Gay News Blog: Nev. overrides guv's partnership bill veto
By BRENDAN RILEY, Associated Press Writer
(05-31) 19:15 PDT Carson City, Nev. (AP) --
The Assembly overrode Gov. Jim Gibbons' veto on a 28-14 vote Sunday and changed state law so that domestic partners, whether gay or straight, have many of the rights and benefits that Nevada offers to married couples.
The Assembly's vote — the bare two-thirds majority needed — followed the state Senate's similar decision, with no votes to spare, a day earlier to make the historic change in state law over the conservative Republican governor's objections.
Assemblywoman Sheila Leslie, D-Reno, termed SB283 "the most important civil rights legislation we have had in all my years here," adding the law change ensures "justice for all, not justice for some."
Leslie said proponents of the new law were asking "that their government give them the ability to choose who they will live with and whom they will love."
SB283 provides that domestic partners have the same rights as married couples in matters such as community property and responsibility for debts. It also prohibits discrimination against domestic partners.
The measure states that no "solemnization ceremony" is required and it's "left to the dictates and conscience of partners entering into a domestic partnership" whether to have such a ceremony.
Critics contended that domestic partners could sign private contracts to accomplish many of the goals of SB283, and that it conflicted with the intent of Nevadans who voted in 2002 for a constitutional amendment supporting marriage between a man and a woman.
There were no arguments against SB283 during the Assembly's override vote on Sunday. In the Senate on Saturday, Sen. Maurice Washington, R-Sparks, a conservative minister, brought up the 2002 amendment supporting traditional marriages, adding, "There has to be a line. There has to be a difference."
Sen. David Parks, D-Las Vegas, the openly gay sponsor of SB283, said it's "about fairness and equality," and that it doesn't diminish the sanctity of marriage.
"I think it's great. Nevada becomes the 17th state to have some form of domestic partnership legislation," Parks said after the Assembly vote, adding, "It shows that Nevada can be progressive and that we definitely have a libertarian streak, 'live and let live.'"
"I could never have done it alone," Parks said. "It was a wonderful, concerted effort on the part of lots and lots of people, right down to lobbyists who didn't have anything to gain from it but thought it was the right thing to do."
The override was hailed by Tod Story of the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of Southern Nevada as evidence of the state's tradition of "libertarian independence and self-determination."
"This is the most significant vote for equality since the Legislature ratified suffrage in 1920," said Bob Fulkerson of the liberal Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada. PLAN's Jan Gilbert added the vote was "a resounding rejection of the governor's intolerance and a bright spot in a difficult legislative session."
Sunday, May 31, 2009
Gay News Blog: Nev. overrides guv's partnership bill veto
Posted by Michael at 10:56 PM
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Christian group asks to fight suit on gay marriage - San Jose Mercury News
The Associated Press
Posted: 05/29/2009 11:30:41 AM PDT
SAN FRANCISCO—An influential Christian group is seeking to formally fight a federal lawsuit aimed at overturning California's gay marriage ban.
The Alliance Defense Fund filed court papers Thursday asking U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker to allow it to defend the constitutionality of Proposition 8. Gay couples prohibited from marrying filed a lawsuit in San Francisco federal court May 22 and allege that California's marriage ban violates constitutional equal protection provisions.
The Alliance Defense Fund spent more than $37 million in leading the campaign to pass Proposition 8 in November and successfully defended it before the state Supreme Court. The judge will hold a hearing July 2 to consider the group's request and whether to temporarily suspend the ban while considering the lawsuit.
Posted by Michael at 12:02 AM
Friday, May 29, 2009
Compromise reached on NH gay marriage bill - Boston.com
By Holly Ramer
Associated Press Writer / May 29, 2009
CONCORD, N.H.—House and Senate negotiators on Friday agreed to add one sentence and change one word in a bill that will determine whether the state allows gay marriage.
Both chambers have approved bills to legalize same-sex marriage, but Gov. John Lynch later demanded additional language to make it clear that churches and religious groups would not be forced to officiate at gay marriages or to provide services, facilities and goods of any kind to participants.
The Senate passed legislation to satisfy Lynch, but the House narrowly rejected it last week. The compromise reached Friday barely changes it.
The new version, which is expected to come up for a vote Wednesday, adds a sentence specifying that all religious organizations, associations or societies have exclusive control over their religious doctrines, policies, teachings and beliefs on marriage. It also clarifies that church-related organizations that serve charitable or educational purposes are exempt from having to provide insurance and other benefits to same sex spouses of employees. The earlier version said "charitable and educational" instead of "charitable or educational."
The changes amount to slightly stronger language than what Lynch proposed, and the governor approves of the revisions.
There was little debate over the changes, save for Sen. Sheila Roberge, R-Bedford, who offered three substitute proposals, all of which were rejected. She suggested asking voters in a nonbinding referendum whether the Legislature should permit same-sex marriage, postponing the effective date of the legislation from January 2010 to July 2011 or allowing businesses and individuals to decline to provide wedding services if doing so would violate their "consciences or sincerely held religious beliefs."
Other members of the negotiating team said the latter would open the door to all kinds of discrimination.
"Hypothetically, if I'm a Nazi -- which I'm not -- and I felt white supremacy should take place, do I now get an exemption because my conscience says if you're not blond and blue-eyed, I can discriminate against you?" asked Rep. Anthony DiFruscia, R-Windham.
Roberge insisted that the amendment she proposed was "really what the citizens of New Hampshire want."
"You're not looking at who is going to get hurt," she said.
Because a compromise must receive unanimous support to survive, Roberge was then removed from the committee and replaced with Sen. Matthew Houde, D-Plainfield, who voted with the majority. Roberge said she was disappointed she was removed.
Posted by Michael at 6:38 PM
make_change_not_lawsuits-0509_update.pdf (application/pdf Object)
click above link to read entire article
4. Shouldn’t we try to bring a federal case and get it to the U.S. Supreme Court as
soon as possible to settle the issue once and for all?
No. The history is pretty clear: the U.S. Supreme Court typically does not get too far ahead of
either public opinion or the law in the majority of states. For example, few states still had laws
requiring racial segregation or outlawing interracial marriage by the time the Court struck those
laws down. Most states had already struck down or repealed their own laws against same-sex
intimacy when the Supreme Court finally invalidated Texas's law.
Right now, we need to make gains in both public opinion and state law. The current
Supreme Court has been taking a pretty narrow view of civil rights and civil liberties. Even the
strongest LGBT rights decision the Court has issued—the Lawrence v. Texas case striking down
laws against intimacy for same-sex couples—explicitly commented that it was not saying
anything about formal recognition of same-sex relationships. The arguments in the briefs are
not the only thing that influences the Court’s decisions. The climate of receptivity and
momentum in the country on these issues matter as well. There is much we can and
should do together to strengthen our hand before we put a federal marriage case before
There are also serious risks if we go to the Supreme Court and lose, especially if we’ve asked it to
set aside state limits on marriage. We could still ask state courts to strike down marriage bans
under state constitutions, and we could still ask state legislatures to pass marriage laws. But most
state courts and legislatures pay attention to what the U.S. Supreme Court says about
constitutional principles of fairness and equality. It will be harder for us to get state courts to
strike down laws excluding same-sex couples from marriage (and many from civil unions, too) if
the U.S. Supreme Court has said such laws are okay under the federal constitution.
A loss now may make it harder to go to court later, and we may need to. It will take us a lot
longer to get a good Supreme Court decision if the Court has to overrule itself. Let's not forget:
it took 17 years to undo Bowers v. Hardwick, the 1986 Supreme Court decision that upheld
Georgia’s sodomy law. That was fast for the Supreme Court. And during that time, many
LGBT Americans lost jobs, lost custody of their children, and suffered other harms because the
Bowers decision was taken as a license to discriminate against us.
5. Should we get married and then sue the federal government to get it to honor
our marriages, say for example, for immigration, tax, or social security?
No. In 1996, Congress passed a law saying that the federal government would discriminate
against the marriages of same-sex couples (the so-called “Defense of Marriage Act” or DOMA)
by denying them all the protections that the federal government gives to all other validly married
couples. As a result, the federal government for five years has been discriminating against the
married same-sex couples of Massachusetts. It will, as things now stand, continue to deny equal
treatment to same-sex couples that marry in Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and Maine, and to those
who married in California in 2008.
There are two ways to get rid of "DOMA": going to court to have the law declared
unconstitutional or getting Congress to repeal it (something President Obama has said he
supports). These approaches can work together, and we are doing both. We’re working with
members of Congress on repeal legislation now. In addition, Gay & Lesbian Advocates &
Defenders (GLAD) has filed a thoughtfully constructed lawsuit in federal court on behalf of a
diverse group of plaintiffs married for years in Massachusetts. These plaintiffs are eligible for a
range of federal benefits, applied for those benefits, and were denied following extensive
administrative procedures. If that lawsuit succeeds, it should establish a principle that will be
fatal to DOMA, and we can bring other lawsuits addressing other federal protections to build on
GLAD’s lawsuit challenging DOMA is more modest than a case claiming there is a federal
constitutional right to marry. Until DOMA was passed, the federal government deferred to the
states' determinations of marital status. DOMA creates a "gay exception" and says the federal
government will not honor a state's marriage of same-sex couples. GLAD’s legal challenge to
DOMA simply asks that the courts tell the federal government to go back to doing what it did
before—recognize all marriages that a state has approved. In contrast, a federal case arguing that
it is unconstitutional not to let same-sex couples marry would ask the courts in effect to order that
couples be allowed to marry in every state, overthrowing most state marriage laws. That case
asks for much bolder action from the courts, and it requires a much bigger development in
constitutional law. We think the courts aren’t ready to do that yet.
