Gay marriage and gay civil unions in WI, MA, HI and around the world have faced a bunch of ups and downs over the past couple of weeks, but even with the 2 steps backwards that are applauded by bigots like WI’s Julaine Appling. NOM’s Maggie Gallagher and the FRC’s Tony Perkins; the writing is on the wall – equality for gays and lesbians in all aspects of their life – loving, living, working, fighting… are on their way.
Let’s look at the recent developments – 2 Steps Backwards
Wisconsin Supreme Court Decision
In our own state, the Supreme Court unanimously decided to turn down a lawsuit that tried to invalidate the 2006 constitutional amendment that made gay marriage and any identical or substantially similar arrangement illegal. Opponents to the law claimed that the wording of the question was such that it was 2 separate issues. If this were found to be the case, the constitutional amendment would be suspect given the requirement that it deal with a single issue. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported the ruling in this fashion:
In its ruling, the court dismissed a plaintiff’s argument that lawmakers violated a rule that limits referendum questions to a single subject when they gave voters one referendum question that included two sections – one on gay marriage and one on civil unions. As long as amendments have one general purpose, the Legislature “has great latitude” in drafting them, the court ruled.
“Both sentences of the marriage amendment relate to marriage and tend to effect or carry out the same general purpose of preserving the legal status of marriage in Wisconsin as between only one man and one woman,” Justice Michael Gableman wrote.
I for one found this decision legally questionable given the varying acceptance and implementation of gay marriage or civil unions around the country and the world. If this is truly a single question, then why are there some jurisdictions that deny gay marriage, but accept civil unions and others that rejected civil unions for gays & lesbians, but accepted gay marriage. These clearly and legally are 2 separate issues and the Supreme Court should have recognized this and thrown the amendment out.
Meanwhile across the country and over the sea, twice divorced lame duck Governor Linda Lingle of Hawaii, sat on a civil unions bill passed by the legislature weeks ago until the absolute last minute when she vetoed the bill at 3:00 on the last day possible. She bowed to her right wing supporters and vetoed the civil union bill. You can see Time magazine’s coverage here. I for one, let her know that her decision could cost her and the state in meetings business, tourism and in-bound migration.
1 Step Forward – Massachusetts and DOMA
Meanwhile elsewhere in the country we’re seeing some big news coming out of MA, where a Federal Judge Joseph Tauro has ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that restricts federal benefits for legally married gays and lesbians to be illegal According to Ms. Magazine (Iwas going to quote the Huffington Post, but some of my readers don’t seem to like this source, so I went elsewhere) said the following:
Judge Tauro wrote in the ruling, “This court has determined that it is clearly within the authority of the commonwealth to recognize same-sex marriages among its residents, and to afford those individuals in same-sex marriages any benefits, rights and privileges to which they are entitled by virtue of their marital status. The federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state.”
To see the implications of this law, The Rachel Maddow Show, hosted in absentia while Rachel travels back from Afghanistan by the Nation’s Christopher Hayes had MA Attorney General Martha Coakley as an interview subject. You can see the video below:
Let’s see what our “fierce advocate’s” Justice Department does on this one. If recent history is any indicator, the Bush embeds from Regent University at the DOJ and the lack of political and moral leadership from both the White House and the Department of Justice, will find them standing up with the anti-gay marriage vitriol from the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) and their colorful, bigoted leader Maggie Gallagher.
The Future is Gray
In California, we are still waiting for a decision by the Judge on the case to invalidate Proposition 8, the amendment that eliminated a short-lived gay marriage in California. According to CBS News the case has major implications because:
That case (Perry v. Schwarzenegger) is predicated on the argument that the state’s voter-backed ban of same-sex marriage violates the Constitution’s due process and equal protection provisions.If the plaintiffs are successful and the decision is sufficiently broad, that case would go further than the Massachusetts decision – it would essentially bring down both state and federal limits on same-sex marriage (and effectively make America a nation where all gay couples could get married). Like the Massachusetts decision, there is a decent chance that the California case will end up before the Supreme Court.
The future is Gay
Meanwhile around the world we see gay marriage in Portugal, action being taken on the implementation of civil unions in Ireland and the possibility of Argentina joining their more liberal neighbor Uruguay in allowing gay marriages. We also have younger citizens finding this issue to be one that is meaningless given the many gay and lesbian couples and singles they know.