Uncivil Unions: July 2006: Archives

July 26, 2006

Gay Marriage: Washington Supreme Court Says No genre: Gaylingual & Polispeak & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions

Same-sex marriage

The long awaited ruling from the Washington state Supreme Court has just been published. The findings of the court held that the definition of marriage being between a man and a woman is constitutional and that DOMA is also constitutional and that there were no compelling reasons to uphold lower court rulings to the contrary. To read the full opinion, link here.

Washington’s long-standing definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman and DOMA are both constitutional. Respondents’ numerous challenges under the state and federal constitutions all fail. We conclude that the legislature was justified in enacting DOMA to clarify and reaffirm Washington marriage law by a compelling governmental interest in preserving the institution of marriage, as well as the healthy families and children it promotes. This conclusion may not be changed by mere passage of time or currents of public favor and surely not changed by courts.

Finally, we conclude that neither the due process or right to privacy clauses in article I, section 3 and section 7 nor the equal rights amendment to our state constitution creates a right to marry a person of the same sex. Indeed, these claims are even less persuasive when viewed correctly through the eyes and understanding of those who authored and ratified our constitution (and the ERA amendment).

We add the important conclusion that this decision is required by the relevant constitutional provisions, the history of our laws and precedent in this court, and the United States Supreme Court. This decision is final. 54 The decisions of both trial courts are reversed and these actions dismissed.

On a brighter note, the Court made it clear that nothing prevented allowing for same-sex marriages through the legislative process or through voter initiatives that might be placed on the ballot. The Court sought to make clear that the scope of their ruling was to simply determine if DOMA was constitutional and not to offer their opinions as to what they may believe the law ought to be.

While this ruling will be viewed as a loss within the LGBT community, it may not in the long run be as bad as it appears. The timing of this ruling made it particularly volatile and had the court ruled against DOMA and concluded that same-sex couples could marry, it would have likely provided the Republican Party with a highly charged issue heading towards the crucial November midterm elections. Nonetheless, it is another defeat for same-sex marriage within the court setting. Despite the disappointment, polls do show that the voters are moving in the right direction with regard to same-sex marriage. Even those opposed to same-sex marriage concede that it is merely a matter of time before a majority of voters will support same-sex marriage.

In the meantime, the LGBT community and its supporters must continue to win the hearts and minds of those with whom they associate. This battle is going to be won on a person by person basis and it is essential for each gay American to engage those who they encounter in an honest and open dialogue such that it becomes evident that gays have the same concerns and endure the same hardships and have the same hopes as all Americans. Once that happens, gays will no longer be viewed in the abstract as a group of people who seek to impose an unreasonable agenda. Only then will the fear that drives opposition to same-sex marriage subside.

Daniel DiRito | July 26, 2006 | 9:10 AM | link | Comments (0)
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July 21, 2006

The Price Of Love genre: Rhyme-N-Reason & Uncivil Unions

The category “Rhyme-N-Reason" is intended to be a place to share poetry that stimulates thoughtful reflection. For me, writing poetry is cathartic. It’s a way to encapsulate a group of feelings or thoughts that might be on my mind such that when I’m done writing, I experience a level of resolve that is both comforting and motivational. It has the same effect for me as listening to a song with which one has a significant connection. It takes you somewhere you’ve been or to something you’ve felt or experienced and allows you to further interpret the intended meaning or the lesson learned. Hopefully this can be a place for readers to pause and reflect on their own thoughts and feelings. Your comments are welcomed as well as any poetry you might want to share.

The following poem, "The Price of Love" talks about the duality of love. I wrote this while thinking about the meaning of love. I've often wondered how two people in love can suddenly become mortal enemies. Granted, relationships are complicated but it seems strange that love can be lost in an instant...and yet it often appears to be the case. Perhaps that simply means it was never love? It seems that truly loving someone ought to be somewhat unconditional.

It also seems odd that friendships can last forever despite obvious differences between two people. Why is it that the love between friends is frequently more unconditional than the love between spouses? The only explanation I have is that the expectations we have for a spouse often exceed those we have for our friends. That seems somewhat counterintuitive to the notion of loving someone and yet I think it better describes the reality of many love relationships. Unfortunately, it also tends to make love relationships more fragile and less apt to endure. In the end I'm left to wonder if love is something we give or something we need...and in that thought is it possible that our vision of true love is an illusion?

Sydney - 2005

The Price Of Love

Love under lock, yet love is key
My love is fatal, it’s killing me
Love devours, love’s a feast
Life is burdened by the beast
When love is poison, what can you give?
If love is offered, can love be lived?
Romance reveals, yet love is blind
How do I tell you my love’s resigned?
What I’ve accepted keeps love away
Once it’s inside you, will it remain?
When loves infectious, can it be caught?
If love’s forever, has death been brought?
This love equation, I can’t resolve it
Tally the ledger, love is insolvent
Sometimes indifferent, there’s no escape
Love is still in me, my heart still breaks.

Daniel DiRito | July 21, 2006 | 9:04 AM | link | Comments (0)
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July 20, 2006

The Deceiver, Part II: Focus On The Family genre: Gaylingual & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions

Forked tongue

James Dobson and his organization Focus on the Family (I call it his "Wingdumb") stand by their interpretation of research on gay parenting despite the researchers assertion that the data has been manipulated for political usage. Thought Theater previously reported on the issue here.