And last, but not least, before bringing any federal case, people should beware of unintended
consequences. For example, a case focused on immigration could lead to the deportation of the
non-American member of a bi-national couple
Posted by Michael at 10:32 AM
why_the_ballot_box.pdf (application/pdf Object)
Why the ballot box and not the courts should be the next step
on marriage in California.
Now that the California Supreme Court has refused to strike down Proposition 8,
we need to go back to the voters. Since we lost Proposition 8 just six months ago, and
since a ballot initiative to repeal is likely to require a huge investment in time and money,
it is tempting to at least try a federal lawsuit first. But it’s a temptation we should resist.
It is by no means clear that a federal challenge to Prop. 8 can win now. And an
unsuccessful challenge may delay marriage even longer, not only in California but in
other states, and seriously damage the rights of LGBT people on many other important
Rather than filing premature lawsuits, we need to talk to our friends, family and
neighbors, and help them understand why denial of the freedom to marry is wrong. We
need to build a vigorous, aggressive campaign to overturn Prop 8 and restore the freedom
to marry in California. This is the moment to convince California and America that we
should have the freedom to marry.
History says the odds at the Supreme Court now are not so good.
The history is pretty clear: the U.S. Supreme Court typically does not get too far
ahead of either public opinion or the law in the majority of states. For example, few
states still had laws requiring racial segregation or outlawing interracial marriage by the
time the Court struck those laws down. Most states had already struck down or repealed
their own laws against same-sex intimacy when the Supreme Court finally invalidated
Right now, we need to make gains in both public opinion and state law. The
current Supreme Court has been taking a pretty narrow view of civil rights and civil
liberties. Even the strongest gay rights decision the Court has issued—the Lawrence v.
Texas case striking down laws against intimacy for gay couples—explicitly commented
that it was not saying anything about formal recognition of same-sex relationships. The
arguments in the briefs are not the only thing that influences the Court’s decisions. The
climate of receptivity and momentum in the country on these issues matter as well. There
is much we can and should do together to strengthen our hand before we put a federal
marriage case before the justices.
There is a lot to lose.
There are also serious risks if we go to the Supreme Court and lose, especially if
we’ve asked it to set aside state limits on marriage. We could still ask state courts to
strike down marriage bans under state constitutions, and we could still ask state
legislatures to pass marriage laws. But most state courts and legislatures pay attention to
what the U.S. Supreme Court says about constitutional principles of fairness and equality.
It will be harder for us to get state courts to strike down laws excluding same-sex couples
from marriage (and many from civil unions, too) if the U.S. Supreme Court has said they
are okay under the federal constitution (take a look at how much the Connecticut and
Iowa Supreme Courts relied on analysis from the U.S. Supreme Court in their marriage
There is a very significant chance that if we go to the Supreme Court and lose, the
Court will say that discrimination against LGBT people is fairly easy to justify, and that
same-sex couples can be denied the right to marry based on mistaken, antigay assertions
that LGBT people make bad parents. Indeed, we have recently lost marriage cases on
that very basis in the state high courts of New York, Maryland, and Washington, and in
intermediate appellate courts in Arizona and Indiana. Such a ruling from the U.S.
Supreme Court could hurt us badly in cases about parenting, schools, and government
A loss now may make it harder to go to court later, and we may need to. It will
take us a lot longer to get a good Supreme Court decision if the Court has to overrule
itself. Let's not forget: it took 17 years to undo Bowers v. Hardwick, the 1986 Supreme
Court decision that upheld Georgia’s sodomy law. That was fast for the Supreme Court.
And during that time, many LGBT Americans lost jobs, lost custody of their children,
and suffered other harms because the Bowers decision was taken as a license to
discriminate against us.
The limited DOMA challenge filed by Massachusetts couples is less risky.
In 1996, Congress passed a law saying that the federal government would
discriminate against the marriages of same-sex couples (the so-called “Defense of
Marriage Act” or DOMA) by denying them all the protections that the federal
government gives to all other validly married couples. As a result, the federal
government for five years has been discriminating against the married same-sex couples
of Massachusetts. It will, as things now stand, continue to deny equal treatment to samesex
couples that marry in Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and Maine, and to those who
married in California in 2008.
There are two ways to get rid of "DOMA": going to court to have the law
declared unconstitutional or getting Congress to repeal it (something President Obama
has said he supports). These approaches can work together, and we are doing both.
We’re working with members of Congress on repeal legislation now. In addition, Gay &
Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) has filed a thoughtfully constructed lawsuit in
federal court on behalf of a diverse group of plaintiffs married for years in Massachusetts.
These plaintiffs are eligible for a range of federal benefits, applied for those benefits, and
were denied following extensive administrative procedures. If that lawsuit succeeds, it
should establish a principle that will be fatal to DOMA, and we can bring other lawsuits
addressing other federal protections to build on it.
GLAD’s lawsuit challenging DOMA is more modest than a case claiming there is
a federal constitutional right to marry. Until DOMA was passed, the federal government
deferred to the states' determinations of marital status. DOMA creates a "gay exception"
and says the federal government will not honor a state's marriage of same-sex
couples. GLAD’s legal challenge to DOMA simply asks that the courts tell the federal
government to go back to doing what it did before—recognizing all marriages that a state
has approved. In contrast, a federal case arguing that it is unconstitutional not to let
same-sex couples marry would ask the courts in effect to order that couples be allowed to
marry in every state, overthrowing most state marriage laws. That case asks for much
bolder action from the courts, and it requires a much bigger development in constitutional
law. We think the courts aren’t ready to do that yet.
The bottom line.
A marriage case based on the federal constitution may well not win the right to
marry back in California. A loss would likely set back the fight for marriage nationwide,
and hurt LGBT parents, employees, and students all over America.
We lost the right to marry in California at the ballot box. That’s where we need to
win it back. Reversing Prop 8 at the ballot in California will set a powerful political
precedent and help change the national climate. We can persuade the hundreds of
thousands of fair-minded but still-conflicted voters we need, if we do the work. So let’s
get started now.
Posted by Michael at 10:29 AM
Thursday, May 28, 2009
support Levi with your business.
Andrea Chalupa: Levi's sports white knots in support of gay marriage: "Levi's sports white knots in support of gay marriage
Levi Strauss has taken a stance, outfitting its mannequins in white. Bruce Watson of Walletpop explains:
The White Knot program encourages people to demonstrate their solidarity with marriage equality by wearing a small piece of knotted white ribbon. A subtle symbol, white knots have appeared on the clothing of celebrities ranging from New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg to comedienne Kathy Griffin. And now, of course, they are appearing on hundreds of Levi's mannequins.
San Francisco-based, family owned Levi Strauss was the first Fortune 500 company to extend health benefits to "domestic partners of unmarried employees." Now the jean giant is spreading a symbol of one of the most important issues of our time--love (versus fear). Now that's good business--forward thinking and engaging.
While it seems likely that Levi's might lose a little bit of market share in some of the country's more conservative areas, its move to embrace gay rights suggests that this issue has become more about civil rights than about religion. In this context, it seems like the move for universal marriage rights may have turned a corner.
As a Christian, I don't see this as a religious issue at all. It's a basic rights issue. (Whoever thinks otherwise is using fear-based thinking and preaching separation, which is the opposite of what God wants for us.) The fact that there are businesses, like Levi's, that take a stand of support for gay civil rights, in this harsh economic climate, proves as much.
To read more of Watson's break-down of Levi's support of gay marriage equality, go to
Posted by Michael at 9:10 AM
Maggie is at it again interesting WPIX refuses to air commercial.
Christian Group Broadcasts Anti-Gay-Marriage Ad in New York - NYTimes.com
by JEREMY W. PETERS
Published: May 27, 2009
The National Organization for Marriage, a conservative Christian group that has fought efforts to legalize same-sex marriage in California and in the Northeast, has set its sights on New York with its latest media campaign.
Beginning Thursday in the New York City and Albany markets, the organization will run a 30-second television commercial that warns of unanticipated social consequences if the state allows gay couples to marry.
Echoing a theme that was used in turning public opinion against same-sex marriage in California in a vote last fall, the commercial suggests that children will be taught about homosexuality in schools.
“And it’s not just kids who face consequences,” the narrator says over foreboding music. “The rights of people who believe marriage means a man and a woman will no longer matter. We’ll have to accept gay marriage whether we like it or not.”
The commercial closes with a shot of the Capitol as the number for the State Senate switchboard flashes on the screen. The Senate must act in the next four weeks if it is to pass a same-sex marriage bill before the Legislature adjourns. The Assembly passed the bill this month, and Gov. David A. Paterson has pledged to sign it.
The National Organization for Marriage said its initial ad spending, which includes the television commercial and a radio spot, was just over $100,000. That campaign will run through Sunday.
The group said it hopes the commercial, which is intended to raise doubts about an argument made by advocates for same-sex marriage — that allowing gay couples to marry is simply a matter of fairness and equality — will give opponents a louder voice in a debate that has been dominated by the other side.
“We need to combat the relative vacuum on our side,” Maggie Gallagher, the founder of the National Organization for Marriage, said in an interview on Wednesday. “This message is that gay marriage will have consequences. And if you oppose gay marriage, pick up the phone, write a letter, drop an e-mail, send us some money.”
