutional amendments in 2004 banning gay marriage. (Related story: Both sides cite concern for children (http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/usatoday/pl_usatoday/storytext/drivestobangayadoptionheatupin16states/18142422/SIG=12a27j8vm/*http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2006-02-20-gay-adoption-foster_x.htm))

"Now that we've defined what marriage is, we need to take that further and say children deserve to be in that relationship," says Greg Quinlan of Ohio's Pro-Family Network, a conservative Christian group.

Florida has banned all gays and lesbians from adopting since 1977, although they can be foster parents. State court challenges and a campaign by entertainer Rosie O'Donnell to overturn the law have failed. A pending bill would allow judges to grant exceptions.

Mississippi bans adoption by gay couples, but gay singles can adopt. Utah prohibits all unmarried couples from adoption.

Kent Markus of the National Center for Adoption Law & Policy in Ohio says he hasn't seen this much activity in 15 years as a researcher.

Richard Carlson, a professor at South Texas College of Law in Houston, says adoption laws based on judgments of morality offer "a weak argument" and will face legal challenges. He cites U.S. Supreme Court rulings striking down bans on interracial marriage and sodomy, which reflected prevailing views when enacted. The high court has not taken up a state ban on gay adoption. (Vote: What do you think about gay adoption? (http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/usatoday/pl_usatoday/storytext/drivestobangayadoptionheatupin16states/18142422/SIG=1287rqna7/*http://www.usatoday.com/news/quickquestion/2006/february/popup1661.htm))

Religious groups and state courts are grappling with the issue. Roman Catholic bishops in Massachusetts are seeking an exemption from state anti-bias laws to allow the church to bar gays from adopting through its social service agencies. Meanwhile, a judge in Missouri ruled last week that the state could not deny a foster care license to a lesbian.

Fueling the political activity:

Ballot victories. Social conservatives view family makeup as the next battleground after passing marriage amendments in 11 states in 2004. They welcomed a bill introduced this month in Ohio that would ban gays and lesbians from adopting or raising foster children. They vow to put it on the ballot if the bill fails.

Patrick Guerriero of Log Cabin Republicans, a gay political group opposed to marriage and adoption limits, calls the strategy the next step by conservatives.

Election-year politics. Republicans battered by questions over ethics and Iraq "might well" use the adoption issue to deflect attention and draw out conservatives in close Senate and governor races in states such as Missouri and Ohio, says Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, University of Southern California political scientist.

The aim is to replicate 2004, says Julie Brueggemann of the gay rights group PROMO: Personal Rights of Missourians. She says marriage initiatives mobilized conservative voters in 2004 and helped President Bush win in closely contested states such as Ohio. Republicans "see this as a get-out-the-vote tactic."

Republican pollster Whit Ayres is skeptical. Adoption, he says, "doesn't have the emotional power of the gay marriage issue because there is no such thing as the phrase 'the sanctity of adoption.' "

Copyright © 2006 USA TODAY (http://news.yahoo.com/s/usatoday/$arg{referurl})

February 21st, 2006, 11:56 AM
Question though...

And this is a tinderbox I know, but I will ask it anyway.

Why is something like Tranvestite-ism grouped in the same category as gay and Lesbian?

The former seems to be more of a desire to swap roles decreed by society, more of a mental problem, in contrast to the others. The others are a biological orientation, um, difference with environmental factors, not someone dressing in something that people say is not for them......


February 21st, 2006, 12:13 PM
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender

All challenge traditional gender roles for biological sexes ascribed by society. The "T" is not "tranvestite" as you can see, but rather transgender. A transvestite or cross-dresser is more of a fetish than a gender issue, whereas transgender is a person who was born male or female but lives fully (or is attempting to live fully and freely) as a member of the opposite sex. Transgender people are also not necessarily transexuals. Transvestites and Transexuals can fall into the "transgender" category, but most transgender people are not "drag queens" or "drag kings" - they are simply trying to peacefully and successfully resolve a conflict between their biology, instinct and spiritual nature.

The movie "Transamerica" illustrates the situation beautifully. It was also a surprisingly good movie. I thought it would have a great performance by the star and be mediocre overall, but it was one of the better films of 2005.

February 24th, 2006, 10:08 AM
Drives to ban gay adoption heat up in 16 states
Here's one way to deal with that ^^ ...

Lawmaker's proposal: Bar Republicans from adopting

Carl Chancellor
Knight Ridder Newspapers
Feb. 23, 2006


AKRON, Ohio - If an Ohio lawmaker's proposal becomes state law, Republicans would be barred from being adoptive parents.

State Sen. Robert Hagan sent out e-mails to fellow lawmakers late Wednesday night, stating that he intends to "introduce legislation in the near future that would ban households with one or more Republican voters from adopting children or acting as foster parents." The e-mail ended with a request for co-sponsorship.

On Thursday, the Youngstown Democrat said he had not yet found a co-sponsor.

Hagan said his "tongue was planted firmly in cheek" when he drafted the proposed legislation. However, Hagan said that the point he is trying to make is nonetheless very serious.

Hagan said his legislation was written in response to a bill introduced in the Ohio House this month by state Rep. Ron Hood, R-Ashville, that is aimed at prohibiting gay adoption.

"We need to see what we are doing," said Hagan, who called Hood's proposed bill blatantly discriminatory and extremely divisive. Hagan called Hood and the eight other conservative House Republicans who backed the anti-gay adoption bill "homophobic."

Hood's bill, which does not have support of House leadership, seeks to ban children from being placed for adoption or foster care in homes where the prospective parent or a roommate is homosexual, bisexual or transgender.

To further lampoon Hood's bill, Hagan wrote in his mock proposal that "credible research" shows that adopted children raised in Republican households are more at risk for developing "emotional problems, social stigmas, inflated egos, and alarming lack of tolerance for others they deem different than themselves and an air of overconfidence to mask their insecurities."

However, Hagan admitted that he has no scientific evidence to support the above claims.

Just as "Hood had no scientific evidence" to back his assertion that having gay parents was detrimental to children, Hagan said.

"It flies in the face of reason when we need to reform our education system, address health care and environmental issues that we put energy and wasted time (into) legislation (Hood's) like this," continued Hagan, who has been in the Ohio Senate nine years. Before the Senate, he served 19 years in the Ohio House.

Copyright (http://www.azcentral.com/help/articles/info-privacy.html) &#169; 2006, azcentral.com. All rights reserved.

February 24th, 2006, 11:45 AM
A transvestite or cross-dresser is more of a fetish than a gender issue

Transvestites are also usually heterosexual (which makes sense)

TLOZ Link5
February 24th, 2006, 01:51 PM
Glad to see that not every legislator in Ohio is off their rocker.

February 25th, 2006, 12:57 AM
Anti-gay minister joins AIDS panel

Former NFL star Lusk backs gay marriage ban

By LOU CHIBBARO JR (lchibbaro@washblade.com)
Friday, February 24, 2006


President Bush has appointed a Baptist minister who advocates a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage to the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS.

In a move yet to be publicly announced, Bush last month named Rev. Herbert Lusk, a former Philadelphia Eagles football star and current pastor of Philadelphia’s Greater Exodus Baptist Church, as one of five new members of the presidential AIDS advisory panel, known as PACHA, according to a current PACHA member.

Lusk is a member of the board of advisers for the Alliance for Marriage, a conservative religious organization that lobbies lawmakers to support a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

Bush also appointed to PACHA Troy Benavidez, a member of the national board of directors of the Log Cabin Republicans, a gay GOP group based in Washington, D.C.

Benavidez is a New Mexico native who moved to Philadelphia with his domestic partner to become director of national and state alliances for AstraZeneca, the international pharmaceutical company based in Wilmington, Del. For the past four years, He worked as manager of state governmental affairs at the firm’s office in Albuquerque, N.M.

He has served on the boards of New Mexico AIDS Services, a statewide group, and the Samaritan Counseling Center, an Albuquerque group that describes itself as the only nationally accredited faith-based counseling center in New Mexico.

Lusk heads a multi-million dollar faith-based social services agency in Philadelphia that he founded called People for People. Lusk told the New York Times the organization receives about $10 million a year in government funds, with at least $1 million a year coming from federal, faith-based grants.

He has said his organization is dedicated to helping the poor through education and training programs that promote economic advancement through faith-based spiritual inspiration.

Lusk has publicly rejected claims by critics that the federal grants came as a reward for his strong endorsement of President Bush in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. Bush has visited Lusk’s Philadelphia church twice during the past five years, according to media reports.

Lusk hosted Alito rally

At Lusk’s invitation, religious right figures, including Dr. James Dobson, of the conservative Christian group Focus on the Family, and Rev. Jerry Falwell came to Lusk’s church on Jan. 8 for a rally in support of Bush’s nomination of Samuel Alito to the U.S. Supreme Court. The rally, dubbed "Justice Sunday III," was viewed by hundreds of thousands of conservative Christian followers through a live television hookup.

Lusk also is a strong opponent of abortion and has said he wants the Supreme Court to overturn the 1973 Roe vs. Wade decision, which gives women a constitutional right to an abortion.

Lusk did not return telephone calls seeking an interview.

Stacey Sobel, executive director of the Philadelphia-based Center for Lesbian & Gay Civil Rights, said she is not aware of Lusk taking a public position on gay rights legislation or other gay rights issues pending before the Philadelphia or Pennsylvania governments.

Existing members of PACHA learned about Lusk’s appointment and the appointment of four other PACHA members through an e-mail announcement they received earlier this month from Joseph Grogan, PACHA’s executive director.

According to David Resnick, a gay PACHA member, Grogan said the new members would be formally announced at the next PACHA meeting, which is scheduled to convene in Washington, D.C., on March 16.

Before working for Astra Zeneca, Benavidez worked in Washington from 1989 to 1997 as deputy chief of staff for the late U.S. Rep. Steven Schiff (R-N.M.). He has also worked for New Mexico Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.).

Maryland physicians on board

Other PACHA members named by Bush are physician Robert Redfield, associate director and co-founder of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland’s Baltimore campus; and physician Robert Bollinger, professor of Infectious Diseases & International Health at Johns Hopkins University. Both are internationally recognized experts on AIDS.

Bush last month also appointed to PACHA Alan Holmer, former president and chief executive officer of the Pharmaceutical Research & Manufacturers of America.

President Clinton created PACHA as an advisory panel to help develop programs to fight the AIDS epidemic in the United States and abroad. Clinton named nearly a dozen gay members to PACHA. Bush also named several gay members in his first term, but has replaced them with mostly non-gay members as their terms expired.

Resnick, a dentist who specializes in dental care for people with AIDS, is chief of dental services for the Fulton County, Ga., public hospital system. He is the only remaining openly gay member of PACHA. Log Cabin’s Bonavidez will raise the number of open gays to two when he joins PACHA next month.

Gay Republican activist Abner Mason, who has served on PACHA for the past four years, is set to leave the panel as his term expires just as Bonavidez comes on board. Gay PACHA member Brent Minor, a Clinton appointee whom Bush reappointed, also left the panel last year when his term expired.

Resnick said PACHA played a role in developing Bush’s outline for legislation to reauthorize the Ryan White CARE Act, which expired last year. The CARE Act serves as the nation’s main source of federal funding for AIDS treatment and care for low-income people.

&#169; 2006 | A Window Media Publication (http://www.window-media.com/)

March 27th, 2006, 11:56 PM
Asheville minister resigns ordination over church's position on same-sex unions

Pam's House Blend
Monday, March 27, 2006


Blender Ann in Asheville, NC keeps me up to date on the goings-on there, and today she emailed me some awesome news about another area minister who is standing up for same-sex unions. Rev. Howard Hanger was pastor at Jubilee! Community (http://www.jubileecommunity.org/), a nondenominational church of about 500 people, and he chose to take a firm stand on principle. Ann:
Jubilee is a all welcoming and affirming church here in Asheville. Very large congregation. Even though the church is not technically "Methodist," the minister, Howard Hanger, is ordained under the United Methodist faith. And as a United Methodist minister, he is officially prohibited from performing homosexual union ceremonies. Howard is currently under investigation by the United Methodist Church for disobeying that prohibition. He officiated at the union blessing of Laurey Masterton and Christine Keff. The result of this violation could mean that the United Methodist Church will disavow Howard's ordination. He would no longer be a United Methodist minister. This was covered in the Asheville Citizen-Times (http://www.citizen-times.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060327/NEWS01/60327008/1149); Hanger joins Revs. Joe Hoffman (http://www.pamspaulding.com/weblog/2006/02/asheville-pastor-takes-up-cause-of-gay.html) and Mark Ward (http://www.pamspaulding.com/weblog/2006/03/unitarian-pastor-protests-ncs-stance.html), who stopped performing all marriages to protest the state's prohibition of same-sex marriages, as ministers who are publicly putting themselves out there on the side of equality.

Let every bible-beating moralist take a look at Rev. Hanger's letter:


March 17, 2006

Committed Love

Dear Randy,

As a Minister of the Gospel you are well aware that ministers do not marry anyone. Can not marry anyone. Cannot "perform" a union blessing. What we do is to witness the marriage. Witness the love. We witness and are there as symbols of God's grace. When we officiate at a wedding ceremony, we walk the couple through their marriage. We do not marry them. They marry each other.

I did indeed witness that union as listed in the NY Times. I officiated, I walked them through it. I was gladly there as a representative of Christ's love. I was very clear to that couple (as I am very clear to every heterosexual couple) that I will not... cannot... marry them. Every couple I meet with - or have ever met with - know this up front.

That said, I must declare to you and to Bishop Kiesey and to anyone who cares to listen that I TRULY BELIEVE in committed love. I truly believe that as ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ (a man who said NOTHING about homosexuality and everything about love) we are called to affirm love WHEREVER we find it. And to offer love where it is not.

And, if given the choice of obeying my conscience and my call to God or obeying a blatantly biased and judgmental policy against the rights of God's children, then I will wholeheartedly choose the first.

Please forward this to the Bishop, if you will, and let me know if you still want me in your ranks. I will not participate in any church trial. We had enough of those in the Middle Ages.

In God's redeeming and forgiving love,
Howard Hanger

What a missive that was.

The personal web site for Howard Hanger is here (http://howardhanger.com/).

And here's his email (info@howardhanger.com).

April 30th, 2006, 09:43 PM
Danforth: Ban on Gay Marriage a Silly Idea
Sun Apr 30, 2:22 PM ET

WASHINGTON - Former Sen. John Danforth says a conservative push to ban gay marriage through a constitutional amendment is silly, calling it the latest example of how the political influence of evangelical Christians is hurting the GOP.

Danforth, a Missouri Republican and an Episcopal priest, made the comments in a speech Saturday night to the Log Cabin Republicans, which support gay rights. He said history has shown that attempts to regulate human behavior with constitutional amendments are misguided.

"Once before, the Constitution was amended to try to deal with matters of human behavior; that was prohibition. That was such a flop that that was repealed 13 years later," Danforth said.

Referring to the marriage amendment, he added that perhaps at some point in history there was a constitutional amendment proposed that was "sillier than this one, but I don't know of one."

The Senate is scheduled to vote in June on a constitutional amendment that its supporters hope will head off any decision in the federal courts that could legalize gay marriage. The measure would need to be approved by two-thirds of those voting in the House and Senate and then be ratified by at least 38 state legislatures.

But Danforth said he is opposed. "The basic concept of the Republican Party is to interpret the Constitution narrowly, not expansively, so that legislatures, and especially state legislatures, can work out over a period of time the social issues in our country," he said.

May 10th, 2006, 10:51 PM
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force slams Howard Dean, Returns $5,000 gift from DNC

by PageOneQ

After it was reported that Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean misrepresented the portions of the party platform relating to marriage, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force returned a $5,000 contribution to the party, PageOneQ has learned.

In a release issued by the Task Force, a quote from Chairman Dean was reported as:

"The Democratic Party platform from 2004 says that marriage is between a man and a woman. That's what it says. I think where we may take exception with some religious leaders is that we believe in inclusion, that everybody deserves to live with dignity and respect, and that equal rights under the law are important."

The actual part of the party platform reads:

"We support full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and seek equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections for these families. In our country, marriage has been defined at the state level for 200 years, and we believe it should continue to be defined there. We repudiate President Bush's divisive effort to politicize the Constitution by pursuing a 'Federal Marriage Amendment.' Our goal is to bring Americans together, not drive them apart."

Dean made the statements on the Christian Broadcasting Network during its popular 700 Club program.

In the Task Force statement, Executive Director Matt Foreman said, "Governor Dean is wrong about what the Democratic platform says about marriage equality. Disturbingly, this is not the first time he has misrepresented this important and affirming plank, and he has been asked before to correct the record and to cease making these misleading statements."

Foreman went on to criticize Dean's performance in his role as party chairman and to explain the gift's return:

"Governor Dean's record on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues since becoming DNC chair has been sorely and sadly lacking. The Democratic Party chair should stand by and fight for the party's own platform and values. In light of Governor Dean's pandering and insulting interview today with the Christian Broadcasting Network, we have decided to return the DNC's recent $5,000 contribution to us. We do so with great sadness, knowing that the Democratic Party has long been a champion of our rights."

May 10th, 2006, 10:55 PM
Press Release
Wednesday, May 10, 2006

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force denounces DNC Chair Howard Dean's misrepresentation of party platform

Returns $5,000 donation from Governor Dean in protest

WASHINGTON, May 8 —In a Christian Broadcasting News segment aired today on The 700 Club concerning how Democrats are reaching out to evangelicals, Howard Dean, chair of the Democratic National Party, said, "The Democratic Party platform from 2004 says that marriage is between a man and a woman. That's what it says. I think where we may take exception with some religious leaders is that we believe in inclusion, that everybody deserves to live with dignity and respect, and that equal rights under the law are important."

In fact, the DNC 2004 platform says, "We support full inclusion of gay and lesbian families in the life of our nation and seek equal responsibilities, benefits, and protections for these families. In our country, marriage has been defined at the state level for 200 years, and we believe it should continue to be defined there. We repudiate President Bush's divisive effort to politicize the Constitution by pursuing a 'Federal Marriage Amendment.' Our goal is to bring Americans together, not drive them apart."

This plank was considered a victory for its inclusive references to gay families and activists. We are proud that two of our current Task Force board members — Roberta Achtenberg and Jeff Soref — fought hard for it. The platform was approved by the more than 4,000 elected and at-large Democratic delegates who met in Boston in 2004 to pick a presidential candidate, and there have been no official revisions of the platform since 2004.

Statement by Matt Foreman, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

"Governor Dean is wrong about what the Democratic platform says about marriage equality. Disturbingly, this is not the first time he has misrepresented this important and affirming plank, and he has been asked before to correct the record and to cease making these misleading statements.

"Governor Dean's record on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues since becoming DNC chair has been sorely and sadly lacking.The Democratic Party chair should stand by and fight for the party's own platform and values. In light of Governor Dean's pandering and insulting interview today with the Christian Broadcasting Network, we have decided to return the DNC's recent $5,000 contribution to us. We do so with great sadness, knowing that the Democratic Party has long been a champion of our rights. Once again, we urge the governor to accurately represent the party's commitment to equality for LGBT people and our families, and to do everything in his power as chair to realize this vision. This would include but not be limited to fighting anti-gay ballot initiatives in various states this November. We urge him to take the money we are returning today and spend it to defeat these attacks on LGBT people and our families."

May 12th, 2006, 02:22 PM
Pope cites 'urgent' need to avoid confusion over gay unions
Same-sex love called 'weak love'
VATICAN CITY (AP) | May 12, 8:24 AM

Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday there was an "urgent" need to avoid confusion over gay unions and other common-law partnerships, and stressed that only marriage between men and women could be the basis for a healthy society.

Benedict also said the 1968 encyclical "Humanae Vitae," which defined the church's opposition to artificial birth control, remains relevant today. He said the physical differences between men and women were not just biological happenstance, but had a far more profound significance — that of coming together to create new life.

The pope spoke to members of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family, an institute founded by the late pope to promote church teachings on the sanctity of marriage and family.

During an audience to mark the institute's 25th anniversary, Benedict called love and marriage between man and woman an "authentic good for society."

