GAY MARRIAGE UPDATE: NATIONWIDE
LANDMARK STATE COURT RULINGS & LEGISLATION ON TRACK TO LEGALIZE SAME-SEX MARRIAGE IN TEN STATES
MA, CT, IA, VT, ME, NH, CA, NY, NJ, RI:
ONLY 40 TO GO; OR ONE US SUPREME COURT DECISION
Unless The US Congress Suddenly Gets Some B*lls
I've heard it said that an American is a person who believes in certain principles which constitute a kind of civic religion. Unlike many countries, we are all different races, ethnicities, creeds and ideologies, living fairly harmoniously together because but we all subscribe to the same basic truths: That all men and women are created equal, and must receive equal protection under the Law. That we are endowed at birth with certain inalienable rights, including but not limited to those enumerated in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States of America. That the will of the majority must prevail, but that the rights of the minority must always be respected. That everyone is subject equally to the rule of Law, and that no one is above the Law. That the full faith and credit of the Federal government, and that of every individual State government and their legal documents and court rulings are accepted and respected in every State of the Union. That there shall be no establishment of any religion as official or pre-eminent by the State, and that religions should not be interfered with by the government nor interfere in the government. Most of all, that the people should be secure in their persons and in their homes, free to go about their business without interference by the State, in order to pursue their own lives, liberties and happiness.
That's what it says, folks: Happiness. Not "property," or "propriety'" not "order" or "orthodoxy;" not "obedience" or "conformity:" Happiness. Read it. That's what it says, our Declaration. It says we have the right to Happiness.
So, if marrying a person of a different race and religion and gender and building a home and a family makes you happy, you have the right to pursue that, under U.S. law. It's The Law! No one can tell you otherwise, no one can lawfully stop you. How you achieve happiness is your business, but the achieving is your natural right. It stands to reason that marrying a person of the same race and religion and gender is also your right. It says so, right in the Declaration. Look, see, right there next to Life & Liberty: Happiness! And now some judges and some legislators are finally recognizing that obvious truth, and applying the Law of the land to everyone, equally.
The relevant laws are Article IV, Section 1 of the of the U.S. Constitution; the Fifth Amendment; and the Fourteenth Amendment, Section 1. Article IV Section 1, the so-called "Full Faith & Credit" clause, provides that laws and court rulings in one State are valid in every State, to prevent the creation of a chaotic patchwork of different laws and legitimacy in every State, and to discourage "jurisdiction shopping" for a more friendly Court or Legislature by unhappy plaintiffs or defendants in lawsuits and so on. You wouldn't want to have to defend a contract in Court in every one of fifty States. And you wouldn't want your partnership or your driver's license or your birth certificate or your marriage license to be valid in one State but not in another. That would be crazy.
There's also the Fifth Amendment, beloved of mobsters, which guarantees your right to due process of law. If I can get a license from the State to do something, you can get a license: The same process must be available to both of us. The Fifth Amendment says that you are entitled to Due Process of law before your life, your liberty or your property can be taken away, limited or attached by the State. You get a full public hearing, in other words, and a chance to state your case. Until all Court appeals and legislative means have been exhausted, you have a right to fight for your rights.
The Fourteenth Amendment provides for Equal Protection under the law. One Law for everyone. In other words, if you have a right to something, then so do I. Isn't this starting to sound like a pretty cool country? Those Founder guys were really into all that liberty and freedom and justice and fairness and rights stuff, you know?
Now, the question is, America, do you still love your poor old Constitution? Politicians, are you willing to sacrifice your seat on the gravy train in order to fulfill your duties as successors to Jefferson and Madison, Adams and Hamilton? And how about you, Judges? Is there an honest man among you? A real American who will uphold the Law no matter who disapproves? Most of all, what about you people, We The People of the United States? Still wanna form a more perfect Union? Conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal? Hunh?
You know, queers are people, too. Come on, you know that! You've known gay people all your life! You even have some gay friends, whether you know it or not. Now, why would you want to prevent a friend from being happy? What gives you the right to take away somebody else's right? How can you say to anybody, much less a friend, "No, you cannot marry"? What are you, Satan?
