Saturday, October 31, 2009

Obama Defends DOMA…. Again - Lez Get Real

Obama Defends DOMA…. Again - Lez Get Real

10/31/09-by Paula BrooksDOJDOMA
While the Obama administration has repeatedly called the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) discriminatory and President Obama has vowed to work for its repeal, nevertheless the Obama Justice Department again defended the law in a court filing.

In response to a lawsuit by Massachusetts Attorney General Martha M. Coakley, the Justice Department argued yesterday in court papers that states allowing gay marriage can’t force the federal government to provide benefits to those couples.

The state of Massachusetts has challenged DOMA, saying it denies federal marriage benefits to same-sex couples that are nonetheless legally married under Massachusetts law. Around 16,000 same-sex couples married in Massachusetts are being unfairly denied federal benefits given to heterosexual couples, according to Coakley’s suit. Those benefits include federal income tax credits, employment benefits, retirement benefits, health insurance coverage and Social Security payments

Massachusetts officials also say the federal law requires them to disregard the legally valid same-sex marriages in their state in relation to carrying out federal Medicaid and Veterans’ benefits programs. Such a requirement, they say, violates state sovereignty and is unconstitutional.

“This administration does not support DOMA as a matter of policy, believes that it is discriminatory, and supports its repeal,” says yesterdays Justice Department brief.

Nevertheless, Obama’s DOJ says, it has “long followed the practice of defending federal statutes as long as reasonable arguments can be made in support of their constitutionality, even if the Department disagrees with a particular statute, as it does here.”

DOMA doesn’t regulate marriage, according to the administration, because they reason the states remain free to decide for themselves whether a same-sex couple can marry and how to spend state money on programs for married couples. But the DOJ brief also says Congress had a logical reason for restricting federal benefits to marriages between men and women.

“Congress may subsequently decide to extend federal benefits to same-sex marriages, and this Administration believes that Congress should do so. But its decision not to do so at this point is not irrational or unconstitutional,” the DOJ brief argues.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Judge Says Maine Can Make The National Organization for Marriage Disclose Donors - Lez Get Real

Lets see Maggie and Brian get out of this one.

Judge Says Maine Can Make The National Organization for Marriage Disclose Donors - Lez Get Real

10/29/09-by Paula Brooks12428056781461336248Seal_of_Maine.svg.med_phixr
A federal judge has ruled that Maine’s reporting requirements for ballot question campaigns do not violate the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution as claimed in a lawsuit filed last week by the National Organization for Marriage and has said the State of Maine can compel the National Organization for Marriage to disclose the identities of donors who contributed to its effort to repeal Maine’s gay-marriage law.

On Oct. 1, the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices voted 3-2 to investigate the fundraising practices of the National Organization for Marriage. One concern is whether the group has violated state law by not registering as a “ballot question committee” and by withholding its contribution records. Maine law requires any individual or group that raises or spends more than $5,000 to influence a ballot question vote to disclose contributors who gave more than $100 for that purpose.

Judge D. Brock Hornby order on Wednesday denied the request for a temporary restraining order, and said the National Organization for Marriage is not likely to succeed on any of its claims. Nom had asked for a temporary restraining order that would have let it operate outside of the state’s reporting requirements while the lawsuit was pending.

“Maine is entitled to conclude that its electorate needs to know, on an ongoing basis, the source of financial support for those who are taking positions on a ballot initiative,” Hornby wrote in his 32-page ruling.

“I conclude that the state’s interest to provide this information to voters is ‘not only compelling but critical’ to the proper functioning of the system of direct democracy,” Hornby wrote, quoting from a similar case in California in which the National Organization for Marriage is a plaintiff.

Reinforced by Hornby’s ruling, Maine’s attorney general challenged the advocacy group Wednesday night to make its records public before next week’s vote on Question 1.

“We are not going to give them legal advice. We trust that their legal counsel will advise them to comply fully,” said Attorney General Janet Mills. “The court has ruled that it is in the public interest to do so, and the law couldn’t be clearer.

“I would hope that they would file before the election,” Mills said. “Why not? What is there to hide?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Paterson Revives Call for Vote on Same-sex Marriage | Long Island Press | News, Long Island, Local News, Breaking News

and we wait and wait and wait

Paterson Revives Call for Vote on Same-sex Marriage | Long Island Press | News, Long Island, Local News, Breaking News

By Michael Gormley, Associated Press Writer

Gov. David Paterson said Wednesday he wants to put a bill to legalize same-sex marriage to a vote during a special session within weeks.

The governor said the measure would be part of unfinished business from the regular session that ended this summer in a tumultuous coup in the Senate, later undone, after the Assembly approved its version of the measure.

“We have a number of issues that were not resolved,” Paterson told reporters, confirming a New York Daily News account. “I don’t see any reason not to address them.”

New York Gov. David Paterson, right, listens to Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch during a news conference in Albany, N.Y., Thursday, Oct. 14, 2009. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

New York Gov. David Paterson, right, listens to Lt. Gov. Richard Ravitch during a news conference in Albany, N.Y., Thursday, Oct. 14, 2009. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)

Paterson said he could call for a special session within weeks, primarily to address a $3 billion budget deficit.

He had promised to bring the issue to a vote in the Legislature regardless of whether its passage was guaranteed. He called same-sex marriage a civil right that requires the same kind of persistence in the face of opposition as other civil rights struggles.

Supporters have quietly been trying to build a coalition of 32 senators needed to pass a bill in the New York State Senate with a 32-30 Democratic majority. The main sponsor, Sen. Thomas Duane, a Manhattan Democrat who is gay, declined comment Wednesday.

Some Democrats have said they oppose the measure on religious grounds. But supporters say they are counting on at least a few moderate Republicans to vote for the bill if Democrats allow it to reach the floor.

Senate Minority leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre), who opposes the bill, said there will be no GOP position on the measure and Republicans are free to vote for it. The GOP has voted in a bloc against several measures since January, frustrating the Democratic majority.

Others forces are also at play.

If New York legalizes same-sex marriage, it would be the seventh state to do so, with others including New Jersey expected to act soon. That adds pressure on Democrats sponsoring the bill who have noted in floor debates that the state prides itself for being first in social change.

In addition, one of the most vocal opponents, Democratic Sen. Rube Diaz, stayed with the Democratic conference after the November elections because he said he was assured by then Democratic Senate leader Malcolm Smith that a gay marriage bill wouldn’t reach the Senate floor. Smith is no longer the sole leader of the conference because a vote this summer during a Republican-led coup made Sen. John Sampson of Brooklyn the leader.

