Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A look at key gay-marriage laws in America - Yahoo! News

A look at key gay-marriage laws in America - Yahoo! News:

It's been 17 years since Hawaii's Supreme Court first ruled that summarily restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples violated the equal protection clause of that state's constitution. Yet, to this day, only five states and the District of Columbia permit gay couples to marry. It took another 11 years after the Hawaii decision before any state allowed same-sex couples to tie the knot.

The Hawaii court's revolutionary decision prompted gay-marriage opponents to obtain a legislative amendment to the state constitution to eliminate the constitutional basis for the court's conclusion. Thus, the Hawaii court's ruling did not actually lead to same-sex marriages. While several states and localities fashioned domestic partnerships and civil unions in the interim, it wasn't until 2004 that any of the U.S. states began marrying gay couples. The first state to do so was Massachusetts, ironically a commonwealth long-identified with socially conservative blue laws that are holdovers from colonial days.

In that same year, Gavin Newsom, mayor of San Francisco, briefly opened the door to same-sex marriages, issuing licenses to 4,000 gay couples despite language in the California Code specifying that marriage involves a man and a woman. Litigation ensued, and the state Supreme Court voided the marriages. Twice thereafter, the legislature voted to authorize same-sex marriage, but the governor vetoed both bills.

In 2008, the California Supreme Court overturned the gay-marriage prohibition, but voters by referendum amended the state constitution to ban gay marriage once again.

In 2010, federal judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Proposition 8, the voter-approved measure that barred gay marriage in California, violated constitutional due process and equal protection clauses. Prop. 8 supporters are appealing.

The states that currently permit same-sex couples to marry are Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Iowa and the District of Columbia.

Massachusetts also took the lead in allowing out-of-state same-sex couples to marry there when in 2009 it repealed a 1913 residency requirement for marriage. That same year, Vermont's legislature overrode a gubernatorial veto of a bill authorizing gay marriage. Connecticut likewise followed the legislative route to authorizing same-sex couples to marry. It passed a law in 2008, phasing out civil unions, which had been allowed since 2005. By year's end, all civil unions in Connecticut will have been converted to marriages.

New Hampshire followed a similar path to its New England neighbors, passing a law specifically authorizing same-sex marriage effective January 2010.

In Iowa, however, same-sex couples acquired the right to marry through litigation. The Iowa legislature passed a Defense of Marriage statute, a common type of law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, that was challenged in court. The Iowa Supreme Court struck the law as unconstitutional last year, thus affirming the legality of gay marriage.

The District of Columbia legalized gay marriage in December 2009, effective March 2010.

States that do not recognize same-sex marriage but authorize domestic partnerships include California, Oregon, New Jersey Nevada, Washington, Hawaii, Maine and Wisconsin. New Jersey's domestic partnership law provides the same benefits as marriage to couples availing themselves of it, whereas the other states with domestic partnership laws provide similar but not as extensive benefits as those afforded to married couples.

Three states without gay marriage laws of their own explicitly recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. These states are Rhode Island, New York and Maryland.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Gay Marriage Coming to The Netherlands Antilles | Gay Rights |

Gay Marriage Coming to The Netherlands Antilles | Gay Rights |

Ten years ago, The Netherlands was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage. Now three former Dutch colonies are assuming the same laws that give same-sex couples equal marriage and adoption rights. This news is pretty distinctive, considering that these islands are located in the Caribbean — usually considered one of the more homophobic regions of the world, where gays and lesbians are routinely victims of prejudice, violence and unjust laws.

The Netherlands Antilles consist of five islands in the Caribbean Sea. On October 10th, the two largest islands, Curacao and Sint Maarten, are set to become independent states within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The other three islands are adopting Dutch law as they become special municipalities of the Netherlands. Thus, gay marriage and adoption will become legal on the islands of Bonaire, Saba and Sint Eustatitus.

The Lower House of the Dutch Parliament approved a bill last week that will legalize gay marriage and adoption in these three states by 2012. Though they are under Dutch rule (or will be, at least), these exotic locales are actually very socially conservative islands. The three of them combined have a population of only 20,000.

Many residents hold strong religious beliefs that contradict Dutch laws on issues like abortion, euthanasia and, yes, same-sex marriage. It will be interesting to see if these new laws can change these views and the attitude toward gays in the Caribbean in general. At the very least, there will soon be three new destination wedding alternatives for the gay and lesbian marrying-kind.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Acceptance Seen of Gay Couples With Children -

Acceptance Seen of Gay Couples With Children - "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

Published: September 15, 2010

A majority of Americans now say their definition of family includes same-sex couples with children, as well as married gay and lesbian couples.