Ms. Gallagher added: “Their most powerful argument is, ‘This won’t matter to you, so you can drop your opposition.’ ”
The campaign, which is part of a broader effort that includes automated phone calls in more than two dozen Senate districts and a billboard in Times Square, comes two days after the California Supreme Court upheld a ban on same-sex marriage.
Advocates for same-sex marriage in New York, who have been laying groundwork for the bill for several years through grass-roots activity — like recruiting supporters who are now reaching out to senators — have spent at least $200,000 on television ads in the last few weeks. A commercial running in the Albany, Buffalo and Syracuse markets features a husband and wife who say it is unfair that their lesbian daughter cannot get married while their straight one can.
Already, the National Organization for Marriage commercial has stirred controversy. WPIX-TV in New York has refused to run the ad, the group said. Officials at the station and the Tribune Company, which owns WPIX, did not respond to requests for comment.
Posted by Michael at 8:23 AM
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The Associated Press: Gay groups call federal marriage suit premature: "By LISA LEFF – 1 hour ago
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A coalition of gay rights groups said Wednesday that a federal same-sex marriage lawsuit brought by two high-profile lawyers is premature and they'd rather work through state legislatures and voters to win wedding rights.
A day after the California Supreme Court upheld a voter-approved ban on gay marriage, the American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and other national organizations issued a statement saying they think the U.S. Supreme Court is not ready to rule in their favor on the issue.
'In our view, the best way to win marriage equality nationally is to continue working state by state, not to bring premature federal challenges that pose a very high risk of setting a negative U.S. Supreme Court precedent,' said Shannon Minter, legal director of National Center for Lesbian Rights.
On Tuesday, lawyers Theodore B. Olson and David Boies, who represented opposing sides in the 2000 Bush v. Gore election challenge, announced they had filed a lawsuit in federal court on behalf of two gay men and two gay women.
Their case argues that California's voter-enacted ban on same-sex marriage, known as Proposition 8, violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of equal protection and due process.
Olson said he hopesthe suit, which seeks a preliminary injunction against the California measure until the case is resolved, will wind up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
A favorable ruling there would allow gays and lesbians to get married in every state, just as the court's 1967 ruling in a Virginia case outlawed prohibitions on interracial marriage.
"There will be many people who will think this is not the time to go to federal," Olson said Wednesday at a news conference in Los Angeles. "Both David and I have studied the court for more years than probably either one of us would like to admit. We think we know what we are doing."
Boies agreed: "Reasonable minds can differ, but when you have people being denied civil rights today, I think it is impossible as lawyers and as an American to say 'No, you have to wait, now is not the right time.' I think if we had done that in prior civil rights battles, we would not be where we are."
Chad Griffin, a gay political consultant and former aide to President Bill Clinton, said he approached Olson about taking on the case several months ago while the California Supreme Court was considering several legal challenges to Proposition 8.
On Tuesday, the court rejected those challenges and upheld the state's gay marriage ban. The court said same-sex couples still have the right to civil unions and the law does not "entirely repeal or abrogate" the right to a protected relationship.
"For even one couple to live through even one more day in state-sanctioned second-class citizenship is too long," Griffin said.
The California court last year ruled that denying same-sex couples the right to wed violated the state constitution. An estimated 18,000 gay couples married in the months preceding the passage in November of Proposition 8, which changed the constitution to say marriage can only be between a man and a woman.
While upholding the ban Tuesday, the justices said the marriages conducted while such unions were allowed could stand.
Posted by Michael at 4:20 PM
Marriage Equality Worth $210M to N.Y. | News | Advocate.com: "Marriage Equality Worth $210M to N.Y.
By Julie Bolcer
Marriage Equality Worth $210M to N.Y.
New York City comptroller William C. Thompson Jr. announced on Tuesday that same-sex marriage could inject as much as $210 million into the state’s economy in the three years immediately following its legalization. That figure is an update of a 2007 analysis on the economic impact of same-sex marriage on New York.
The new analysis accounts for recent legislative and judicial gains on marriage equality across the country and the current economic challenges. For example, the analysis factors in the likelihood that fewer couples will stay overnight for “destination” weddings and fewer guests will attend.
According to the comptroller, New York State could gain $210 million if the economy does not have any effect on wedding spending. That figure would drop to $178 million if the recession were to cause a 50% reduction in the number of out-of-state guests attending weddings.
In New York City the legalization of same-sex marriage could generate as much as $149 million, which would drop to $120 million were the recession to have an impact.
“And while other states across our nation have legalized marriage for same-sex couples since my last report, I expect New York to still stand as a prime destination for many couples because it will stand as a welcoming beacon of diversity and acceptance,” Thompson said in a statement.
Thompson indicated that the conservative analysis does not capture all the potential economic effects of marriage equality. The legalization of same-sex marriage could lower recruiting costs for firms should an expanded pool of qualified job candidates move to New York as a result of the law, for example.
Posted by Michael at 2:53 PM
Bush Solicitor General Ted Olson Supporting Same Sex Marriage - Political Punch
President George W. Bush's first Solicitor General, Ted Olson, filed a lawsuit in US district court on May 22 to protest Prop 8, the California law banning same sex marriage.
Joining with his former opponent in Bush v Gore, David Boies, Olson is suing on behalf of two same-sex couples in California, The Advocate reports: Kristin Perry and Sandra Stier of Berkeley, who have been together for nine years and are the parents of four children, and Paul Katami and Jeffrey Zarrillo of Burbank, who have been together for eight years.
Their argument: the State of California giving same sex couples "the separate-but-unequal institution of domestic partnership," instead of full marriage, violates equal protection and due process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, creating a class of "second-class citizens"
"We believe this is the kind of matter where Americans must come together and recognize the rights of all citizens," Olson told the AP.
"This is a federal question," he said, expressing the desire that the case end up before the US Supreme Court. This is about the rights of individuals to be treated equally and not be stigmatized."
“For a long time I’ve personally felt that we are doing a grave injustice for people throughout this country by denying equality to gay and lesbian individuals,” Olson told The Advocate. “The individuals that we represent and will be representing in this case feel they’re being denied their rights. And they’re entitled to have a court vindicate those rights.”
Olson said that recent US Supreme Court rulings “make it clear that individuals are entitled to be treated equally under the Constitution. I’m reasonably confident that this is the right time for these [injustices] to be vindicated.”
It should be noted, for those not fully aware of Mr. Olson's resume, that he is a full-throated conservative, a Federalist hero who in 1999 welcomed conferees to "the heart" of the proverbial "vast right-wing conspiracy" he is perhaps the most highly respected conservative lawyer in the land. As Assistant Attorney General, he defended President Reagan during the Iran-Contra scandal, served on the board of directors of The American Spectator, and helped Paul Jones's lawyers prepare for their case.
At Americablog, gay activist John Aravosis writes in response: "Ted Freaking Olson is now better on gay marriage than our president - than most of our party...At what point will President Obama realize that the year is 2009 and not 1993? America has become accustomed, inured, and possibly even bored with all the gay rights victories of the past five years. They just don't care any more. And I mean that in a good way. Gay marriage is bursting across the land and the American people have shrugged. They just don't care. So why does our president? Why do he and his advisers seem to be treating gay people and their issues as, at best, an embarrassing inconvenience?"
Posted by Michael at 10:50 AM
GayCityNews - California Supreme Court Upholds Prop 8
By:ARTHUR S. LEONARD
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The California Supreme Court, on May 26, ruled that Proposition 8, the measure approved by voters there on November 4 to amend that state's constitution to provide that only marriages between a man and woman would be "valid or recognized in California," was not subject to challenge as an improper constitutional "revision," and so was properly enacted through an initiative amendment.
Only one member of the court, Justice Carlos Moreno, dissented from this conclusion.
However, the court unanimously ruled that those couples -- roughly 18,000, by most estimates -- who married in reliance on its May 15, 2008, marriage decision, between mid-June and November 4, had "vested rights" in their marital status that could not be retroactively invalidated without raising serious due process concerns. Therefore, those marriages remain valid in every respect.
Chief Justice Ronald George wrote for the majority of the court, producing a decision signed by five judges of the seven-member bench. Justice Kathryn Mickle Werdegar wrote a separate opinion, agreeing with the court's conclusion that Prop 8 was validly enacted, but differing from the majority on what the appropriate test is for determining whether a proposed amendment is a revision.
Under the California Constitution's amendment process, a proposal to "amend" the Constitution by initiative can be placed on the ballot through petitions if they are signed by at least eight percent of the total number of voters in the most recent gubernatorial contest. However, a proposal to "revise" the Constitution may only get to the ballot through one of two procedures -- either by a supermajority vote of the Legislature or in a state constitutional convention. Anything placed on the ballot, either an initiative amendment or a revision, requires only a majority of those voting to be enacted.
Proposition 8 was certified for the ballot shortly after the State Supreme Court's marriage equality decision last May 15. In that ruling, the court found that same-sex couples are entitled to marry. Because the right to marry is fundamental and sexual orientation is a "suspect classification," for which the state must provide a compelling rationale for any disparate treatment, the burden on the state was to provide a compelling reason for excluding same-sex couples from civil marriage. The state did not meet it burden, in the eyes of the court's majority.
The court rejected the state's argument that providing domestic partnership for same-sex couples, carrying almost all the rights of marriage, was sufficient to meet the constitutional standard.
