Archive for the ‘Law’ Category

What Will SCOTUS Hear?

Thursday, November 29th, 2012

The coming week could be very interesting in the ongoing struggle for marriage equality. The Supreme Court is expected to announce which of as many as ten cases regarding marriage equality they will choose to hear. Chances are they will choose to hear at least one or two. Chances are also that they won’t hear all ten. That’s a lot of cases on one issue. Besides, at least one of them, Windsor v United States could, in theory, lead to the court completely demolishing DOMA on constitutional grounds that the entire act violates equal protection… if they decide that way.

Interestingly enough, in one case, Hollingsworth v Perry (which has had two previous incarnations as Perry v Brown and Perry V Schwarzenegger), if the court refuses to hear it, then it’s an automatic equality victory. You see, Hollingsworth v Perry is the case against California’s infamous Proposition 8 outlawing same sex marriage. Two courts, thus far, have ruled that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional under California law. That means if the Supreme Court refuses to hear the case, the lower court’s ruling will go into effect and California will begin issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples in a matter of weeks.

Makes me kind of hope the court doesn’t choose that one.

Whichever cases the court chooses to hear, however they turn out, this space will remain adamantly pro marriage equality.

Nobody has yet managed to explain to me in what way my marriage will be harmed by two men or two women who love one another getting married than it is by the sad travesty of Kim Kardashian’s multi-million dollar, world-televised seventy-two day marriage.

What I can see, and can be appalled by, is the fact that same sex couples – even where they can legally marry in this country – are denied rights and benefits that I take for granted. Rights of visitation in hospitals, of inheritance, of tax benefits, and many more.

In 1954, the Supreme Court struck down the concept of ‘separate but equal’ because while it was always separate, it was virtually never equal. Right now we have a significant segment of our population offered a ‘similar’ but hardly equal version of marriage.

I only hope the current Supreme Court has the courage of their predecessors in 1954.

Marriage Equality Wins in Landslide!

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

Four states had ballot measures concerning same sex marriage in yesterday’s election, along with that trivial electing the president thing. Guess what? Equality won!

Maine and Maryland became the first two states in the USA to choose marriage equality by voter referendum. Maine reversed a 2009 referendum that banned same sex marriage, while Maryland voted to accept the state law in favor of same sex marriage that was passed earlier this year.

Washington state looks likely to make it a triad, with another vote to accept a law passed earlier this year. When last I saw the numbers, a little over half the votes had been counted and the tally was running 52% – 48% in favor. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it continues in that vein.

And while they aren’t making it exactly legal yet, Minnesota voters have refused to amend their state constitution to ban same sex marriage.

Here’s to many lovely weddings, whether they involve one bride and one groom, two grooms, or two brides!

Love should always triumph.

Take That, DOMA!

Friday, October 19th, 2012

(Image via Jet Fete Blog where you can see more pictures of this beautiful wedding held in Mexico)

Yesterday the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York ruled (as have so many courts before it) that the Defense of Marriage Act or DOMA is unconstitutional in that it violates the fourteenth amendment right to equal protection under the law.

The suit was brought by Edith Windsor, 83. She and Theda Clara Spyer had been engaged for forty years when they were finally able to tie the knot in Toronto, Cananda in 2007. Two years later, Spyer sadly died of multiple sclerosis. In Spyer’s will, she left all her property to her surviving spouse, Windsor. And since the federal government will not recognize same sex marriages, Windsor was forced to pay $363,000 (that’s three hundred sixty-three thousand smackers) in estate taxes. Windsor felt that was unfair since a surviving spouse in a DOMA approved marriage would not have had to shell out that kind of money to inherit.

A federal court sided with Windsor, but the decision was appealed. Now the appeals court also sides with the plaintiff… as has every other court that has heard similar cases.

Even the current presidential administration considers DOMA unconstitutional. President Obama announced that his administration would no longer defend it because – wait for it – it violates equal protection. The act is currently being defended by the Republican majority in the US House of Representatives.