At the same time, most Americans do not consider unmarried cohabiting couples, either heterosexual or same-sex, to be a family — unless they have children.

The findings — part of a survey conducted this year as well as in 2003 and 2006 by Brian Powell, a sociology professor at Indiana University, Bloomington — are reported in a new book, “Counted Out: Same-Sex Relations and Americans’ Definitions of Family,” to be published on Wednesday by the Russell Sage Foundation. Since the surveys began, the proportion of people who reported having a gay friend or relative rose 10 percentage points, said Professor Powell, the book’s lead author.

“This is not because more people are gay now than in 2003,” he said. “This indicates a more open social environment in which individuals now feel more comfortable discussing and acknowledging sexuality. Ironically with all the antigay initiatives, all of a sudden people were saying the word ‘gay’ out loud. Just the discussion about it made people more comfortable.”

The book concludes that framing the equality of same-sex couples in terms of “the best interests of the child” might prove to be a more successful political argument than others.

“Neither the numbers from our data nor actual votes on initiatives are anywhere near the sufficient magnitude to support the idea that the public is ready to embrace same sex-couples with open arms,” the authors say. But, likening the resistance to laws and mores against interracial marriage, “we envisage a day in the near future when same-sex families also will gain acceptance by a large plurality of the public.”

The latest telephone survey of 830 people conducted this year found that Americans were almost equally divided on same-sex marriage. “I don’t think people are ready to embrace it, but people are ready to accept it,” Professor Powell said of same-sex marriage.

The survey also found a growing acceptance that genetics, rather than parenting, peers or God’s will, was responsible for sexual orientation.

Since 2003, the survey found a decline of 11 percentage points in the number of people who generally define family as a husband and wife with or without children.

Prof. Stephanie Coontz of Evergreen State College in Washington, director of research and public education at the Council on Contemporary Families, a research and advocacy group, said that “Americans seem to be open to seeing same-sex couples with children as families, even while they hesitate to recognize their unions as marriage.”

David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values, a marriage research and advocacy group, said he was not surprised by the findings. “I like the standard definition of family: two or more persons related by blood, marriage or adoption,” Mr. Blankenhorn said. “Keeps it simple and coherent.”

But, he added: “We live in groups, and we need each other. So it’s always a good thing, isn’t it, when any of us truly loves and is loved by another.”

State-by-State Gay Marriage Acceptance

State-by-State Gay Marriage Acceptance: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

State-by-State Gay Marriage Acceptance

Hank Pellissier
Hank Pellissier
Ethical Technology

Posted: Sep 14, 2010

How is gay marriage in America proceeding down the aisle? This question concerns all transhumanists because persecution of homosexuality is an anti-Enlightenment human rights violation that is rooted in archaic religious superstition and anti-scientific thought. Actively supporting gay marriage is the ethically responsible position for all progressive transhumanists.

image1Surprisingly, the grandest advance in homosexual matrimony in the last 60 days is not the California judicial dithering over Proposition 8. No. Peer south of the border, amigos, and you’ll see not Uno, but Dos Hispanic nations that have embraced same-sex marriage.

First, the Senate of Argentina ratified gay marriage by a vote 33-27 on July 15. The proposal was spearheaded by President Cristina Fernandez and her husband, ex-President Nestor Kirchner, and opposed (predictably) by the Catholic Church, who condemned it as “a move by the father of lies [Satan] to confuse and deceive the children of God.” Buenos Aires already had civil unions; so did the village of Ushaia in Tierra del Fuego. The new law’s opponents are mounting only feeble resistance as the gauchos gallop towards a secular society, motivated by godfather Spain’s similar legislation in 2005.

I promised two miracles, so prepare for a shock if your virgin ears have not heard the news. On August 11, gay marriage was essentially ratified in… Mexico. Blink again, and believe it. The nation that exported machismo is swishing towards the altar. Okay, right, Frieda Kahlo was openly bisexual, but… where’d this come from?

Distrito Federal. Gay marriage was initiallly legalized in Mexico City by its progressive mayor Marcelo Ebrard (who is expected to run for El Presidente in 2012) and five months later the Supreme Court announced that Mexico City gay weddings must be recognized by all 31 Mexican states. The Catholic Church (redundantly) had a hissy-fit, shrilling that the measure’s enactment was more horrible for Mexicans than the current drug war (25,000 dead and counting).
The United States is now in the embarrassing position of being surrounded by two large nations — Mexico and Canada — that have more progressive gay rights than the red-white-and-blue citizenry. This hypocritical stance for a populace that identifies itself with personal freedom will sharply intensify when additional Latin American nations ratify same-sex marriage: I predict this will happen in four more nations in the next four years: Uruguay, Ecuador, Colombia, and… BRAZIL — the samba queen herself, emerging superpower, “Kiss of the Spider Woman” country.