The proponents of Proposition 8 petitioned the court to delay implementing its marriage ruling until the election, but the court turned them down. On the other hand, Prop 8 opponents sought to throw the measure off the ballot as a revision rather than an amendment, but the court dismissed their petition as well.
After Prop 8 passed with about 52 percent of the vote, several lawsuits were filed challenging it. Although the court refused to block Prop 8's implementation pending a decision, it did agree to expedite its consideration of the challenge, and heard arguments in March.
Chief Justice George's opinion, although spanning 135 pages and extensively discussing the initiative amendment process, essentially boils down to the conclusion that to be a revision, a proposition must either significantly affect a large number of constitutional provisions or cause a substantial change in the basic plan of California government.
George found that Prop 8 affected only a handful of constitutional provisions, adding a 14-word definition of marriage to the Constitution, so the measure would not be deemed a "revision" under the "quantitative test." As to the "qualitative" standard, he found that Prop 8 did not substantially affect the basic plan of California government.
George reached this conclusion after asserting, as he had suggested in questioning during the oral argument, that Prop 8 had little effect on the provision of substantive legal rights to same-sex couples in California, where the Legislature had previously provided for domestic partnerships that carry almost all of the rights, benefits, and responsibilities of marriage under state law. While the marriage equality ruling last May made much of the significance of withholding the term "marriage," the new ruling minimized its significance.
George essentially interpreted Prop 8 as doing no more than eliminating some terminology. He asserted that the initiative left intact the balance of last year's decision, including the court's holding that same-sex couples are entitled to all the rights and benefits of marriage. The earlier-enacted Domestic Partnership Law, which survives Prop 8, is not a matter of "legislative grace" but, in the wake of last May's ruling, a matter "of state constitutional right."
However, in Prop 8's aftermath, the substantive right to marry the court identified last year should be re-characterized as the right to have legal recognition for a couple's relationship carrying all the rights and benefits associated with marriage, but without using that term. All that Prop 8 did, George concluded, was "carve a narrow exception" out of the privacy, due process, and equal protection principles the court relied on last year. That exception did not have a substantial enough impact to constitute a change to the basic plan of government, in his view.
Citing past rulings upholding amendments on the death penalty and local government taxing authority, George asserted, "Quantitatively, Proposition 8 unquestionably has much less of an effect on the preexisting state constitutional scheme than virtually any of the previous constitutional changes that our past decisions have found to constitute amendments rather than revisions."
George found Attorney General Jerry Brown's separate challenge to Prop 8 as an improper attempt to modify an "inalienable right" as "flawed" and based on long-discredited 19th-century natural law theories. The chief justice found no support for the contention that rights identified in the State Constitution as "inalienable" were somehow insulated from the initiative amendment process, pointing out several past occasions on which the court upheld amendments modifying rights derived from the same portion of the Constitution.
Justice Werdegar disagreed with George's conclusion that the court's prior cases on the amendment/ revision issue had clearly established that the only qualitative measure was a proposition's impact on the structure of government. She pointed to past decisions suggesting that a significant impact on a fundamental right could also be deemed a revision. She agreed, however, with George's contention that Prop 8 did not have that sort of fundamental impact on the rights of same-sex couples to gain legal recognition.
Justice Moreno, seizing on the same prior cases Werdegar cited, found that the court's ruling had significantly undermined the guarantee of equal treatment by the government, and thus was actually a revision of the state's equal protection clause.
"I conclude that requiring discrimination against a minority group on the basis of a suspect classification strikes at the core of the promise of equality that underlies our California Constitution and thus 'represents such a drastic and far-reaching change in the nature and operation of our governmental structure that it must be considered a "revision" of the state Constitutional rather than a mere "amendment" thereof,'" Moreno wrote.
He went on to argue that the ruling was not just a defeat for same-sex couples, but for all minority groups who rely on the court to protect their right to equal treatment under the law.
Moreno also challenged head-on the argument that Prop 8 was a "narrow" or "limited" exception to the Constitution's equal protection argument. "The passionate public debate over whether same-sex couples should be allowed to marry, even in a state that offers largely equivalent substantive rights through the alternative of domestic partnership, belies such a description," he wrote.
Tellingly Moreno added, "But even a narrow and limited exception to the promise of full equality strikes at the core of, and thus fundamentally alters, the guarantee of equal treatment... Promising equal treatment to some is fundamentally different from promising equal treatment to all. Promising treatment that is almost equal is fundamentally different from ensuring truly equal treatment. Granting a disfavored minority only some of the rights enjoyed by the majority is fundamentally different from recognizing, as a constitutional imperative, that they must be granted all of those rights."
Surprisingly, in light of the 5-4 vote last year, the court was unanimous in concluding that Prop 8 could not be read to retroactively invalidate the 18,000 marriages of same-sex couples performed prior to the passage of Prop 8. Amendments under consideration are presumed to be prospective, George argued, and the Prop 8 proponents' argument that they had made clear in their election campaign that the measure was intended to deny recognition to same-sex marriages "wherever and whenever" they were performed did not adequately communicate to voters that they were being asked to invalidate existing marriages.
More significantly, the court was troubled by the idea that couples who relied on its past decision and the state of the law when they married could be retroactively stripped of that status. According to George, once a marriage takes place the participants acquire "vested rights," and such rights cannot be taken away without due process of law, which would not be satisfied by an election campaign and an initiative vote.
The court took no position about whether the state would have to continue to recognize marriages performed elsewhere during that window period of June 16-November 5, 2008, stating in a footnote that none of the petitions presented to the court had raised the question.
Posted by Michael at 10:42 AM
California Supreme Court upholds ban on gay marriage in 6-1 vote - San Jose Mercury News
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California Supreme Court upholds ban on gay marriage in 6-1 vote
By Mike Swift, Dana Hull and Sean Webby
Posted: 05/26/2009 05:51:22 PM PDT
Updated: 05/26/2009 10:27:51 PM PDT
Ending a six-month legal battle and instantly igniting the next political fight, the California Supreme Court on Tueday upheld Proposition 8's ban on same-sex marriage, but left intact the unions of gay and lesbian couples who wed last year.
In a definitive 6-1 decision that cheered opponents of gay marriage, the justices said they would be overstepping their authority if they were to overturn the constitutional ban voters enacted Nov. 4. In the same ruling, the court established a two-tiered system of marriage for same-sex couples that seemed bound to satisfy no one.
Gay marriage advocates vowed Tuesday to take the fight to "win marriage back" to California voters in 2010. With same-sex marriage now legal in Iowa, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut, supporters say they have momentum after a "sea change" of public opinion in recent months.
"It is impossible to square the elation we felt a year ago" — when the same seven justices struck down state prohibitions on same-sex marriage — "with the grief we feel today," said Kate Kendall, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. "It is clear this is not the end."
Supporters of Proposition 8, meanwhile, were thrilled with Tuesday's decisive 6-1 ruling, saying the judiciary had not just backed the will of the people in the 52-48 percent margin of the November vote, but had reaffirmed the power of initiative government in California.
court's decision clearly states is that if the definition of marriage is going to change," said Andrew Pugno, general counsel of ProtectMarriage.com, "it's going to have to change at the ballot box."
Like thousands of same-sex married people across the state, Lisa Miller took a nervous break from work at Stanford's Hoover Institution at 10 Tuesday morning, in anticipation of the court decision.
She and her wife, Paula Jabloner, were married in San Jose a few days before voters passed the gay marriage ban. But when the radio intoned the news of two seemingly conflicting things — the court had affirmed her union, but also the vote banning gay marriage — Miller and many other same-sex couples felt guilt and disappointment as strongly as relief. Instead of celebrating, Miller and Jabloner planned to go to a protest Tuesday night — one example of how the latest judicial ruling on same-sex marriage will reverberate through California politics into 2010 and perhaps beyond.
"It mostly hurts," said the Hoover Institution archivist, sitting alone in her basement office moments after the ruling, the murmur of scholars outside mingling with the radio.
Despite the ruling, even Pugno of ProtectMarriage.com predicted the two-tiered system for same-sex couples would inevitably lead to more litigation, even as the focus turns once again to the ballot box.
For many of the estimated 18,000 same-sex couples who legally married in California between June 16 and Election Day the emotions that followed the court ruling were a sharp and unwelcome mixture of relief, guilt and sadness.
"It's got to be the hollowest victory around," Miller said. "I'm in a top tier, and everybody else is in another."
She picked up the phone and dialed Jabloner, an archivist at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.
"So we're still married," Miller said, her voice quiet and flat, when Jabloner picked up the phone. "People congratulating you? "... That's good."
The situation made David Speakman, part of one of the first two same-sex couples to marry in Santa Clara County in June, feel as if he were "on an island" with the 36,000 other gay men and lesbians who wed legally last year.
"It's an odd feeling because Rich and I are still married, but we are separated from other married people who are different-sex couples, because we'll be under the obligation to prove we're married," Speakman said. "We're also separated from the other gay people who can't get married, because we have something they can't get."
With that "moral dilemma," he is thinking about boycotting all weddings — except in states that recognize same-sex marriage.
In San Francisco, where gay marriage has swung like a pendulum between legal and illegal over the past five years, at least 2,000 "marriage equality" supporters gathered in front of the Supreme Court on Tuesday morning to await the ruling.
After the court's decision was released, hundreds of people somberly walked across the plaza to San Francisco City Hall, where the first gay marriages were performed in February 2004. Later, a throng of protesters blocked the nearby intersection of Van Ness Avenue and Grove Street.