Further, Diaz on Tuesday angered several of his Democratic colleagues when Diaz called them racists for calling for the resignation of another one-time Democratic dissident, Sen. Hiram Monserrate of Queens. Monserrate faces disciplinary action by the Senate after he was convicted of misdemeanor assault involving his girlfriend.

One of the state’s leading advocacy groups for gay rights, the Empire State Pride Agenda, praises Paterson for his continuing role in trying to pass the measure.

“I personally know from my conversations with him he wants New York to once again be a leader in providing equality for all its citizens,” the group’s executive director, Alan Van Capelle, said in a statement.

Paterson is expected to attend the group’s fall meeting in Manhattan on Thursday.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Gays Prefer Working in States with Marriage Equality : MarketingProfs

Gays Prefer Working in States with Marriage Equality : MarketingProfs

Other factors being equal, 71% of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) adults would prefer a job with an employer based in a state where marriage equality is recognized over an employer based in a state that does not yet recognize marriage equality for same-sex couples, according to the 2009 Out & Equal Workplace Survey, conducted jointly by Harris Interactive, Out & Equal, and Witeck-Combs Communication.

When the same question is asked of lesbian and gay adults only, 79% would prefer working for an employer based in a state allowing same-sex marriage:

Key findings:

* Respondents were asked to imagine themselves in a hypothetical scenario: They live in a state that recognizes marriage equality, and their employer is requiring that they transfer to a state that does not. Then they were asked how they would respond. More than 4 out of 10 (42%) of LGBT adults say they would consider changing jobs.
* Some 39% of LGBT adults would decline a promotion if it required transferring to a state that did not allow same-sex marriage.
* Among gay and lesbian adults, nearly half (47%) would turn down the promotion.

"As marriage equality reaches more states and touches more lives, more families, and more workplaces, employers based in states that deny this right will begin to face increasing challenges in trying to recruit and retain top LGBT talent," said Out & Equal Founding Executive Director Selisse Berry. "Marriage equality is a real business issue for all of America's business leaders as they strive to achieve a diverse, well-qualified, and loyal workforce."


The survey results highlight how the weak economy is changing attitudes and openness among LGBT workers:

Key findings:

* One in five (21%) LGBT adults report the current economy has had an impact on their willingness to be open about their sexual orientation with coworkers or colleagues.
* Some 22% percent of LGBT adults say that today's economy has had an impact on their willingness to be open about their sexual orientation with their boss or manager.
* 41% of LGBT adults say they are "out" to their coworkers/colleagues, which represents a modest decrease from the 49% of LGBT respondents who said they were out in a September 2008 survey.


More than half (55%) of LGBT respondents said that is important that they work for a company known to recruit employees from a variety of diverse backgrounds, compared with 34% of heterosexual respondents:

Click link above to see full article

Time to take the plunge -- Page 1 -- Times Union - Albany NY:2843:

Time to take the plunge -- Page 1 -- Times Union - Albany NY:2843:

Whatever the Court of Appeals decides in two cases regarding same-sex marriage, one verdict is already in -- against the state Senate and its Democratic majority in particular for neglecting this issue for far too long.

Desmond hotels
It is time for Democrats to show that they were deserving of the trust placed in them last year when voters gave them control of the chamber. They must recognize that with power comes not only privilege, but the responsibility to use it. That means, among many other things, acting on one of their party's clearest planks and following through on an implicit promise to pass a gay marriage bill. Or, at the very least, to bring it to the floor for a vote.

Instead, what we see is "inactivity," the word that repeatedly came up last week as the state's top judges heard two cases over whether state and local governments could recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

That inaction has left it to politicians, government agencies, gay marriage opponents and gay and lesbian couples to fight this battle on the fringes. In the two cases before the court, the judges are deciding whether Westchester County and the state Department of Civil Service rightly or wrongly recognized same-sex marriages from neighboring states and Canada in providing couples with health benefits.

On one side is the Alliance Defense Fund, a self-proclaimed defender of religious liberty and what this group from Arizona declares to be the interests of New York taxpayers.

On the other is what New Yorkers are really about: equality and tolerance, and the real meaning of religious liberty. Last we read, it was the right to live in a nation where "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Implicit in that is not having religious views concerning marriage imposed on citizens by those like the Alliance Defense Fund.

As for the interests of New York taxpayers, the lawmakers who were elected to represent their interests could save some small measure of public funds by not leaving it to other governments and the courts to be their proxy on this issue.

The Democrat-led Assembly earlier this year passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage. Democratic Gov. David Paterson is ready to sign it. Only Senate Democrats, insistent on trying to first finesse this behind the scenes rather that put this bill on the floor and make every lawmaker stand up and be counted, are holding it up.

Enough. Senate Democrats should put this bill on the agenda when the Legislature next returns to Albany and let it win or lose in a fair, open fight.

It is time to bring clarity to this issue and stop leaving it to the courts to have to express the will of New Yorkers every time some right-wing group tries to challenge this state's progressive traditions.

The issue:

The Court of Appeals weighs two same-sex marriage cases.

The Stakes:

Only the Legislature can stop this battle from being fought over and over in the courts.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Judge Refuses to throw out Prop 8 and Demands Answers with the Ultimate Challenge - Lez Get Real

Judge Refuses to throw out Prop 8 and Demands Answers with the Ultimate Challenge - Lez Get Real

As a most unusual October mega storm left our Bay Area, with downed electrical lines and trees in it’s a wake, a delightfully fresh aroma reveals another unique event– but this one we like…for the first time a Federal Judge in San Francisco asked the backers of California’s voter-enacted ban on same-sex marriage to explain how allowing gay couples to wed threatens straight marriages. Much to my personal delight the lawyer for the supporters of Prop 8, Charles Cooper acknowledged he did not know.

U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker, wants to examine other issues that are part of the political rhetoric surrounding same-sex marriage but rarely surface in courtrooms. Among the questions he plans to entertain at the trial are whether sexual orientation is a “fixed or immutable characteristic, whether gays are a politically powerful group, and if same-sex marriage bans such as Proposition 8 were motivated by anti-gay bias.”

This refreshing exchange between the Judge and Cooper, came during a hearing on a lawsuit challenging the measure as discriminatory under the U.S. Constitution. Cooper had asked Walker to throw out the suit or make it more difficult for those civil rights claims to prevail.