"There is a special urgency today to avoid confusion with other types of unions based on a weak love," he said. "Only the rock of total and irrevocable love between a man and woman is able to build a society that is home to all men."

He did not specify gay unions in his remarks, but Benedict has frequently spoken out about the need to preserve the sanctity of marriage and has condemned same-sex unions as anarchic "pseudo-matrimony."

When he was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the pope also spearheaded a 2003 Vatican campaign against same-sex unions, issuing guidelines for Catholic politicians to oppose laws granting legal rights to gay couples.

May 12th, 2006, 08:45 PM
Mary Cheney, Clueless (http://time.blogs.com/daily_dish/2006/05/mary_cheney_clu.html)

11 May 2006 03:58 pm

I'm sorry, but this is pathetic (http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0605/10/lkl.01.html) (Mary Cheney interviewed by Larry King):
KING: On domestics -- what's the rule -- what's the law in Virginia?

CHENEY: Actually I'm not sure what the law is in Virginia. I should know that.

KING: Does your partner have -- if you're in the hospital, god forbid, does your partner have rights?

CHENEY: My partner and I have living wills, regular wills, powers of attorney, everything that quite honestly any couple married or not should have.

I have no personal issues with Mary Cheney. But, really. She lives in a state which has gone through a wrenching debate these past few years over the rights of gay couples, and has passed the most draconian law (http://www.overlawyered.com/2004/04/update_virginia_primitive_cont.html) imaginable designed to curtail and destroy all the legal documents she says she has. And she is utterly unaware of this debate, let alone attempting to do something about it. Sad.

Copyright &#169; 2006 Time Inc. All rights reserved.

May 13th, 2006, 12:07 AM
All I have to say to Mary Cheney is:

C U Next Tuesday!

May 13th, 2006, 04:11 AM
She's a total sellout. Could not believe the bouf hairdo, that must have hurt.

May 15th, 2006, 10:54 AM
I would be more shocked if a lesbian raised by Dick Cheney were well-adjusted and normal.

May 15th, 2006, 11:09 AM
Conservative Christians Criticize Republicans

By DAVID D. KIRKPATRICK (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/k/david_d_kirkpatrick/index.html?inline=nyt-per)
New York Times

WASHINGTON, May 13 — Some of President Bush's most influential conservative Christian allies are becoming openly critical of the White House and Republicans in Congress, warning that they will withhold their support in the midterm elections unless Congress does more to oppose same-sex marriage, obscenity and abortion (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/a/abortion/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier).

"There is a growing feeling among conservatives that the only way to cure the problem is for Republicans to lose the Congressional elections this fall," said Richard Viguerie, a conservative direct-mail pioneer.

Mr. Viguerie also cited dissatisfaction with government spending, the war in Iraq and the immigration (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/subjects/i/immigration_and_refugees/index.html?inline=nyt-classifier)-policy debate, which Mr. Bush is scheduled to address in a televised speech on Monday night.

"I can't tell you how much anger there is at the Republican leadership," Mr. Viguerie said. "I have never seen anything like it."

In the last several weeks, Dr. James C. Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family and one of the most influential Christian conservatives, has publicly accused Republican leaders of betraying the social conservatives who helped elect them in 2004. He has also warned in private meetings with about a dozen of the top Republicans in Washington that he may turn critic this fall unless the party delivers on conservative goals.

And at a meeting in Northern Virginia this weekend of the Council for National Policy, an alliance of the most prominent Christian conservatives, several participants said sentiment toward the White House and Republicans in Congress had deteriorated sharply since the 2004 elections.

When the group met in the summer of 2004, it resembled a pep rally for Mr. Bush and his allies on Capitol Hill, and one session focused on how to use state initiatives seeking to ban same-sex marriage to help turn out the vote. This year, some participants are complaining that as soon as Mr. Bush was re-elected he stopped expressing his support for a constitutional amendment banning such unions.

Christian conservative leaders have often threatened in the months before an election to withhold their support for Republicans in an effort to press for their legislative goals. In the 1990's, Dr. Dobson in particular became known for his jeremiads against the Republican party, most notably in the months before the 1998 midterm elections.

But the complaints this year are especially significant because they underscore how the broad decline in public approval for Mr. Bush and Congressional Republicans is beginning to cut into their core supporters. The threatened defections come just two years after many Christian conservatives — most notably Dr. Dobson — abandoned much of their previous reservations and poured energy into electing Republicans in 2004.

Dr. Dobson gave his first presidential endorsement to Mr. Bush and held get-out-the-vote rallies that attracted thousands of admirers in states with pivotal Senate races while Focus on the Family and many of its allies helped register voters in conservative churches.

Republican officials, who were granted anonymity to speak publicly because of the sensitivity of the situation, acknowledged the difficult political climate but said they planned to rally conservatives by underscoring the contrast with Democrats and emphasizing the recent confirmations of two conservatives to the Supreme Court.

Midterm Congressional elections tend to be won by whichever side can motivate more true believers to vote. Dr. Dobson and other conservatives are renewing their complaints about the Republicans at a time when several recent polls have shown sharp declines in approval among Republicans and conservatives. And compared with other constituencies, evangelical Protestants have historically been suspicious of the worldly business of politics and thus more prone to stay home unless they feel clear moral issues are at stake.

"When a president is in a reasonably strong position, these kind of leaders don't have a lot of leverage," said Charlie Cook, a nonpartisan political analyst. "But when the president is weak, they tend to have a lot of leverage."

Dr. Dobson, whose daily radio broadcast has millions of listeners, has already signaled his willingness to criticize Republican leaders. In a recent interview with Fox News on the eve of a visit to the White House, he accused Republicans of "just ignoring those that put them in office."

Dr. Dobson cited the House's actions on two measures that passed over the objections of social conservatives: a hate-crime bill that extended protections to gay people, and increased support for embryonic stem cell research.

"There's just very, very little to show for what has happened," Dr. Dobson said, "and I think there's going to be some trouble down the road if they don't get on the ball."

According to people who were at the meetings or were briefed on them, Dr. Dobson has made the same point more politely in a series of private conversations over the last two weeks in meetings with several top Republicans, including Karl Rove (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/karl_rove/index.html?inline=nyt-per), the president's top political adviser; Senator Bill Frist (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/f/bill_frist/index.html?inline=nyt-per) of Tennessee, the Republican leader; Representative J. Dennis Hastert (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/h/j_dennis_hastert/index.html?inline=nyt-per) of Illinois, the House speaker; and Representative John A. Boehner (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/john_a_boehner/index.html?inline=nyt-per) of Ohio, the majority leader.

"People are getting concerned that they have not seen some of these issues move forward that were central to the 2004 election," said Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, who attended the meetings.

Richard D. Land, a top official of the Southern Baptist Convention who has been one of Mr. Bush's most loyal allies, said in an interview last week that many conservatives were upset that Mr. Bush had not talked more about a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.

"A lot of people are disappointed that he hasn't put as much effort into the marriage amendment as he did for the prescription drug benefit or Social Security reform," Dr. Land said.

Republicans say they are taking steps to revive their support among Christian conservatives. On Thursday night, Mr. Rove made the case for the party at a private meeting of the Council for National Policy, participants said.

In addition to reminding conservatives of the confirmations of Chief Justice John G. Roberts (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/r/john_g_jr_roberts/index.html?inline=nyt-per) Jr. and Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/a/samuel_a_alito_jr/index.html?inline=nyt-per) to the Supreme Court, party strategists say the White House and Senate Republicans are escalating their fights against the Democrats over conservative nominees to lower federal courts, and the Senate is set to revive the same-sex marriage debate next month with a vote on the proposed amendment.

But it is unclear how much Congressional Republicans will be able to do for social conservatives before the next election.

No one expects the same-sex marriage amendment to pass this year. Republican leaders have not scheduled votes on a measure to outlaw transporting minors across state lines for abortions, and the proposal faces long odds in the Senate. A measure to increase obscenity fines for broadcasters is opposed by media industry trade groups, pitting Christian conservatives against the business wing of the party, and Congressional leaders have not committed to bring it to a vote.

Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform and another frequent participant in the Council for National Policy, argued that Christian conservatives were hurting their own cause.

"If the Republicans do poorly in 2006," Mr. Norquist said, "the establishment will explain that it was because Bush was too conservative, specifically on social and cultural issues."

Dr. Dobson declined to comment. His spokesman, Paul Hetrick, said that Dr. Dobson was "on a fact-finding trip to see where Republicans are regarding the issues that concern values voters most, especially the Marriage Protection Act," and that it was too soon to tell the results.

Copyright 2006 (http://www.nytimes.com/ref/membercenter/help/copyright.html)The New York Times Company (http://www.nytco.com/)

May 16th, 2006, 08:19 PM
I would be more shocked if a lesbian raised by Dick Cheney were well-adjusted and normal.

That aint no lie! Can you IMAGINE being raised by that ghoul? he he he. She'd have to be one twisted sister:D

I have a mental image of him eating monkey brains as a delicacy at holiday time.

May 16th, 2006, 10:04 PM
I have a mental image of him eating monkey brains as a delicacy at holiday time.

LOL... that is a funny image... but I bet he really does.

May 16th, 2006, 10:32 PM
Georgia's gay marriage ban quashed

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- A judge has struck down Georgia's ban on same-sex marriages, saying a measure approved by voters in 2004 violated a provision of the state constitution that limits ballot questions to a single subject.

The ruling by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Constance C. Russell had been eagerly awaited by gay-rights supporters who filed the court challenge in November 2004, soon after the constitutional ban was approved.

Russell said the state's voters must first decide whether same-sex relationships should have any legal status before they can be asked to decide whether same-sex marriages should be banned.

"People who believe marriages between men and women should have a unique and privileged place in our society may also believe that same-sex relationships should have some place -- although not marriage," she wrote. "The single-subject rule protects the right of those people to hold both views and reflect both judgments by their vote."

Russell said "procedural safeguards such as the single-subject rule rarely enjoy public support."

"But ultimately it is those safeguards that preserve our liberties, because they ensure that the actions of government are constrained by the rule of law," the judge wrote.

Jack Senterfitt, who challenged the amendment on behalf of the gay rights organization Lambda Legal, said the ruling "protects the right of voters to make independent decisions on each independent issue."

Gov. Sonny Perdue said the decision ran counter to the voice of Georgia voters in defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

"The people of Georgia knew exactly what they were doing when an overwhelming 76 percent voted in support of this constitutional amendment," he said. "It is sad that a single judge has chosen to reverse this decision."

Perdue said the state is considering appealing the decision to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Copyright 2006 The Associated Press.

May 17th, 2006, 12:23 AM
It really is quite shocking how socially behind certain portions of this country are. To think, that an issue such as love between to consenting adults could even be considered an "issue" is offensive and idiotic enough, but to allow non-homosexuals to vote over whether or not same sex marriage should be banned is simply prejudice

Gays should decide their future, not America. Everything else is simply unconstitutional and therefore: un-debatable.

May 29th, 2006, 04:48 PM
Religious right using Mary Cheney's name for anti-gay fundraising (http://americablog.blogspot.com/2006/05/religious-right-using-mary-cheneys.html)
by John in DC -

http://americablog.blogspot.com/2006/05/religious-right-using-mary-cheneys.html (http://americablog.blogspot.com/2006/05/religious-right-using-mary-cheneys.html)

One of the lead religious right groups, the Family Research Council, is attacking Mary Cheney by name in a fundraising letter, and accusing the openly-gay daughter of the vice president of "working to undercut the importance of marriage to our survival as a society."

Here's a bit more from the email solicitation they sent out yesterday (full solicitation is below):

We have our work cut out for us as you know. In the past few weeks, the media have been filled with appearances by Mary Cheney and others who are working to undercut the importance of marriage to our survival as a society.

The media have delighted in the fact that Vice President Cheney's daughter publicly opposes the very convictions that brought her father's political party into the White House.

Wow, using the vice president's daughter to fundraise. That takes guts. Or a total lack of brains.

Will Mary Cheney stand up to the religious right (just as she did to John Kerry and John Edwards) and defend her longtime partner Heather Poe? Will Vice President Dick Cheney, the president of the Senate, defend his daughter and tell the religious right to stop trying to make money by taking pot shots at his family? Or will Mary and Dick do what they usually do - sell out their family members for political gain?

Oh, it's going to be a nail biter over the next few weeks as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist prepares to force the Senate to vote, yet again, on an amendment to the US Constitution that would make Mary Cheney and Heather Poe nothing more than good friends.

It's all about Mary now.

(Click image below to see readable copy of religious right fundraising letter.)

http://americablog.blogspot.com/uploaded_images/frcmarchcheney-768415.jpg (http://americablog.blogspot.com/uploaded_images/frcmarchcheney-777358.jpg)

May 30th, 2006, 04:06 PM
I'm sorry if it's already been posted, but you might click over to Dear Mary (http://www.dearmary.com/) to let her know what you think.

May 31st, 2006, 08:18 AM
This afternoon, the New York Court of Appeals, the state's highest court, will hear oral arguments in four cases challenging the state's failure to offer same-sex unions. Departing from its usual practice, the court will live-webcast the arguments. The court's announcement:

Same-sex Marriage Appeals to be Webcast Live Due to public interest, and the limited space available at Court of Appeals Hall, oral argument of four same-sex marriage appeals will be webcast live on Wednesday, May 31, 2006, beginning at 2:00 P.M. An archived version of the entire proceeding will remain on this website for several months.


May 31st, 2006, 10:23 AM
Thanks for that!

May 31st, 2006, 10:41 AM
Don't expect good news.

May 31st, 2006, 11:14 AM
Don't expect good news.

I don't. Here's today's lineup:

Chief Judge Judith Kaye -- appointed by Cuomo
Judge George Bundy -- appointed by Cuomo
Judge Carmen Ciparick -- appointed by Cuomo
Judge Victoria Graffeo -- appointed by Pataki
Judge Susan Read -- appointed by Pataki
Judge Robert Smith -- appointed by Pataki

The court's seventh judge, Albert Rosenblatt, a Pataki appointee, has recused himself from hearing these appeals because, according to his daughter, she has been a pro- same-sex union advocate in cases outside New York.

June 1st, 2006, 02:28 AM
June 1, 2006
Highest Court in New York Confronts Gay Marriage

ALBANY, May 31 — As the issue of gay marriage finally reached New York State's highest court on Wednesday, the six judges who heard the passionate arguments from both sides put forth a fundamental question: Has marriage been defined by history, culture and tradition since the dawn of Western civilization, or is it an evolving social institution that should change with the times?

During the two and a half hours of oral argument, the judges on the Court of Appeals grappled with essential questions of social values, asking tough questions without tipping their hands as to their ultimate decision.

They wanted to know whether there were studies showing that children raised by mothers and fathers turned out better than those raised by same-sex couples, and they wanted to know whether opening the door to gay marriage would also open the door to bigamy or polygamy.

They wanted to know whether asking the courts to rewrite New York State's marriage laws was a way of letting the State Legislature escape responsibility for taking a position on a social controversy.

The case before the court was a challenge to New York State's marriage laws, filed by 44 same-sex couples. Their lawyers argued that marriage was a fundamental right, and compared laws assuming marriage to be a union of a man and a woman to the laws prohibiting interracial marriage, which the Supreme Court struck down in 1967.

Lawyers defending the marriage laws argued that even if the institution had evolved, it was the job of the Legislature — not the courts — to change them.

The plaintiffs' lawyers argued that the court merely had to change the gender-based language of the current law, which refers to "husband" and "wife," to something neutral, like "spouse." If the court agreed to legalize same-sex marriages, New York would become only the second state, after Massachusetts, to do so.

The judges' questions pointed to the precedent-setting nature of the debate. "Isn't this the only one where you have literally the whole history of Western civilization against you?" asked Judge Robert S. Smith of the state's domestic relations law. "That does go back right to the dawn of civilization."

After first citing traditional views of marriage, Judge Smith then asked whether the time was ripe for the courts to approve same-sex marriage. Judge Smith also wondered whether the issue of same-sex marriage deserved special attention because of the history of discrimination against gay people.

"Aren't homosexuals about the classic example of people who have been abused and discriminated against," and who therefore need the protection of the courts? he asked.

Peter H. Schiff, senior counsel to the state attorney general, said there was no urgent need to change the law, and pointed out that same-sex couples accounted for only 1.3 percent of all households in New York State, a "very small" number.

"I don't think anybody 100 years ago was thinking about this issue," Mr. Schiff said. "It wasn't on the radar screen."

The main lawsuit in this case was filed by a gay and lesbian rights group, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, on behalf of five same-sex New York City couples against the city clerk, Victor L. Robles, who issues marriage licenses.

In New York, the legal dispute over same-sex marriage goes back two years. In February 2005, a State Supreme Court judge in Manhattan found that state marriage law violated the State Constitution. That decision was overturned last December by the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, which said it was up to the Legislature to change the law.

In yesterday's hearing, the New York City plaintiffs were joined by three other groups of plaintiffs from across the state. New York City's lawyer, Leonard Koerner, said yesterday that even in its own case law, the Court of Appeals had affirmed the reason for marriage as "the begetting of offspring," not, as the plaintiffs argued, as the sanctioning of a loving and committed union between two people.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg has said that New York City is appealing the case to clarify the issue, and that he supports legislative change.

Roberta A. Kaplan, arguing for same-sex marriage on behalf of 12 of the couples across the state, said there were 46,000 families with children headed by same-sex couples in New York State, and that they could not wait until their children were grown for the law to change.

The seventh judge on the Court of Appeals, Albert M. Rosenblatt, removed himself from the case. His daughter, a lawyer, has argued on behalf of advocates for same-sex marriage in California. Judge Rosenblatt has been perceived as a swing vote in many cases. A spokesman for the court said that in the event of a 3-3 tie, another judge could be brought in. He said a tie had occurred only once in the last 20 years or so.

Judge Victoria A. Graffeo asked whether, under the plaintiffs' argument, the Legislature should afford more rights and benefits to other types of family arrangements, such as two sisters raising children. "Was the Legislature denying them due process or equal protection?" she asked.

Judge George Bundy Smith asked what the consequences of legalizing gay marriage had been in Massachusetts.

"Basically nothing," Ms. Kaplan replied. "There is not a breakdown of civil society in Massachusetts and there certainly isn't a breakdown of marriage."

Judge Bundy Smith also asked why gay couples were not satisfied with civil unions — a remedy that the plaintiffs argued would make them second-class citizens.

Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye said the court would have to decide the constitutional questions, "whether we do it frontally or whether we do it in some more subversive way," like changing language about gender.

To which Terence Kindlon, a lawyer for same-sex couples in Albany, replied, "Subversive is one of the words I've liked all my life, your honor."

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

June 6th, 2006, 08:17 AM
CNN: Bush moves gay marriage press conference to less prominent location

RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/)
June 5, 2006

President Bush unexpectedly yanked a press event on the Federal Marriage Amendment from the White House Rose Garden and placed it inside the Old Executive Office Building without explanation, CNN reported Monday.

After giving a prepared statement, the President did not take any questions, and instead walked off the podium. RAW STORY (http://rawstory.com/) will be posting a video of the conference shortly.

In other gay marriage news, MSNBC's conservative host Joe Scarborough said Monday that most conservatives "know" Bush is "pandering" on gay marriage (Video here (http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/Scarborough_Everybody_knows_Bush_pandering_on_0605 .html)). The amendment does not have enough votes to pass the Senate.

June 7th, 2006, 01:58 AM
VIDEO: Inhofe ‘Very Proud’ There’s Never Been a Homosexual Relationship in the ‘Recorded History of Our Family’

June 6, 2006


This afternoon on the Senate floor, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) stood before a large photograph of his family and shared this important fact: “I’m really proud to say that in the recorded history of our family, we’ve never had a divorce or any kind of homosexual relationship.”

Watch it (http://images1.americanprogress.org/il80web20037/ThinkProgress/2006/inhofe.320.240.mov):

http://thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2006/06/inhofe.jpg (http://images1.americanprogress.org/il80web20037/ThinkProgress/2006/inhofe.320.240.mov)

INHOFE: As you see here, and I think this is maybe the most important prop we’ll have during the entire debate, my wife and I have been married 47 years. We have 20 kids and grandkids. I’m really proud to say that in the recorded history of our family, we’ve never had a divorce or any kind of homosexual relationship.

