Monday, June 28, 2010

Iceland PM weds as gay marriage legalised - Telegraph

Iceland PM weds as gay marriage legalised - Telegraph





Miss Sigurdardottir, 68, formally married Jonina Leosdottir, a writer, after the couple submitted a demand for their civil union to be transformed into a marriage, the RUV broadcaster said.

Iceland's parliament on June 12 unanimously adopted legislation allowing gay marriage, in a law that came into force on Sunday.



Homosexual couples could previously enter into a civil partnership and benefit from the same rights as heterosexual couples, but this had not been considered a formal marriage.

Miss Sigurdardottir, born in 1942, took power in February 2009. She has lived with Miss Ledsdottir, who is in her fifties, for several years and the couple entered a civil union in 2002.

She is the world's first openly gay head of government.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Strasbourg court rules that states are not obliged to allow gay marriage | Antoine Buyse | Law | guardian.co.uk

Strasbourg court rules that states are not obliged to allow gay marriage | Antoine Buyse | Law | guardian.co.uk

n a key judgment issued today, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on a complaint of a homosexual couple in Austria who were denied the right to marry. Although very recently (January 2010) Austria created the possibility to enter into a Registered Partnership for same-sex couples, marriage still is not possible. The applicants in this case, Schalk and Kopf, complained both under article 12 (right to marry) and article 14 (prohibition of discrimination) in conjunction with article 8 (right to private and family life). The court found no violation of their human rights, although it was very divided on the issue of discrimination (four votes against three in holding that Austria did not discriminate).

On the right to marry of article 12 ECHR, the court observed this was the first case in which it exmained whether people of the same sex had the right to marry. In earlier cases, the court had looked at the position of transsexuals, in which it had concluded that (para. 53)

"article 12 enshrined the traditional concept of marriage as being between a man and a woman. The court acknowledged that a number of contracting states had extended marriage to same-sex partners, but went on to say that this reflected their own vision of the role of marriage in their societies and did not flow from an interpretation of the fundamental right as laid down by the contracting states in the Convention in 1950."

As to the litteral text of article 12, the court held that, looked at in isolation, the text "be interpreted so as not to exclude the marriage between two men or two women" (para. 55). But it then continued to add that

"However, in contrast, all other substantive articles of the Convention grant rights and freedoms to 'everyone' or state that 'no one' is to be subjected to certain types of prohibited treatment. The choice of wording in article 12 must thus be regarded as deliberate. Moreover, regard must be had to the historical context in which the Convention was adopted. In the 1950s marriage was clearly understood in the traditional sense of being a union between partners of different sex."

click link above for full story

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Lambda Legal: UCLA-Lambda Legal Study Proves Strong Link Between Marriage Bans and Lack of Health Insurance for Gay and Lesbian Partners

Lambda Legal: UCLA-Lambda Legal Study Proves Strong Link Between Marriage Bans and Lack of Health Insurance for Gay and Lesbian Partners

(Los Angeles, June 24, 2010) — A new study co-authored by Lambda Legal and the UCLA School of Public Health finds a close correlation between state and federal marriage discrimination against same-sex couples and disparities in health coverage between married heterosexuals and partnered gay men and lesbians.

The study, released today in the online edition of the leading journal Health Affairs, found that partnered lesbians are only 28 percent as likely as married heterosexual couples to receive healthcare coverage for a partner through an employer. Gay men are 42 percent as likely. The study also found that these disparities are not remedied by other insurance options. Instead, lesbians and gay men are twice as likely as their straight coworkers to have uninsured life partners, which puts strains on personal health, family finances and public services. Same-sex couples—even if legally married or in a registered domestic partnership—often face discriminatory barriers to coverage within employers' plans, and when they can participate, the federal and most state governments tax those benefits as earned income.

"We've known for a long time that inequality has tangible physical and financial costs," said Lambda Legal Senior Counsel Jennifer C. Pizer, who co-authored the study. "This is the first time we've been able to precisely measure that discrimination in this critical field—health insurance—and it's far greater than we'd suspected. Even in California, with very good nondiscrimination laws, we see that unequal federal and state treatment of same-sex couples creates this enormous problem. As some of these uninsured people are forced to seek help through Medi-Cal, costs are shifted from the private sector to taxpayers. And as some are forced to put off treatment until the only option is the emergency room, the physical, emotional and economic costs to same-sex families are incalculable and intolerable."

The study, The Effects Of Unequal Access to Health Insurance for Same-Sex Couples in California, analyzes the responses of some 110,000 participants in the California Health Interview Survey ("CHIS") between 2001 and 2005. Previous studies have used smaller samples or assumed a same-sex partnership through the gender of members in a household, rather than compiling and assessing the many, specific survey responses collected in the CHIS.