But like many San Francisco protests, this was a juxtaposition of anger with near-celebration, as each arrest was greeted by applause, a blast of music from an impromptu brass band and a gay couple making out in front of the riot officers. About 175 protesters were arrested in a peaceful, methodical operation by San Francisco police.
Overall, said Anthony Turney, a 71-year-old Episcopalian archdeacon at Grace Cathedral who was preparing to be arrested for his first time, "this is a sad day."
"If I am going to call myself a Christian," he said, "that is incompatible with denying rights to any minority."
Associate Pastor Chauncey Killens of Salinas, meanwhile, was literally chased away from the protest when he expressed his support for Proposition 8.
"I'm here to support the 7 million who voted for Proposition 8," Killens said. He said he was disappointed he could not get his bull-horned message heard over the boos.
"And they call us hateful and bigoted," he said.
In downtown San Jose Tuesday evening, a crowd of about 300 protested and marched with a mix of anger, disappointment and a resolve to repeal Proposition 8.
"I'm mad as hell, everyone,'' David Parker said through a microphone at Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park. Unmarried and 33, the president of the Silicon Valley Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Democratic Club, brought along a petition for a ballot initiative that would repeal Proposition 8. "We are not done,'' he said, "we are here to stay and we're not rolling over.''
Damaris Pyle and Connie Slemmer carried a sign saying they were wed Sept. 22, 2009, just weeks before voters approved Proposition 8.
It's bittersweet and confusing, Pyle said.
The court's Solomonic decision, which let some 18,000 gay marriages stand while outlawing new unions, did not sit well with her wife, either.
"We're in limbo,'' Slemmer said. "We feel like second-class citizens where our marriage is not seen as equal to others.''
The shape of the next political campaign over same-sex marriage was already taking shape Tuesday with the attitudes of minority voters certain to be one battleground.
Mindful of their poor performance with minority voters on Proposition 8, gay-marriage advocates vowed to do a better job of winning over Latinos, African-Americans and the faithful this time around. Spanish-speaking organizers will be hired to do outreach in the Central Valley, and faith leaders will play a key role. There's already a slogan: "Win Marriage Back: Make it Real!"
Meanwhile, Proposition 8 supporters were also readying for the next battle. They promised a public outreach campaign to young people, churches, and "ethnic communities" on the benefits of the traditional definition of marriage as one man and one woman.
"This is not over," said the Rev. Nestor Morales, the pastor of the Generations Foursquare Church in San Jose. "We're going to be very clear, very coherent and united."
Posted by Michael at 7:26 AM
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Robert and I can vouch for the sentiments in this article
Gay couples say being married really matters - The Boston Globe
Most say they feel more committed, accepted by peers
The Boston Globe
For gay couples, married matters
Most say they feel more committed, accepted by peers
By Stephen Smith
Five years after the first same-sex weddings in Massachusetts, gay and lesbian couples express deeply traditional reasons for deciding to wed and cite equally conventional benefits flowing from marriage, according to a study being released this week.
A significant majority of the 558 gay men and women surveyed said that since marrying, they feel more committed to their spouses, more accepted in their community, and more likely to be open about their sexual orientation at work.
The survey indicates that there is something universal about the legal protections and social advantages afforded by the institution of marriage, said the study's authors from the University of California, Los Angeles as well as independent researchers. And it suggests, they said, that a ritual once scorned even by many same-sex couples has the power to ease discrimination.
"This really helps us confirm and makes us understand why same-sex couples demand marriage - if it's just about the legal rights, why wouldn't they be happy with civil partnerships?" said Stephanie Coontz author of "Marriage, A History."
"They want access to that word that is so highly valued by our society and by other people.
"It is one thing not to invite your child's girlfriend or boyfriend to dinner," said Coontz, a professor at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash. "It is quite another thing not to invite the spouse."
Same-sex marriages began in Massachusetts on May 17, 2004, after the Supreme Judicial Court declared that gay and lesbian couples had the right to wed. The ruling ignited a political and social maelstrom in Massachusetts and beyond, but since then four other states - Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, and Vermont - have extended marriage rights to same-sex couples. Lawmakers in New Hampshire are currently debating whether to make their state the next to do so.
The study was prepared and paid for by UCLA's Williams Institute, which examines legal and public policy issues related to sexual orientation and is funded by foundations and individuals, including supporters of gay marriage.
The authors of the survey, which consisted of about 30 questions, said they regarded it as an initial assessment of gay marriage, largely designed to explore issues arising during public debate rather than to delve into more personal aspects of couples' relationships. For example, researchers asked whether respondents' children had faced taunting as a result of their parents' same-sex marriage - only 5 percent had - but did not ask how happily married partners were.
"We've been interested in the impact of marriage for a long time," said Lee Badgett, researcher director of the Williams Institute and senior author of the study. "I've been combing the universe for data, but there just aren't that many places to look at same-sex couples who are literally married."
The marriage questions were included in a larger online health survey conducted this month by the state Department of Public Health. The agency found potential respondents through a database maintained by the gay rights group MassEquality, which includes donors as well as people identified as being in same-sex marriages, and invitations to participate were e-mailed. About 4 percent responded.
Those surveyed were not a randomly selected population - something that would have been far more costly and difficult to accomplish - so the findings are not representative of the more than 12,000 gay married couples in Massachusetts. But Coontz and a Wellesley College researcher, Michelle Porche, praised it as a robust, well-executed study.
Virtually all of the married men and women who responded - 93 percent - said "love and commitment" were the prime factors in their decision to wed.
Marriage appears to have forged stronger ties between spouses and their families and even colleagues on the job. When asked whether marriage had created a stronger bond with their partners, nearly three-quarters said it had. And families, the gay couples said, reacted with overwhelming acceptance of their marriage: 82 percent said their parents responded positively, while 91 percent indicated siblings were receptive.
Eight of 10 study participants said that being married made them more likely to disclose their sexual orientation to their coworkers and doctors.
"That suggests there's something powerful about that ritual, about that institution," Badgett said. "People feel more accepted by society."
Porche, a senior research scientist at the Wellesley Centers for Women, said the findings mirror those of a smaller, although more intensive, study she conducted by interviewing couples not long after gay marriage was legalized.
"Studies like these help us from afar to get to know people a little bit better," Porche said. "The more people who have reservations about gay marriage can really meet married same-sex couples and get to know them and their experience, the more they would be open to supporting" the right to marry.
Still, advocates on both sides of the gay marriage debate remain starkly divided in their beliefs.
Kris Mineau, a leader of the failed effort to place a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage on the ballot in Massachusetts, said he remained convinced that voters should have the final say on who has the right to marry. And, he said, he has not wavered.
"There's nothing in that poll that suggests to me any reason why marriage should be changed summarily to meet the personal desires of a small segment of the population," said Mineau, president of the Massachusetts Family Institute. "I see no reason to do this unless the entire population agrees this is in the best interest of our society."
Scott Gortikov, executive director of MassEquality, said the study's findings suggest that the benefits of same-sex marriage extend beyond the couple.
"What the results are saying is that equal marriage makes for a healthier and happier family life and, necessarily, a healthier and happier and more solid society," Gortikov said.
Jonathan Scott and Mike McGuill had been a couple for a decade when, on Aug. 1, 2006, they awakened and headed to the Pilgrim Monument with their young son and two friends, who'd met them for breakfast. "I said, 'Before our scrambled eggs, we're going to get married, I hope that's OK with you,' " Scott recalled.
His mother, Scott said, was married five times, so he'd grown up with a well-honed skepticism. But as his relationship with McGuill deepened and they adopted their son, marriage appeared to provide indispensable legal protection to them as a couple and as parents, said Scott, who participated in the survey.
"And yet, what happened as we were getting married, it was an experience I'd never had before," said Scott, chief executive of Victory Programs, which helps substance abusers in Boston. "I was so moved at just being in the presence of someone I'd been with 10 years, talking about our love together and our commitment to each other."
At family gatherings, McGuill felt a keen sense of difference when he watched his married brothers and sisters - until that August morning three years ago.
"Now, I have what they have," said McGuill, a veterinarian. "I have a marriage. Getting married, there's nothing revolutionary about it - it's something you do with the person you love."
Stephen Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted by Michael at 8:44 AM
Saturday, May 23, 2009
Beliefs - Same-Sex Marriage Laws Pose Protection Quandary - NYTimes.com
By PETER STEINFELS
The movement toward legalizing same-sex marriage in New Hampshire has hit a bump. Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, said last week that he would sign a same-sex marriage bill only if it included new language expanding protection for religious institutions that might object to same-sex marriage. On Wednesday, the state’s House of Representatives rejected that amendment. So for the moment, the matter is stalled in New Hampshire.
But whatever the outcome, Mr. Lynch may have moved the debate over same-sex marriage forward, at least by isolating it from the question of how it affects religious groups.
For some time, scholars have debated this issue, and some are now urging states considering same-sex marriage laws to include strong protections for religious organizations. Some are even suggesting protections for individuals and small businesses who offer services for weddings — like photographers, florists, caterers, bakers, wedding planners and musicians. The argument is that these individuals and businesses might have religious objections to gay couples’ marrying and could be exposed to sizable fines or strong penalties under nondiscrimination statutes.
The deliberations in New Hampshire could have implications for New York, where the legalization of same-sex marriage hovers on the brink without the kind of protection for religious groups that Mr. Lynch demanded. New Hampshire’s experience may also affect current debates in the District of Columbia and Rhode Island, or even in California, if the State Supreme Court there rules next week either to overturn Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage that passed last November or to uphold the marriages performed for 18,000 same-sex couples before November.