Is the USA future equally gay? Indeed. Popular opinion is shifting inexorably towards an accepting view of same-sex marriage; everyone knows this, even Republicans. Recent GOP heavyweights who have declared that gay marriage is either valid, or not worth fighting about, include Laura Bush, Dick Cheney, Glenn Beck, Elisabeth Hasselbeck, and Cindy and Meghan McCain. Many Libertarian and “Tea Party” members are equally supportive of gay marriage, or at least indifferent. So… who’s resisting?

Religious folks. Mormons, conservative Catholics, evangelical fundamentalists. But they’re slowly getting outnumbered by their own voting children: a New York Times/CBS News poll revealed that 57% of the populace under 40 years old is supportive of gay marriage.

How fast are we changing? My calculation is this: every year, gay marriage proponents gain an additional 1% of the electorate. This is evidenced in California numbers: in March 2000, Proposition 22 wanted to amend the Family Code to say “only marriage between a man and a woman” would be recognized in the state. image3 The measure passed, 61.4% to 38.6%. In November 2008, Proposition 8 also rejected gay marriage, but in a much closer election, 52.24% to 47.76%. Elementary math reveals that gay marriage gained 9.16% more supporters in just 8.5 years.

Below I have calculated when same-sex weddings will achieve majority support throughout the land of liberty. For 30 states, I’ve done this by adding 1% per year to the percentage that voted against a gay marriage ban, until the total reached 50.1%. In the remaining states, I used either polling figures (that I often regard skeptically), and/or I calculate an acceptance date based on the behavior of neighboring states with a similar demographic. If a state finds itself surrounded by either gay-marriage states (or nations), or by anti-gay marriage states, I accelerate or delay the process by two to four years, and I hurried slacker Mississippi along, alone in the end, with a five year nudge. Justification for this equation is evident in New England, which adopted gay marriage in a daisy-chain fashion, and also in California, which was deeply impacted by Utah Mormons in Prop 8.

My results are different than those arrived at by statistician Nate Silver of the New York Times. His figures, I believe, are erroneous because he over-estimates the slide towards gay-friendliness at 2% annually, twice my prognosis. Data explaining my analysis is referenced at the end. If you disagree with me, let me know. Did I position your home-state correctly? I welcome all critiques and suggestions.

2004 Massachusetts
2008 Connecticut
2009 Vermont
2010 New Hampshire
Washington D.C.
2011 New Jersey
2012 Oregon
New York
South Dakota
2013 Maryland
2014 Michigan
Rhode Island
New Mexico
2015 Arizona
2016 Ohio
2017 Hawaii
2019 Nevada
2020 Idaho
2021 Utah
2024 North Dakota
2025 Kansas
2028 Texas
2029 Arkansas
West Virginia
North Carolina
2030 Kentucky
2032 Louisiana
South Carolina
2034 Alabama
2035 Mississippi

Gay marriage will arrive earlier if state courthouses deem it unconstitutional to do otherwise. The above scenario should be viewed as a cautious prediction, based entirely on majority voting support. My final forecast: the last states to concede to gay marriage were all members of the Confederacy that was reluctant to end African-American slavery. This parallel will be repeatedly noted.