"The data from over 100,000 Californians is the first to quantify dependent coverage disparities by sexual orientation," said Professor Ninez A. Ponce of the Department of Health Services, principal UCLA co-author and a senior research scientist at the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research. "By not allowing lesbian and gay couples to marry, and not respecting their status when they are married, government invites the private sector to pass the costs of discrimination onto families and communities. We've quantified how many gay people are hurt by the current policies, and it's greater than we thought."

The authors posit that the passage of the California Insurance Equality Act of 2005, which requires insurance providers to treat registered domestic partners the same as spouses, may have alleviated some of the observed discrepancies. But they conclude that healthcare reform on the national level cannot eliminate these gross disparities without eliminating the marriage-related rules that discriminate systemically against same-sex couples.

Pizer and Ponce are joined by UCLA School of Public Health co-authors Dr. Susan D. Cochran, professor of Epidemiology and Statistics, and Dr. Vickie M. Mays, professor of Psychology and director of UCLA's Center on Research, Education, Training, and Strategic Communication on Minority Health Disparities.

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Contact: Jason PĂ©rez Howe; 213-382-7600 x 247; jhowe@lambdalegal.org

Darrell B. Nelson's Temper Tantrum Tuesday: The victims of Gay Marriage | Before It's News

Darrell B. Nelson's Temper Tantrum Tuesday: The victims of Gay Marriage | Before It's News

By Darrell B. Nelson author of Invasive Thoughts

Posted at Grant Lawrence--Bodhi Thunder

Source: Project Savior

In California the courts are debating allowing same sex marriage, under the rules of the court the opponents of it need to show who will be harmed if gays are allowed to be married. So far they have been unable to do so. Being the nice person I am I will help them out.

Traditional Marriage, the type that is written about in the Old Testament is between one man and several women. The principals of this type of marriage are shown here.

Basically this type of marriage turned the wife into a type of property. Through the Dark Ages this worked as the amount of work maintaining a house needed well-defined roles.

When we entered the industrial age the roles changed and wives could actually have a little free time to do something other than keep the house from falling down. This meant that a few wives combined could have more economic power than their husband, that would not do as it would mean the marriage of a man and a few woman would survive after the man’s death and there would be a separation between individual assets and marital assets. If these marital assets could survive the death of an individual they would continue to grow and families would have more power against authority.

So marriage became a partnership between one man and one woman, except in powerful families. This kept the commoners from slowly gathering power as marital assets dissolved after the death of an individual.

After World War II an individual wife could maintain a house and still have time to work and the economic roles within a marriage drifted towards equality. Slowly the role of breadwinner wasn’t necessarily the man’s role. It could be the wife or shared equally. Marriages still dissolved after the death of an individual because of social inertia and laws governing marriage that reflected the pre-WWII society.

With marriages modeled socially and legally around the pre-WWII economics these marriages failed spectacularly. At the end of the 60s half of all marriages ended in divorce.

As people started to realize that the social model of marriage with the man as the breadwinner and the wife as homemaker didn’t fit the times the social role of marriage changed and with it divorce rates went down to the current one in three and are continuing to decline.

The current marriage laws are still based on the pre-WWII economic models and marital assets are combined with the surviving individual and this preserves the mortality of a marriage giving the State and large corporations the upper hand in society as they are immortal.

With same sex marriages the pretense of unequal partners in marriage will be even harder to maintain and laws to limit the existence of marital assets as opposed to individual assets will look sillier and sillier.

As marriage is now a partnership between equal partners it is no longer economically necessary for them to be of roughly the same age and the marital assets could be transferred (through death) multiple times if the partners are 20 and 30 years apart in age.

This would give marriage as an economic entity a power that has been reserved for the State and Large Corporations: Immortality.

This would decentralize economic power and move it to individual families strengthening them. With families retaining economic power indefinitely Large Corporations would lose their ability to exploit the “Small People” as BP called them.

So for the opponents of same sex marriage I have found you a victim, any Large Corporation that wants to take advantage of families by having any small amount of wealth they have created over their lifetimes destroyed with an individual’s death.

Greed and misery are the only victims of marriage equality, so you can now argue in favor of that.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Olson surprises many conservatives by seeking to overturn gay-marriage ban

Olson surprises many conservatives by seeking to overturn gay-marriage ban

By Robert Barnes
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, June 14, 2010

Cocktails had been served on the terrace, the ubiquitous Washington buffet of tenderloin and salmon consumed, and the gay law students settled in to hear from the famed legal mind who is leading the battle to make sure they have the right to marry whomever they want, wherever in the United States of America they live.

But first, an introduction: The assembled were reminded of Theodore B. Olson's sterling conservative credentials; about his loyal service in President Ronald Reagan's Justice Department; that he was President George W. Bush's solicitor general; that perhaps the crowning achievement in his gaudy career as a Supreme Court advocate was persuading five justices to stop the vote counting in Florida in the 2000 election and acknowledge that Bush had won.

So far, so quiet.