(HT: Atrios (http://atrios.blogspot.com/2006_06_04_atrios_archive.html#114962886453872695) and AmericaBlog (http://americablog.blogspot.com/2006/06/great-moments-in-republican-bigotry.html))

Inhofe is consistent in his professional life. His office says “he does not hire openly gay staffers (http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2001976967_gays11.html) ‘due to the possibility of a conflict of agenda.’”


I’m positive I read somewhere a few years ago that Inhofe was considered the dumbest member of the US Senate, and that’s saying something. to wit: http://buffaloreport.com/2004/040511.jackson.dumb.html (http://buffaloreport.com/2004/040511.jackson.dumb.html)
Comment by Badmoodman — June 6, 2006 @ 7:26 pm (http://thinkprogress.org/2006/06/06/inhofe-gay-marriage/#comment-598599)

June 7th, 2006, 08:58 AM
Well, he is a handsome idiot, so I guess that is all his electorate needs!


June 7th, 2006, 10:45 AM
Jon Stewart hammers Bill Bennett

Crooks and Liars
June 7, 2006



I shouldn't be surprised anymore when I see Jon Stewart (http://www.comedycentral.com/shows/the_daily_show/index.jhtml) take a conservative ideologue to the woodshed because he does it every time when he tries. Bill Bennett is the latest one to get played by Stewart. The topic is gay marriage and once again Jon gets the better of a conservative pundit.

Video (http://movies.crooksandliars.com/TDS-Bennett-gay-marriage.wmv)-WMP Video (http://movies.crooksandliars.com/TDS-Bennett-gay-.mov)-QT (not the whole segment)

(rough transcript)
Stewart: So why not encourage gay people to join in in that family arrangement if that is what provides stability to a society?

Bennett: Well I think if gay..gay people are already members of families...

Stewart: What? (almost spitting out his drink)

Bennett: They're sons and they're daughters..

Stewart: So that's where the buck stops, that's the gay ceiling.

Bennett: Look, it's a debate about whether you think marriage is between a man and a women.

Stewart:I disagree, I think it's a debate about whether you think gay people are part of the human condition or just a random fetish.
Wasn't that a basic yet perfectly thought out idea? It goes downhill for Bennett from there.

I think for most of us-we're so used to these right wing talking heads debating against lame duck liberals on television that always get bull dozed by personalities such as Bennett; we are then amazed how effortlessly Stewart handles these guys. Jon always boils the debate down to it's simplest form which usually causes people like Bennett to look foolish. It doesn't say much for the class of pundits representing Democratic values when Stewart so easily defeats them.

&#169; 2006

June 7th, 2006, 10:51 AM
I recorded that last night. I only got through the opening bit on the bus this morning. I am looking forward to the rest!

June 7th, 2006, 11:05 AM
Heh. Commenting on the part you put there, I agree.

Stewart is hard to argue with because he will agree with things that other people will not. It is had for anyone to insult him because he just comes out and says "That's great, I am sitting here on a basic cable parody of a news show and you can't answer MY questions? I mean, we are NOTHING here, what are you worried about?"

Etc etc. The best was when he ripped on Hannity and Combs. ow-tie boy started ripping into him and his reply was "I am on a late night comedy show on basic cable, you are on a news show on one of the most widely known cable news network in the world, why can't you report the news" (Or something of the like).

The thing about John and the Daily Show is that they really do not have a bunch of investors/advertisers that tehy are worried about scaring off with a subject or topic that is covered. If John ever goes Network, it will be muted just like a Light Beer. Half the taste, Half the Punch, but Half the Calories!!!!


I hope it does not come to that, and I hope he also does not go Bill Mahyr (Politically incorrect) and get so full of himself that he starts yelling at everyone.....

June 7th, 2006, 11:51 AM
Well, he is a handsome idiot, so I guess that is all his electorate needs!

? ick. You've got some kind of bigot-daddy thing?

June 7th, 2006, 12:19 PM
Senate Shoots Down Gay Marriage Amendment

NY1 (http://www.ny1.com/ny1/content/index.jsp?stid=1&aid=60020)
June 07, 2006

An expected win in Washington for gay marriage supporters as a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same sex unions was shot down in the senate on Wednesday.

Opponents called the ban discrimination and apparently enough lawmakers agreed.

The hotly contested amendment tried to define marriage as strictly between a man and a woman, but it fell 11 votes short of the 60 it needed to pass.

On the Senate floor this week, politicians from both sides of the aisle got a chance to weigh in on the controversial topic.

"We simply cannot strip marriage of its core – that it's a union between a man and a woman," said Arizona Republican Jon Kyl.

"This amendment would make a minority of Americans permanent second class citizens of this country," argued Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold.

Both President Bush and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist backed the legislation.

Copyright © 2006 NY1 News.

June 7th, 2006, 12:44 PM
Maybe I'm being over-cynical here, but since this proposed amendment was pretty much doomed from the start, maybe the proposal was ment to fail. All it was was an excellent grandstand opportunity for the right-wing conservatives to generate more support among their core voters.

It does feel good to live in a place where the debate is more about changing the civil unions availible(sp?) for gays into marriages. i.e. change the law to be gender-neutral.

June 7th, 2006, 12:52 PM
? ick. You've got some kind of bigot-daddy thing?

Nah, All I have seen of him i that one pic in the post there ryan.

Most politicians are elected on what they present, not what they actually are or believe in. They are a frontman for the interests that got them in theer in the first place.

He looks like a home-grown full blooded American stereotype. PERFECT for the heartland idiot electorate (not saying that the cities do not have their own idiotic electorate. Marrion Barry would be a good example of that group!).

So him spouting off about Gay Marriage when only 5% of the people nationwide gives a rats arse about it is not surprising.

June 7th, 2006, 12:54 PM
Maybe I'm being over-cynical here, but since this proposed amendment was pretty much doomed from the start, maybe the proposal was ment to fail. All it was was an excellent grandstand opportunity for the right-wing conservatives to generate more support among their core voters.

It does feel good to live in a place where the debate is more about changing the civil unions availible(sp?) for gays into marriages. i.e. change the law to be gender-neutral.


I was thinking the same thing.

Time to get the rainmakers to get up and dance around so the people think something is being done about the drought.

June 7th, 2006, 02:15 PM
I think it's pretty clear that this ammendment was more about the fall senatorial elections than about civil rights. I just love being a pr tool.

June 7th, 2006, 02:54 PM
I think it's pretty clear that this ammendment was more about the fall senatorial elections than about civil rights. I just love being a pr tool.

Huh huh huh.

You said tool

Huh huh.....

June 8th, 2006, 11:31 AM
VIDEO: Inhofe ‘Very Proud’ There’s Never Been a Homosexual Relationship in the ‘Recorded History of Our Family’

I notice he conveniently leaves out any references to bestiality, incest, polygamy, or necrophilia. He's offering an awful big invite to investigative journalists...

June 8th, 2006, 01:27 PM
I notice he conveniently leaves out any references to bestiality, incest, polygamy, or necrophilia. He's offering an awful big invite to investigative journalists...

There's nothing wrong with inbreeding!!!!

How DARE you insult that American Tradition!!! ;)

June 14th, 2006, 08:56 AM
BYU instructor let go for questioning LDS stand on gay marriage

By Todd Hollingshead
SALT LAKE TRIBUNE (http://www.sltrib.com/ci_3932572)
June 13, 2006

PROVO - A Brigham Young University part-time instructor who recently called into question the LDS Church's opposition to gay marriage will not be rehired after spring term.

The decision to let Jeffrey Nielsen go was based on an op-ed piece he wrote for the June 4 edition (NOTE: Editorial follows) of The Salt Lake Tribune.

"I believe opposing gay marriage and seeking a constitutional amendment against it is immoral," wrote the part-time philosophy professor at the LDS Church-owned school.

In a statement read over pulpits the previous week, leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints urged members to support a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage and asked them to "express themselves on this urgent matter" to U.S. senators.

Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles went to Washington to show the church's support for the measure. Despite that push and a flood of letters from Mormons, the Senate rejected the amendment June 7.

Jeffrey Nielsen, a practicing Latter-day Saint, learned of the school's decision regarding him in a letter dated http://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/std/clear.gifhttp://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/std/clear.gifhttp://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/std/clear.gifdocument.

http://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/std/clear.gifhttp://extras.mnginteractive.com/live/std/clear.gifJune 8 from BYU Department of Philosophy Chairman Daniel Graham.

"In accordance with the order of the church, we do not consider it our responsibility to correct, contradict or dismiss official pronouncements of the church," the letter reads. "Since you have chosen to contradict and oppose the church in an area of great concern to church leaders, and to do so in a public forum, we will not rehire you after the current term is over."

Nielsen conceded he has endured "sleepless nights" since the column appeared, but reaffirmed Tuesday he is sticking by his views and his religion.

"I have no desire to be anything but a member of the church," he said.

© Copyright 2006, The Salt Lake Tribune.

LDS authority and gay marriage

Jeffrey Nielsen
SALT LAKE TRIBUNE (http://www.sltrib.com/search/ci_3896635)

The leaders of my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, recently spoke out against gay marriage and asked members to encourage their U.S. senators to pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting homosexual marriage.

As a member, I sustain the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles as LDS general authorities; however, I reject the premise that they are thereby immune from thoughtful questioning or benevolent criticism. A perfect God does not require blind obedience, nor does He need unthinking loyalty. Freedom of conscience is a divine blessing, and our privilege to express it is a moral imperative.

When the church hierarchy speaks on a public issue and requests that members follow, it is difficult indeed if an individual feels the content of their message would make bad law and is unethical as well. I believe opposing gay marriage and seeking a constitutional amendment against it is immoral.

Currently the preponderance of scientific research strongly suggests that same-sex attraction is biologically based. Therefore, it is as natural as a heterosexual orientation, even if rare. It seems it might be caused by environmental conditions in the mother's womb, before birth, triggering the DNA to give the fetus a homosexual orientation. Neither the mother nor the child has any choice in the matter; it is a completely natural process.

Truly, God would be unjust if He were the creator of a biological process that produced such uncommon, yet perfectly natural results, and then condemned the innocent person to a life of guilt, while denying him or her the ordinary privileges and fulfillment of the deep longing in all of us for family and a committed, loving relationship.

Even if the scientific evidence does not yet establish this beyond reasonable doubt, it seems that virtuous moderation and loving kindness require us to exercise caution before making constitutionally binding discrimination against a whole class of people based only on fear and superstition. In fact, when we examine the statements opposing gay marriage, we find few reasonable arguments. It is not enough to claim that we should oppose gay marriage because historically it has never been recognized. This is the fallacy of appealing to tradition, which was also used to fight against civil rights and equal treatment of women.

Further, to say that gay marriage will destroy traditional marriage and the family without giving any reasons why is the fallacy of appealing to fear.

Indeed, once you get past the emotion, it is quite an unfounded claim. How could the union of two committed and loving people negatively affect my marriage? I believe that quite the contrary is true; namely, legalizing gay marriage reinforces the importance of committed relationships and would strengthen the institution of marriage.

Ultimately, any appeal to religious authority to create law is misplaced. Our Founding Fathers were inspired by their study of history to separate constitutional authority from religious belief, recognizing as they did the potential for tyranny in unchecked religious influence. In our pluralistic democracy, attempting to restrict an individual's rights and privileges based upon a religious claim is a dangerous rejection of our Founding Fathers' wise insight, and it should be unacceptable to all Americans.

As for the statement by church leaders that God has ordained marriage to be a union between a man and a woman, I find it quite troubling. It sidesteps the role of polygamy in past and future church teachings. It seems to me that if church leaders at one point in time, not very long ago, told members that the union of one man with several women was important for eternal salvation, but now leads them to believe that God only recognizes the union of one man to one woman, then some explanation is required. (I am not endorsing polygamy.)

God is not the author of incoherence or injustice, but we humans often are. We in the LDS Church must be more honest about our history, including the past and future practice of polygamy in our official doctrine. This will be difficult, for it will reveal that we have been less than truthful in our public relations, and it will show our inconsistency with current statements opposing gay marriage.

We can no longer afford to teach only what is useful and hope people won't discover what is true. In this day of easy Internet access, a person can find more real history of the LDS Church in 30 minutes online than the same person would in a lifetime studying approved church materials.

This is not right. Too many individuals have suffered a loss of faith when they were forced to choose between the truth or their family after innocently discovering the discrepancy between genuine history and the official story of the church.

We need to trust the membership of the church and treat them as adults, as equals. We are a church of brothers and sisters, not one of the few privileged leaders and the many subordinate followers. There might be a diversity of roles and responsibilities from prophet to Sunday School teacher, but we are all peers with one another and equally irreplaceable in God's thoughts and affections.


Jeffrey Nielsen is an organizational consultant and teaches philosophy at Brigham Young University. He is the author of the book, The Myth of Leadership: Creating Leaderless Organizations (Davies-Black Publishing).

© Copyright 2006, The Salt Lake Tribune.

June 19th, 2006, 03:00 PM
I doesn't make sense, in Montreal there's a Mormon church close to the gay village. I would change that church as hotel and I don't know what they do close to the gay village.

June 19th, 2006, 03:28 PM
Gab, you are going to have to rephrase that a bit.... I don't think you are saying what you are thinking...

Oh, also, there is no need to quote Lofter when you are the very next person to reply. Scrolling through a duplicate post of a news article to get to a two sentence reply is a bit much....

June 19th, 2006, 10:24 PM
Retrograde thinking institutionalized ...

Pentagon Lists Homosexuality As Disorder

The Associated Press
Monday, June 19, 2006; 10:11 PM

LINK (http://rawstory.com/showarticle.php?src=http%3A%2F%2Fpageoneq.com%2Frs sfeedstuff%2Findex.php%3Fid%3D7855)

WASHINGTON -- A Pentagon document classifies homosexuality as a mental disorder, decades after mental health experts abandoned that position.

The document outlines retirement or other discharge policies for service members with physical disabilities, and in a section on defects lists homosexuality alongside mental retardation and personality disorders.

Critics said the reference underscores the Pentagon's failing policies on gays, and adds to a culture that has created uncertainty and insecurity around the treatment of homosexual service members, leading to anti-gay harassment.
Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jeremy M. Martin said the policy document is under review.

The Pentagon has a "don't ask, don't tell" policy that prohibits the military from inquiring about the sex lives of service members but requires discharges of those who openly acknowledge being gay.

The Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, at the University of California at Santa Barbara, uncovered the document and pointed to it as further proof that the military deserves failing grades for its treatment of gays.

Nathaniel Frank, senior research fellow at the center, said, "The policy reflects the department's continued misunderstanding of homosexuality and makes it more difficult for gays and lesbians to access mental health services."

The document, called a Defense Department Instruction, was condemned by medical professionals, members of Congress and other experts, including the American Psychiatric Association.

"It is disappointing that certain Department of Defense instructions include homosexuality as a 'mental disorder' more than 30 years after the mental health community recognized that such a classification was a mistake," said Rep. Marty Meehan, D-Mass.

Congress members noted that other Pentagon regulations dealing with mental health do not include homosexuality on any lists of psychological disorders. And in a letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on Monday, nine lawmakers asked for a full review of all documents and policies to ensure they reflect that same standard.

"Based on scientific and medical evidence the APA declassified homosexuality as a mental disorder in 1973 _ a position shared by all other major health and mental health organizations based on their own review of the science," James H. Scully Jr., head of the psychiatric association, said in a letter to the Defense Department's top doctor earlier this month.

There were 726 military members discharged under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy during the budget year that ended last Sept. 30. That marked the first year since 2001 that the total had increased. The number of discharges had declined each year since it peaked at 1,227 in 2001, and had fallen to 653 in 2004.

On the Net: Defense Department: http://www.defenselink.mil (http://www.defenselink.mil)

&#169; 2006 The Associated Press

June 29th, 2006, 06:59 PM
Arkansas high court unanimously rejects gay adoption ban

RAW STORY (http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/Arkansas_high_court_unanimously_rejects_gay_0629.h tml)
Thursday June 29, 2006

In a unanimous decision and sweeping decision, the Arkansas Supreme Court today struck down a regulation that banned lesbian and gay people from serving as foster parents.

The decision ends a seven-year legal battle between the state and the American Civil Liberties Union.

Pointing to the findings of a lower court that overturned the ban, the Court criticized the Child Welfare Agency Review Board’s reasons for enacting the regulation, writing, “These facts demonstrate that there is no correlation between the health, welfare, and safety of foster children and the blanket exclusion of any individual who is a homosexual or who resides in a household with a homosexual.”

The court found that there was no validity to the arguments made by opponents of gay adoption, noting that: Children of lesbian and gay parents are just as well-adjusted as children of heterosexual parents; Being raised by gay parents doesn’t increase the risk of psychological, behavioral, academic, gender identity, or any other sort of adjustment problems; Being raised by gay parents doesn’t prevent children from forming healthy relationships with their peers and others; There is no factual basis for saying that gay parents might be less able to guide their children through adolescence than heterosexual parents; There is no evidence that gay people, as a group, are more likely to engage in domestic violence or sexual abuse than heterosexual people; The exclusion of gay people and people with gay family members may be harmful to children because it excludes a pool of effective foster parents.

The lawsuit challenged a state regulation that banned gay people and anyone living in a household with a gay adult from being foster parents and was filed against the state in 1999. The state allowed gay people to serve as foster parents in Arkansas before the ban and does not know of any child whose health, safety, or welfare have ever been endangered by living with lesbian and gay foster parents.

The Court went on to say that the state’s argument to the contrary “flies in the face” of the scientific evidence about the suitability of lesbian and gay people as foster parents. The Court added that “the driving force behind adoption of the regulation was not to promote the health, safety, and welfare of foster children, but rather based upon the Board’s view of morality and its bias against homosexuals."

June 29th, 2006, 08:32 PM

That is a very solidly worded decision.

They almost went as far as to say that the kids did not stand any chance to be more or less fasion concious, afraid of spiders, alert to market fluctuations or aware of the time of day in a locked sealed room than children raise by heteros.

(IOW, they are no different).


July 6th, 2006, 07:57 AM
Group sues to halt MSU same-sex benefits

Plaintiff argues practice violates state's charter

LANSING STATE JOURNAL (http://www.lsj.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060706/NEWS01/607060354/1001/news)
By David Eggert
Associated Press
July 6, 2006

A conservative group on Wednesday sued to stop Michigan State University from offering health insurance to the partners of gay workers and said the school is violating a 2004 amendment to the state constitution.

The American Family Association of Michigan filed the lawsuit in Ingham County Circuit Court and hopes to get a ruling setting a precedent that would block domestic-partner benefits at other state universities.

The purpose of the suit is to ensure courts rule on the constitutionality of domestic-partner benefits at public universities, said Patrick Gillen, an attorney for the Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor. By providing same-sex benefits, Michigan State University is "recognizing same-sex marriage in substance if not by label," he said.

Gillen, along with Gary Glenn of the AFA, wrote the amendment approved by voters that made the union between a man and a woman the only agreement recognized as a marriage "or similar union for any purpose."

MSU spokesman Terry Denbow said the school would not comment on pending litigation.

Part of contracts

Val Meyers, president of the MSU Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Faculty Staff and Graduate Student Association, noted domestic-partner benefits are part of the current employment contracts at MSU and that workers many rely on them for their partners and their children.

"It's very harmful to folks who have accepted employment with MSU in good
faith to have those benefits taken away from them," she said.

For Sally Burns, who works at MSU, the suggestion that same-sex benefits are unconstitutional cuts particularly deep.

It was benefits offered by MSU that paid the medical expenses for her late partner, Karen Quinn, during the five years those she suffered from ovarian cancer. It was those benefits that allowed Burns to take time off from work to care for her.

"I am outraged that they are continuing to attack gays and lesbians or anybody's health care," Burns said.

"I wish these people could have some peace in their hearts toward others."

Legal battle

The 2004 amendment spurred a legal fight over benefits for the partners of gay employees. Twenty-one couples, including employees at MSU, sued the state in 2005 after Attorney General Mike Cox issued an opinion interpreting the amendment as barring domestic-partner benefits in future contracts.