Alabama: 19% vote against gay marriage ban in 2006. Neighboring influence accelerates it three years.
Alaska: 32% voted against marriage ban in 1998. Canadian influence accelerates it two years.
Arizona: 44% vote against gay marriage ban in 2008.
Arkansas: 25% voted against marriage ban in 2004.
California: 48% vote against gay marriage ban in 2008.
Colorado: 44% vote against gay marriage ban in 2006.
Delaware: State legislature supports gay rights.
Florida: 38% vote against gay marriage ban in 2008.
Georgia: 24% voted against marriage ban in 2004.
Hawaii: 31% voted against marriage ban in 1998.
Idaho: 37% vote against gay marriage ban in 2006.
Illinois: 2005 poll shows only 31% support gay marriage, but half of Chicago. Neighbors accelerate it four years.
Indiana: Conservative MidWest state finally follows neighbors.
Kansas: 30% vote against gay marriage ban in 2005.
Kentucky: 24% voted against marriage ban in 2004.
Louisiana: 22% voted against marriage ban in 2004.
Maine: Narrowly rejected gay marriage in 2009.
Maryland: Recent UCLA study says the state will gain 3.2 million annually via same-sex marriage.
Michigan: 41% voted against marriage ban in 2004.
Minnesota: 2010 poll says only 40% of state supports gay marriage, neighbors accelerate it three years
Mississippi: 14% voted against marriage ban in 2004.
Missouri: 29% voted against marriage ban in 2004.
Montana: 33% voted against marriage ban in 2004. Canadian influence accelerates it one year.
Nebraska: 30% voted against marriage ban in 2000.
Nevada: 33% voted against marriage ban in 2002.
New Jersey: Poll says voters already support gay marriage by 6% margin.
New Mexico: Libertarian leaders; beats neighbor Arizona by one year.
New York: 2009 poll suggests that 47% support gay marriage.
North Carolina: 2009 poll showed only 21% support gay marriage.
North Dakota: 27% voted against marriage ban in 2004. Neighboring influence accelerates it three years.
Ohio: 38% voted against marriage ban in 2004.
Oklahoma: 24% voted against gay marriage ban in 2004.
Oregon: 43% voted against gay marriage ban in 2004.
Pennsylvania: Conservative resistance, but the city of “brotherly love” spearheads change.
Rhode Island: 2009 poll says 43% oppose gay marriage in this Catholic state, but New England tolerance will accelerate it by 2 years.
South Carolina: 22% vote against gay marriage ban in 2006. Neighbors accelerates it three years, religion delays it one.
South Dakota: 48% vote against gay marriage ban in 2006. Neighbors delay it three years.
Tennessee: 19% vote against gay marriage ban in 2006. Neighbors accelerate three years.
Texas: 24% vote against gay marriage in 2005. Mexican and New Mexican influence accelerates it three years.
Utah: 34% voted against gay marriage ban in 2004. Mormons add a year.
Virginia: 43% vote against gay marriage ban in 2006.
Washington: Follows Oregon and Canada neighbors. Supported domestic partner referendum in 2009 by 7%.
West Virginia: Socially conservative state finally follows its neighbors.
Wisconsin: 41% vote against gay marriage ban in 2006. Neighbors Michigan and Iowa accelerate one year.
Wyoming: Still embarrassed by the murder of Matt Shepherd, the “Brokeback Mountain” state is also proud that it was the first state to give women the vote in 1869.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Report: Gay Couples Closely Resemble Straight Ones--In Iowa, Anyway :: EDGE Chicago

Report: Gay Couples Closely Resemble Straight Ones--In Iowa, Anyway :: EDGE Chicago: "- Sent using Google Toolbar"

A new report suggests that in many ways, same-sex marriages are virtually identical to heterosexual unions--at least, in the single heartland state where marriage equality is allowed.

IowaWatch, the web site affiliated with the Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism--a nonpartisan, independent news resource--researched and prepared the report, then wrote an article on its findings. That article was picked up and run at the website for Iowa newspaper the Press-Citizen on Sept. 8.

The article noted that "Iowa’s 18-month experience with the newly legalized institution has revealed striking similarities to traditional marriage and no discernible harm to it," and reported that the majority of same-sex marriages in the state--almost two-thirds--were women, a result that the report suggested might have to do with gender inclinations: if men could reap the federal rights and protections accorded to marriage, rather than being restricted to the state-level rights due to anti-gay federal legislation, they might be more apt to marry.

Women, on the other hand, may be more disposed toward domesticity and so more willing to accept limited marriage rights that lack federal standing. "The disparity also reflects similar trends in other states where same-sex marriages are allowed," the article noted.

The article recounted that opponents of marriage equality have succeeded in framing the debate as a matter of same-sex marriage potentially harming mixed-gender unions. No account for the mechanism of such harm has ever been tendered, and when pressed for an explanation as to how such harm would come to befall straight marriages if gays were allowed to marry, the lawyer for a group defending California’s Proposition 8 admitted in federal court that he didn’t know the answer. Judging purely by the numbers in Iowa over the last year, such claims fall flat: marriage is up in the state--and divorce has declined. In other words, gays are joining straights in marriage, and neither straights nor gays are divorcing in droves because of it.

Indeed, a 2008 study in the UK--where same-sex families are allowed to enter into civil unions and receive that same legal rights and protections as heterosexuals--suggested that gays and lesbians who tie the knot are less likely to divorce. One reason for that, the IowaWatch report theorized, is that same-sex couples have had to endure so many hurdles and obstacles to legal parity that by the time they are granted marriage rights--even on the state level, in the five states that provide marriage equality--their commitment is often rock-solid. Heterosexual couples are not tested in the same way; they are free to marry at will anywhere in the country--and, as the divorce rate shows, equally free to split up and try again if their first marriage does not suit them.