Well, you better just step off, there, brother. Cuz New Jersey people are coming. That's right, people from Monmouth and Princeton and Morristown and Trenton and Pickatinny and Egg Harbor. People who grew up right where the American Revolution was fought and won. People who had ancestors in the Continental Army, some of them. Real Americans. But just regular people, living in their regular little houses out there in the darkness beyond the Turnpike. And a majority of them now think it's none of your damned business who somebody else marries, Satan! And as New Jersey is the baseline for normal, for boring, for good old common sense in America, that's it. It's decided. We're going with gay marriage. So get on board or get marked as a real piece a' work, as we used to say in Middlesex County.
"A curb on gay marriage will fall"
First in revolution, as always, Massachusetts.
' In a major victory for advocates of same-sex marriage rights, the House voted by a wide margin yesterday to repeal a 95-year-old law that prevents gay and lesbian couples from most other states from marrying here, setting the stage for Massachusetts to join just one other state, California, in allowing same-sex couples to marry regardless of residence. The repeal passed swiftly in the Senate earlier this month on a unanimous voice vote, but some wondered if the issue would stall in the larger House, where a handful of lawmakers wanted to avoid voting on a gay marriage question just before the election season. But Speaker Salvatore F. DiMasi, who joined the governor and Senate president in supporting the repeal, wanted to bring it to the floor, with the end of the session looming. That set up a 45-minute floor debate yesterday in which supporters called the 1913 law a dusty vestige of racist opposition to interracial marriage, while opponents argued for keeping it in deference to the rights of other states to set marriage laws. On a roll call, the House voted 118 to 35 to pass the repeal bill. The legislation will probably be sent to Governor Deval Patrick this week. The repeal will take effect 90 days after Patrick signs the measure. "I'm glad that we finally did it," Representative Byron Rushing, a Boston Democrat and one of the bill's sponsors, said after the vote. On the floor, Rushing had urged colleagues: "Let us be fair. Let us be equitable. Let us repeal the law." '
"Its Job Done, Connecticut Gay-Rights Group Disbands"
Our work is done here.
' After working for a decade to change public policy and opinion regarding same-sex couples, the state's most prominent gay-rights group is calling it quits. And that, say its supporters, is a good thing. "We accomplished our core purpose," Anne Stanback, executive director of Love Makes a Family, said Wednesday, "and we want to end on a high note." Surrounded by supporters and standing next to a large photograph of two men in tuxedos slicing a wedding cake, Stanback announced the group's decision to dissolve at year's end. It will still maintain a political action committee to support certain candidates. Stanback and the group's other leaders helped shift public opinion through a strategy that focused on the similarities between same-sex and heterosexual couples. A Quinnipiac University poll taken two months after the court ruling found broad support for same-sex marriage. '
DES MOINES REGISTER
"Unanimous ruling: Iowa marriage no longer limited to one man, one woman"
Here we go with the propositions again. So, you think YOUR rights could win a popularity contest?
' Basic fairness and constitutional equal protection were the linchpins of Friday’s historic Iowa Supreme Court ruling that overturned a 10-year-old ban on same-sex marriage and puts Iowa squarely in the center of the nation’s debate over gay rights. The unanimous, 69-page decision maintains a church’s right to decide who can be married under its roof, but it runs counter to the expressed opinion of a majority of Iowans who believe marriage is defined as the union of one man and one woman. The landmark ruling is guaranteed to send shock waves through politics in Iowa and beyond. With no appeal as an option, opponents say their only hope to overturn Friday’s decision is an almost-certain bid to amend the state constitution. But that path, which would eventually require a public vote, would not yield results until 2012 at the earliest. '
"House shouts yes to gay marriage"
Well... as long as it doesn't hurt property values... I guess people can have their basic human rights...