Deborah Labelle, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, said Wednesday's lawsuit is pointless because the state appeals court already is set to rule on the issue.

Gillen said the suit is needed because there are questions about whether the couples have the right to sue and whether the related case applies to universities, which have argued the constitution gives them freedom to provide domestic-partner benefits.

Universities that provide benefits to gay couples include the University of Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Central Michigan, Northern Michigan, Wayne State, Saginaw Valley and Oakland.

Staff writer Matthew Miller contributed to this report.

Copyright 2006 Lansing State Journal

July 6th, 2006, 10:09 AM
Today, by a 4-2 vote, the New York Court of Appeals (the state's highest court) issued its decision in the "gay marriage" cases that it heard in May. The court decided that: "The New York Constitution does not compel recognition of marriages between members of the same sex. Whether such marriages should be recognized is a question to be addressed by the Legislature."

:mad: :mad: :mad: :mad: :mad:

The decision can be read here (http://www.nycourts.gov/courts/appeals/decisions/jul06/86-89opn06.pdf).

July 6th, 2006, 09:55 PM
I know I am so angry about this. If New York State couldn't say yes to gay marriage than why would a southern or middle state. These judges are just too ignorant to know the economic burden this decision will have on gay relationships (and especially the ones with children). They need to keep up with the times and stop been stuck somewhere in the past.

New Jersey needs to show New York how is done. Come on New Jersey show the rest of these backwards states how this is right!

July 7th, 2006, 12:39 AM
:( What a sad day indeed... and a happy day for others ofcourse. :rolleyes:

News Analysis
For Gay Rights Movement, a Key Setback

Gay marriage supporters marched in Sheridan Square in Greenwich Village, expressing their
disappointment at the court's decision.

July 7, 2006

When Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage in November 2003, gay rights advocates imagined a chain reaction that would shake marriage laws until same-sex couples across the nation had the legal right to wed.

Nowhere did gay marriage seem like a natural fit more than New York, where the Stonewall uprising of 1969 provided inspiration for the gay rights movement and where a history of spirited progressivism had led some gay couples to envision their own weddings someday.

Yesterday's court ruling against gay marriage was more than a legal rebuke, then — it came as a shocking insult to gay rights groups. Leaders said they were stunned by both the rejection and the decision's language, which they saw as expressing more concern for the children of heterosexual couples than for the children of gay couples. They also took exception to the ruling's description of homosexuality as a preference rather than an orientation.

"I never would have dreamed that New York's highest court would be so callous and insulting to gay people — not in New York — to have a legal decision that treats us as if we are alien beings," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

The New York ruling came the same day that the Georgia Supreme Court reinstated a ban on gay marriage. [Page A14.]

The New York decision thrusts several challenges before gay activists: Do they continue waging legal battles when more courts seem skeptical about forcing gay marriage on the public? Should the cause turn toward more modest goals like supporting civil unions and domestic-partner benefits, like the law that Connecticut passed last year?

For now, at least, so-called marriage equality is the fight that both sides want to wage, and opponents are predicting that New York will be remembered as the beginning of the end of gay marriage.

"When people look back and write the history of this issue, they will view the New York decision as the Gettysburg in this big contest," said Monte Stewart, president of the Marriage Law Foundation.

Public opinion polls show that many Americans oppose gay marriage, and it is an issue that even separates some gay people, who see the marriage debate as a distraction from such pressing concerns as increasing federal and state support for AIDS research. The debate, in turn, has helped intensify gay marriage's effectiveness as a political weapon, which was widely noted last month when Republicans in the United States Senate were defeated in a vote on their proposed constitutional amendment banning gay unions. The House may take up the issue soon.

Gay supporters who saw hopeful tidings nearly three years ago in the Massachusetts ruling had not believed that a stinging new defeat could happen here.

"The New York Court of Appeals has a long tradition of protecting equal rights for New Yorkers, but today the court let us down," said Christine C. Quinn, the first openly gay speaker of the City Council in New York.

Before the decision, some gay leaders predicted that it would take only a decade for several states to legalize gay marriage and the United States Supreme Court to set a single standard of civil marriage for all states by allowing gays to wed everywhere. Yesterday, some of those leaders said they were dispirited enough to wonder if it would take two decades or more to reach that goal. Not knowing seemed to hurt the most.

"New York just reminded us that we'll have to go through a long period of conflict and confusion before we make it to the other side," said Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, who will make arguments in a gay marriage case in California on Monday.

Both sides agreed that the legal analysis in the New York decision would be read by, and perhaps influence, judges in other states who are considering similar cases. A ruling in a New Jersey case is expected by August, and another decision is forthcoming in a case in Washington State. Four other states — California, Connecticut, Iowa and Maryland — have court cases pending.

Opponents of gay marriage immediately hailed the New York decision as a sign that the legal and political campaign toward gay marriage nationwide had stalled. More than 40 states have laws that restrict marriage to a man and woman, and no high court or state legislature has granted gays a right to marry anywhere except Massachusetts.

Mr. Stewart, of the Marriage Law Foundation, said he was particularly pleased by the "superb and straightforward legal analysis" of the New York decision. He argued that it would provide a foundation for jurists in other states to restrict civil marriage to a man and a woman.

Specifically, Mr. Stewart praised Judge Robert S. Smith for refusing to use the racist legacy of miscegenation laws as a justification for extending marriage rights to same-sex couples. Too often, Mr. Stewart said, trial court judges and politicians are cowed by the premise that barring their unions would be the same as barring people of different races to marry.

"It's going to carry a lot of intellectual clout with other judges around the country," Mr. Stewart said.

David S. Buckel, senior counsel and director of the Marriage Project at the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, which is pressing court cases to legalize gay marriage, acknowledged that the New York decision "will certainly be an opinion that other states will look at."

Yet Mr. Buckel and other supporters of gay marriage said parts of the ruling could shock judges and other Americans into seeing gay marriage in a favorable light. In particular, they noted one section suggesting heterosexual couples need marriage to be preserved as a way to shore up their faulty relationships and protect their children who might suffer in broken-home situations.

"It's a mess of a decision that in the end makes a very weak argument: That you can justify barring same-sex couples from marrying because of the unstable relationships of heterosexual couples," Mr. Buckel said.

With the New York case out of the way, the New Jersey case is taking on particular prominence, given that some legal analysts say that the New Jersey Supreme Court has a history as an assertive force for social change. Seven long-time couples sued in 2002 for the right to marry; five of the couples have children.

Joe Solmonese, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, a gay support group, said he was surprised that the New York decision connected the rights and responsibilities of marriage to child-bearing.

He also said he found Judge Smith's use of the phrase "sexual preference" to describe homosexuality — instead of "sexual orientation" — to be provocative, and he predicted that many readers of the opinion would view the decision as retrograde.

"If nothing else, this ruling will cause people — gay and straight alike — to reflect on this judge's unusual view of gay marriage and then come to their own conclusions," Mr. Solmonese said.

Gay leaders also pointed out that more corporate leaders are standing by their side. Yesterday, The Boston Globe reported that 165 business and civic leaders in Massachusetts were mobilizing to protect gay marriage by fighting a proposed constitutional amendment there. That amendment could go before voters in 2008, raising the possibility that the number of states permitting gay marriage could go back to zero.

A lawyer, Susan L. Sommer, greeted Jo-Ann Shain, facing camera, and her partner, Mary Jo Kennedy, at
St. Bartholomew's Church Thursday.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

July 7th, 2006, 08:59 AM
I know I am so angry about this. If New York State couldn't say yes to gay marriage than why would a southern or middle state. These judges are just too ignorant to know the economic burden this decision will have on gay relationships (and especially the ones with children). They need to keep up with the times and stop been stuck somewhere in the past.

New Jersey needs to show New York how is done. Come on New Jersey show the rest of these backwards states how this is right!

Careful Krull.

I can't speek for these guys, but most of the judicial banch usually rules on what they read in the current laws and state constitution. If teh rules are outlined in such a way as to forbid the legal recognition of gay unions, then they should rule it that way regardless of how they, or anyone else feels.

If people do not like that, then the long and arduous process of changing the constitution and existing laws needs to be started to enable the decision to go through.

Just blindly comparing the decision of one state to another and then siting general public opinion of the governing bodies and their viewpoints is not a fair comparison.... We need to voice our opinions, true, but yelling about "backwards states" and all that is just starting an "Us vs Them" fight that, even if "won", never truly benefits the people the way it should.

July 7th, 2006, 10:02 AM
Massachusetts and Vermont's high courts both found the State (or Commonwealths) laws to be unconstitutional, ordering their Legislatures to rewrite or write new laws, now they both have "Unions". New York State couldn't see that? I find the ruling to be biased and prejudice, and not constitutional.

Also, in California, the legislature passed an equal access law. The Govinator vetoed it saying it was a matter for the courts to decide. Here, the court says it's a matter for the legislature to decide. When you have such tortured 'logic' to arrive at a decision, it's usually because someone lacked the will to stand up and do the right thing.

July 7th, 2006, 10:49 AM
Massachusetts and Vermont's high courts both found the State (or Commonwealths) laws to be unconstitutional, ordering their Legislatures to rewrite or write new laws, now they both have "Unions". New York State couldn't see that? I find the ruling to be biased and prejudice, and not constitutional.

Whose constitution?

I believe they ruled on the STATES constitution, not the nations and as such a direct comparison cannot be made.

Also, in California, the legislature passed an equal access law. The Govinator vetoed it saying it was a matter for the courts to decide. Here, the court says it's a matter for the legislature to decide. When you have such tortured 'logic' to arrive at a decision, it's usually because someone lacked the will to stand up and do the right thing.

It all depends on what state you are in. State law, State constitution and all of that are not some fairy tale you learned about in school. They DID have some power back in the day. It has only been in our adult lifetime that the states have turned into less than second-fiddle in the politics of the people.

I am not agreeing or disagreeing with the subject here, I am only cautioning association of blame on the judicial body for a decision that may have come from the laws and governing statutes that the state has previously established.

July 8th, 2006, 02:37 AM
Gay people need to stop paying taxes. We just need to claim the same exemptions that ex-pats do, since we have fewer rights than breeding people. Unfortunately, their really isn't a "gay rights" movement anymore. Instead we get the ridiculous "Pride" celebrations. Save the "pride" until after we are granted full citizenship. There's always been a vacuum in leadership for Gay Rights. Who's going to help us? Log Cabin Republicans? They are the equivalent of jew collaborators loading other jews into the furnaces.

Keep watching BlogActive.com. The list is narrowing and we should have a Republican Senator up for re-election outed in the very near future. That's always fun. Nothing like destroying - completely destroying - an enemy.

July 10th, 2006, 12:13 AM
Report: Same-sex marriage helps kids

Larry Buhl, PlanetOut Network
published Thursday, July 6, 2006

Children of same-sex couples benefit when their parents are able to marry or form civil unions, according to a report commissioned by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"The Effects of Marriage, Civil Union and Domestic Partnership Laws on the Health and Well-Being of Children," published Wednesday in the July issue of Pediatrics, concluded that civil marriage can strengthen families and help foster financial and legal security, psychosocial stability, and a greater sense of societal acceptance and support for kids.

The report underscores a large body of research showing that children raised by same-gender parents fare as well as those raised by heterosexual parents, and that there is no relationship between parents' sexual orientation and any measure of a child's emotional, psychosocial, and behavioral adjustment.

Beth Teper, executive director of COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere), praised the findings.

"What's in the best interests of children is not up for debate. The academy's findings are clear and affirm the needs of the millions of U.S. children who have one or more lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender parents: Equal protection under the law boosts the health and well-being of all children and all families," Teper said.

The report also concluded that the rights, benefits, and protections of civil marriage offer important support for children raised by same-sex couples. Among the findings:

The legal status of civil marriage promotes healthy families by conferring a powerful set of rights, benefits, and protections that cannot be obtained by other means.

Civil marriage can help foster financial and legal security, psychosocial stability, and an augmented sense of societal acceptance and support.

Legal recognition of a spouse can increase the ability of adult couples fosters a nurturing and secure environment for their children.

Same-gender couples are denied the right to civil marriage in every state except Massachusetts and the right to civil union except in Connecticut and Vermont.

The report comes at a time when anti-gay conservatives are vocal in opposing same-sex marriage, civil unions, and even same-sex adoptions. Although anti-gay forces have made strides in opposing marriage equality, they have been stopped by public opinion that is solidly in favor of letting gay men and lesbians adopt.

Florida has banned all gay men and lesbians from adopting since 1977, although they can be foster parents. Mississippi bans adoption by gay couples but not gay singles, and Utah prohibits all unmarried people from adopting, which amounts to a de facto ban on gay adoptions. Legislation introduced earlier this year that would ban gay adoption in Ohio was tabled in the state legislature due to its divisiveness.

A survey conducted in Missouri, Georgia and Ohio by Peter D. Hart Research Associates this year found that the majority of voters in each state oppose a blanket ban on adoptions by gay men and lesbians.


July 10th, 2006, 01:10 AM
Gay Ruling Shows New York Is Less Liberal Than It (and the U.S.) Thinks

Cynthia Campbell-Scheel, left, and Carlene Campbell-Scheel, at a Village rally on Thursday after the ruling.

July 10, 2006

Sin City bills itself as a New York "upscale cabaret club." Don't look for it in Times Square, or even in Manhattan. It has a Park Avenue address, but in the South Bronx. And when it chooses to promote itself, it describes itself as a "Las Vegas-style cabaret."

You can still have a good time in New York, of course, but it's no longer synonymous with a term like sin city, the characterization it deserved and shared at times with, among other dens of unbounded bawdiness, Las Vegas, Tangiers, and, yes, upstate Utica.

These days, you can't smoke in New York bars or restaurants. You practically have to forage for pornography, even in Times Square. Local tourist guides point out the Museum of Sex, a far cry from the prostitute-lined strip that drew out-of-town visitors to Eighth Avenue more than a generation ago.

Last year, an outcry from churchgoers led the City Council to repeal a "worship tax," so now you can now spend Sunday in church without having to feed parking meters. Only last month, the state ended one of the last remaining elements of the blue laws restricting alcohol sales on Sundays.

Perhaps most telling of all, the state's highest court ruled last week that gay couples cannot legally marry, and explained its decision by suggesting that heterosexual parents might be better suited to child rearing.

Banning gay marriage is one thing in Georgia, and judges there did just that the very same day. But in New York? This supposed bastion of liberalism, the birthplace of the American Communist Party, the N.A.A.C.P. and the gay rights movement? A city whose most Republican Manhattan neighborhood was once described by William F. Buckley Jr. (who founded National Review in New York) as "the densest national concentration of vegetarians, pacifists, hermaphrodites, junkies, Communists, Randites, clam-juice-and-betel-nut eaters"? "We're not a police state," said Myron Magnet, a prominent New York conservative editor, "but it's not the asylum, either."

New York is undoubtedly more liberal, or more tolerant, than many other places. But even in New York City, according a New York Times poll last year, only 35 percent of those surveyed favored gay marriage (the figure is 32 percent statewide and 23 percent nationally). The latest city voter registration figures show more New Yorkers enrolled in the Conservative Party than in the Liberal.

The city will have been governed by a Republican mayor for at least 16 years (though former Mayor Edward I. Koch, a Democrat, says that the incumbent, Michael R. Bloomberg, "is as Republican as I am"), and the state has been governed by a Republican for the last 12.

New York may allow prison inmates and first cousins to wed, but the court concluded that legalizing marriage only between people of the opposite sex was rational and constitutional. In a victory against judicial activism, the judges left the issue to the Legislature, thereby also injecting it into the governor's campaign between John Faso, the Republican, and Eliot Spitzer, the Democrat leading in the polls. Mr. Spitzer said he would propose legislation to legalize gay marriage.

"It changes the dynamic of the race," said Mr. Magnet, who edits the Manhattan Institute's City Journal. "The voters get a choice between a tax cutter and defender of traditional marriage against a proponent of big government and gay marriage. The conventional wisdom is, a Republican can win on tax and spending issues, but New York, the state, is so culturally liberal that you need to triangulate.

"I think we're now going to put that to the test," he said.

While a statewide gay rights bill was introduced in 1971, it languished in the Legislature for 31 years until it passed.

"There's no question that the people of the city and state of New York are middle class in their thoughts, in their traditions, to a far greater degree than people give them credit for," Mr. Koch said in a weekend interview.

"You mean the place that gave us the Rockefeller drug laws?" said Mike Wallace, a City University historian. "No, I don't think we're as liberal as we like to think we are."

The Democrats last controlled both houses of the State Legislature in 1965. As recently as 1992, the city's Board of Education ousted the schools chancellor after crippling confrontations over social issues like condom distribution, an AIDS curriculum, and teaching students in early grades to respect gays and lesbians.

"If you're saying that when it comes to religion, New York is hedonist, immoral, the old 42nd Street where you can get pornography, all of those old images, the wild crazy morality-free city of New York, that's all nonsense," said Mario M. Cuomo, a former Democratic governor. Rather, he said, it was religion and such common social propositions that people love one another and come together to make the world better that helped shape the state's compassionate social welfare tradition.

Ariela Keysar of Trinity College in Hartford, co-author with Barry A. Kosmin of "Religion in a Free Market," suggested that New Yorkers were not much more secular than other Americans. According to the American Religious Identification Survey, she said, two-thirds of New Yorkers regard themselves as religious or somewhat religious, compared to three-quarters nationwide.

Kieran Mahoney, a Republican political consultant, suggested that while "New York is well to the left of the country on all the indices of tolerance, the social agendas of both the left and the right are suspect in the center in New York."

When the presidential election results are parsed, New York, like much of the nation, is more a purple state than a bright red or blue one.

"The 'red staters' in New York constitute more than 40 percent of the population," said Robert S. McElvaine, a history professor at Millsaps College. "Even in California, which has replaced New York as the state that so-called conservatives most love to hate, one can find new 'Get U.S. out of U.N.' billboards in the Central Valley. And in my state of Mississippi, certainly among the reddest, nearly 40 percent of us vote and think 'blue,' a fact which does not square with the equally warped image that many New Yorkers and others around the nation have of Mississippi."

John H. Mollenkopf, director of the Center for Urban Research at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, recalled that New York's proportion of Catholics was among the highest of any state's, and that many still tended to be more conservative than the general population.

Moreover, he said, "The coalition between the lunch-bucket liberals — working-class people who want health care, protection of unions and working conditions, etc. — and the lifestyle liberals — people with nontraditional lifestyles and all hues of identity politics — has never been completely comfortable in New York State, but they have learned to live with each other as a condition of forming a durable majority, at least in New York City."

The Rev. Calvin O. Butts III, pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church, drew a distinction between everyday "live-and-let-live" tolerance and enacting legislation. "The black community is much more conservative than people think it is, and so are large segments of the Orthodox Jewish community," he said. "Some of Giuliani's policies were very conservative and people embraced them."

Russell Shorto, whose book, "The Island at the Center of the World," traced New York's tradition of tolerance to its Dutch origins, said gay marriage was an issue that "confounds the liberal/conservative dichotomy."

"One could take a liberal stance of supporting all rights of gay couples with regard to family and childrearing, but still consider that 'marriage' means a man and a woman," he said.

Andrew Hacker, the Queens College political scientist, said the evolution from sin city to prim city does not necessarily suggest a conservative drift. Smoking bans are a priority of "mainly left-ish health police," he said, and restricting pornography shops and theaters is a goal of "the more aesthetically inclined of all persuasions" — the same people who object to a McDonald's in their neighborhood.

Christopher Buckley, the author and editor, said New York had hardly metamorphosed into a bastion of conservatism just because the court rejected gay marriage or because the authorities have cracked down on rowdy sports fans and car alarms and subway riders who place their feet on a seat.

After all, he recalled, this is the city where he was handing out "Buckley for Mayor" bumper stickers during the 1965 campaign of his father, William F. Buckley Jr., when a 13-year-old girl sweetly asked for all of them. "She tore them to pieces, stuck her tongue out and me and sneered, 'I HATE Buckley!' " he wrote in The Times two years ago. "This childhood trauma (which left me with a permanent twitch) took place in the Upper East Side, the only nominally Republican part of Manhattan."