The judge not only refused to toss out the case, but asserted that when the case goes to trial in January, Cooper and legal team are expected to present evidence showing that “male-female marriages would be undermined if same-sex marriages were legal”. …We love it….!

The Judge noted that the ban on same sex marriage proposes that gay marriages are not “naturally procreative relationships,” and so we must have an answer to the question “What is the harm to the procreation purpose you outlined of allowing same-sex couples to get married?” Walker asked. “My answer is, I don’t know. I don’t know,” Cooper answered.

Moments later, after assuring the judge his response did not mean Proposition 8 was doomed to be struck down, Cooper tried to clarify his position and tried to fluff out an amended yet unconvincing response.

Lisa Leff, of Associated Press reports that “Walker pressed on, asking again for specific “adverse consequences” that could follow expanding marriage to include same-sex couples. Cooper cited a study from the Netherlands, where gay marriage is legal, showing that straight couples were increasingly opting to become domestic partners instead of getting married. “Has that been harmful to children in the Netherlands? What is the adverse effect?” Walker asked. Cooper said he did not have the facts at hand.”

Then came the ridiculous notion “But it is not self-evident that there is no chance of any harm, and the people of California are entitled not to take the risk,” he said.” I personally loved this part of the banter:- “Since when do Constitutional rights rest on the proof of no harm?”

In allowing the case to move forward, Walker said significant questions remain about whether the California measure, which was approved by 52 percent of voters in November, unlawfully violates the rights of gays and lesbians to equality and due process guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution. The measure overturned a state Supreme Court ruling earlier in the year that legalized same-sex marriages. As one of 18,000 gay couples wed before the law took effect, I remain in a state of discomfort as my special status highlights the fact that others cannot marry.

I am ecstatic, that not only did the Judge rule that the case must be heard but also that he is challenging years of conservatives homophobic and unsubstantiated rhetoric which has served only to steal our inherent rights. That is what will be on trial- the Bull-poop that is spewed as fact by those who simply cannot face the fact that we are who we are and we are absolutely and equally entitled. Their fear engendered hate can no longer hide behind the rhetoric that fuels it.

Although this does not denote a decision in favor of Gay marriage, to me given the challenge it is a huge victory, because the Court finds it necessary to keep unconstitutionality in play against a voter based assault on our inherent constitutional rights.

Melanie NathanBlogged by, MELANIE NATHAN, CEO of Private Courts, Inc. Consulting, mediation & private advocacy ; motivated by injustice, I blog about family law/mediation, politics, news and LGBT equality and anything that ‘tickles my fancy.’ Otherwise blogging as O-blog-dee-o-blog-da. Websites and blogs include:;; CONTACT:-

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Albany | 24 Hour Local News | TOP STORIES | Court debates same sex marriage

video report on the oral arguments yesterday

Albany | 24 Hour Local News | TOP STORIES | Court debates same sex marriage

ALBANY, N.Y. -- “Our marriage certificate is no different than any other couple that goes to Canada and comes back and they're married when they cross the border,” said Michael Sabatino, Westchester resident.

The only difference, Michael Sabbatino says, is that his spouse is a man.

“Marriage is important for us because it's the only way I can protect my husband, my family, under the law,” said Robert Voorhees, Westchester resident.

But broad recognition of out-of-state marriages has been the law here, it's been the law for a very long time.

“We have historically granted recognition to all kinds of other marriages including one between an uncle and niece in Rhode Island,” said Susan Sommer, Lambda Legal Senior Counsel.

“The marriages that are recognized in New York involve a man and a woman,” said Brian Raum, Alliance Defense Fund Senior Legal Counsel.

But the Alliance Defense Fund, an Arizona based Christian legal group, argued before the state's highest court Tuesday that state agencies overstepped their bounds when they offered benefits to same-sex couples married out of state.

“County executives and state officials have made broad proclamations that have to be reined in,” said Ruam.

Attorney Brian Raum says the rights and benefits that are afforded to domestic partnerships and civil unions fall short of those afforded by marriage and if New York wants to afford same-sex couples those rights, the legislature, not the court, must be the one to change the law.

The Assembly has twice passed bills allowing same-sex marriage in the state but the Senate has not. Until then, supporters for benefits for same-sex couples say New York's policy of recognizing out of state marriages should serve as precedent.

“We are hopeful that this court will not issue a ruling that will undue what is now well settled state policy,” said Sommer.

“Nothing will protect our family the way marriage will,” said Voorhes.

The court should announce its decision within a couple of months.

Monday, October 12, 2009 - Advocates to Argue for N.Y. State Recognition of Legal Same-Sex Marriages

Well our case is tomorrow in the High Court of NY - Advocates to Argue for N.Y. State Recognition of Legal Same-Sex Marriages

Joel Stashenko

New York Law Journal

October 09, 2009

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Image: Thinkstock

New York's highest court, which three years ago ruled that same-sex couples do not have a constitutional right to marry in the state, will get an opportunity to approach the issue from a different angle next week: Whether state and local governments can recognize same-sex marriages solemnized in jurisdictions where such unions are legal.

Two cases challenging the recognition of same-sex marriages will be heard together as the Court of Appeals begins its next session on Tuesday.

The Court also will hear cases next week and the week after challenging the use of eminent domain in one of the largest private developments in recent New York history, the Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, and whether New York City can be held liable for injuries suffered by an elementary school teacher hurt when she stepped in to break up a fight between fourth-graders.

The same-sex marriage case will be the first time the Court has revisited the issue since 2006, when it ruled in Hernandez v. Robles, 7 NY3d 338, that the state Constitution contains no guarantee that same-sex couples can wed.

Lawyers for same-sex couples said they hope the Court will validate the status of marriages performed in Canada, Connecticut, Massachusetts and in other jurisdictions where such unions are legal.

They said they also hope the Court, if it upholds recognition of same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions, could nudge the Legislature toward approving such unions in New York. The Assembly in 2007 and 2009 approved bills legalizing same-sex marriage, but the Senate has yet to act on the legislation.

The two cases to be heard by the Court on Tuesday are Godfrey v. Spano, 147, and Lewis v. New York State Department of Civil Service, 148.

In Godfrey, a 2006 executive order by Westchester County Executive Andrew J. Spano authorized county agencies to give full benefits to employees who were validly married in states outside New York.

Lewis challenges a determination by the Civil Service Commission that upheld the granting of benefits to the spouses of state employees married where such unions are legal.