' The Vermont House voted 95-52 Thursday evening to approve a bill allowing same-sex couples in the state to marry. The vote, which saw a majority of House Democrats joined by a handful of Republicans in supporting the bill, falls several votes short of the amount that would be needed to override an expected veto from Gov. James Douglas. Thursday's five-hour floor debate began in the afternoon and extended into the evening as several openly gay and lesbian House members told their stories and urged their fellow lawmakers to support their bid for marriage rights. "I want to be married legally and I'm asking for your permission to do that," said Rep. Jason Lorber, D-Burlington, during an emotional speech as he described details of his wedding ceremony with his partner. "I don't enjoy asking my co-workers for permission to marry the one I love." Rep. Suzi Wizowaty, D-Burlington, said she feels sad for people who "must believe that sharing what you have will diminish your happiness." Rep. William Lippert, D-Hinesburg, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said civil unions were a "bold and courageous move, but now it is time for the next step." Rep. Steve Howard, D-Rutland, said all the doomsday scenarios suggested nine years ago during the civil union debate never came to fruition. He joked that when gays and lesbians move into a neighborhood, the property values go up not because they are good landscapers, but because they are good neighbors. "I didn't choose to be gay," Howard said. "God made me gay. And I wouldn't trade it for anything." '
"Battle over gay marriage shifts to Maine"
It's a New England thing. You wouldn't understand. You know, liberty, and all that?
' A Maine lawmaker introduced a bill on Tuesday to legalize same-sex marriage, but it looks set to face tough opposition and bring a rancorous fight over the definition of marriage to the rugged eastern state. The legislation proposed by Democratic state Sen. Dennis Damonck would make the state the nation's third to allow same-sex marriage. It seeks to redefine marriage as the legal union of two people rather than between a man and a women. "Today I have submitted an act to end discrimination in civil marriage and to affirm religious freedom," he told a news conference in the state capital Augusta. As he spoke, Republican Rep. John Tardy was drafting legislation to enshrine the definition of marriage as one man and one woman into the state constitution. "The language is being worked on now," his spokesman said. The looming fight in Maine, a rural state of 1.3 million people with a Democratic-controlled legislature, underlines a concerted push for same-sex marriage recognition in New England's six states by gay and lesbian advocates -- a bid that would effectively create a regional niche for gay marriage. '
6. NEW HAMPSHIRE
"N.H. House approves gay marriage, votes to repeal death penalty"
See, one minute they're executing 'em, the next they're marryin' 'em! That granite State, hunh? "Live free or DIE!!!" Koo-koo, koo-koo!
' The New Hampshire House of Representatives voted to legalize same-sex marriage on Thursday, one day after voting to repeal the death penalty in the state. Both pieces of legislation will now be sent to the state Senate for consideration. The same-sex marriage bill “eliminates the exclusion of same gender couples from marriage” and allows homosexuals currently in a civil union to “obtain the legal status of marriage.” The legislation exempts clergy members from performing same-sex marriages if their religion forbids them from doing so. The bill, which initially failed by one vote, passed 186 to 179 after the House voted for reconsideration. Gov. John Lynch, D-N.H., has said that he opposes same-sex marriage, but has not gone so far as to say that he would veto legislation legalizing gay marriage in New Hampshire. '
CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
"Same-sex marriage before California Supreme Court"
California, with its' 40 million people, may decide the issue for the whole country.
' With bus loads of supporters and protesters watching a live video feed outside the court building in downtown San Francisco, the state Supreme Court heard Thursday oral arguments challenging the legality of Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that state voters approved last November banning same-sex marriage. A central question the court faces is whether Proposition 8 amounts to a violation of human rights or falls within the limits of people's power to change the state's Constitution. Other questions at stake: Does Proposition 8 constitute an amendment or a revision of the state Constitution (state legislature approval is required before significant revisions to the Constitution can go to the ballot)? And if the ballot measure stands, what would be the status of some 18,000 same-sex marriages already performed? "The fundamental question that the court has to answer is just how far can the initiative process be used to change the California constitution and can it literally be used to take away any rights, no matter how fundamental," says David Cruz, professor of law at the University of Southern California (USC), Los Angeles, and a constitutional law expert. The seven justices heard arguments in favor of overturning the measure from gay rights advocates as well as state attorney Jerry Brown's office, and from Pepperdine University Law School dean Kenneth Starr among others in favor of letting it stand. The court has to make its decision within 90 days, by June 3. By virtue of having called for oral arguments, the court likely has already formulated what is known as a "draft opinion." Four out of seven Supreme Court justices voted to legalize same-sex marriage in May, saying bans on same-sex marriages were unconstitutional civil rights violations. One of the four voted against hearing lawsuits seeking to overturn Proposition 8. That has led to speculation that there may be four votes against striking down Proposition 8. California was the second state after Massachusetts to allow same-sex weddings. '
8. NEW YORK
"New York to recognize gay marriages"
Ay, I gotchya gay marriage right HEAH!