In a weekend interview, he said, he was skeptical about how much has changed. "The key will be how many people start arriving at Lincoln Center in pickups with gun racks," he said.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

July 10th, 2006, 01:17 AM

[B]New York is undoubtedly more liberal, or more tolerant, than many other places. But even in New York City, according a New York Times poll last year, only 35 percent of those surveyed favored gay marriage (the figure is 32 percent statewide and 23 percent nationally). The latest city voter registration figures show more New Yorkers enrolled in the Conservative Party than in the Liberal.

That's interesting that the figure of 32% was published, as after the ruling all press was reporting that the figure was currently betwen 50-60% in favor while on 28% were opposed. In fact, the 50-60% figure was the number comonly sited at the Empire State Pride Agenda rally last Thursday at Sheriden Square

July 10th, 2006, 10:14 AM
Firms out in front on gay rights
Despite ruling, NYC businesses forge ahead on same-sex benefits

by Samantha Marshall And Gale Scott
Published on July 10, 2006

New York state's highest court may have disappointed gay rights advocates last week, but they can take heart in the fact that New York City businesses lead the nation in recognizing same-sex relationships in the workplace.

About 78% of Fortune 500 companies headquartered here provide benefits to domestic partners, compared with just 51% in the rest of the country. As of the latest count, more than 250 companies of all sizes in the city were making domestic partner benefits available to workers, 53% more than in 2000, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a gay advocacy group in Washington, D.C.

The progress has more to do with pragmatism than principles. Larger firms promote equality in the workplace to attract and retain top people and to boost productivity. A corporate culture that honors diversity has been so successful in luring gay and lesbian talent to New York's Fortune 500 firms that groups like the Empire State Pride Agenda see the court's decision as antibusiness.

"New Yorkers enjoy enormous workplace support for same-sex marriage," says Alan Van Capelle, executive director at ESPA. "If gays and lesbians feel they have to leave the state to have their unions recognized, that could have a very negative effect on the economy here," he says.

The group is set to launch a national, $1.8 million fund-raising campaign to push for action in the New York Legislature.

Of course, there are still plenty of holdouts with regard to domestic-partner benefits and other policies that further workplace equality. A few Manhattan-based Fortune 500 companies don't offer benefits, the Human Rights Campaign says.

Not the best

AIG Group and Omnicom Group, two Fortune 500 firms that do provide benefits, fared poorly in HRC's 2005 corporate equality index survey of measures that promote a gay-friendly workplace. For example, they didn't include sexual orientation issues in diversity training or address concerns of transgender workers in corporate handbooks.

The recent ruling will make it even harder to persuade less progressive firms to get with the times. For small operations, which struggle to offer any kind of health insurance coverage when annual costs hikes are in the double digits, the court decision comes as a reprieve.

"It's not realistic to expect small businesses to be able to afford it," says Elliott Shaw, director of government affairs for the Business Council of New York State. "They're struggling with enough costs."

Still, even New York's most conservative law firms and financial services companies are accommodating nonheterosexuals, both by extending equal benefits and by striving to change mainstream attitudes.

At Goldman Sachs, employees' same-sex partners are eligible for medical benefits and qualify as "family" when family medical or bereavement leave is requested.

"We must attract, retain and motivate people from many backgrounds and perspectives," says a spokeswoman for Goldman. "Being diverse is not optional."

Corporations are finding that providing such benefits is less expensive than they initially feared. Overall benefit costs for larger companies rose less than 1% when domestic partner coverage was included, according to a 2005 survey by Hewitt Associates. That's because few gay workers select them: Nationwide, just 80 out of 24,000 employees at Goldman Sachs signed up, for example.

Though the court's ruling let down gay advocacy groups and business leaders, it will not reverse the gains that have been made.

Unions on board

"We aren't making any changes to our benefits as a result of this decision," says the Goldman spokeswoman.

The ruling also won't affect most union workers in the city. Though not all unions endorse legalizing gay marriage, most members--with the exception of building trades, garment and some home care workers--get coverage for same-sex partners.

"Domestic partnership benefits are pervasive in the city," says Desma Holcomb, Pride Agenda's campaign director.

©2006 Crain Communications Inc.

July 10th, 2006, 01:19 PM
Don't forget that the funds used to provide domestic partner benefits are counted as income for employees that make use of them. (that's not true of married partners). There is no purpose besides increasing taxes for these benefits and thus penalizing those who make use of them.

July 10th, 2006, 01:29 PM
I can't speek for these guys, but most of the judicial banch usually rules on what they read in the current laws and state constitution. If teh rules are outlined in such a way as to forbid the legal recognition of gay unions, then they should rule it that way regardless of how they, or anyone else feels.

From what I read, the decision did not come from a strict interpretation of the current laws (I've read that NYS's marriage laws are among the most neutral in the country), but rather from a desire to force the NYS legislature to change the law. Quite a cop out given our legislatures famous efficiency.

I've been told by a good friend who is an attorney and closely followed the issue that there was plenty of legal support for a positive decision from any of these courts, and that it really came down to the judges' personal politics. Many of the judges were appointed by Pataki, so thanks much to all the voters who thought a republican governor would do the state good...

July 10th, 2006, 02:04 PM
From what I read, the decision did not come from a strict interpretation of the current laws (I've read that NYS's marriage laws are among the most neutral in the country), but rather from a desire to force the NYS legislature to change the law. Quite a cop out given our legislatures famous efficiency.

I've been told by a good friend who is an attorney and closely followed the issue that there was plenty of legal support for a positive decision from any of these courts, and that it really came down to the judges' personal politics. Many of the judges were appointed by Pataki, so thanks much to all the voters who thought a republican governor would do the state good...

Do you think this might be a forcing of the hand to make some other branch of government make teh difficult decision?

I have not read the case or the NYS constitution, so I do not know if the decision makes sense or not (I was just trying to open discourse rather than blaming the messenger).

It would be interesting what legal scholars would have to say about the decision and whether or not it was politically "influenced".

I would imagine the state supreme court would be more influenced by politics than the "have it until you die, or give it up yourself" national supreme court, and even that is influenced by personal opinion...

July 10th, 2006, 02:11 PM
gay marriage is only a constitutional issue when political opportunists make it one. To my understanding, NYS state laws do not explicitly forbid it - they just contain language that refers to husband and wife, which has been interpreted to bar same gender marriages.

I think Krulltime was right to lay the responsibility for this series of discriminatory decisions at the feet of the judges - though I think he was overly generous to speculate that their motivation was ignorance.

July 10th, 2006, 02:49 PM
gay marriage is only a constitutional issue when political opportunists make it one. To my understanding, NYS state laws do not explicitly forbid it - they just contain language that refers to husband and wife, which has been interpreted to bar same gender marriages.

I think Krulltime was right to lay the responsibility for this series of discriminatory decisions at the feet of the judges - though I think he was overly generous to speculate that their motivation was ignorance.

It was the gay and lesbian plaintiffs who brought the constitutional issues into these cases. The court's majority opinion was written by a Pataki appointee, an upstate trial lawyer with no previous judicial experience. Two other Pataki appointees concurred in the opinion, as did one judge appointed by Cuomo who's usually considered to be the court's most left-leaning member. The dissent was authored by the Chief Judge and concurred in by one other judge, both of them Cuomo appointees. I attribute the result to bias, ignorance, indifference and incompetence (the majority opinion is hastily-assembled hack job). I agree with everything in Arthur Leonard's critique of the opinion: http://gaycitynews.com/gcn_527/marriagebanrational.html

For many years, the NY Court of Appeals was considered to be one of the country's finest and most progressive state courts (Benjamin Cardozo sat on it before moving on to the US Supreme Court), but it hasn't enjoyed that reputation for the past 25-30 years.

July 10th, 2006, 03:58 PM
It was the gay and lesbian plaintiffs who brought the constitutional issues into these cases.

Well yes, they are arguing that the constitutional guarantee to equal protection should prevent the homophobic discrimination of restricting gay couples from marriage. But neither the NYS constitution nor the federal constitution currently address same sex marriage, so is not a case of a judicial interpretation of the NYS contitution as Ninjahedge suggested. It only becomes a specific constitutional issue because of hate-vote-bating ammendments in other crappy states.

July 10th, 2006, 10:00 PM
As much as I would have liked a ruling in favor of equal rights and equal access to rights, I am glad it is now in the hands of the legislature. The majority of citizens in this state support equal rights for the GLBT community. The judiciary can respond and react without any worry. Elected officials have other considerations - like angry voters to contend with. The GLBT community is solidly behind Spitzer. If he gets into office, I am watching for the quick introduction of equal rights legislation and his use of the office of Governor to move it along.

July 13th, 2006, 08:48 AM
July 13, 2006

No Shared Benefits for 2 Men Wed in Canada, Judge Rules


Less than a week after New York’s highest court ruled that denying same-sex couples the right to marry did not violate the State Constitution, a lower court on Long Island denied health benefits yesterday to the partner of a Uniondale man.

In his ruling, a State Supreme Court justice in Mineola said that even though they had wed two years ago in Canada, the men’s marriage was not recognized by the state. The decision was the first by a New York Court to refer directly to last week’s watershed decision by the New York Court of Appeals. The appellate court, by a 4-to-2 majority, found that in laws dating back nearly 100 years, the State Legislature had intended to limit marriage to a union between a man and a woman, and that lawmakers had a rational basis for doing so.

In a three-page order in the Long Island case, Justice Edward W. McCarthy denied a motion by the plaintiff, Duke L. Funderburke, who was trying to obtain spousal health benefits from the Uniondale Union Free School District for Bradley Davis, his partner of 43 years. Mr. Funderburke, now 73, and Mr. Davis, 68, were married in Ontario in 2004, but in his ruling Justice McCarthy wrote that he was “constrained to follow the recent holding of the Court of Appeals,” under which, he added, he could not consider Mr. Funderburke and Mr. Davis to be spouses or their union to be a marriage.

The case began last year when the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund filed a lawsuit on Mr. Funderburke’s behalf against the school district and the State Department of Civil Service. Mr. Funderburke worked as a teacher in Uniondale for more than 20 years before retiring in 1986. After he and Mr. Davis were married, he asked that his retirement benefits be extended to Mr. Davis — a request that the district rejected.
At the time the lawsuit was filed, Mr. Funderburke’s lawyer, Alphonso David, argued that if gay couples were validly married outside New York, the marriages would be legally recognized by the state. Yesterday, however, he was confronted by a ruling that seemed to contradict that contention.
“This decision misapprehended the Court of Appeals decision,” Mr. David said yesterday of Justice McCarthy’s ruling. “Our position has always been that same-sex couples cannot get married in New York, and that’s why out of state marriages should be respected.”

Mr. David said that he would soon discuss the justice’s decision with Mr. Funderbuke and Mr. Davis to consider their options, one of which, he added, was to appeal.

Last year, Eliot Spitzer, the state attorney general, decided not to defend the Department of Civil Service in the case. Typically, the attorney general’s office defends state agencies that are challenged by lawsuits, but Mr. Spitzer declined to do so in this case, under an advisory order that he issued in March 2004, which said that valid gay marriages from out of state should be recognized by New York State.

After the Court of Appeals decision last week, Mr. Spitzer, a candidate for governor, said that he would draft legislation to legalize gay marriage in the state if elected in November.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

NOTE: The documents filed in this case can be found HERE (http://www.lambdalegal.org/cgi-bin/iowa/cases/record?record=224).

July 13th, 2006, 09:14 AM
Supporters and opponents of same-sex marriage lined up on Beacon Street in front
of the State House yesterday. (Joanne Rathe/ Globe Staff)


Lawmakers delay vote on gay marriage measure

By Andrea Estes and Russell Nichols, Globe Staff | July 13, 2006

With energetic demonstrators chanting in the street, state lawmakers yesterday delayed a vote on a proposed constitutional amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage until after the November election.

The joint legislative session voted, 100 to 91, to recess until Nov. 9, two days after Election Day. Legislators also defeated in a separate vote a move to reconvene next week.

Gay-marriage advocates said they had pushed for a postponement so they could persuade more legislators to vote against the proposed amendment and prevent it from reaching the ballot in 2008. But supporters of the ban were furious that the vote was put off.

``Profiles in courage," snapped Representative Philip Travis, Democrat of Rehoboth, a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage. ``They leave the building and don't take up the amendment until two days after they are reelected. Those who took a walk will be scrutinized. Everyone will want to know why they wanted to walk out."

The proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage represents the latest high-profile effort to overturn the 2003 decision by the Supreme Judicial Court legalizing same-sex marriage in Massachusetts. Backers of the amendment say they have collected more than 170,000 signatures from registered voters to place the measure on the ballot in 2008. To get a spot on the ballot, the measure needs the backing of 50 legislators in two successive legislative sessions.

The amendment declares that the state ``shall define marriage only as the union of one man and one woman."

Yesterday the lawmakers spent 4 1/2 hours working their way through half of the 21-item agenda for the joint session known as a Constitutional Convention. The proposed amendment banning same-sex marriage was 20th on the agenda.

``The only people who want to deal with this right now are the people who want to put this on the ballot," said Representative Byron Rushing, Democrat of the South End and a same-sex marriage supporter. ``I'm waiting for the time when my side has the most votes. We did nothing that was against the rules. We did no funny business."

A spokeswoman for Senate President Robert E. Travaglini, who presided over the joint session, said lawmakers recessed because by early evening they still had too many major items left on the agenda.

``After [4 1/2] hours of debate, a majority of lawmakers determined that we would not be able to get through the full calendar today," said Travaglini's spokeswoman, Ann Dufresne. ``And with only two weeks left in the legislative session, they are anxious to resume their work finalizing the budget, taking up overrides, and acting on important legislation and other initiatives."

Activists on both sides said they will use the next several months to try to sway legislators.

``Every week we're getting more votes," said Arline Isaacson, cochairwoman of the Massachusetts Gay & Lesbian Political Caucus and a leading opponent of the amendment. ``This is evolution, not revolution. The more they see it, they more they know it doesn't cause a lot of tumult among their constituents. It's not a hot topic in their districts. People care about education, healthcare, and the economy."

``But we have our work cut out for us, a lot of work," she said. ``We are nowhere near where we need to win."

Edward F. Saunders Jr. , executive director of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, said he expects that the measure -- as well as all the other items on the Constitutional Convention agenda -- will come to a vote this year, as Travaglini promised earlier this week.

``We look forward to Nov. 9," said Saunders. ``The people need to turn their attention to their reps and senators to make sure the vote gets taken in November. It was a lengthy agenda, and they got through half of the items. I was encouraged by the Senate president's statement that there will be a vote. We have to wait for that opportunity."

Governor Mitt Romney, who is eyeing a run for president in 2008, criticized the maneuver.

``Tens of thousands of citizens have petitioned the government for the right to have their voices heard. They have played by the rules. This issue won't go away until the people are heard," Romney said.

Spectators who had packed the House gallery expecting a vote looked dejected as they left the Great Hall.

``Don't give up," they uttered to one another.

``It's wearing people out," said Larry Cirignano , executive director of CatholicVote.org , an advocacy group. ``People came in May and now July and made hundreds of thousands of phone calls. Instead, the representatives just postponed yet again. It's cowardice not to stand up and tell people where you stand on these issues."

Lori Hill, 24, of Newton, an opponent of the ban , said she had hoped a vote would have been taken yesterday. ``I've been going door to door, and I'll keep doing that until they finally vote. We'll keep fighting for another four months," she said, her voice hoarse from cheering outside all day.

Demonstrators from across the state and the political spectrum had lined up outside the building, along Beacon Street. Opponents of the ban hoisted signs that read ``No Discrimination in the Constitution," while supporters held signs saying: ``Let the People Vote!"

As the Constitutional Convention got underway yesterday afternoon, it began to rain. But the advocates outside the State House were undeterred, donning clear ponchos and holding umbrellas as they continued their chants. Some of the painted signs began to smear. Others that had become rain soaked were tossed into a small pile beside the State House stairs.

``I just think equal rights are important to everybody," said Darrel Hopkins, 61, of Westminster, a gay man who served in the military for 20 years. ``I was one of the troops who went into Alabama to fight for integration, and I've been fighting for equal rights ever since."

Sister Agnes Marie, 31, of Bellingham, who was wearing her habit and holding rosary beads, offered her support for the amendment .

``We're all made by God. He wants them to be healed of all their wounds," she said of the same-sex marriage advocates across the street. ``A lot of them are angry. When we go against moral law, we're not truly happy.

``From the beginning, God ordained that it should be a man and a woman," she said. ``It's not a matter of choice. We have to obey him."

Bruce Burns, 51, said he drove four hours from Little Ferry, N.J., the night before to join his friend in support of the amendment.

``Woo-hoo," hollered the mailman, giving a thumbs-up to a honking motorist. Pointing to the opponents across the street, he said: ``All these people can't be here without their mothers and fathers. We came here today to support God."

July 14th, 2006, 01:21 PM
http://www.latimes.com/images/standard/lat_both.gif (http://www.latimes.com/)
(http://www.latimes.com/business/investing/la-health-story2,1,7761229.story)HEALTH & LONG-TERM CARE INSURANCE

Health Plans for Domestic Partner Can Add to Tax Bill (http://www.latimes.com/business/investing/la-health-story2,1,5029583,print.story?ctrack=1&cset=true)

Employees who use domestic partner benefits must use after-tax dollars to pay their partner's portion of the premium.
Times Staff Writer

Attorney Jennifer C. Pizer isn't quite sure how much it cost when she added her life partner to her health insurance plan. But she knows her tax bill shot up by several hundred dollars--a typical and often unforeseen consequence of using a company's domestic partner benefits.

"I've repressed [the tax cost], it just made me so angry," said Pizer, managing attorney of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund's West Coast office in Los Angeles. "I'm grateful that my employer offered these benefits, but I was really angry that we had to pay taxes on them."

Unlike benefits for spouses, most domestic partner benefits--typically health coverage extended to same-sex and unmarried opposite-sex partners--are taxable under federal and state laws. Only employees, their spouses and their dependents are eligible for tax breaks on health coverage provided by employers. The rules for qualifying as a dependent are fairly strict; among other requirements, he or she must have been a member of the employee's household for the entire tax year and the employee must provide more than half of his or her support.

Because most unmarried partners don't qualify as dependents, most employees who use domestic partner benefits must use after-tax dollars to pay their partner's portion of the premium, rather than the pretax money they can use to pay their own premiums. What's more, the premiums paid by the company are added to the employee's gross wages as taxable income, so the employee must pay Social Security and Medicare taxes on the phantom wages.

That latter payment is particularly disturbing to Pizer, who notes that if she dies, her partner would not be eligible for Social Security survivor benefits.

Domestic partner benefits can easily add $1,000 or more to the tax bill of an employee who signs up for the coverage, said Bill Massey, an editor at RIA, a New York-based provider of information and technology for tax professionals.

For example, if the additional coverage costs the company $300 a month and the employee has taxable income of $50,000, the employee would pay more than $1,500 in additional federal, California and Social Security taxes.

Domestic partner benefits have become standard in California's entertainment industry, and are quickly becoming a feature in more mainstream corporate benefit packages as well. Nearly one-fifth of the work force can get domestic partner benefits from their companies, according to a survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Companies have found that the benefits are a cheap way to enhance their image, because relatively few employees take advantage of the coverage, said Ken McDonnell, research analyst for Employee Benefit Research Institute.

Many gay and straight unmarried partners are able to obtain benefits from their own employers, and some choose to purchase individual policies. Premiums for such individually-purchased policies are treated as medical expenses and deductible from an individual's taxes to the extent that they exceed 7.5% of the person's adjusted gross income. If the individual is self-employed, 60% of the premiums are deductible.

Pizer and her partner, who had been working as an independent contractor, found individual coverage prohibitively expensive even with the tax break. So Pizer added her partner to Lambda's coverage for six months. Eventually, Pizer's partner took a job as an employee and qualified for her own benefits.

But some domestic partners aren't able to find jobs with coverage, while others can't qualify for individual health insurance because of preexisting medical conditions, Pizer noted.