The Appellate Division, Second Department, unanimously affirmed the action in Westchester County (NYLJ, April 1) and a Third Department panel unanimously backed the Civil Service Commission's determination earlier this year (NYLJ, Jan. 23).

In the Third Department ruling, the judges split 3-2. The majority held that New York has a long-standing rule of recognizing marriages legally solemnized in other jurisdictions unless they expressly violated New York laws, such as those against polygamy, or public policy concerns against the marriages of close relatives.

The two concurring justices wrote that they would defer to the Civil Service Commission's discretion in deciding when health care benefits could be granted to spouses and dependents of state employees. But they said they did not want to get into the broader public policy questions whether the courts could validate same-sex marriages.

Susan L. Sommer, an attorney for Lambda Legal, said Thursday she would argue along the lines of what the majority in the Third Department in Lewis had determined.

"I expect to talk about the fact that there is a two-centuries-old, well-settled rule in New York, the marriage recognition rule, that provides that marriages entered out-of-state, unless narrow exceptions are applied that the state Legislature has expressly imposed, are to be recognized," said Sommer, who will represent intervenor couples in both Godfrey and Lewis. "We see there is absolutely no ban on recognition of out-of-state marriages to same-sex couples."

Sommer said she had no estimate of how many same-sex couples who were married in other jurisdictions live in New York, but said the number is now in the "thousands."

Sommer's co-counsel, Jeffrey Trachtman of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, said he believes another affirmance of the validity of a same-sex marriage, even if it was solemnized in a jurisdiction outside of New York, will increase the pressure on the Legislature to approve a bill legalizing gay marriage.

Trachtman said he and Lambda Legal first started to work on cases calling for recognition of same-sex marriages in 2004, before the litigation in the four cases were decided in Hernandez. Though Hernandez was a loss, Trachtman said he thought it helped focus attention on the issue in New York law.

"Everything in the civil rights area moves in fits and starts," Trachtman said Thursday. Hernandez "was clearly a setback. But on the other hand, the majority decision was wrong and it was seen as wrong," and helped fuel momentum in the Legislature.

Two of the judges who ruled in Hernandez are no longer on the Court of Appeals.

Former Chief Judge Judith S. Kaye, who dissented, stepped down from the Court at the end of 2008 due to mandatory retirement rules. She has been replaced by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.

Former Judge George Bundy Smith, who was in the majority in the ruling, was replaced in 2006 by Judge Eugene F. Pigott Jr.

Another ex-judge, Albert Rosenblatt, recused himself from the 2006 ruling.

The challenges to the recognitions of the marriages will be argued by Brian W. Baum, an attorney for the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Alliance Defense Fund. The conservative-Christian group represents clients it says are being victimized by laws that discriminate against them because of their beliefs.

In an interview earlier this year, Baum said his strategy has been to get the issue before the Court of Appeals and to argue that it is a matter for the Legislature and not the courts (NYLJ, Feb. 3).

Baum's co-counsel, James Campbell, said Thursday the Court of Appeals' ruling will extend far beyond those plaintiffs involved in the two matters.

"These cases are important, like Hernandez, because of the practical implications," Campbell said. "If the state of New York recognizes these unions on a widespread scale, then for all intents and purposes, same-sex marriages are recognized in the state of New York."

Trachtman countered that while Campbell and his group have a right to advocate in New York courts on behalf of their clients, the issue might best be left to New Yorkers to decide.

"They have a mission and they are entitled to their mission," Trachtman said. "But there doesn't seem to be any groundswell in New York against recognizing these marriages."

Assistant Solicitor General Sasha Samberg-Champion will argue in favor of recognizing the same-sex marriages on behalf of Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo and Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli.

Gov. Schwarzenegger Signs Milk Day, Marriage Recognition Into Law :: EDGE Boston

Gov. Schwarzenegger Signs Milk Day, Marriage Recognition Into Law :: EDGE Boston

by Roger Brigham
EDGE San Francisco Editor
Monday Oct 12, 2009

Supporters of a special day to honor pioneering gay activist Harvey Milk have long been working toward this day. Now they can circle their calendars: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger late Sunday signed off on Harvey Milk Day as a state holiday.

The GOP governor last year had vetoed the creation of such a day and had threatened to do so again this year. But wait, as they say in the infomercials: There’s more. Much more.

Schwarzenegger has signed into law a bill that will call on the state to recognize the marriages of same-sex couples who were legally married in other states during the brief time that same-sex marriages were legal in California. He also approved legislation to expand services for LGBT survivors of domestic violence.

With the state mired in economic woes, Schwarzenegger threatened to let some 700 bills die without action. He said he wanted the Legislature to address efforts to fix the state’s water supply first.

That made the outlook gloomy for the LGBT bills, which had drawn the scorn of far-right critics. Schwarzenegger did veto the "Equal ID Act," which would allow transgender individuals to obtain revised birth certificates certifying their current gender. He also vetoed a "LGBT Prisoner Safety Act," which would have called for gender identity and orientation to be considered when housing prisoners.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported that after the legislators closed their talks on the water system without a deal, Schwarzenegger decided that enough progress had been made. He then signed at least 230 bills overnight before the midnight deadline--and vetoed more than 220 others.

Supporters wanted to mark May 22 as an annual Harvey Milk Day. They had pinned their hopes on the attention garnered by the film "Milk" late last year after Schwarzenegger’s previous veto. But the governor countered Milk’s accomplishments were not well known enough outside the Bay Area to merit a holiday.

"The Harvey Milk Day bill marks the first time in the nation’s history that a state will officially recognize and celebrate the contributions of an openly LGBT person with an annual day of special significance," said Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California. "Californians will now learn about Harvey’s amazing contributions to the advancement of civil rights for decades to come. He is a role model to millions, and this legislation will help ensure his legacy lives on forever."

Kors expressed gratitutde to the Governor for signing these measures into law "and rising above partisan politics to improve the lives of LGBT Californians."

"The Marriage Recognition and Family Protection Act" calls on the state to recognize same-sex marriages conducted in 2008 outside the state before voters enacted Proposition 8 ended marriage equality in California.

"When California offered marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2008, spouses who were already married in another state or country were prohibited from re-marrying in California," said the bill’s author, Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). "Now those couples and their families are in limbo because their rights and protections under law are not clear. This new law will ensure that same-sex couples are protected by existing California law that recognizes all marriages equally, regardless of where they are performed."