' Gov. David Paterson of New York has told state agencies to recognize same-sex marriages performed in states and countries where they are legal, his spokeswoman said Wednesday. The governor's legal counsel told state agencies in a May 14 memo to revise policies and regulations to recognize same-sex marriages performed in California and Massachusetts as well as Canada and other countries that allow gays and lesbians to marry, said Erin Duggan, the governor's spokeswoman. The memo informed state agencies that failing to recognize gay marriages would violate the New York's human rights law, Duggan said. The directive follows a February ruling from a New York state appeals court. That decision says that legal same-sex marriages performed in other jurisdictions are entitled to recognition in New York. "This was in direct response to a court ruling," Duggan told CNN. "Just to make sure all the state agencies are on the same page." Duggan says that the court's decision was consistent with the findings of several lower courts in New York State. '
9. NEW JERSEY
"Poll finds half in N.J. support gay marriage"
The Garden State may be next to advance.
' About half of New Jerseyans believe that gay couples should be allowed to marry, according to a poll. The Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll released today finds that 48 percent of New Jersey residents favor gay marriage, with 43 percent opposed. Fifty percent oppose amending the state Constitution to ban gay marriage. Forty-one percent favor such a ban. New Jersey currently allows gay couples to join in civil unions, which offer the legal protections of marriage. Gay rights advocates are pushing lawmakers to allow full marriage as Connecticut and Massachusetts do. '
10. RHODE ISLAND
"R.I. legislators to take up annual gay marriage debate"
Will Family Guy approve?
' After years of trying in vain to convince his former legislative colleagues to give “gay and lesbian people in loving and committed and caring relationships the same rights and … legal protections that heterosexual couples have,” Providence’s openly gay mayor, David N. Cicilline, says he still backs “marriage equality.” “You think about the time in this country when it was illegal for people of different races to marry … and think: How could that have been?” But as a gay man and mayor of Rhode Island’s largest city, he said he hears enough heart-wrenching stories— about thwarted burial plans or blocked visits to intensive-care units by longtime partners — that “I think we are coming to the point where we need to have a serious conversation as a community about [whether] we try to move forward incrementally.” But Kathy J. Kushnir, executive director of the advocacy group Marriage Equality of Rhode Island, sees no room for compromise. Told of Cicilline’s remarks last week, she said: “Our position is certainly that separate is not equal. We support full and equal marriage rights for all Rhode Islanders.” And so, 12 years after former Rep. Michael Pisaturo, D-Cranston, introduced the state’s first same-sex marriage bill on the heels of a groundbreaking Vermont Supreme Court ruling granting gay and lesbian couples the same benefits and protections as married couples, the debate here resumes. A recent poll commissioned by Marriage Equality detected a slight increase in support for gay marriage in Rhode Island. Of the 500 “likely” Rhode Island voters surveyed by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research in July, 49 percent supported same-sex marriage, compared with 45 percent in 2006. Fifty-one percent of those surveyed last summer identified themselves as Catholic, 23 percent as Protestant, 3 percent as Jewish. The question posed to them: “Do you favor or oppose allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry legally?” Term-limited Republican Governor Carcieri stands adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage. “Call me traditional, call me old-fashioned, I think marriage is reserved for a man and a woman to create a family,” he said as a candidate in 2002. While he was out of town last week, a spokeswoman said his views have not changed. But every one of the top-tier Democrats weighing a run for governor next year supports same-sex marriage or says they would not stand in its way or wield a veto against it. '
THE LAW OF THE LAND
"Law Encyclopedia: Full Faith and Credit Clause"
This is GOOD law. Read it. It belongs to you