Efforts to provide a tax break for domestic partner benefits have run aground, except in Oregon. A recent state tax ruling there found that benefits for same-sex partners were exempt from state income taxes, although benefits for unmarried opposite-sex partners would continue to be taxed, McDonnell said. The ruling's reasoning was that opposite-sex couples had the option of getting married, a legal action not available to gay couples, he said.

In California, Assemblyman Wally Knox (D-Los Angeles) introduced a bill last year that would have excluded domestic partners' medical benefits from taxable income. The bill has since died.

July 14th, 2006, 02:29 PM
I'm all for gay marriage. Why shouldn't gay people be allowed to get their own balls and chain?

July 14th, 2006, 02:41 PM
I say that if she is charged extra SS$ for her health insurance for her partner, that her partner should also be eligible for the benefits.

Nevermind this "Gay no Pay" crap.

If she has to pay, she should get the benefits. ALL of them. Otherwise, she should not have to pay for the extra.

Also, why she has to pay taxes on an additional health care plan is beyond me. It saves the state money to have one person not on Medicare, why the hell do they tax anyone on this?

Stupid stupid bureaucracy.

July 30th, 2006, 08:08 AM
For Some Gays, a Right They Can Forsake

Left, LGBT Community Center, National History Archive; right, Janet L. Mathews/The Columbian via Associated Press
Past and present Some gay activists bemoan the political and cultural shift
from the sexually liberated 1970’s to today’s push for marriage.

NY TIMES (http://www.nytimes.com/2006/07/30/fashion/sundaystyles/30MARRIAGE.html)
July 30, 2006

When Bill Dobbs sees the heartwarming photographs of gay couples cuddling, grinning and holding dogs and children, accompanied by pious remarks about how many years they have been a couple — “five years,” “eight years,” “24 years!” — in news releases and newspaper and television reports about the fight for gay marriage, it turns his stomach.

Mr. Dobbs’s reaction is, he admits, probably not that different from the one he imagines that the anti-gay forces feel. But Mr. Dobbs is gay, part of an intense strain of gay activists who have fought against the idea of gay marriage from the beginning and who think that the escalating pursuit of it is a mistake, especially in light of legal setbacks like the decision on Wednesday by the Washington Supreme Court that lawmakers may restrict marriage to a man and a woman.

To these activists, the fight for gay marriage is the mirror image of the right-wing conservative Christian lobby for family values and feeds into the same drive for a homogeneous, orthodox American culture. The Stonewall confrontation and early gay rights movement, after all, was about the right to live an unconventional life, and to Mr. Dobbs and others like him, marriage is the epitome of convention. He said that he does, however, support civil unions for all as a replacement for civil marriage.

“For those of us who are single, there is this constant drumbeat,” said Mr. Dobbs, who went to college during the last years of the Vietnam War and became a crusader for gay and antiwar causes. “You must be coupled to be really fulfilled, for us to treat you as a full person.”

For better or for worse, to be unattached and gay is not what it used to be.

Gone are the guilt-free days of free love in the clubs, of hooking up at bathhouses and reveling in promiscuity, which Mr. Dobbs prefers to call “sexual generosity.” In are elaborate weddings, shared property, pets and children.

Mr. Dobbs said that even on Fire Island, where cohabitating with 12 other men was once a time-honored tradition, a friend who is an utterly bourgeois gay homeowner complains that he gets the gimlet eye from gay and lesbian parents because he is not in a relationship. Another friend scolded Mr. Dobbs that if he had never wanted to marry, there must be something wrong with him.

But as the fight for same-sex marriage rages across the country — this month being defeated in the highest court in New York State as well as Washington — the anti-marriage gay men and lesbians say they are feeling emboldened to speak out against what they view as the hijacking of gay civil rights by a distressingly conservative, politically correct part of the gay establishment. They say the gay marriage movement, backed by major well-funded organizations like Lambda Legal, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, has drained resources and psychic energy from other causes like AIDS research, universal health insurance and poverty among gay people.

The dissenters have been around since the early 1990’s, when the idea of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage was introduced in Hawaii, especially among gays and lesbians who came out of the activist tradition of the 1960’s, and in academic settings. But they say they have muffled their voices by censoring themselves.

“I think the discussion was foreclosed because nobody wanted to speak up against our brothers and sisters,” who wanted marriage, said Jim Eigo, editor of two gay sex magazines, Playguy and Inches. “These are people they’ve worked with, people they knew they would hurt.”

But he and others in the opposition say they increasingly feel that they have nothing to lose given that “there has been political defeat after political defeat” for the gay marriage lobby, while Massachusetts remains the only state that has legalized same-sex marriage and voters in dozens of other states have passed “defense of marriage” acts.

They question whether monogamy is normal. They wonder why gay men and lesbians are buying into an institution that they see as rooted in oppression. They worry that adapting to conventional “family values” will destroy the cohesion that has made gay men and lesbians a force to be reckoned with, politically and culturally.

In the 70’s, many gay people saw themselves as “an army of lovers,” to borrow the title of a German documentary of the time, Mr. Eigo said. “I still hold the candle for a gay community like that, in which every man is linked to every other by at least the potential of being his lover.”

Opposition among gay people to same-sex marriage enrages and frustrates its defenders, like Evan Wolfson, a lawyer who was co-counsel in the Hawaii marriage case and is now the executive director of Freedom to Marry.

“My organization is called ‘Freedom to Marry’ not ‘Mandatory Marriage,’ ” Mr. Wolfson said. “Gay people in America can’t really say they’ve rejected marriage in favor of something else, because for most of us it hasn’t been offered.”

He says that states like Vermont and California would not have adopted civil unions or domestic partnership rights if the pressure of marriage litigation had not raised awareness of the need for social validation of committed gay relationships.

Yet dissenters like Sarah Schulman, a playwright, novelist and English professor at the City University of New York, College of Staten Island, see a more subtle form of regression coming out of the movement, a return to the values of the 1950’s. As a teacher, she said, she sees a lot of younger gay people, especially women adopting the heterosexual fantasy that even Barbie has distanced herself from — “that someday they will meet the right person and they will get married and they will have children.” She fears that lesbian mothers are embracing a “poverty model” and taking themselves out of the running to be the next George Sand or Emma Goldman.

Some gay activists who are critical of the marriage movement also see it as part of the fallout from the AIDS epidemic, which quashed the sexually liberated lifestyle of gay men as they tried to fight the perception that they were promiscuous carriers of a plague by becoming more like everybody else.

And some see the insistence on defining homosexuality as strictly a matter of biology — rather than a matter of choice and sensibility as well as biology — as part of the same conformist impulse.

Rob Klengler, a businessman in Marblemount, Wash., is troubled by the focus on what is normal in sex or domestic life. “I don’t know if I would use the term ‘normal’ or not,” he said. “To me, it’s a simple choice. To me it’s a choice like whether I eat red meat. I like chocolate versus vanilla ice cream. It’s just a choice.”

Other groups, while supporting gay marriage, are using the issue to push for legal recognition of other nontraditional relationships, like unmarried couples of all kinds.

Minutes after the Washington state court ruled on Wednesday, some 250 academics, celebrities, writers and others, including Gloria Steinem, Barbara Ehrenreich, Rabbi Michael Lerner of Tikkun magazine, Armistead Maupin, Terrence McNally, Holly Near and Cornel West, signed a manifesto called “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage, A New Strategic Vision for All Our Families and Relationships.” It calls for the legal rights and privileges of marriage to be extended to arrangements like extended families living under one roof, and close friends in long-term caregiving relationships.

“We hope to move beyond the narrow confines of marriage politics as they exist in the United States today,” reads the document, which was organized and written by academics and activists including Joseph DeFilippis, executive director of Queers for Economic Justice.

Then there are those gay men who find themselves embracing marriage in spite of their iconoclastic temperament. Florent Morellet, the French-born owner of Restaurant Florent in the once-raunchy meatpacking district of Manhattan, had a commitment ceremony in 1988 with his partner, Daniel Platten. Mr. Platten died in 1994 and Mr. Morellet says he is at a stage in his life when he is looking for a monogamous relationship.

Yet, influenced by French attitudes toward erotic life, he does not subscribe to the American ideal of marriage as a narrowing of sexual opportunity. “In France, which is nominally a Catholic country, adultery is actually an equal opportunity,” he says. “Women have almost as much adultery relationships as men.”

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company

July 30th, 2006, 08:17 AM
Alternative to same-sex union (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/07/27/MNGDTK6DE21.DTL)

Wyatt Buchanan, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, July 27, 2006

The gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights movement has become too narrowly focused on marriage and needs a broader vision, a coalition of 260 gay leaders and straight allies said.

A statement the coalition released Wednesday -- "Beyond Same-Sex Marriage: A New Strategic Vision for All Our Families & Relationships" -- offers "a new vision for securing governmental and private institutional recognition of diverse kinds of partnerships, households, kinship relationships and families."

Current and former leaders of national gay rights organizations, such as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, signed the 25-page statement, along with the likes of scholar Cornel West, Ms. Magazine founder Gloria Steinem, essayist Barbara Ehrenreich and novelist Armistead Maupin.

"(Same-sex marriage) is a limited goal, and to see that goal suck up all the resources and money has been very concerning to many of us," said Joseph DeFilippis, executive director of Queers for Economic Justice in New York and an author of the statement.

The statement lists relationships and households that would not benefit from marriage, including senior citizens living together, people in polyamorous relationships, single-parent families, extended families and gay or lesbian couples who raise children with other couples, among others.

"Marriage is not the only worthy form of family or relationship and it should not be legally and economically privileged above all others," says the statement, which lists eight central principles, including separation of church and state, access to health care and housing, recognition of interdependence as a civic principle and recognition of a variety of relationships.

Legal Director Shannon Minter at San Francisco's National Center for Lesbian Rights, one organization behind the same-sex marriage push, said the statement was "very poorly timed" because equality of marriage rights must come before other forms of relationship recognition.

"Gay legal groups already agree with them and are doing the things they recommend for the most part," Minter said. "We would be in a much stronger position to support all families if we are treated equally."

©2006 San Francisco Chronicle

July 30th, 2006, 08:22 AM
Beyond Same-Sex Marriage: (http://beyondmarriage.org/)
A New Strategic Vision For All Our Families and Relationships

From the Executive Summary:

". . .Meanwhile, the LGBT movement has recently focused on marriage equality as a stand-alone issue. While this strategy may secure rights and benefits for some LGBT families, it has left us isolated and vulnerable to a virulent backlash. We must respond to the full scope of the conservative marriage agenda by building alliances across issues and constituencies. Our strategies must be visionary, creative, and practical to counter the right's powerful and effective use of marriage as a “wedge” issue that pits one group against another. The struggle for marriage rights should be part of a larger effort to strengthen the stability and security of diverse households and families. To that end, we advocate:
&#216; Legal recognition for a wide range of relationships, households and families – regardless of kinship or conjugal status.

&#216; Access for all, regardless of marital or citizenship status, to vital government support programs including but not limited to health care, housing, Social Security and pension plans, disaster recovery assistance, unemployment insurance and welfare assistance.

&#216; Separation of church and state in all matters, including regulation and recognition of relationships, households and families.

&#216; Freedom from state regulation of our sexual lives and gender choices, identities and expression.
Marriage is not the only worthy form of family or relationship, and it should not be legally and economically privileged above all others. A majority of people – whatever their sexual and gender identities – do not live in traditional nuclear families. They stand to gain from alternative forms of household recognition beyond one-size-fits-all marriage. For example:
&#183; Single parent households

&#183; Senior citizens living together and serving as each other’s caregivers (think Golden Girls)

&#183; Blended and extended families

&#183; Children being raised in multiple households or by unmarried parents

&#183; Adult children living with and caring for their parents

&#183; Senior citizens who are the primary caregivers to their grandchildren or other relatives

&#183; Close friends or siblings living in non-conjugal relationships and serving as each other’s primary support and caregivers

&#183; Households in which there is more than one conjugal partner

&#183; Care-giving relationships that provide support to those living with extended illness such as HIV/AIDS.

The current debate over marriage, same-sex and otherwise, ignores the needs and desires of so many in a nation where household diversity is the demographic norm. We seek to reframe this debate. Our call speaks to the widespread hunger for authentic and just community in ways that are both pragmatic and visionary. It follows in the best tradition of the progressive LGBT movement, which invented alternative legal statuses such as domestic partnership and reciprocal beneficiary. We seek to build on these historic accomplishments by continuing to diversify and democratize partnership and household recognition. We advocate the expansion of existing legal statuses, social services and benefits to support the needs of all our households.

We call on colleagues working in various social justice movements and campaigns to read the full-text of our statement “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage: A New Strategic Vision,” and to join us in our call for government support of all our households."

SIGNERS include
Martha Ackelsberg (Smith College)
Michael Bronski (Dartmouth)
Wendy Brown (UC-Berkeley)
Paula Ettelbrick
Anne Fausto-Sterling (Brown University)
Chai Feldblum (Georgetown Law)
Martha Fineman (Emory Law)
Katherine Franke (Columbia Law)
Nan Hunter (Brooklyn Law)
Laura Kipnis (Northwestern)
Art Leonard (New York Law)
Judith Plaskow (Manhattan College)
Nancy Polikoff (American U. Law) (co-author of statement)
Ruthann Robson (CUNY Law)
Julie Shapiro (Seattle U. Law)
Dorian Solot (Alternatives to Marriage project)
Judith Stacey (NYU)
Gloria Steinem
Kenji Yoshino (Yale Law)

August 8th, 2006, 12:44 PM
Everybody's doin' it ...

VIDEO (http://fabulouswedding.cf.huffingtonpost.com/)

Joe & Dub's Fabulous Wedding

An Original Song & Flash Video by Gary Lee Stewart


George W. Bush as the groom and

Joe Lieberman as the groomed.


With many special guest appearances, including the Global Village People!


October 25th, 2006, 04:06 PM
N.J. Court Backs Rights for Gay Unions


The State Supreme Court in New Jersey said today that under equal protection guarantees of the state constitution, same-sex couples “must be afforded on equal terms the same rights and benefits enjoyed by opposite-sex couples under the civil marriage statutes.”

But it said that whether that status is called marriage or something else “is a matter left to the democratic process.”

In a 4-3 vote, the court found that an arrangement similar to that of Vermont, which authorizes civil unions between same-sex couples but does not call them marriages, would be consitutional in New Jersey.

The court gave the legislature a six-month deadline to enact the necessary legislation to provide for same-sex unions.

Courts in many other states have rejected similar lawsuits by same-sex couples, ruling, as the Court of Appeals of New York did in July, that only the legislature can define or redefine marriage. No legislature has done so, despite widespread shifts in public opinion in the last few years, and the recognition of domestic partnerships and civil unions in some states.

Only Massachusetts so far authorizes same-sex marriages. Since the Massachusetts Supreme Court held in 2003 that that full marriage rights were required for all couples under that state’s constitution, gay-rights advocates have suffered a string of defeats. The Court of Appeals of New York rejected a similar argument in July.

Nineteen states have adopted constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriage. Most others have explicit statutory bans --- though New Jersey does not. New Jersey is among several that recognize domestic partnerships, and Vermont and Connecticut authorize civil unions, affording more legal protections. .

In part because the New Jersey Supreme Court is known as liberal and, above all, independent, the case here had garnered national attention.
The case was brought by seven gay and lesbian couples, who have been together from 14 to 35 years and were denied marriage licenses. Five of them have children.

The trial-level and lower appellate courts rejected their claim that the state constitution protected their right to marry as heterosexual couples do. The Appellate Division said in June 2005 that marriage between members of the same sex was neither a fundamental right under the constitution nor one protected by its equal protection clause.

The Supreme Court heard the case, Lewis v. Harris, on Feb. 15.
Under New Jersey’s domestic partnership law, enacted in 2004, same-sex partners may make critical medical decisions for each other, for example, and must be offered the same health coverage by insurers that is given to spouses.

The law was approved by the Legislature with little dissent and signed by then-Gov. James E. McGreevey --- who at the time did not support fully legalized gay marriage, even though he would resign several months later with the statement, “I am a gay American.”

Mr. Goldstein was among those who celebrated the domestic partnership law, but he would later find that it fell short of expectations. He said on Wednesday that “hospitals and other employers have told domestic-partnered couples across New Jersey: We don’t care what the domestic partnership law says. You’re not married.”

In the last few years, public opinion has become more accepting of gay marriage, at least in New Jersey. A Rutgers-Eagleton poll of New Jersey residents taken in June found that 50 percent said they supported allowing same-sex couples to marry legally, while 44 percent were opposed. (The margin of error was plus or minus 4 percentage points.) When the poll asked the same question in 2003, 43 percent of respondents supported legal recognition for gay marriage and 50 percent were opposed.

Still, conservative opposition has also organized, culminating in proposed constitutional amendments on the ballot in 11 states in 2004. All were approved overwhelmingly.

Last summer, the New York Court of Appeals ruled in a 4-to-2 decision that it would not depart from the state’s century-old law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman. Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye wrote, in a sharply worded dissent, that “a history or tradition of discrimination --- no matter how entrenched --- does not make the discrimination constitutional.”

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company


The decision: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/pdf/national/20061025_decision.pdf

October 25th, 2006, 05:21 PM
whether that status is called marriage or something else “is a matter left to the democratic process.”
What's in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

October 26th, 2006, 11:46 AM
I've nothing against homosexuals, they're entitled to live as they wish in a free society and should not be discriminated against.
One problem I have however is in using the word "marriage" to describe a same-sex union - its not marriage, its a civil partnership.

Marriage is a bond between a Man & a Woman, a natural union used to propagate the human race, a gay civil partnership is a sterile union that has no part to play in propagation. Thta's not meant unkindly towards homosexuals but its fact. The important thing is that there is love and commitment in whatever relationship is entered into.

October 26th, 2006, 11:49 AM
Marriage is a bond between a Man & a Woman, a natural union used to propagate the human race ...

Tell us your plans regarding a man & a woman (married, of course) who fail to produce -- or choose not to have -- children ...

October 26th, 2006, 12:01 PM
Tell us your plans regarding a man & a woman (married, of course) who fail to produce -- or choose not to have -- children ...
The facts are as you are well aware that most hetrosexual couples have children - those that don't shouldn't be condemned in any way, any more than homosexuals who can't produce children. The important thing is a loving relationship.

October 26th, 2006, 03:09 PM
Marriage, Civil Union - aren't they intended to be the exact same thing legally? The only difference would be the word. So which box is checked on the tax return, "Married" or "Single", or should they create a box for "Civil Union" just to keep the intolerant people happy? Who is going to keep gay people in a Civil Union from calling themselves married? And most importantly, why should anyone care?

October 26th, 2006, 04:50 PM
There are no essential "facts" about marriage. The institution has evolved over time and even within living memory (I have friends whose parents have tried to arrange "loveless" marriages). In biblical times marriage was temporary - husbands would throw away their wives to get younger ones from time to time. Later it was a property arrangement (and fathers had to put up a dowry to sell off their daughters).

In short, the institution has always evolved and there is no reason to preclude queers from the 1,400+ legal and financial privileges associated with marriage. Except a prejudice against queers.

Concern for the propagation of the species is more than a bit ironic given the widespread concern about overpopulation.

October 26th, 2006, 05:05 PM
All good Catholics know that sex and marriage are for kiddies to spread the word of G*d!!!!


I think the judges worded it correctly. That gays have equal rights, but if people want to call it something different, there is no law saying that they can't so long as they are, essentially, the same thing.

That is what I have been calling for, a seperation of church and state that would make "Marriage" a religious context and "Civil Union" a legal one.

You would have to follow the rules of one or the other to get either, but one should not be based on the other in its legal context.

October 26th, 2006, 07:07 PM
That is what I have been calling for, a seperation of church and state that would make "Marriage" a religious context and "Civil Union" a legal one.

You would have to follow the rules of one or the other to get either, but one should not be based on the other in its legal context.

so ...

Would legally-joined partners-to-be then say, "We're getting civilized" ?

Or perhaps "We're getting unionized" ?

October 26th, 2006, 09:48 PM
But Ninjahedge, do you have any reason why not "marriage" for the gays? Are you in favor of the government creating and/or regularing religious policy in any other circumstance?