But then Olson took the microphone, and began to describe his crusade to overturn California's Proposition 8 and establish a constitutional right for same-sex marriage. The two gay families he represents are "the nicest people on the planet." He believes to his core that discrimination because of sexual orientation "is wrong and it's hurtful, and I never could understand it." He knows some worry that the lawsuit is premature, "but civil rights are not won by people saying, 'Wait until the right time.' "

This fight, Olson told the law students gathered on a spring evening in the luxe D.C. offices of his firm, Gibson, Dunn and Cruthcher, "is the most compelling, emotionally moving, important case that I have been involved in in my entire life."

Standing O. Another jury persuaded.

Olson will try to repeat the performance Wednesday in a federal courthouse in San Francisco. He will present closing arguments in a potentially groundbreaking trial in which Olson and his political odd-couple partner David Boies -- his Democratic rival in Bush v. Gore -- are asking a federal judge to overturn Prop 8, with which California voters limited marriage to a man and a woman. The suit says that violates the U.S. Constitution's due process and equal protection clauses. (click link above for full story)

Friday, June 11, 2010

Editorial - Marriage, a Basic Civil Right - NYTimes.com

Editorial - Marriage, a Basic Civil Right - NYTimes.com

After a nearly three-week trial in January, and a lengthy hiatus while lawyers fought over documents, closing arguments are scheduled for Wednesday in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Proposition 8, California’s ban on same-sex marriage.


No one expects the ruling from Judge Vaughn Walker in Federal District Court to be the last word. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, will have its say, and so, eventually, may the Supreme Court.

The testimony made abundantly clear that excluding same-sex couples from marriage exacts a grievous toll on gay people and their families. Domestic partnerships are a woefully inadequate substitute.

On the witness stand, the plaintiffs described the pain and stigma of having their relationships relegated by the state to a lesser category that fails to convey the love and commitment inherent in marriage. “My state is supposed to protect me. It’s not supposed to discriminate against me,” said Paul Katami, one of the plaintiffs.

Defenders of Proposition 8 produced no evidence to back up their claim that marriage between same-sex couples would hurt heterosexual marriage. “I don’t know. I don’t know,” the defense attorney, Charles Cooper, said when asked for an explanation by the judge at a pretrial hearing.

The defense called only two witnesses. The first, Kenneth Miller, a professor at Claremont McKenna College, argued that gay people are a powerful political force, which was meant to support the claim that there is no need for enhanced judicial protection. He ended up admitting that gay men and lesbians suffer discrimination.

The other witness, David Blankenhorn, the president of the Institute for American Values, argued that marriage is being weakened by rising divorce rates and more unmarried people having children, but he could not convincingly explain what the genders of married couples had to do with that.

Upon questioning, he acknowledged that marriage is a “public good” that would benefit same-sex couples and their children, and that to allow same-sex marriage “would be a victory for the worthy ideas of tolerance and inclusion.” The net result was to reinforce the sense that Proposition 8 was driven by animus rather than any evidence of concrete harm to heterosexual marriages or society at large.

It’s not possible to know whether the final ruling in this case will broadly confront the overarching denial of equal protection and due process created by prohibiting one segment of society from entering into marriage. The Supreme Court has, in different cases, called marriage “essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men” and a “basic civil right.”

The result, even if a win for gay couples, could be a limited ruling confined to the situation in California, where the state’s highest court granted the freedom to marry and voters later repealed it following an ugly campaign spearheaded by antigay religious interests.

But there are actions that can be taken now. States like New York should not put off acting on legislation to legalize same-sex marriage. Last week, President Obama extended a modest package of benefits — including day care and relocation allowances — to all partners of federal employees. Congress has a duty to extend to same-sex partners the rest of the benefits that are enjoyed by federal workers whose spouses are of a different sex. It also needs to repeal the 1996 law that defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

Monday, June 7, 2010

IRS Change Recognizes Gay Calif. Couples | News | Advocate.com

IRS Change Recognizes Gay Calif. Couples | News | Advocate.com

IRS Change Recognizes Gay Calif. Couples
By Julie Bolcer
Advocate.com
For the first time, the IRS will recognize same-couples in California as a unit for tax purposes, under a new ruling by the agency.

The Wall Street Journal reports on the change, which reverses a 2006 IRS ruling and may also affect Nevada and Washington State couples.

“Specifically, the agency said nearly 58,000 couples who are registered as domestic partners in California must combine their income and each report half of it on their separate tax returns. Same-sex couples account for an estimated 95% of the state's domestic partnerships; partnership status is also available to heterosexual couples in which one partner is over age 62.”

Same-sex couples cannot file joint federal tax returns under the Defense of Marriage Act, but in California, community-property rules complicate the issue and call for interpretations.

According to the Journal, ”An IRS spokesman said the shift is due to a 2007 change in state law. That change dealt with the way the state calculates income for California taxes. Nevada and Washington state are also community-property states that recognize domestic partnerships, and so couples there may also be affected.”

Some critics charge the new ruling contradicts the Defense of Marriage Act.