The study undertaken by IowaWatch depicted families that wrestled with the same worries that heterosexual couples contend with in their daily lives: finances, children, and household chores. What the study did not uncover was any evidence that two married men or two married women in any way diminished the marriages of heterosexual couples.

Despite the lack of any evidence for damage to straight couples being wrought by married gays and lesbians, the anti-gay religious right continues to insist that same-sex families should be denied legal recognition. The article quoted Maggie Gallagher, chair of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM), as saying, "They shouldn’t be allowed to marry. They shouldn’t be allowed to redefine marriage to mean whatever relationship [they] choose."

NOM has pursued a campaign against gay and lesbian family equality in 19 states this summer, including Iowa, where last month the group organized a rally. The anti-gay group told a small crowd of supporters at the Aug. 1 rally in Des Moines that broken families result in higher taxes, and suggested that one way to preserve heterosexual marriages--and save taxpayers money--would be to rescind marriage equality in Iowa.

The anti-gay rally drew a small crowd of around 75 people, the AP article said. Another rally sponsored by local marriage equality group One Iowa drew several times as many supporters--about 250.

Gay Families Are, Well... Families

But the specter of broken families applies no more to gay unions than to straight ones, and possibly less. Moreover, aside from one distinction--the fact that both parties in same-sex marriages are of the same gender--married gays and lesbians are virtually indistinguishable from mixed-gender marrieds--that is to say, gay married couples live the exact same "lifestyle" as heterosexual married couples, with their lives centering on work, mortgages, home, and family.

"Not much has changed," Ledon Sweeney, a gay Iowa City resident married to his male life partner, admitted. "We live pretty boring lives. We go to work; we mow our lawn, we pay our mortgage, and we go on vacation if we can save enough money."

Recent election cycles have repeatedly thrown the spotlight on same-sex families, and in Iowa this year that pattern is ongoing, the article said. Anti-gay challengers to the governor and to several Supreme Court justices seek to put the rights of gay and lesbian families up to a vote, a la Proposition 8--the anti-gay California ballot initiative that was recently found to be unconstitutional. An appeal on that decision is pending.

Meantime, the justices on Iowa’s Supreme Court face threats of impeachment and, in the case of the three justices who must defend their places on the bench this year, replacement by the electorate. The 2009 state Supreme Court decision that cleared the way for same-sex families to wed in Iowa was unanimous. The three justices who face a retention vote this year have already been targeted by an anti-gay PAC.

One open question is whether, having seen that the sky has not fallen, Iowans will pursue the issue at the ballot box. But another uncertainty is how locals will take to out-of-state interests such as NOM--which was a major player in the passage of Proposition 8 in 2008, as well as the 2009 repeal of a law in Maine that would have granted gay and lesbian families marriage rights in that state--intruding on Iowa’s affairs.

"I think Iowa is pretty libertarian," gay Iowan Mark A. Holbrook, also married and also a resident of Iowa City, said. "A lot of people don’t feel compelled to force their views on others."

The state’s lawmakers have not, at any rate, felt compelled to put the rights of some families up to voters, while leaving the rights of others unmolested--a fact acknowledged even by anti-gay Republicans. "There’s just no chance at all" that the Democratically-dominated state government will clear the way this year for a ballot box attack on Iowa’s gay and lesbian families, according to former Republican state senator Jeff Angelo. "Democratic leaders have really put themselves out there and said they are not going to allow a vote, so it won’t happen. I think Republicans know that."

Iowa Democrats in the state’s senate and house alike turned back multiple attacks on marriage equality in 2009. State Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal even declared that he would not permit the issue to come up for a vote.

That did not sit well with the anti-gay right. "As long as Mike Gronstal is the de facto governor of Iowa, there’s not going to be a marriage amendment, barring direct intervention in that man’s heart by God himself," Christian talk radio host Steve Deace told the media. "Beyond that, like the Pharaoh of old Mr. Gronstal’s heart is hardened towards righteousness and morality, and it’s clear that promotion of homosexuality is something he’s serious about. He’s not budging, and the few of his fellow Democrats who might otherwise share the views of folks like me are too intimidated by him to stick their necks out for what’s right."

An alternative view, of course, is that even in the current politically restless climate, where politicians who once seemed friendly to the cause of family equality often duck and cover--as happened in New Jersey earlier this year--Iowa’s lawmakers, having determined where they stand, are not too intimidated to hold their ground.
Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.

Monday, September 6, 2010

March On Interview News 12

Interview with us starts about 12 secs in