October 27th, 2006, 05:03 AM
Marriage, Civil Union - aren't they intended to be the exact same thing legally? The only difference would be the word. So which box is checked on the tax return, "Married" or "Single", or should they create a box for "Civil Union" just to keep the intolerant people happy?
Language is a powerful tool and the precise use and definition of words is important - there is no need to cast the slur of "intolerance" against those who wish to keep it so.

Who is going to keep gay people in a Civil Union from calling themselves married? And most importantly, why should anyone care?
The answer to your first question is: no-one (but it's not a "marriage" - Oxford Dictionary definition: "Marriage - the formal union of a man and a woman by which they become husband and wife")
The answer to your second question: we should care as it's inaccurate and is an attempt to equate a same-sex union with a hetrosexual marriage.

October 27th, 2006, 05:30 AM
Dictionaries are not immutable, and are continually updated to reflect societal changes.

October 28th, 2006, 08:58 AM
You're right Zippy, it doesn't really matter, "marriage" or "civil union" - the important thing is love and commitment between the two partners, hetrosexual or homosexual. Me, I love my dog.:)

December 14th, 2006, 07:58 PM
N.J. Legislature OKs Same-Sex Civil Unions

Lawmakers Approve Bill To Legalize Civil Unions; Governor Says He Will Sign It

TRENTON, N.J., Dec. 14, 2006

(CBS/AP)Under pressure from New Jersey's highest court to offer marriage or its equivalent to gay couples, the Legislature voted Thursday to make New Jersey the third state to allow civil unions.

Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine said he would sign the measure, which would extend to same-sex couples all the rights and privileges available under state law to married people. The bill passed the Assembly 56-19 and the Senate 23-12.

New Jersey's Supreme Court ruled in October that same-sex couples are entitled to the same rights as heterosexuals in New Jersey, but that lawmakers must determine whether the state will honor gay marriage or some other form of civil union.

Advocates on both sides of the issue had believed the relatively liberal New Jersey high court had the best chance of approving gay marriages since Massachusetts became the only state to do so in 2003.

But the high court stopped short of fully approving gay marriage in the state — it had given lawmakers 180 days to rewrite marriage laws to either include same-sex couples or create new civil unions.

"Although we cannot find that a fundamental right to same-sex marriage exists in this state, the unequal dispensation of rights and benefits to committed same-sex partners can no longer be tolerated under our state Constitution," Justice Barry T. Albin wrote for the 4-3 majority's decision.

Gay couples in New Jersey can already apply for domestic partnerships under a law the Legislature passed in 2004 giving gay couples some benefits of marriage, such as the right to inherit possessions if there is no will and health care coverage for state workers.

"The issue is not about the transformation of the traditional definition of marriage, but about the unequal dispensation of benefits and privileges to one of two similarly situated classes of people," the court said in its 4-3 October ruling (http://www.judiciary.state.nj.us/opinions/supreme/a-68-05.pdf).

Cases similar to New Jersey's are pending in California, Connecticut, Iowa and Maryland.

Until this ruling, gay marriage supporters had a two-year losing streak, striking out in state courts in New York and Washington state and in ballot boxes in 15 states where constitutions have been amended to ban same-sex unions.

©MMVI, CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.


December 21st, 2006, 01:46 PM
NJ OKs civil unions for gays

12/21/2006, 12:46 p.m. ET
The Associated Press

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine on Thursday signed a civil unions law giving gay couples all the rights and responsibilities — but not the title — of marriage.

The law makes New Jersey the third in the nation to institute civil unions and the fifth to offer same-sex couples some version of marriage. Connecticut and Vermont allow civil unions for gay couples. Massachusetts allows gay couples to marry; California has domestic partnerships that bring full marriage rights.

"We must recognize that many gay and lesbian couples in New Jersey are in committed relationships and deserve the same benefits and rights as every other family in this state," Corzine said. About 150 people attended the bill signing.

The New Jersey law takes effect Feb. 19. Same-sex couples seeking civil unions will have to wait for three days for a ceremony to take place after registering their plans with local officials. That is the same waiting period for couples seeking marriage licenses.

Once joined in civil union, gay couples will enjoy adoption, inheritance, hospital visitation, medical decision-making and alimony rights and the right not to testify against a partner in court.

"I believe very fundamentally in equal protection under the law and this legislation is about meeting that basic responsibility and honoring the commitments that individuals have made to each other," said Corzine, a Democrat.

The law passed the Legislature on Dec. 14 in response to an October state Supreme Court order that gay couples be granted the same rights as married couples. The court gave lawmakers six months to act but left it to them to decide whether to call it unions "marriage" or another term.

Gay couples have welcomed the new law, but argue not calling it "marriage" creates a different, inferior institution. Even some same-sex couples who attended the bill signing remained lukewarm about the law.

"It's a step forward, but it's not true equality," said Veronica Hoff, 52, of Mount Laurel, as she stood with her partner.

Social conservative groups and some lawmakers opposed the measure, reasoning it brings gay relationships too close to marriage, but it easily passed the Legislature.

"It's same-sex marriage without the title," said John Tomicki, president of the New Jersey Coalition to Preserve and Protect Marriage. "It uproots the cardinal values of our culture."

He said opponents would push for a constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex unions in New Jersey, no matter what they're called.

"Let the voters decide that marriage is defined as a union of one man and one woman," Tomicki said.

Democrats who control the Legislature have said they have no plans to consider such a proposal.


Associated Press Writer Chris Newmarker contributed to this report.

December 29th, 2006, 11:17 PM
I've nothing against homosexuals, they're entitled to live as they wish in a free society and should not be discriminated against.
One problem I have however is in using the word "marriage" to describe a same-sex union - its not marriage, its a civil partnership.

Marriage is a bond between a Man & a Woman, a natural union used to propagate the human race, a gay civil partnership is a sterile union that has no part to play in propagation. Thta's not meant unkindly towards homosexuals but its fact. The important thing is that there is love and commitment in whatever relationship is entered into.

So, using your argument, the fair thing to do is rewrite the laws and statutes conferring "marriage rights" to male-female unions. This way heterosexuals and homosexuals would both have "civil unions." "Marriage" would simply be a term applied to the religious ceremony, which has no impact on civil law and equal protection and rights. Of course, we could go back to traditional marriage and simply have husbands list wives as property or return to the original U.S. Constitution and have blacks relegated to 2/3 a person.

However, the bigger problem, the inherent unfairness, and the real danger for gays in giving homosexuals the rights of marriage under the term "civil union" is that all protections are lost from state to state and, of particular consequence, they are lost internationally where "marriage" is the recognized and legally respected term.

It is fair to call you and others arguing your point "intolerant" and perhaps "bigoted," putting aside the fact that you might be a very lovely, compassionate person. If you are so staunchly for equality, equal rights and equal protections then it is you and people like you who ought to fight to have all "rights of marriage" conferred to any consensual couple under the legal definition "civil union." My guess is that many heterosexuals and people already married would revolt against such a proposal, precisely because you don't want to be equated with gays and lesbians. "Civil Union" is still a stigmatization against gays and lesbians and it allows filthy, judgemental, right-wing, theocratic, nosy-bodies to create a code by which gay and lesbians can be further discriminated against. The moment one is forced to check off "civil union" on a job application, health form, legal consent form or any other official document we are being forced to register and in some cases out ourselves as "gays" or "lesbians." If both heterosexuals and homosexual couples had to check off "married," it would ensure that job applications, medical service, justice, law enforcement and a bevvy of other services would be administered blindly and fairly.

I do not think you intend to be, but your posts indicate that you are extremely intolerant and I and others do not need to be "tolerated" by anyone. Would you feel honored if people let you know that they were very tolerant of your lifestyle? Stuff that crap. We need to be assured of our rights and protections.

December 30th, 2006, 12:52 AM
According to the logic outlined in Capn_Birdseye's argument it would lead to the dissolution of marriages between men and women who do not have intercourse that leads to conception and the bearing of children:

... Marriage is a bond between a Man & a Woman, a natural union used to propagate the human race ...

If you make that argument then anything less than what you lay out should not qualify for a state sanctioned marriage.

December 30th, 2006, 10:00 AM
Another law:

In order to get a marriage license, the woman and man would be required to take fertility tests. If either one fails, the couple can't get married.

This is a preemptive measure to lower the number of dissolutions.


December 30th, 2006, 11:04 AM
Capn's views about marriage bring to mind the real-life story of the Brazilian hetereo couple that was denied a marriage license by the Catholic church because the would-be husband was a paraplegic and presumed for that reason to be impotent. In the words of the couple's priest:

“The Catholic Church must follow the canon law. According to the Vatican, any man or woman who is impotent and is unable to have intercourse cannot get married. This is not a secret law in the Catholic Church.” (http://www.sexualhealth.com/article/read/sexual-health-resources/books-films-videos-dvds/65/)
This sad event is the subject of the documentary film Forbidden Wedding, which has aired several times recently on US TV. (See http://www.filmakers.com/indivs/ForbiddenWedding.htm)

December 30th, 2006, 11:27 AM
This is not a secret law in the Catholic Church.First time I'm hearing about it.

December 30th, 2006, 11:38 AM
Informative article in the December issue of Harpers Magazine (http://www.harpers.org/MostRecentCover.html) ("Through a Glass, Darkly") regarding Christian Fundamentalist views of American History and non-secular law ...

January 9th, 2007, 12:04 AM
Married or Not, Gay Couple’s Separation Agreement
Is Held Valid

NYTimes.com (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/01/09/nyregion/09divorce.html)
January 9, 2007

A gay couple may have been mistaken in thinking they were legally married, but they still have to honor the terms of their separation agreement, which is the equivalent of any other type of contract, a judge in New York City has ruled.

The couple, Steven Green, 41, a real estate developer, and David Gonzalez, 29, now a lawyer but a student at the time they met, began living together in 2001, a decision last week in State Supreme Court in Manhattan indicated.

They shared Mr. Green’s house in Westchester County and a pied-à-terre on Central Park South, according to the court papers and to Mr. Green, who responded to questions about the case by e-mail. Mr. Green, who said he also owns a home on Nantucket, produces independent films and runs “a small charter airline,” was the wealthier of the two men, and showered his partner with gifts, including a ski house and two cars, according to court papers.

On Valentine’s Day in 2005, the couple were married in Massachusetts, where unlike New York, same-sex marriage is legal. But within a few months, the relationship soured, and Mr. Green’s lawyer drafted a separation agreement, which both parties signed in September 2005, the court papers said.

Under that agreement, Mr. Gonzalez transferred title of his ski house to Mr. Green, and Mr. Green agreed to pay his former partner $780,000, according to court papers. The following January, Mr. Gonzalez filed for divorce in Manhattan, and Mr. Green countersued, claiming that their marriage had never been valid and demanding the return of the $780,000.

In her decision, Justice Phyllis Gangel-Jacob agreed that the marriage had not been valid, because New York law did not permit gay marriage, and she dismissed Mr. Gonzalez’s claim for divorce.

But Justice Gangel-Jacob found that the separation agreement between the two men was a valid contract. New York courts have long held that contracts between unmarried people living together are as enforceable as those between people who are not living together, she said.

“While cohabitation without marriage does not give rise to the property and financial rights which normally attend the marital relation,” Justice Gangel-Jacob wrote, citing case law, “neither does cohabitation disable the parties from making an agreement within the normal rules of contract law.”

Mr. Gonzalez’s lawyer, Eric Wrubel, said yesterday that the decision was important in the wake of the decision by New York’s Court of Appeals in Hernandez v. Robles last July, which found that there is no right to gay marriage in New York under existing law. “For homosexual couples, in order to protect themselves and have orderly protection of their assets, they can now rely on agreements,” Mr. Wrubel said. Through his lawyer, Mr. Gonzalez declined to comment.

Mr. Green’s lawyer, Yonatan Levoritz, said he planned to appeal.

In his e-mail messages, Mr. Green said he was a board member of Empire State Pride Agenda and hoped that gay marriage would become legal in New York. “But until such time, the idea of not recognizing my marriage, yet upholding the marriage separation agreement is ludicrous,” he said.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

February 6th, 2007, 09:48 AM
Wash. initiative would require
married couples to have kids

nwcn.com (http://www.nwcn.com/statenews/washington/stories/NW_020507WABinitiative957SW.546c6a4d.html)
KING5.com Staff and Associated Press
February 5, 2007

OLYMPIA, Wash. - An initiative filed by proponents of same-sex marriage would require heterosexual couples to have kids within three years or else have their marriage annulled.

Initiative 957 was filed by the Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance. That group was formed last summer after the state Supreme Court upheld Washington's ban on same-sex marriage.

Related Content: Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance (http://www.wa-doma.org/)

Under the initiative, marriage would be limited to men and women who are able to have children. Couples would be required to prove they can have children in order to get a marriage license, and if they did not have children within three years, their marriage would be subject to annulment.

All other marriages would be defined as "unrecognized" and people in those marriages would be ineligible to receive any marriage benefits.

“For many years, social conservatives have claimed that marriage exists solely for the purpose of procreation ... The time has come for these conservatives to be dosed with their own medicine," said WA-DOMA organizer Gregory Gadow in a printed statement. “If same-sex couples should be barred from marriage because they can not have children together, it follows that all couples who cannot or will not have children together should equally be barred from marriage."

Supporters must gather more than 224,000 valid signatures by July 6 to put the initiative on the November ballot.

Opponents say the measure is another attack on traditional marriage, but supporters say the move is needed to have a discussion on the high court ruling.

© 2007 NorthWest Cable News


The Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance

What we are about

The Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance seeks to defend equal marriage in this state by challenging the Washington Supreme Court’s ruling on Andersen v. King County. This decision, given in July 2006, declared that a “legitimate state interest” allows the Legislature to limit marriage to those couples able to have and raise children together. Because of this “legitimate state interest,” it is permissible to bar same-sex couples from legal marriage.

The way we are challenging Andersen is unusual: using the initiative, we are working to put the Court’s ruling into law. We will do this through three initiatives:

The first would make procreation a requirement for legal marriage.
The second would prohibit divorce or legal separation when there are children.
The third would make the act of having a child together the legal equivalent of a marriage ceremony.Absurd? Very. But there is a rational basis for this absurdity. By floating the initiatives, we hope to prompt discussion about the many misguided assumptions which make up the Andersen ruling. By getting the initiatives passed, we hope the Supreme Court will strike them down as unconstitional and thus weaken Andersen itself. And at the very least, it should be good fun to see the social conservatives who have long screamed that marriage exists for the sole purpose of procreation be forced to choke on their own rhetoric.

February 6th, 2007, 09:59 AM
Sounds liek a nice little rib-poker there.

Question though, what is given in marriage that would not be able to be given by other legal documentation explicitly conferring the individual rights from one person to another?

Aside from private industry offering benefits such as health care and the like to ones partner, which could be changed with or without any law being passed as demanded by its participants, what would need to be transferred/bestowed apon another to make it so that they would, in a sense, have the same rights as married couples without the state approved moniker of "married"?

If people could go about this and simply circumvent the "official" means and methods, it may not get the acceptance that the gay community desires, but it would remove one more thing standing between them and it.

Instead of going for the title that will bestow all these things on them, go for the things first and the title becomes more of a positional issue rather than an actual life issue. Somehow I think it would be easier to get if the ONLY thing that was left to fight for was acceptance.

February 6th, 2007, 10:39 AM
It's not active acceptance homos are seeking from equal marriage access - it's the removal of a specific discrimination (one with profound, mostly financial implications - like the $5k of domestic partner benefits I was taxed for this year). Why create a new, complicated set of laws when you could just let homos marry? That doesn't make sense.

As far as the marriage-in-all-but-name argument...we learned 50 years ago that "separate but equal" is not.

February 6th, 2007, 02:20 PM
It's not active acceptance homos are seeking from equal marriage access - it's the removal of a specific discrimination (one with profound, mostly financial implications - like the $5k of domestic partner benefits I was taxed for this year). Why create a new, complicated set of laws when you could just let homos marry? That doesn't make sense.

Yes it does.

When you start arguing about a subject where your opponents are not only "morally" uncomfortable about it, but outnumber you, it does not matter what would be the easiest route.

Sometimes water gets in the most when it is not bashing itself against the levy. Sometimes going under and around make the levee itself useless and more easily removed.

Hell, you break the levee in some places, sometimes it gets rebuilt.

I know it is not the most logical way, but sometimes you have to look at things in a different way in order to get them to where you want them to be.

As far as the marriage-in-all-but-name argument...we learned 50 years ago that "separate but equal" is not.

Um, DUH. Dude, you are arguing with the wrong person here. I never said it was the same, did I? Go re-read it. What I said was, giving gays all the same rights, one by one behind the scenes may be a better way to lessen the opposition. If all rights were given, it is only perception that is left.

You try to equivocate this to racial differences in the 60's and 70's, but they can't be directly compared without strong differences coming out. You also point to the key reason why it is not the individual rights that many want to hear, but acceptance by people that do not. Hell, even if marriage and all its benefits (including higher taxes) were given to the homosexual community, it would still not be enough if people were still unaccepting of it.

We need to divide this up into its key components and address each separately. Lumping them in the same argument is not going to yield any workable solution. At least, not any time soon.

So the three pieces are:

1. Rights and privileges
2. Legal Definition and Name
3. Social Acceptance.

None has to be compromised on, none has to stop being fought for while another is. We just have to see them for what they are in order to bring them to the ends they all need.

February 6th, 2007, 03:24 PM
Why did you get married?

February 6th, 2007, 03:36 PM
Because I loved her.

ALSO, because she was asking

ALSO, because society seems to think that is the right thing to do.

Please do not turn this personal Ryan, I will not go there. What I did in my life has little bearing on how this issue would be resolved. It is a classic maneuver that gets away from the original topic and gets the one posing the questions on the defensive.

Not me, not now.

You failed to address ANY of my points.

Are you saying that HS's do not want the legal rights? They do not want the "official" name? They do not want the social acceptance? Are you denying that these are indeed separate faces of the same issue that can be addressed independently and might stand a better chance at resolution if they were?

Are you saying that HS's would not be happy if they were to get any of those three, so long as it did not signal some sort of compromise and that they would somehow never get all three?

Sometimes when you shoot for the moon, you have to concentrate on getting off the ground first. If you think that repeated attempts at lunar exploration without trying to lay the proper groundwork is the better way of doing it, say so. I think that people are arguing too much based on the final emotional goal rather than focusing on the smaller steps in between first.

As an example of what I am talking about, re-read the article about the binding pre-nup for the two that were never officially married. That would be one small step. It is time to start seeing what other ground can be covered that would yield the best end result, the best resolution.

That is what I am getting at Ryan. If you want to make this discussion emotional, I am out of here.

February 6th, 2007, 04:32 PM

http://explodingdog.com/dumbpict51/leagalizeitrightnowwewannab.gif (http://explodingdog.com/dumbpict51/leagalizeitrightnowwewannab.gif)

February 6th, 2007, 04:43 PM
Please do not turn this personal Ryan, I will not go there. What I did in my life has little bearing on how this issue would be resolved. It is a classic maneuver that gets away from the original topic and gets the one posing the questions on the defensive.

I wasn't trying to derail your argument - I wasn't very interested in it and didn't want to engage you about it. It is logical - I just disagree with you. I've argued with you enough in the past to know that I'm not going to change your mind, so why bother? I didn't mean any disrespect and I'm sorry you felt that way.

I asked why you got married because I was offended by the abstract terms you were imposing on the topic. Few people enter into a relationship to secure rights and freedoms, social acceptance or for a legal definition, so why does the "gay marriage debate" go to that place? I bet you didn't even think about these issues - which was my point. I didn't mean to suggest that your marriage would have any impact on gay marriage (though apparently you're a little guilty there?). I appreciate the sentiment of Brangelina, but I don't think that has much of an impact on the issue.

It's absurd that you would tell me not to make this personal - it is nothing but personal for me. When you're talking about homosexuals, you are talking about me. When you're talking about the "gay marriage debate" you're talking about my relationship and discrimination that is very real to me.

Because you suggested that I had no response to it, I'll tell you what I think about your suggested strategy for the gay agenda. Quite simply, I think the three "pieces" would be accomplished faster and easier by focusing on legalizing gay "marriage." Personally I'm not interested in any compromise enough to make it an end goal. Obviously a lot of people agree with your piecemeal strategy (witness recent developments in NJ & CT), but I'd personally rather push for the real thing. Sure the prison visitation my NYC domestic partnership secures for my partner and I is great, but I don't think I'm going to use it any time soon.