Harvey Milk Day is largely ceremonial. State offices won’t close, although schools are encouraged to provide information about Milk on that day. More immediate and concrete results may be seen from the "LGBT Domestic Violence Programs Expansion Bill", which will fund LGBT-specific domestic violence programs throughout the state through a $23 fee tacked onto domestic partnership registrations. The bill also modifies the requirements funding seekers must meet.

"Given the shortage of adequate care for our community," said bill author Assemblyman John Pérez (D-Los Angeles), "I am thrilled that this legislation will help ensure that all LGBT survivors of domestic violence will have increased access to culturally competent care and resources."

Roger Brigham, a freelance writer and communications consultant, is the San Francisco Editor of EDGE. He lives in Oakland with his husband, Eduardo.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

D.C. City Council Introduces Same-Sex Marriage Legislation -

D.C. City Council Introduces Same-Sex Marriage Legislation -

Published: October 6, 2009

WASHINGTON — City Council members introduced legislation Tuesday to allow same-sex marriage here. If it passes, as expected, Washington would be the first city below the Mason-Dixon line to allow such unions. The city’s bill is expected to become law by December.

But the measure is likely to draw harsh criticism from Congressional Republicans and conservative Democrats, many of whom face mid-term elections next year, and they could act to overturn it.

After Mayor Adrian M. Fenty, who supports the measure, signs it, Congress has 30 days to enact a joint resolution of disapproval. President Obama would have to sign that resolution for the city law to be blocked.

But even if, as most gay rights advocates predict, such a resolution is not passed, members of Congress could still try to attach a rider to another piece of legislation blocking same-sex marriage here.

“Opposition by some in the House already has been announced,” said Eleanor Holmes Norton, the city’s delegate to the House, adding that she did not believe the opposition would be enough to block the city’s measure.

“Opposition to civil rights is not new,” she said. “We should approach the rights of gay couples and families with the same resolution and results as we had for others who have sought their human rights in Congress and in the District.”

Same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, and Vermont. In May, Washington passed legislation to recognize such unions from other jurisdictions, and Congress did not try to override that decision.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Republican from Utah, said he did not believe his fellow opponents of same-sex marriage would be able to block the city’s measure legalizing it.

“Given the other issues Congress is focused on, such as health care, it hasn’t got much attention,” said Representative Chaffetz, the ranking member of the House subcommittee that oversees the District. “You couple that with the Democrats’ stranglehold on House rules, and the minority is left out of the legislative process.”

For the city, the issue has piqued race and class tensions, as most of the vocal opponents represent inner-city black churches, while the more liberal and white population largely backs the measure.

Advocates of the bill hope its success will accelerate efforts to pass similar legislation in Maryland. Maine voters will consider the issue on a ballot initiative in November. New Hampshire is scheduled to begin same sex marriages in 2010.

The City Council has two openly gay members and around 5 percent of the city’s couples identify themselves as gay or lesbian, the second highest rate in the country, according to a 2000 survey by the Human Rights campaign.

If passed, the city would phase out its local domestic partnership law and instead allow two persons who are currently in a valid domestic partnership, as recognized by the city, to apply for and receive a marriage license free of charge.

But the measure still faces some obstacles.

Last month, opponents of same-sex marriage filed a petition for a referendum on the subject. If approved by the Board of Elections and Ethics, the initiative would give city residents the chance to vote next year on whether to legalize same-sex marriage.

“ ‘Let the People Vote,’ is the cry that is rising among the many ministers and churches in the D.C. area,” said Bishop Harry Jackson, senior pastor of Hope Christian Church and chairman of a group called Stand4MarriageDC.

Bishop Jackson, who helped file the petition for a referendum, said: “The faith community has been concerned for months, that it’s been cast as bigots, racists, and worse. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

The board rejected a similar attempt in May seeking a referendum on the city’s law recognizing same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions.

David Catania, a D.C. Council member and the bill’s main author, said that while it amends the city’s statutory requirements for civil marriage, it also provides protection to members of the clergy or any church from marrying gay couples against their religious beliefs.

“I have an enormous amount of respect for our many communities of faith,” he added, “and I would not support any legislation which would interfere with the freedoms they enjoy.”

Monday, October 5, 2009

Offering the naked truth on same-sex marriage - Bangor Daily News

I just love this letter it is right on

Offering the naked truth on same-sex marriage - Bangor Daily News

By Dr. Erik Steele

I’ve seen thousands of people naked. I have inspected their insides and outsides, felt their pain and sometimes their souls, and after all that, I can see we all are pretty much the same. That equality in human essence makes it impossible for me to see why gay people are not allowed the right of civil marriage.

We have been told that right would damage the institution of marriage, rock the foundations of the American family and runs contrary to the intentions of our Maker. But the clothing of rationality and God’s word have been used forever to hide the naked truth of racism, sexism and other prejudices. The arguments against the right of gays to civil marriage is no different; if you peel off the clothing, what lies underneath most opposition to civil marriage rights for gays is just naked fear, ignorance and prejudice.

It is the same old stuff we have heard forever. We were told women were too emotional to vote and that giving them equality in the home would ruin the institution of marriage. Equality of women was once thought here to be against God’s order. So was equality for African-Americans and Native Americans, who were too “ignorant” or “savage” to be allowed equal status. Many states banned marriage between whites and blacks for some of the same reasons we still ban gay marriage; bad for marriage, bad for children, bad for our values, yada yada.

In each of those cases, Americans have slowly overcome their baser instincts with their better instincts, gradually eroding institutional and cultural inequality with steady application of our founding principle that all of us must be equal before the law. The fear that marriage will suffer should not stop us from doing the same for gays who want to be legally married.

Marriage does not need protection from gays; it needs protection from the things I see in my office every day that tear half of American marriages apart. Nothing, in my experience, corrodes love and marriage like the grind of existence on the margins of economic survival. Drug and alcohol addiction will ruin more marriages than gays’ access to civil marriage ever will. With notable exceptions such as the Catholic Church, few of those who oppose gay marriage fight as hard against poverty, lack of access to good drug and alcohol treatment programs, or lack of social support for young parents, as they do against the right of gays to civil marriage.

Nor do our children need protection from the concept of gay marriage. Some opponents have argued that the right of gays to civil marriage will lead to more support for a gay lifestyle in the education of our children. Forget it; there is no education left to be done. Our teenagers already know about gays and for most of them, this debate about gay rights is so yesterday. They have gay friends, live in a world that exposes them to gay lifestyles, and most of our teenagers think the gay marriage debate is fiddling with a dead issue while the world warms around us and the federal deficit threatens to bury their futures in a sea of debt.