' The Full Faith and Credit Clause — Article IV, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution — provides, "Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State." The statute that implements the clause, 28 U.S.C.A. § 1738, further specifies that "a state's preclusion rules should control matters originally litigated in that state." The Full Faith and Credit Clause ensures that judicial decisions rendered by the courts in one state are recognized and honored in every other state. It also prevents parties from moving to another state to escape enforcement of a judgment or to relitigate a controversy already decided elsewhere, a practice known as forum shopping. In drafting the Full Faith and Credit Clause, the Framers of the Constitution were motivated by a desire to unify their new country while preserving the autonomy of the states. To that end, they sought to guarantee that judgments rendered by the courts of one state would not be ignored by the courts of other states. The Supreme Court reiterated the Framers' intent when it held that the Full Faith and Credit Clause precluded any further litigation of a question previously decided by an Illinois court in Milwaukee County v. M. E. White Co., 296 U.S. 268, 56 S. Ct. 229, 80 L. Ed. 220 (1935). The Court held that by including the clause in the Constitution, the Framers intended to make the states "integral parts of a single nation throughout which a remedy upon a just obligation might be demanded as of right, irrespective of the state of its origin." '
"The Meaning Of The Fifth Amendment: Due Process"
Here's why they can't torture you, also...
' Right to Due Process: The right to due process of law has been recognized since 1215, when the Magna Carta (the British charter) was adopted. Historically, the right protected people accused of crimes from being imprisoned without fair procedures (like indictments and trials, where they would have an opportunity to confront their accusers). The right of due process has grown in two directions: It affords individuals a right to a fair process (known as procedural due process) and a right to enjoy certain fundamental liberties without governmental interference (known as substantive due process). The Fifth Amendment’s due process clause applies to the federal government’s conduct. In 1868 the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment expanded the right of due process to include limits on the actions of state governments. '
CORNELL UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL: LEGAL INFORMATION INSTITUTE
"equal protection: an overview"
' The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment of the U.S. Constitution prohibits states from denying any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. See U.S. Const. amend. XIV. In other words, the laws of a state must treat an individual in the same manner as others in similar conditions and circumstances. A violation would occur, for example, if a state prohibited an individual from entering into an employment contract because he or she was a member of a particular race. The equal protection clause is not intended to provide "equality" among individuals or classes but only "equal application" of the laws. The result, therefore, of a law is not relevant so long as there is no discrimination in its application. By denying states the ability to discriminate, the equal protection clause of the Constitution is crucial to the protection of civil rights. See Civil Rights. Generally, the question of whether the equal protection clause has been violated arises when a state grants a particular class of individuals the right to engage in an activity yet denies other individuals the same right. There is no clear rule for deciding when a classification is unconstitutional. The Supreme Court has dictated the application of different tests depending on the type of classification and its effect on fundamental rights. Traditionally, the Court finds a state classification constitutional if it has "a rational basis" to a "legitimate state purpose." The Supreme Court, however, has applied more stringent analysis in certain cases. It will "strictly scrutinize" a distinction when it embodies a "suspect classification." In order for a classification to be subject to strict scrutiny, it must be shown that the state law or its administration is meant to discriminate. Usually, if a purpose to discriminate is found the classification will be strictly scrutinized if it is based on race, national origin, or, in some situations, non U.S. citizenship (the suspect classes). In order for a classification to be found permissible under this test it must be proven, by the state, that there is a compelling interest to the law and that the classification is necessary to further that interest. The Court will also apply a strict scrutiny test if the classification interferes with fundamental rights such as first amendment rights, the right to privacy, or the right to travel. The Supreme Court also requires states to show more than a rational basis (though it does not apply the strictly scrutiny test) for classifications based on gender or a child's status as illegitimate. '
"The Declaration of Independence"
See, I TOLDJYA!
' We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. '
"Article IV - The States"
No, there's no card.
' Section 1 - Each State to Honor all others: Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof. '
"Amendment 5 - Trial and Punishment, Compensation for Takings."
It's the Fifth. Take it.
' No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law '
"The Fourteenth Amendment: Citizenship Rights"
Take the Fourteenth, while you're at it.
' 1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. '.
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