"Aiming for the moon" seems to be what made past civil rights movements work (and what, precisely are the differences between the gay and race civil rights movements that would invalidate a comparison?) Perhaps it would be more insightful to compare gay civil rights movements to relevant other civil rights movements (like race civil rights, mixed-race marriage and suffrage). Your analogies are funny and colorful, but I don't find it useful to engage eith your language - that's a classic rhetorical maneuver too.

Are you saying that HS's do not want the legal rights?

What is a "HS"? Are you abbreviating homosexual? Why only that word? I can't speak for all homosexuals, and I was not trying to. I imagine gay people would be happy with any civil rights advancement, but I don't think they will be satisfied until they achieve 90%ish equality.

I do not think that most gay people (definitely me) are interested in leveraging gay marriage to achieve social acceptance. I live in New York City; I have that. I'm actually really pissed off about the very specific rights (http://www.religioustolerance.org/mar_bene.htm) denied to me because of the gay marriage ban.

Social acceptance is inevitable, so I'm not worried about it happening for the rest of the country. That will come from legal and legislative advances and general visibility. The changes in gay social acceptance I've seen in my short life have been profound and amazing. Vocal homophobes will die off in a generation or two and their prejudices will be as taboo as blackface.

February 6th, 2007, 06:58 PM
You are still arguing emotionally.

I understand what you are saying, but the problem comes when you refuse to let some things go in order to actually catch them. I am not saying that you need to forego any desire to have these rights, but grabbing a knife by the blade is not the best way to get it from your assailant.

Or your significant other, but that is another story altogether!

I am not saying that Prison Visitation rights are the be-all end-all. But given that, go for more. Keep getting things like HOSPITAL visitation rights, which I hear is something a little more important, and more often denied to a life partner not "married".

Then you have things like property ownership, joint vesture in different things and other financial means that would also be pretty easy to pass one by one.

Add to it a combined pitch to the private sector to encourage things like reduced auto insurance rates for pledged couples (they stand less of a chance of accidents, if you do the studies). Petition your employers to allow the Sig to be on your health plan.

All this is one by one.

You get all these rights without smacking the intolerants in the face with them.

Now when you get to the actual naming, that gets difficult. Difficult for two main reasons. Emotional context and religion.

Two VERY hotbed issues that would be better handled almost seperately, again. Simultaneously, but not in the same sitting with the same people. Getting religion to accept homosexuality in general is a difficult proposition, but a moce towards TOLERANCE would be a HUGE step in the right direction.

Couple that with a fight to remove the word "marriage" from government papers entirely. Seperate church and state with this issue. You have a civil union with the state. You have the ceremony or service as an official thing, just like getting a license. EVERYONE needs to do it to get recognition by the state.

Then if you want to get "married" you get your own church to do so. Just because the Roman Catholics do not like gay marriage does not mean there is not a reformed church with a bit more accepting attitude.

You seperate the emotion from the legal stature.

This break would be difficult to accomplish, but the seperation wouldmake it easier to get "civil union" rights, and then have your own way to get married with, or without the approval of the general public.

Problem is right now, it is being demanded as an all-in-one package.

And unlike civil rights, homosexuality is something that people fear much more. They were taught that it was evil, and fear the possibility of themselves being influenced by it. Not a very good attitude, but still there. And unlike minorities, there is always a chance that you ARE gay, regardless of race creed or color.

You may say "big whoop", but a lot of the country does not.

It would be an easier thing to deflect the ignorance enough to enable what you need and want than to try to face it head on. Especially on a religious and emotional issue.

The mere fact that Evolution is being contested should give you a good indication of how hard it is, no matter how logical, to convince people of somethnig they do not FEEL is right.

Ryan. Please do not get me wrong. I am not picking sides. I have no problem WHATSOEVER with gay marriage. None. All I see is a bunch of people trying to get something they want very much, being denied by paranoid ignorant bigots, and then trying to face them head on as if that somehow will get them what they want.

It is human nature to face things head on. Sometimes that works. But when it comes to things like this, there are ways to get the same results with a lot less pain.

February 6th, 2007, 07:43 PM
I have benefits for my partner. The money my company spends on him is added to my taxable income. Totaled over $2,000 in 2006 that I would not have had to pay if I were "married." That's my biggest financial complaint. And yes, I do also have hospitalization rights, but they're much less funny than prison visitation rights.

Taking away legal "marriage" from millions of heterosexuals is a lot less likely than giving it to a few thousand gays. (though again, logically sound idea). I see no reason why gay marriage will take much too much longer than mixed race marriages, which was around 20 years (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miscegenation). Even though it's legal, mixed race relationships are still taboo in some places - but they aren't denied any legal rights. That's all I'm after.

February 6th, 2007, 11:03 PM
It sounds like someone is arguing that homosexuals should be given rights crumb by crumb. And is also saying what's the rush? If it doesn't happen for this generation then possilbly for their probably-not-legal children (depending on the state). Or even for your children -- should they happen to be gay.

I think the Washington plan is brilliant.

It forces people who don't quite get it to look at things from a different perspective.

The courts will decide this issue. The legislators are way behind, despite the fact that when it comes down to it most citizens are hardly concerned that gay marriage will destroy the world. Seemingly the vast majority of folks under 30 are for equal marital rights.

February 7th, 2007, 05:55 AM
I like the Washington State initiative. The media tends goes for this type of news story. It will give the "issue" of gay marriage a great deal of exposure, if you will.

Of course, the conservatives hate the WA initiative, but if they were smart, they would love it. If passed, it take would take many more young, married females out of the workforce and put them into the baby-making profession.

February 7th, 2007, 07:44 AM
I was procreated in Seattle. Does that entitle me to sign the petition for the initiative?

February 7th, 2007, 09:26 AM
It sounds like someone is arguing that homosexuals should be given rights crumb by crumb. And is also saying what's the rush?

Then it is not being conveyed properly.

The exaggeration of taking it the other way, such as the "crumb by crumb" appellation implies that there are thousands of rights that need be won and doing it this way will take so long that it is not a viable solution.

Yet I have seen noone actually argue this in solid terms. Has anyone really looked at what rights are needed? Has anyone listed them out and actually counted them? Has anyone really looked at the best way to get these rights in terms of an actual acquisition of them rather than fighting a hotly contested issue that keeps getting overturned due to the emotions on the opposition?

I am not saying that they should just sit down and be good boys and girls. Far from it! I am saying that their current strategy will take them a long time, cost a lot of effort, and many may be lost along the way. There is no EASY way to do this, but there is a better way than trying to get everything at once.

Haven't we learned this from Iraq? ;) (I could not resist!!!)

If it doesn't happen for this generation then possibly for their probably-not-legal children (depending on the state). Or even for your children -- should they happen to be gay.

I am not saying that, and you are straw-manning my argument. Do not push what I am saying into the extreme (ex: Are you saying you should be happy if things get changed by your way even if it takes so long you are dead and your children and grandchildren who are tortured in some states for not being legal and never gt the privilege of Legal Gay Marriage?).

I know you are not saying this, but still...

I think the Washington plan is brilliant.

Great. I just do not think it is working.

[Edit: My bad. I thought you were talking about DC, not State. I think it does get the issue to be seen differently, and if this is why it (gay marriage) was struck down by the courts, it may indeed invalidate the ruling or force the re-evaluation of hetero marriage laws, but I do not see it being a universal head turner. No matter how compeling the evidence, some people will never believe what they feel is incorrect.]

It forces people who don't quite get it to look at things from a different perspective.

Not really! It forces the issue up again and again. And when those people do not want to deal with that issue, it only turns the feelings of discomfort to outright belligerence.

You do not get someone to try sushi for the first time by repeatedly throwing it at them. Not saying they will "try" homosexuality, but that they would accept it, at least in neutrality, rather than this blind emotional paranoia that can be easily fed when the situation becomes confrontory.

The courts will decide this issue. The legislators are way behind, despite the fact that when it comes down to it most citizens are hardly concerned that gay marriage will destroy the world. Seemingly the vast majority of folks under 30 are for equal marital rights.

Thats the thing Loft. The laws have not been written that take the necessary steps o allow this. "Marriage" was written up at leas once (I cannot site specifics) as legal, but that law/amendment, whatever it was was determined to be against the state constitution and cast down. You have to start changing the framework before you try to put the new roof on the state building.

If not, the inspectors come in and ask for its removal due to non code compliance.

The code may not be right, but you cannot argue that until you change the code. Variances to not happen with things like Gay Marriage. Besides, would you want them to be awarded only on a case by case basis?

So all I am saying is that some means and methods really have to be re-examined in order to get this to fruition ASAP. I think the sad part is similar to what I am seeing now. If you do not start a fight, people are not willing to back it up. It is awfully hard to get people to back up an initiative that would change insurance law to force the allowance of, say, "contractual" living partners, but you can get a whole parade of people screaming for "marriage" regardless of what that actually conveys.

So would you think a two pronged strategy would work better? Keep attention on the continual emotional battle for gay marriage while at the same time quietly getting these individual motions passed to make the framework ready for what you want on top of it?

Would evangelicals be so caught up in the main issue that their elected officials would have the issues they need to garner support for their administration and not have to hold up any of the smaller "crumbs" as raw meat to their hungry constituency?

And lastly, how do the PEOPLE start taking control of the situation rather than letting the games of politics steer peoples opinions in ways that benefit the elected officials the most out of any of us?

When you hit a board hard enough, you will indeed break it. But if you steam it, you can make it pliable enough to bend to almost any shape you want.

I would rather my furniture be made from bent pieces than a bunch of boards that were broken and nailed together.

But that is just me... ;)

February 7th, 2007, 10:58 AM
Has anyone really looked at what rights are needed? Has anyone listed them out and actually counted them? Has anyone really looked at the best way to get these rights in terms of an actual acquisition of them rather than fighting a hotly contested issue that keeps getting overturned due to the emotions on the opposition?

Ninjahedge, I don't understand where you are coming from. You ask questions like you know nothing about this issue, but then you obviously have strong feelings.

There is a whole community of gay and lesbian professional activist groups and political action committees (my favorite is Lambda Legal (http://www.lambdalegal.org/cgi-bin/iowa/index.html)) - and it's been there for about 40 years. They've accomplished a lot of specific goals. Now they are working toward marriage, as legal recognition of relationships is the most central and contested issue. It's not like gay people just woke up one day and started asking to get married.

There are hundreds of people working full time to advance gay civil rights, so yes, someone has listed and counted the rights that are denied to gay couples. Below is a legalish list (as I linked above) from religioustolerance.org (http://www.religioustolerance.org/mar_bene.htm), but there are also crasser financial issues like my being taxed on my partner's benefits and paying higher rates any time checking the "married" box is in your favor (like car and life insurance and some loans).

On the order of 1,400 legal rights are conferred upon married couples in the U.S. Typically these are composed of about 400 state benefits and over 1,000 federal benefits. Among them are the rights to:

• joint parenting
• joint adoption
• joint foster care, custody, and visitation (including non-biological parents)
• status as next-of-kin for hospital visits and medical decisions where one partner is too ill to be competent
• joint insurance policies for home, auto and health
• dissolution and divorce protections such as community property and child support
• immigration and residency for partners from other countries
• inheritance automatically in the absence of a will
• joint leases with automatic renewal rights in the event one partner dies or leaves the house or apartment
• inheritance of jointly-owned real and personal property through the right of survivorship (which avoids the time and expense and taxes in probate)
• benefits such as annuities, pension plans, Social Security, and Medicare
• spousal exemptions to property tax increases upon the death of one partner who is a co-owner of the home
• veterans' discounts on medical care, education, and home loans; joint filing of tax returns
• joint filing of customs claims when traveling
• wrongful death benefits for a surviving partner and children
• bereavement or sick leave to care for a partner or child
• decision-making power with respect to whether a deceased partner will be cremated or not and where to bury him or her
• crime victims' recovery benefits
• loss of consortium tort benefits
• domestic violence protection orders
• judicial protections and evidentiary immunity

February 7th, 2007, 12:13 PM
Thanks for posting that list ^^^

I had searched for something similar but couldn't find it.

The best solution would be that ALL of those rights AS A WHOLE are granted to ANY couple who choose to enter into a legally-binding long-term situation. Of course they should also have to accept the downside of such a legal partnership: debts of partner, divorce, separation, alimony, etc.

IMO calling the arrangement "marriage" is not important.

February 7th, 2007, 12:21 PM
Thanks for posting that list ^^^

I had searched for something similar but couldn't find it.

The best solution would be that ALL of those rights AS A WHOLE are granted to ANY couple who choose to enter into a legally-binding long-term situation. Of course they should also have to accept the downside of such a legal partnership: debts of partner, divorce, separation, alimony, etc.

IMO calling it "marriage" is not important.

That is what I am getting at Loft, but the thing is, I hear so many people contesting the suggestion that it be called anything BUT marriage.

That is where the argument turns emotional and, in many cases, religious.

I think if they could seperate the whole Marriage and Civil Union thing to where they were considered as seperate institutions, neither binding the other, I think we will be in good stead.

"Marriage" being performed by your pastor, but having no jurisdiction other than in religious context. A ceremony.

"Civil Union" being the license you get formally applying the shackles and forever granting your Sig Other the right to control everything you do ;)

The more individual rights that are won before this happens, the easier it would be to call for the recognition of Gay civil unions.

As soon as you call it marriage, you step into a land of great poo that, as witnessed by the Reverend (whats-his-name) being "cured" of homosexuality (and no word on the Amphetamines), is very stinky and very tenacious. ;)

February 7th, 2007, 12:23 PM
IMO calling the arrangement "marriage" is not important.

To beat a dead horse, I don't need it to be called "marriage" for my self-esteem - I just don't think a separate legal entity will ever be completely equal.

I don't want to pay more for car insurance. Even if there were a specific law passed to make car insurance rates fair, I think another benefit would pop up somewhere else. Without the word it would always be a race. Given the pace of legislature, I think it would be a losing race (look at the ERA amendment).

February 7th, 2007, 01:14 PM
Ryan, in all fairness, a gay male couple marriage might not have as good records when it comes to driving as female couples, or hetero couples.

They would have to see if THEY would save money by letting two guys on the same policy. (Statistical accident survey, etc).

Imagine if all you had to say wa that you were gay to get lower auto insurance? NJ would be come the WEST west village!!!! ;)

February 7th, 2007, 01:19 PM
I don't really care about my insurance premiums specifically, but I'd like to see any empirical data that could justify charging queers higher rates.

Besides, it was just an example. You're not addressing my larger point.

February 7th, 2007, 01:46 PM
I don't really care about my insurance premiums specifically, but I'd like to see any empirical data that could justify charging queers higher rates.

Besides, it was just an example. You're not addressing my larger point.

If it is the point that you believe that calling it something different could never really be directly associated with actual equality?

Maybe you are right, but as soon as you see two males on a policy stating "married" it does not matter what you call it, you will get the same treatment as if you called it something different. That is the way people are.

Thing is, so long as those individual rights were granted, you would at least have legal recourse to contest them, just as if you were given the moniker "married" in todays parlance and legal definition.

I think you have a point in the piecemeal possibly having different laws applied or not to it as time progresses, but the key here is that if you get the two close enough, it would be easier to get that final binder that makes them inseperable, whether they are actually called the same or not.

What am I saying? OK, try this. What if they were still given different names. M vs. GM. Laws are passed that change the tax definition of M, so another has to be presented, or the original has to be amended, to include GM.

I see what you are saying with that.

But what happens when one ruling is placed that says "From now forward, all legal documents referring to M or GM shall be considered as one and the same" etc etc. You get that lynch pin, any subsequent legislation would automatically bridge the gap by tracing back.

Psycologically, by the same way you are feeling that seperate titles are somehow inferior, it would also be easier to argue for certain things if people perceived them as different, although they conveyed the exact same legal rights.

But, whatever. It does not effect my rights at all, either way. I think it is more of a statement that people who have absolutely nothing to gain or lose by it are some of the ones fighting the hardest on it.

My one standing thought is this though. I think too many things are being thrown into the argument at the same time and as such, unassociated arguments are being applied to some of the issues being fought for because they are all being brought under the same mantle.

"Sanctity of Marriage" has nothing to do with health insurance and they should not even be mentioned in the same discussion (oops), but so long as the fight is for "marriage" you will always hear things like that.

February 13th, 2007, 01:14 AM
The Nassau Chapter of the NYCLU presents:

Lecture/Discussion at Hofstra University:
Same-Sex Marriage in New York
Free admission, open to the public

Blurb: Governor Eliot Spitzer, endorses same-sex marriage, but will he be able to deliver?
What challenges do our legislators face in trying to extend these rights to the GLBT community?
What is at stake for same sex couples?


Bob Perry
NYCLU Legislative Director

Lauren Fortmiller and Pam Thiele
Marriage Ambassadors who seek the right to marry

Tuesday, February 27 at 7:30pm
Hofstra Cultural Center Theater
Axinn Library – South Campus – Hempstead
Plenty of free parking

Co-sponsored by Hofstra School of Education and Allied Human Services

Driving Directions:
From the north: Meadowbrook Pkwy to Exit M4.
From the south: Meadowbrook Pkwy to Exit M5.
From either, take Hempstead Tpke. West. At 3rd light, just before the student
overpass, turn left onto California Ave. Park in any lot on your right; enter campus,
walk north toward overpass, which joins the Library.

(A membership booth for the Nassau County chapter of the NYCLU will be set up there for Nassau people who want to join.
Anybody from anywhere in NY, however, is welcomed to attend the lecture.)


February 15th, 2007, 12:14 PM
Same sex partnerships are NOT marriages, they are same sex civil partnerships. Trying to equate them with a hetrosexual marriage is in my view wrong and misleading.

February 15th, 2007, 12:37 PM
I sense fire.

February 15th, 2007, 01:35 PM
I wonder how it's misleading. Who's being misled, and in what way?

Would I become confused about my relationship with my wife? Would I regard my marriage as unholy? Is it holy? Does God keep us together?

Questions, questions.

February 16th, 2007, 08:40 AM
UK law does not call same-sex civil partnerships "marriages" - they are as described in law, civil partnerships.

February 17th, 2007, 04:55 AM
NJ ruling makes it civil union

Saturday, February 17, 2007

MOUNT LAUREL - Gay couples who are married in Massachusetts, Canada or other places where same-sex marriage is allowed will have all the rights of married people in New Jersey as of Monday, the state Attorney General's Office decided yesterday.

New Jersey should consider those couples to be in civil unions rather than marriages, Attorney General Stuart Rabner said in the opinion for the state Department of Health and Senior Services, which is responsible for registering civil unions.

Civil unions, which will be available in the state starting Monday, grant all the benefits of marriage - but not the title - to gay couples.

Gay rights activists had mixed reaction to the decision. They were happy to have the clarity and to learn that the civil unions will be granted automatically, but also voiced concern about possible discrimination.

"In the nick of time before next week, the attorney general has given peace of mind to a lot of families," said David S. Buckel, the director of the Marriage Law Project for Lambda Legal.

However, Buckel, along with lawyers with the ACLU of New Jersey and Garden State Equality - the state's main gay political group - said that not recognizing marriages from elsewhere is unfair and possibly discriminatory.

"New Jersey should not be in the business of stripping individuals and couples of rights they already lawfully obtained," said Ed Barocas, the legal director of the ACLU in New Jersey.

Steven Goldstein, the executive director of Garden State Equality, said he expected that litigation would be filed over the issue.

Rabner's opinion answers one of the most perplexing legal questions surrounding the state's civil union law: what to do about gay couples who are married or otherwise recognized in other jurisdictions. The ruling evaluates the protections of the unions to determine the level of benefits the couples will receive in New Jersey.

"The name of the relationship selected by other jurisdictions, however, will not control its treatment under New Jersey law," Rabner wrote.

Gay couples married in Massachusetts, Canada, the Netherlands, South Africa and Spain will be recognized as civil union partners, as will couples who have entered into civil unions in Vermont, California and Connecticut.