In the end, though, gay marriage is not about marriage or teenagers, and it is not even about gays as much as it is about us. Over the last 250 years, Americans have slowly chipped away the bias and ignorance used to deprive almost every American except wealthy, white men of equal standing before the law. The right of civil marriage for gays is about continuing that same march toward “one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” You cannot oppose it without betraying American values and the rights hard won for you by those victims of prejudice in almost every family tree who fought in their time for the rights we have in ours.

So on Nov. 3, be true to those who fought for the freedom that you now wear to cover you against injustice and vote No on Question 1. Like it or not, rights such as access to civil marriage for gays are as American as apple pie, and so is protecting them.

Erik Steele, D.O., a physician in Bangor, is chief medical officer of Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems and is on the staff of several hospital emergency rooms in the region. He is also the interim CEO at Blue Hill Memorial Hospital.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Your Money - The Higher Lifetime Costs of Being a Gay Couple -

Your Money - The Higher Lifetime Costs of Being a Gay Couple -

Your Money
The Costs of Being a Gay Couple Run Higher

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Published: October 2, 2009

Much of the debate over legalizing gay marriage has focused on God and Scripture, the Constitution and equal protection.
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Two-year-old Evan plays with his dads, Kevin Yoder, right, and Harvey Hurdle at their Philadelphia home.
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But we see the world through the prism of money. And for years, we’ve heard from gay couples about all the extra health, legal and other costs they bear. So we set out to determine what they were and to come up with a round number — a couple’s lifetime cost of being gay.

It was much more complicated than we initially imagined, and that’s probably why we’ve never seen similar efforts. We looked at benefits that routinely go to married heterosexual couples but not to gay couples, like certain Social Security payments. We plotted out the cost of health insurance for couples whose employers don’t offer it to domestic partners. Even tax preparation can cost more, since gay couples have to file two sets of returns. Still, many couples may come out ahead in one area: they owe less in income taxes because they’re not hit with the so-called marriage penalty.

Our goal was to create a hypothetical gay couple whose situation would be similar to a heterosexual couple’s. So we gave the couple two children and assumed that one partner would stay home for five years to take care of them. We also considered the taxes in the three states that have the highest estimated gay populations — New York, California and Florida. We gave our couple an income of $140,000, which is about the average income in those three states for unmarried same-sex partners who are college-educated, 30 to 40 years old and raising children under the age of 18.

Here is what we came up with. In our worst case, the couple’s lifetime cost of being gay was $467,562. But the number fell to $41,196 in the best case for a couple with significantly better health insurance, plus lower taxes and other costs.

These numbers will vary, depending on a couple’s income and circumstance. Gay couples earning, say, $80,000, could have health insurance costs similar to our hypothetical higher-earning couple, but they might well owe more in income taxes than their heterosexual counterparts. For wealthy couples with a lot of assets, on the other hand, the cost of being gay could easily spiral into the millions.

Nearly all the extra costs that gay couples face would be erased if the federal government legalized same-sex marriage. One exception is the cost of having biological children, but we felt it was appropriate to include this given our goal of outlining every cost gay couples incur that heterosexual couples may not.

Our analysis is not exact science. Not every couple would get married if they could, and others would not want to have children. We also made a number of assumptions based on average costs, life spans, state of residence and gender.

Our gay family is made up of two women living in New York State in a committed partnership that lasts 46 years, until the first partner dies at age 81. We ran two sets of calculations: in the one that turned out to be our worst case financially, one woman earned $110,000 and the other $30,000. In our second couple, both partners earned $70,000. We started running the numbers when both were age 35.

We received assistance from Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, who performed our tax analysis, which required simulating more than 900 income tax returns, in part because we followed the partners for 50 years. We also decided to run all scenarios across the three states so that the results would not be skewed by different state taxes. We’ve outlined all the detail in a workbook linked to the online version of this column.

As for the emotional costs of living with these added complexities, they can’t be quantified. Frederick Hertz, a lawyer in Oakland, Calif., who works with same-sex couples, likens heterosexual marriage to being in the car pool lane. “Being part of a same-sex couple, it’s always stop. Wait. Pay a toll,” he said.

Harvey Hurdle, who lives in Philadelphia with his partner and their young son, said he was reminded of the disparities every time his Social Security statement arrived in the mail. “It’s pretty insulting,” he said. “It says your spouse would get this much. And it’s like, ‘Oh no he won’t!’ ”

Health Insurance

In our worst case, the lower earner’s employer did not provide health insurance and her partner’s employer didn’t cover domestic partners. So the lower earner had to buy coverage on the private market, while the higher-earning partner provided coverage for herself and the two children. All this cost the gay couple $211,993 more than their heterosexual married counterparts, who were able to take advantage of the higher-earner’s family coverage.

In our best case, health coverage cost the gay couple $28,595 more. We assumed both gay partners were eligible for employer-provided coverage. The higher-earner’s employer also provided domestic partner coverage, which covered her partner for the five years she stayed at home. When she returned to work, she used her own employer’s insurance.

Even though the couple paid nearly $29,000 more in premiums than an identical heterosexual married couple, it was cheaper than using domestic partnership coverage throughout because of the onerous tax implications, according to Mr. Williams of the Tax Policy Center. A nondependent partner’s coverage is taxable income, and she can’t use pretax dollars to pay the premiums, according to Todd A. Solomon, a partner in the employee benefits department of McDermott Will & Emery in Chicago.

Social Security

All our hypothetical individuals started collecting Social Security when they were 66. Same-sex couples are not entitled to a variety of Social Security benefits, including spousal benefits (heterosexual spouses can receive up to 50 percent of a spouse’s benefits while the spouse is alive, if they are higher than their own); survivor benefits (surviving spouses can receive their deceased spouse’s benefits in lieu of their own, if they are higher); and a flat death benefit of $255.

In the worst case, the gay partner who earned $30,000 could not receive higher spousal benefits or survivor benefits from her partner’s much higher earnings record. Nor was she entitled to the death benefit. In total, the gay women collected $88,511 less in Social Security than a similar heterosexual couple. Some couples might try to buy life insurance in an attempt to replace the benefit.

In our best case, when the gay partners had largely identical incomes, neither was at a huge disadvantage because they ended up with about the same monthly benefits. So the only extra benefit a heterosexual married couple received was the $255 death benefit.