Opponents of same-sex marriage have frequently said it threatens to penalize members of the clergy who refuse to solemnize such unions or who preach against them. Legal experts almost unanimously dismiss such alarms. Refusals to officiate or to mute a religious doctrine, they say, are solidly protected by the First Amendment.
But that is not where the real issue lies. What would be the impact of legalizing same-sex marriage on a broader range of religious institutions?
Would Catholic universities now providing housing for married couples be required to accommodate same-sex couples? Would church or synagogue facilities used for wedding receptions have to be equally available for same-sex celebrations? How would provisions forbidding discrimination on the grounds of marital status affect employment and benefits policies or adoption services like the specialized adoption services that Catholic Charities in Massachusetts suspended after the state legalized same-sex marriage and ordered the church group to place children with gay couples?
Connecticut and Vermont addressed at least some of these questions in their recent bills legalizing same-sex marriage. Religious dissenters from such marriages, they stated, “shall not be required to provide services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges” if the request “is related to the solemnization of a marriage or celebration of a marriage.”
Connecticut also extended protections to religious adoption agencies, and Mr. Lynch spelled out other exemptions related to counseling, courses, retreats and housing by religious institutions.
What about self-employed individuals or small businesses that offer services for weddings — the “little guy,” as Robin Fretwell Wilson, a law professor at Washington and Lee University, puts it.
Ms. Wilson is an editor of “Same-Sex Marriage and Religious Liberty: Emerging Conflicts” (Rowman & Littlefield, 2008) and one of a group of legal scholars urging states considering legalizing same-sex marriage to include “robust” protections for religious conscience.
These scholars have divided views on the wisdom of same-sex marriage itself. Ms. Wilson, for example, has taken no position on it, while Douglas Laycock, another editor of that volume and a foremost analyst of First Amendment religious liberty questions, strongly supports it. Mr. Laycock considers that support compatible with his advocacy of religious exemptions. They are “parallel protections,” he believes, “for quite similar claims to individual liberty in matters essential to personal identity.”
Writing to officials in New York, Mr. Laycock pointed out that it was not “in the interest of the gay and lesbian community to create religious martyrs when enforcing the right to same-sex marriage.”
“It is far better,” he wrote, “to respect the liberty of both sides and let same-sex marriage be implemented with a minimum of confrontation.”
Exactly how great is the potential for confrontation? Marc Stern, the longtime legal counsel and now acting co-executive director of the American Jewish Congress, thinks there are multiple possibilities and joined Mr. Laycock in writing to New York officials.
Many states already have a welter of laws prohibiting discrimination on grounds of moral status and sexual orientation in employment, housing, services by licensed professionals and public accommodation. Some of these laws have religious exemptions; some do not. Legalizing same-sex marriage could ratchet these up in complicated ways, creating the possibility of expensive litigation, some advocates of clear-cut protection for religious objectors say.
Or maybe not. Dale Carpenter, who teaches at the University of Minnesota Law School and is a conservative advocate of same-sex marriage, believes that recent experience with either same-sex marriage, civil unions or plain-vanilla provisions against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation shows very few “legal conflicts between gay couples and religious objectors.”
Which leaves open the question of when a few is still too many. And if the scope of the problem is uncertain, why not err on the side of protecting conscience?
One obvious reason for supporters of same-sex marriage is the worry that religious exemptions could block same-sex couples from obtaining the wedding services they need, including even a marriage license from a local official.
Recognizing this danger, Ms. Wilson and her colleagues have argued in letters to officials that a government employee should not be allowed to “act as a choke point on the path to marriage.” Nor would these scholars allow refusals of wedding-related services on religious grounds when same-sex couples might suffer “substantial hardship,” though not “mere inconvenience or symbolic harm,” because similar services or accommodations were unavailable from others.
The language these scholars have crafted to balance such competing concerns is rather less eloquent than “in sickness and in health” and “till death do us part.” So was the language Mr. Lynch sent to his state legislature. Maybe legislators in New York and elsewhere can improve upon it. It would be disappointing if they did not at least try.
Posted by Michael at 9:54 AM
Friday, May 22, 2009
Meghan McCain asks New York Republicans to Support Marriage Equality
In an Open letter to New York Republicans published today in the New York Daily News, our favorite Republican, Meghan McCain, daughter of Sen. John McCain, said the New York GOP should embrace gay marriage…. And said supporting a position that wants to treat people unequally isn’t just un-Republican, it’s down right “un-American.”
The feisty Ms. McCain also asked if equally is for everyone or only those who you agree with, saying, “do the rights and privileges we offer citizens include everyone in our country, or only some of us?”
Meghan was really big on the golden rule in her letter and said, “I believe that allowing gays and lesbians the freedom to marry is an idea whose time has come. Though my opinion is no doubt influenced by my family’s public role in political life, I still approach this from personal experience, as I think most people do. For me, this is about treating all of my friends, and all of our brothers, sisters, children and grandchildren the same as I want to be treated. Equality under the law and personal freedoms are what make America the greatest country in the world, and they are core values that I hold as a Republican.”
Posted by Michael at 2:38 PM
ok its not marriage but its a big step in the right direction. it will flip like the others eventually.
Washington Blade: Gay and Lesbian News, Entertainment, Politics and Opinion
Illinois poised to approve civil unions
Lawmakers to amend 'shell bill' to pass measure
By CHRIS JOHNSON, Washington Blade
May 21 2009, 1:02 PM | [Bookmark and Share] | [Email this article]
The Illinois General Assembly is expected to approve a measure next week that would legalize civil unions, according to an LGBT activist.
Rick Garcia, political director for Equality Illinois, said Thursday he's "absolutely" expecting the full state House and the Senate to pass a civil union measure either Tuesday or Wednesday. The bill has support from Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D).
The House Youth and Family Committee, chaired by Rep. Greg Harris, who's gay, intends to attach an amendment legalizing civil unions to a "shell bill" that's already been approved by the Senate, Garcia said. If the full House votes in favor of the legislation, the bill would be sent to the full Senate within hours for a vote of concurrence.
Garcia said Illinois lawmakers often use "shell bills" to pass legislation expediently. He said it's necessary to legalize civil unions through this method because the legislative session ends May 30 and the approach limits the time that opponents of civil unions can lobby lawmakers.
"We get it out of the House and then senators only have a few hours of being beat up by our opponents rather than three days or a long weekend," he said. "Since there is a perfectly legitimate way of doing it in one day, that's what we're going to do."
The official purpose of the "shell bill" that lawmakers are planning to amend relates to death and estate issues.
On March 5, the House Youth and Family Committee reported out legislation that would have legalized civil unions with a vote of 5-4. The amendment that lawmakers intend to attach to the "shell bill" has identical language to the legislation, Garcia said.
Garcia said Equality Illinois has nine lobbyists working as either full-time staffers or contractors to encourage lawmakers to vote in favor of civil unions. Other groups assisting in passing the measure include the American Civil Liberties Union, the AIDS Foundation of Chicago and the Service Employees International Union, Garcia said.
Should the measure become law, both gay and straight couples could enter into civil unions. As there's no explicit language regarding an effective date, couples could start entering into civil unions 30 days after the bill is signed into law, Garcia said.
The measure contains language noting that the establishment of civil unions would not interfere with the practices of any religious group and that any religious institution could decide for itself whether or not to solemnize or officiate a civil uni
Posted by Michael at 12:27 PM
Out Native Americans can get this done why can't we? lets join a tribe they are except from the constitution.
Coquille same-sex marriage law takes effect - OregonLive.com
Coquille Indian Tribe law allowing same-sex marriage took effect this week, and two women plan to marry Sunday on the tribe's Coos Bay reservation.
Tribal member Kitzen Branting, 26, and her partner, Jeni Branting, 28, who now live in Edmonds, Wash., will become the first same-sex couple to legally marry in Oregon, though their marriage will be recognized only by the tribe.
Neither Washington nor Oregon have legalized same-sex marriage, but as a federally recognized sovereign nation, the tribe is not bound by the Oregon Constitution.
"My tribe recognizes the marriage, so that is really important to me," said Kitzen Branting. "Anytime we come to a tribal function, I know my marriage is just as valid as anyone else's marriage."
The tribe adopted a law more than a year ago that recognizes same-sex marriage and extends to gay and lesbian partners, at least one of whom must be Coquille, all tribal benefits of marriage. The tribe wanted to work out laws governing child support issues before activating the law. It took effect Wednesday, said Melissa Cribbins, assistant tribal attorney.
Kitzen and Jeni Branting will marry in the tribe's Coos Bay plankhouse, a 3-year-old meeting hall built in traditional Coquille style with cedar plank walls. No other couples have inquired about marrying yet, Cribbins said, "but I wouldn't anticipate this will be the only marriage."
Last year Brian Gilley, a University of Vermont anthropology professor, said the Coquille Tribe (which tribal leaders prefer to pronounce KO-Kwell) is probably the first tribe in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage.
- Bill Graves
Posted by Michael at 9:49 AM
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Bay Windows - New England's largest GLBT newspaper: "New Hampshire House balks on marriage equality bill
by Lisa Keen
Wednesday May 20, 2009
The New Hampshire Senate passed it, the governor was standing by to sign it, and many expected approval of a final same-sex marriage bill in the House today could be swift and routine.