Me? I say it’s time for DOMA to land on the ash heap of bad law. It hurts families, inflicts hardships, and does absolutely nothing to protect, defend, or support any marriage whatsoever.

My opposite sex marriage is in no way threatened by the fact that two men or two women may marry in certain places. In fact, my marriage is so cool and nifty that I want every adult who wants one to be able to get their own, regardless of gender identity, race, or preferred flavor of consenting adult to have one with!

Two Brides, One Dream of Social Justice

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

(Image via The Jakarta Globe)

Fish Huang (on the right) and You Ya-ting, both thirty, made history saturday in Taiwan. They were the first same sex couple to marry in a Buddhist ceremony in their country.

The wedding remains a symbolic statement rather than a legal one, since Taiwan law does not officially recognize same sex couples. A bill legalizing same sex marriage and the rights of gays and lesbians to adopt children has been making the rounds since 2003, but has yet to be either adopted or formally rejected. President Ma Ying-jeou cites the need for more public consensus before going ahead with the bill.

Still, Fish and You wanted to formalize their union and share the moment with friends and family. Female Buddhist master Shih Chao-hui presided over the ceremony in which both brides wore western-style white gowns and veils and exchanged prayer beads.

Said Fish Huang:

“We hope with the master’s support, the wedding will change many people’s perspective even though it is not legally binding. We hope the government can legalise same-sex marriage soon.”

Some three hundred well-wishers attended the ceremony. Sadly, the parents of the brides were not among them.

I hope you will all join with me in wishing the happy couple every joy. I further hope that one day same-sex weddings in Taiwan will be legal, as well as symbolic.

Yet Another Court Rules Against DOMA

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

This time it’s in Connecticut.

US District Judge Vanessa Bryant, an appointee of George W. Bush, ruled yesterday in a 104 page decision that the Defense of Marriage Act violates the fifth amendment of the US Constitution because it denies federal marriage benefits to legally married same-sex couples.

Joining the other seven courts that have found the precise same thing (five district courts, one appeals court, and one bankruptcy court), Bryant’s decision found there was ‘no rational basis’ for the denial of benefits to same sex married couples.

You know what? That’s what I’ve been saying all along. About time a court put it that plainly.

Ladies, Don’t Make This Mistake

Monday, July 9th, 2012

When waiting for the strippers at your bachelorette party, please keep in mind they look like this:

Real cops look like this:

I bring this up in light of a story last week from the Australian Broadcasting System about a bachelorette party being held at the Humpty Doo Hotel (I did not make up that name) where the constabulary were called out about a disturbance and the ladies mistook them for the strippers.

Before the police could retreat they very nearly lost their shirts… but not their sense of humor. In fact they posed with party goers and the police car. No charges were filed in the incident.

But remember, not all cops will be that understanding of being sexually assaulted in a case of drunken misidentification. Wait until after the strippers arrive to drink enough to get confused about who is who. You know, if you plan to get that wasted anyway.

If you can’t wait, have a designated stripper identifier. She can also be the designated driver.

Body Blow to DOMA

Friday, June 1st, 2012

Yesterday the First Circuit Court in Boston dealt a major blow to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that the denial of federal benefits to legally married same sex couples is unconstitutional.

The benefits section was the only part the court ruled on, and the case is expected to go on to the Supreme Court. What’s more, the decision of the court will not go into effect until the decision is either ratified by the Supreme Court, or that body chooses to refuse to hear the case. If the Supreme Court passes, the ruling will go into effect for only the states covered by the First Circuit Court: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, and New Hampshire. Puerto Rico is also covered by the First.

The road to equal protection under the law has often been bumpy. It still is. But this is the second federal court to rule aspects of DOMA unconstitutional. It’s my considered opinion – as well as my fervent hope – that DOMA will one day soon (in legal terms, at any rate) go the way of the dodo bird.

Frankly, I’d rather have those birds.