Estate Taxes

Heterosexual married couples can transfer an unlimited amount of assets to each other during their lives and at death without paying estate taxes. Everyone else, including married same-sex couples, must pay federal estate taxes on amounts that exceed the 2009 exemption of $3.5 million. Many states also levy their own estate or inheritance taxes, though same-sex couples may be shielded from those in states that recognize their unions. Our couple lived in New York, where the estate tax exemption is $1 million. And though New York recognizes marriages performed elsewhere, that recognition does not extend to state income or estate taxes.

In our worst case, the gay partner who died first in 2055 left an estate that exceeded the state’s threshold by $171,528. That meant a tax bill of $43,378, according to Ron L. Meyers, an estate-planning lawyer with a significant same-sex clientele at Cane, Boniface & Meyers in Nyack, N.Y.

Meanwhile, their identical heterosexual counterparts owed nothing.

The gay couple in our best case had a smaller estate, in part because they were careful to title their home as tenants-in-common, so only the deceased partner’s half of the home was taxable. The estate didn’t exceed the federal or state threshold. So they owed nothing.


Two women who want to have a biological child together need sperm to do it. They may need to purchase sperm from a bank and use a medical professional to inseminate one of the partners. There are also adoption costs.

The worst case here totaled $40,000. It included 12 months of sperm and insemination costs, but the big wild card was the possible need to move to a state where same-sex second-parent adoptions were legal. While this may seem extreme, couples often do it, according to Joyce Kauffman, a lawyer in Cambridge, Mass., who has worked with many of them. We estimated a minimum of $20,000 for this cost, including real estate brokerage fees to sell a home and moving costs.

In the best case, there might be no cost at all: the couple could use sperm from a relative of the partner who isn’t bearing the child or from a friend, inseminate at home and take their chances with free legal forms on the Web. Ms. Kaufman does not recommend such a cavalier approach to vital documents.

The cost for men to have a biological child would be much higher if they used a surrogate.


We assumed that one partner, in both best and worst cases, received a small pension. In both cases, the partner with the pension plan died first.

Employers do not have to provide survivor pension benefits to a same-sex spouse, but many do anyway (which would put our best case at $0). In our worst case, however, the higher-earning partner died first and did not work for such a company. So the surviving partner got nothing. A similarly situated heterosexual surviving spouse would receive $32,253 before dying herself several years later.

Spousal I.R.A.

You generally need to earn income to contribute to an Individual Retirement Account. But heterosexual married couples can contribute up to $5,000 annually to a spousal I.R.A. for a nonworking spouse. Stay-at-home gay partners, however, cannot make these contributions. So they end up with smaller retirement accounts.

We assumed that all the couples would have either saved 7 percent of the stay-at-home parent’s previous year’s salary, or $5,000, the maximum contribution. So the gay couple with one partner who started out earning just $30,000 would have saved less (had she been legally able to) than someone earning $70,000. In both cases, that five-year gap in savings early on in the partners’ lives haunted them later because they weren’t able to benefit from decades of compounding returns.

The couple with the lower-earning partner at home ended up $48,654 behind by the time that partner died, assuming she invested in a portfolio mixed equally between stocks and bonds that returned 5.94 percent annually. The surviving spouse from the gay couple with equal incomes ended up $112,192 behind.

Tax Preparation

Instead of filing one joint federal tax return and one state income tax return, same-sex couples must file two sets of returns. In both best and worst cases, those couples paid an additional $12,300 in tax preparation fees over the 46 years they are together.

Financial Planning

Even married same-sex couples are encouraged to create a number of documents that try to replicate the protections and rights of heterosexual marriage because their unions are not universally recognized. In the worst case, our gay couple spent $5,500 more than their heterosexual counterparts on their additional paperwork. That included a revocable living trust, which is more difficult to contest than a will, and what is known as a pour-over will, which ensured that anything left out of the trust would be included. They also each set up financial powers of attorney, health care proxies, living wills and a domestic partnership agreement.

In the best case, our couple didn’t spend any more than a prudent heterosexual couple would. Both couples created two wills, financial powers of attorney, health care proxies and living wills.

Income Taxes

Married heterosexual couples with two working spouses with similar incomes often pay more in federal taxes than if they remained single because of the so-called marriage penalty. This occurs when a couple’s combined income pushes them into a higher tax bracket than they would have been in if they filed as singles. But some couples — especially those with a wide disparity in income or with a stay-at-home parent — usually pay less when they file jointly. They benefit from what’s known as a marriage bonus.

In our worst case, where one gay partner earned $110,000 and one earned $30,000, the couple paid $15,027 less in taxes over their lifetimes than their heterosexual counterparts.

Though the gay and heterosexual married couple had identical salaries, the married couple collected more income in retirement — a direct result of their marriage status — and thus owed more in taxes (though they still benefited from the marriage bonus). For instance, the married couple collected higher Social Security spousal benefits and survivor benefits, pension income and income derived from a spousal I.R.A. The gay couples weren’t entitled to any of these benefits.

In our best case, where the partners each earned $70,000, the gay couple paid $112,146 less in income taxes. “That is the marriage penalty rearing its ugly head,” Mr. Williams said.

Judge calls Texas' gay-marriage ban into question | News for Dallas, Texas | Dallas Morning News | Texas Politics | The Dallas Morning News

this is a good decision

Judge calls Texas' gay-marriage ban into question

By ROY APPLETON / The Dallas Morning News

In a first for Texas, a judge ruled Thursday that two men married in another state can divorce here and that the state's ban on gay marriage violates the U.S. Constitution.

Both a voter-approved state constitutional amendment and the Texas Family Code prohibit same-sex marriages or civil unions.

Although the case is far from settled, and the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage is a long way from being thrown out, Dallas state District Judge Tena Callahan's ruling says the state prohibition of same-sex marriage violates the federal constitutional right to equal protection.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott had intervened in the two men's divorce case, arguing that because a gay marriage isn't recognized in Texas, a Texas court can't dissolve one through divorce.

Callahan, a Democrat, denied the attorney general's intervention and said her court "has jurisdiction to hear a suit for divorce filed by persons legally married in another jurisdiction."

"This is huge news. We're ecstatic," said Dallas attorney Peter Schulte, who represents the man who filed the divorce. The man, identified in court documents as J.B., asked that he and his former partner not be identified.