But in a surprise turnabout, the New Hampshire House voted narrowly Wednesday afternoon to defeat the measure, 186 to 188.
When the House Speaker announced the vote in the House, the chamber erupted with sounds of both distress and applause. Supporters and opponents then launched immediate efforts to both save and kill the measure for this legislative session.
A motion to kill the bill -- by indefinitely postponing a request to conference with the Senate no a revised bill -- came up for a vote first, failing 173 to 202.
A motion to save the same-sex marriage bill -- by requesting a conference committee with the Senate to work out the changes -- passed on a 207 to 168 vote.
oommittee of seven members will now meet to see if it can work out a version of the new bill to satisfy everyone. The deadline for any legislative vote is June 25.
New Hampshire Governor John Lynch was poised to sign the bill that sought to make it possible for LGBT couples in th"
Posted by Michael at 5:14 PM
Anti-gay marriage effort advances - Bangor Daily News
Officials OK petition question to reject law
By Judy Harrison
AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine election officials on Tuesday approved the question that would appear on the ballot if opponents of the recently enacted same-sex marriage law collect enough signatures.
Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap announced that the question that will appear on petitions is “Do you want to reject the new law that lets same-sex couples marry and allows individuals and religious groups to refuse to perform these marriages?”
Groups seeking to overturn the law, including the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland; the Maine Family Policy Council of Maine, formerly the Christian Civic League of Maine; and Maine Marriage Initiative could begin circulating petitions seeking to put the question on the ballot as early as Friday.
“We most likely won’t have petitioners out until after Memorial Day,” the Rev. Bob Emrich of the Maine Marriage Initiative said Tuesday afternoon. “We have to get petitions printed and distributed around the state. We also want to make sure that folks are properly trained in circulating petitions.”
Marc Mutty, director of public policy for the Catholic diocese, said he expected petitions would be available at weekend Masses by May 30 and 31 or June 6 and 7.
To place the question on a statewide ballot, petitioners must gather 55,087 valid signatures of registered voters.
The goal, Emrich said, is to put the question on the Nov. 3 ballot. To do that, however, organizers of the people’s veto effort would have to submit the petitions to Dunlap’s office by Aug. 1 because the ballot must be printed 45 days before the election. Election officials would have 30 days to verify that enough valid signatures were obtained and certify the petitions so the question could go on the ballot.
If not enough signatures were gathered by Aug. 1, petitioners still would have until 90 days after the adjournment of the Legislature — scheduled for June 17 — to submit them. It then would be up to lawmakers to decide whether the repeal question would go on the ballot in June or November of 2010.
Groups that support same-sex marriage and lobbied for the bill’s passage said after the ballot question was announced that they are sure voters will not repeal the new law.
“We are confident that Maine people will vote to uphold this law, which grants equality to all Maine couples, and we are looking forward to continuing the conversation with Maine people about the importance of this new law,” Betsy Smith, executive director of Equality Maine, said Tuesday in a press release. “Tens of thou-sands of Maine voters have already shown their support for marriage equality.” She apparently was referring to postcards that supporters of same-sex marriage gathered at polling places in Maine last June.
Shenna Bellows, executive director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union, pointed out that LD 1020, the gay marriage legislation sponsored by Sen. Dennis Damon, D-Trenton, had 60 co-sponsors.
“We have been very moved by the level of support for marriage equality that we encountered during the drive to pass the legislation,” she said. “We are confident that Mainers, if they are asked to vote on it, will back the new law. We will be talking with people, neighbor to neighbor, from Kittery to Aroostook [County], and we are confident we will prevail.”
On May 6 Gov. John Baldacci signed LD 1020 — which allows same-sex couples to marry in Maine and exempts religious institutions from having to perform the ceremonies — into law after the measure passed the Senate by a 21-13 vote and the House 89-57.
Groups seeking to overturn the law through the people’s veto process filed the necessary paperwork with the Secretary of State’s Office the day after the governor signed the bill. The filing of the application for petitions stayed the enactment of the law, so same-sex couples will have to wait to get married until after voters have a chance to weigh in on the question.
“This isn’t an easy process,” Dunlap said in a statement Tuesday, referring to the drafting of a ballot question. “We draw on suggestions from supporters of the veto as well as opponents, from the Attorney General’s office, and from volunteers who give their expertise on the Ballot Clarity Advisory Board.
“The goal we’re seeking is informing a voter who may be unfamiliar with the subject matter, but who cares enough to make an informed vote, what the net effect would be of a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ vote,” he said.
Posted by Michael at 12:37 PM
The Daily Politics - NY Daily News
Quinn 'Can't Bulls@#*' On Gay Marriage
May 19, 2009
Council Speaker Christine Quinn made a quick trip to Albany this morning to lobby senators on an issue that is very personal for her: The legalization of gay marriage.
Quinn, who is both the first lesbian and the first woman to hold the speakership, started out with a sit-down with Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith and came away feeling "very pleased," she said.
"He's working very hard to get the votes, and he is focused on getting the votes," Quinn said during a brief interview in the Capitol Cafe before heading back to the city for a Democratic caucus this afternoon on the city budget.
"It was a very positive meeting," she continued. "I was very pleased. I wouldn't say surprised. But he's clearly engaged. He has a command of the votes and the numbers...I'm very optimistic about this today. I can't bulls@#* about this one. I think there are Republican votes that are gettable; I think the majority leader knows that, and I think we're in striking distance."
I wasn't aware that Smith, who has said he personally supports marriage but won't let Gov. David Paterson's bill passed by the Assembly last week come to the floor in his house until it has the 32 votes it needs to pass, was counting heads.
There has been speculation as to how many votes Smith and marriage advocates lack, with the number floating anywhere from the rather optimistic (four) to the seemingly unreachable (six or more). When I asked Quinn for an update, she referred me to Smith's office.
After meeting with Smith, Quinn tackled some of the Democratic "nos" - Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, Sen. George Onorato and Sen. Dave Valesky - before rounding up her lobbying marathon with a chat with one of her former colleagues, Sen. Andy Lanza, a Republican who she says is "undecided" on marriage.
Quinn said her encounters today were "some of the most personal conversations I have ever had on any lobbying content." She said she feels she has a unique ability to understand people who feel letting same-sex couples marry runs counter to their religious beliefs.
"Today I'm the big lesbian speaker of the City Council, but I was raised a Catholic; I went to Catholic school for twelve years," Quinn said. "I understand what it's like to struggle with this."
Quinn said she came up to Albany on her own volition, but she has been talking with the Empire State Pride Agenda and her former boss, Sen. Tom Duane, who is carrying the marriage bill, about how she might be able to help advance the measure.
The speaker said she hopes to return to the Capitol next week, and was encouraged by the reception she received today, although it doesn't appear she managed to move any votes.
"Everyone was quite cordial and lovely and very respectful," she said. "Whatever ends up happening, and I believe that we are going to pass this, I was extremely impressed with the serious nature and thoughtful way people are looking at this issue. No one I met with today was cavalier, and no one saw this as trivial."
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/blogs/dailypolitics/2009/05/quinn-cant-bullshit-on-gay-mar.html#ixzz0G35g5V7h&B
Posted by Michael at 8:25 AM
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Gay Marriage Fight Is Slow to Stir New York Foes - NYTimes.com
ALBANY — Assemblyman Dov Hikind of Brooklyn was feeling distressed.
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Times Topics: Same-Sex Marriage, Civil Unions, and Domestic Partnerships
The State Assembly had just voted to legalize same-sex marriage, after gay rights groups flooded the Legislature with visits, phone calls and e-mail messages. Where, he wanted to know, was the other side?
“Wake up! Where are you?” Mr. Hikind, an outspoken opponent of gay marriage, said in an interview. “It’s the bottom of the ninth, two outs, and you’re losing — big time.”
As the Legislature considers whether to make New York the next state to legalize same-sex marriage, social conservatives have been largely missing from the debate in Albany.
The interest groups working to legalize marriage for gay couples have been laying the groundwork for more than four years, lobbying lawmakers and funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to their campaigns. And last week they began running television commercials in three of the state’s largest media markets promoting same-sex marriage as an equal rights issue.
Their opponents, who are just beginning to organize, say they feel outgunned and underfinanced.
The difficulties in New York echo those that conservatives have faced throughout the Northeast. Over the last six weeks, Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire have all moved to allow gay couples to wed.
The region has been challenging for opponents of same-sex marriage, in part, because the measures are being decided by state legislatures — not voter referendums where the opponents’ ability to motivate large numbers of voters, rather than influence institutional players, has been an advantage.
“It is the lack of a proposition or referendum,” the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, said. “There is a disconnect within the constituencies. Many of them really have no idea how to present their grievances.”
In New York, the National Organization for Marriage, whose resources have been stretched thin from other campaigns in the Northeast, began making phone calls to recruit supporters only late last week.
The state’s Roman Catholic bishops have been somewhat distracted, too, having focused their lobbying energies this session on defeating a bill that would extend the statute of limitations for victims of sexual abuse to bring civil claims, and have appeared unprepared for the battle over marriage.
“Frankly, the governor caught us all by surprise when he put this bill out there,” said Dennis Proust, communications director for the New York State Catholic Conference, the bishops’ political arm. “We weren’t expecting it.”
Other groups that typically take the lead on conservative causes, like New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedoms and the Conservative Party of New York State, say they lack the resources to mount a broad media campaign.