Schulte said that the ruling was a surprise and that he hoped to have a divorce order for the judge to sign in the "next few weeks."

In a prepared statement, Abbott said he would appeal the ruling "to defend the traditional definition of marriage that was approved by Texas voters."

His statement also said, "The laws and constitution of the State of Texas define marriage as an institution involving one man and one woman. Today's ruling purports to strike down that constitutional definition – despite the fact that it was recently adopted by 75 percent of Texas voters."

Gov. Rick Perry, who pushed for the constitutional prohibition on gay marriage in 2005, expressed confidence that the ban would stand up to this challenge.

"Texas voters and lawmakers have repeatedly affirmed the view that marriage is defined as between one man and one woman," he said in a prepared statement. "I believe the ruling is flawed and should be appealed."

The men married in Cambridge, Mass., in September 2006 and later returned to Dallas.

J.B., citing "discord or conflict of personalities," sued in January to dissolve the union in what is believed to be the first such action in Texas.

"My client is ready to get on with his life," Schulte said. "We're ready to roll."

If the ruling were to stand, it would be a break from recent decisions elsewhere.

An Indiana judge last month denied the divorce of two women married in Canada, concluding it would violate Indiana law. And two years ago, the Rhode Island Supreme Court rejected the divorce of a lesbian couple married in Massachusetts. Neither Indiana nor Rhode Island allow same-sex marriage.

In March 2003, a Texas court became the first one outside Vermont to grant the dissolution of a civil union. The judge reversed his decision after a challenge by Abbott, a Republican.

Beyond Massachusetts, gay marriages are legal in Vermont, Connecticut and Iowa. In New Hampshire, a same-sex marriage law goes into effect in January. Maine legalized gay marriages this year, but opponents challenged the decision and the law is on hold pending the outcome of a vote next month.

Civil unions providing rights and responsibilities to same-sex couples are allowed in New Jersey. And domestic partnership laws provide spousal rights to same-sex couples in California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia.

In a court filing, Schulte challenged the state's opposition, saying its arguments were an attempt to "mislead this court in an effort to pursue the attorney general's own political agenda."

He cited wording in the state Family Code that "the law of this state applies to persons married elsewhere who are domiciled in this state. And he noted that "Black's Law Dictionary defines a person as a 'human being.' "

The Family Code section deemed unconstitutional by Callahan prohibits the recognition of any same-sex marriage or civil union, and it bars the state and cities from extending any legal protection or benefits that flow from such unions.

The constitutional amendment, passed by the Legislature in 2005 and approved by an overwhelming majority of voters that November, defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman, and it prohibits the recognition of any other type of union.

In his filing, Schulte also wrote that the state "is obviously confused or worried that the court, by granting this divorce, would somehow open the floodgates for same-sex marriages to occur in the state. A divorce clearly ends a marriage.

"If a divorce is granted in the case, the court is NOT creating, recognizing or validating a marriage between persons of the same sex; rather the effect of a divorce immediately ends a marriage, which furthers the 'public policy' of this state as written in the Family Code."

Schulte also argued that the men had the right to divorce under Article IV, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution, which states, in part, that "full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state."

The clause "requires that a valid judgment from one state be enforced in other states regardless of the laws or public policy of the other states," he wrote.

In a filing, the attorney general's office rejected that argument, saying the clause "does not require Texas courts to recognize or give legal effect to marriages between persons of the same sex under the laws of other jurisdictions."

J.B. could not be reached for comment Thursday. After filing the lawsuit, he said the marriage, in which he took his partner's surname, "was not entered into lightly."

After 11 years together, the breakup is painful, he said.

But "I believe all people should have the same rights to do what they want to with their private lives."

Staff writer Christy Hoppe contributed to this report from Austin.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

NOM loses two fights today

The national organization for Marriage and other anti same sex marriage groups lost a fight to keep their records confidential see below. Fred Karger of Californians against Hate has been instrumental in getting the release of these records.

The Associated Press: Maine marriage campaign probe gets OKJudge: Prop 8 campaign must release campaign data
The Associated Press
Posted: 10/01/2009 06:47:19 PM PDT
Updated: 10/01/2009 06:47:19 PM PDT

SAN FRANCISCO—A federal judge in San Francisco says the sponsors of California's same-sex marriage ban must hand over some internal campaign records to lawyers seeking to overturn the voter-enacted initiative.

U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn Walker denied a request Thursday by the Protect Marriage campaign to shield all e-mails, memos and reports dealing with its strategy, voter messages and rationale for preventing gay couples from marrying.

The group had argued that releasing the information violated the free speech rights of its supporters and potentially subjected them to harassment from gay marriage advocates.

But the judge dismissed those arguments, saying that the campaign had failed to show that providing the documents would inhibit the political activities of people who oppose same-sex marriage.

Maine marriage campaign probe gets OK

(AP) – 11 hours ago

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine's ethics commission has overruled a staff recommendation and authorized an investigation into fundraising by groups that oppose Maine's gay marriage law.

The commission voted 3-2 Thursday after some members said there was sufficient evidence to warrant a closer look at fundraising by the National Organization for Marriage, a major contributor to Stand for Marriage Maine.

Californians Against Hate founder Fred Karger complained that NOM is circumventing Maine law by not reporting the names of many donors. Stand for Marriage is leading the push for a people's veto referendum of Maine's gay marriage law Nov. 3.

But NOM said it asks for donations nationally without designating them for specific campaigns, so it does not need to report contributors' names.

Blaze - Gay Entertainment, Gay Lifestyle and Gay Photography for South Australia - Portugal next for gay marriage? - Blaze - Gay Entertainment, Gay Lifestyle and Gay Photography for South Australia

- Portugal next for gay marriage?

Written by Ron Hughes
Thursday, 01 October 2009 14:35

Portugal may be the next country to see gay marriage legalised, if re-elected Prime Minister José Sócrates can make good on his election promise, Pink News reports.

Sócrates (pictured), of the Socialist Party, promised the legalisation of same sex marriage during his re-election campaign, but his party has been returned without an absolute parliamentary majority.

Despite not having a total majority, most Portugese MPs are from left-wing parties, all of which support same sex marriage.

Attempts to institute gay marriage in the past have been met with fierce resistance from conservatives and the Catholic church.

In July this year, a legal challenge saw the Portugese constitutional court uphold the ban on same sex marriage.

The recent election also brought in Portugal’s first openly-gay MP. Miguel Vale de Almeida is an independent Socialist.