And the state does not have the large numbers of evangelical Christians and Mormons that have helped fuel movements to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples in other states, like California.
“It’s been a little bit of a challenge in New York,” said Peter S. Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council, the Washington-based conservative advocacy group led by Tony Perkins. “The pro-family network in New York is not as well organized as it is in other states.”
The only statewide organization dedicated to preserving New York’s marriage laws is the Coalition to Save Marriage, an alliance of conservative leaders that has no headquarters or staff.
“I wish I would have started six years ago,” said Maggie Gallagher, who founded the National Organization for Marriage, based in Princeton, N.J., in 2007. “I would have a state organization. I would have a director who’s a National Organization for Marriage person who’s directly lobbying. But that’s not where I am.”
The State Assembly passed Gov. David A. Paterson’s bill to give same-sex couples the right to wed by a vote of 89 to 52 last week, and gay rights advocates are pushing for a vote in the closely divided Senate before the Legislature adjourns at the end of June.
Supporters have a financial advantage, too. The National Organization for Marriage said it planned to spend a minimum of $100,000 on its efforts in New York, mainly on telephone and e-mail appeals to voters and the purchase of ads on Web sites. The Empire State Pride Agenda, the leading gay rights organization, is already spending at least twice that on its TV advertising campaign and has hired Patricia Lynch Associates, one of Albany’s most influential lobbying firms, for $10,000 a month.
To be sure, those advantages do not guarantee that advocates will prevail in the 62-member Senate, and supporters concede they still need several votes to pass the marriage measure.
Still, social conservatives in New York state have seemed somewhat fragmented in recent years, lacking a galvanizing issue like the death penalty, over which they waged epic battles with Govs. Mario M. Cuomo and Hugh L. Carey.
“Everybody is operating in their own stratosphere,” said Michael R. Long, chairman of the Conservative Party of New York State.
Mr. Long said the Conservative Party would do what it could with its limited arsenal: e-mail messages to legislators, news releases and a call to action on its blog.
“If I had the money or the wherewithal, naturally I’d like to be on radio or TV,” he said.
The efforts have also been hurt by the lack of a statewide political figure to lead the opposition. The state’s two senators, governor, legislative leaders and attorney general all support allowing gay couples to wed.
Even the new archbishop of New York, Timothy M. Dolan, whose upbeat personality and communication savvy suggest he could be a powerful voice on public policy, has no plans to step into the debate, his spokesman, Joseph Zwilling, said last week.
“Not at this point, no,” Mr. Zwilling said. “He’s letting the conference take their normal role,” referring to the bishops’ political arm.
Mr. Paterson said the archbishop did not raise the issue when the two met last month.
Still, there have been stirrings since the Assembly passed the marriage bill.
Hispanic churches organized a rally outside Mr. Paterson’s office in Midtown Manhattan on Sunday that drew thousands of people.
The phone solicitations by the National Organization for Marriage are focusing on districts where opponents believe senators’ positions can be influenced. Residents who oppose same-sex marriage are being asked to donate money or contact their senator.
“The other side, as far as the time they’ve spent organizing in New York, it’s clearly the case that they’re ahead of us,” said Brian S. Brown, the group’s executive director. “But we have only partially been on the field of play.” He added: “Wait till we get on the field.”
Posted by Michael at 11:53 PM
Gay Marriage Is Anti-Small Business, Says Michael Steele - Risky Business (usnews.com)
Gay Marriage Is Anti-Small Business, Says Michael Steele
May 19, 2009 12:54 PM ET | Matthew Bandyk | Permanent Link | Print
I might be a little late here, but I just have to comment on this story.
GOP Chairman Michael Steele explained in a recent speech how his party should "recast" the gay marriage issue as not just a social issue, but a business issue:
"Now all of a sudden I've got someone who wasn't a spouse before, that I had no responsibility for, who is now getting claimed as a spouse that I now have financial responsibility for," Steele told Republicans at the state convention in traditionally conservative Georgia. "So how do I pay for that? Who pays for that? You just cost me money."
It's almost unfair to comment on this because it's so hard to figure out what Steele even means here. I guess he's saying that if a small-business owner has gay employees who suddenly are able to get married, that owner will have to pay higher benefit costs, such as higher health-care premiums to insure the spouse.
The GOP should sincerely hope that Steele did not think out this argument before saying it. Because if this is actually what he meant to argue, the party's leadership is in bigger trouble than has been thought.
The argument basically is "more marriages are bad for small businesses." In no way does it single out gay marriage--if a straight employee decided to settle down, the employer would face the same increased costs.
Does Steele really want to argue that marriages for small-business employees (and small businesses are the largest type of employer in the country) should be discouraged? That doesn't sound like the stance the Republican Party---the same party that bemoans the horrors of single motherhood and the death of the family--wants to be taking.
Posted by Michael at 11:32 PM
Well - Kept From a Dying Partner’s Bedside - NYTimes.com
By TARA PARKER-POPE
When a loved one is in the hospital, you naturally want to be at the bedside. But what if the staff won’t allow it?
That’s what Janice Langbehn, a social worker in Lacey, Wash., says she experienced when her partner of 18 years, Lisa Pond, collapsed with an aneurysm during a Florida vacation and was taken to a Miami trauma center. She died there, at age 39, as Ms. Langbehn tried in vain to persuade hospital officials to let her visit, along with the couple’s adopted children.
“I have this deep sense of failure for not being at Lisa’s bedside when she died,” Ms. Langbehn said. “How I get over that I don’t know, or if I ever do.”
The case, now the subject of a federal lawsuit in Florida, is being watched by gay rights groups, which say same-sex partners often report being excluded from a patient’s room because they aren’t “real” family members.
And lawyers say the case could affect the way hospitals treat all patients with nonmarital relationships, including older people who choose not to marry, unmarried heterosexual couples and single people who rely on the support of close friends rather than relatives.
One point of contention in the lawsuit is whether a hospital has a legal duty to its patients to always give visiting rights to their designated family members and surrogates.
Robert Alonso, a spokesman for the public trust that runs the Miami hospital, Jackson Memorial, said it typically did not comment on pending litigation, but added that the hospital grants visitation if it doesn’t interfere with other emergency care. “The primary legal point is that the amount of visitation allowed in a trauma emergency room should be decided by the surgeons and nurses treating the patients,” he said.
A similar lawsuit is under way in Washington State, where Sharon Reed says she was denied access to her partner of 17 years, Jo Ann Ritchie, who was dying of liver failure. Although the hospital had liberal visitation policies, a night nurse from an employment agency insisted that Ms. Reed leave her partner’s room, the lawsuit says.
“One of the things her partner said to her was, ‘I’m afraid of dying. Don’t leave me alone,’ ” said Judith A. Lonnquist, a lawyer for Ms. Reed. “That’s why the suffering was so enormous — she felt as if her partner was thinking she had betrayed her trust.”
In both cases, the couples had prepared for a medical emergency, creating living wills, advanced directives and power-of-attorney documents.
As recounted by Ms. Langbehn, the details of the Miami episode are harrowing. It began in February 2007, when the family — including three children, then ages 9, 11 and 13 — traveled there for a cruise. After boarding the ship, Ms. Pond collapsed while taking pictures of the children playing basketball.
The children managed to help her back to the family’s room. Fortunately, the ship was still docked, and an ambulance took Ms. Pond to the Ryder Trauma Center at Jackson Memorial. Ms. Langbehn and the children followed in a taxi, arriving around 3:30 p.m.
Ms. Langbehn says that a hospital social worker informed her that she was in an “antigay city and state” and that she would need a health care proxy to get information. (The worker denies having made the statement, Mr. Alonso said.) As the social worker turned to leave, Ms. Langbehn stopped him. “I said: ‘Wait a minute. I have those health care proxies,’ ” she said. She called a friend to fax the papers.
The medical chart shows that the documents arrived around 4:15 p.m., but nobody immediately spoke to Ms. Langbehn about Ms. Pond’s condition. During her eight-hour stay in the trauma unit waiting room, Ms. Langbehn says, she had two brief encounters with doctors. Around 5:20 a doctor sought her consent for a “brain monitor” but offered no update about the patient’s condition. Around 6:20, two doctors told her there was no hope for a recovery.
Despite repeated requests to see her partner, Ms. Langbehn says she was given just one five-minute visit, when a priest administered last rites. She says she continued to plead with a hospital worker that the children be allowed to see their mother, even showing the children’s birth certificates.
“I said to the receptionist, ‘Look, they’re her kids,’ ” Ms. Langbehn said. (Mr. Alonso, the hospital spokesman, says that except in special circumstances, children under 14 are not allowed to visit in the trauma unit.)
Ms. Langbehn says she was repeatedly told to keep waiting. Then, at 11:30 p.m., Ms. Pond’s sister arrived at the unit. According to the lawsuit, the hospital workers immediately told her that Ms. Pond had been moved an hour earlier to the intensive care unit and provided her room number.
At midnight, Ms. Langbehn says, her exhausted children were finally able to visit their unconscious mother. Ms. Pond was declared brain-dead at 10:45 that morning, and her heart, kidneys and liver were donated to four patients.
In her lawsuit, Ms. Langbehn is being represented by Lambda Legal, a gay rights group. “We want to send a message to hospitals,” said Beth Littrell, a lawyer for the group. “If they don’t treat families as such, if they don’t let patients define their own circle of intimacy and give them the dignity and care to be with their loved ones in this sort of crisis, then they will be held accountable.”
Posted by Michael at 8:52 AM