Additionally, the organization has launched a campaign to oppose an initiative on the Colorado ballot supporting domestic partnerships. The campaign is called No-Moo-Lies and is meant to offset the ads being run by proponents of the initiative. You can view their website for this particular campaign effort here.

With funding from the Gill Foundation, those who are supporting the measure have launched a campaign called "Born Different". It is about a dog named Norman who moos instead of barks. The point of the advertisement is that being gay isn't a choice. The following is one of the ads they are running:

Daniel DiRito | July 20, 2006 | 11:34 AM | link | Comments (0)
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July 17, 2006

The Deceiver: Focus On The Family's James Dobson genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions

Forked tongue

Following on the heals of the Thought Theater posting on the stem-cell debate that points out that those aligned with the religious the right have been misrepresenting the scientific data, the Associated Press is now reporting on an accusation that James Dobson of Focus on the Family (the same person with whom the White House consulted regarding Supreme Court appointments) has manipulated data to argue that homosexuals should not be allowed to parent children. Read the full article here.

DENVER -- Members of a group supporting parental rights for gays and lesbians accused Focus on the Family founder James Dobson of manipulating research data to say gays and lesbians are not good parents, and began a 65-mile march Monday to confront him at his Colorado Springs headquarters.

Judith Stacey, a sociologist at New York University, said her work was manipulated in an attempt to show gays and lesbians do not make good parents.

"This is a direct misrepresentation of the research," she said.

Focus on the Family spokesman Glenn Stanton cited other research -- including an article co-authored by Mary Parke, a policy analyst at the Center for Law and Social Policy, that shows that children need a mother and a father, regardless of the parents' sexual orientation.

Unless I've completely forgotten the basic tenets of religion, lying is unacceptable behavior. It seems that many of today's religious zealots believe they are entitled to alter the facts in order to achieve the goals they hold. Perhaps Mr. Dobson learned how to manipulate the facts from the same experts in the Bush administration that did such a good job with the justifications for invading Iraq. Knowing they are all working together to bring values and morality back to America had me so worked up I almost spoke in tongues...but then I realized I couldn't since I didn't have the required forked one.

Daniel DiRito | July 17, 2006 | 10:18 PM | link | Comments (1)
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July 14, 2006

Gay Marriage Setbacks: Nebraska & Tennessee genre: Gaylingual & Six Degrees of Speculation & Uncivil Unions

Same-sex marraige

Gay marriage suffered two setbacks today...one in Nebraska and one in Tennessee. A Federal Court of Appeals reinstated a Nebraska amendment banning same-sex marriage that had been struck down by a lower court. The Tennessee Supreme Court also ruled dismissed an attempt to keep a measure off the November ballot that seeks to ban same-sex marraige. Read the full story here.

The larger concern with such rulings is that it allows Republicans to utilize the strategy of placing such measures on the upcoming November ballot, a move that assisted them in 2004 when more than ten states voted on marriage initiatives.

In the Nebraska case, the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a judge's ruling last year that the ban was too broad and deprived gays and lesbians of participation in the political process, among other things.

The amendment ''and other laws limiting the state-recognized institution of marriage to heterosexual couples are rationally related to legitimate state interests and therefore do not violate the Constitution of the United States,'' the appeals court ruled.

Seventy percent of Nebraska voters had approved the ban in 2000.

The Nebraska amendment went farther than similar bans in many states in that it also barred same-sex couples from many legal protections afforded to heterosexual couples. For example the partners of gays and lesbians who work for the state are not entitled to share their health insurance and other benefits.

Forty-five states have specifically barred same-sex marriage through statutes or constitutional amendments.

In the Tennessee case, the American Civil Liberties Union had filed a lawsuit charging that the state failed to meet its own notification requirements for the ballot measure asking voters to ban gay marriage.

The high court ruled unanimously Friday that the ACLU didn't have standing to file the suit and dismissed it.

Tennessee already has a law banning gay marriage, but lawmakers who supported the proposed amendment said they wanted a backup in case the law was overturned.

Observers are still awaiting rulings in Washington and New Jersey. See prior Thought Theater postings on recent gay marriage news here and here.

Daniel DiRito | July 14, 2006 | 12:26 PM | link | Comments (0)
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July 10, 2006

2008 Gay Marriage Review Approved In Mass. genre: Gaylingual & Polispeak & Uncivil Unions

Gay marriage

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled unanimously that an initiative to ban same-sex marriage can be placed on the 2008 ballot if it is approved by the State Legislature in two upcoming sessions prior to the election date. Read the full article here.

The Supreme Judicial Court's ruling was in response to marriage equality supporters who argued that state attorney general Tom Reilly was wrong to approve a ballot measure because they said Massachusetts's constitution bars any citizen-initiated amendment that seeks to reverse a judicial ruling. In 2003 a state court ruled that barring gay couples from marrying was illegal and in May of the following year cleared the way for same-sex marriages. Over 8,000 same-sex couples have been married since.

Monday's ruling by the court declared that the proposed amendment is not a reversal of the earlier ruling that legalized same-sex marriage but a proposed change to the state constitution, which can be legally accomplished through a citizen initiative.

The state legislature must approve the court's decision in two upcoming sessions for the ballot to be put to voters. Supporters of the antigay constitutional amendment believe they have enough votes to win the first round in the legislature.

The decision follows on the recent New York and Georgia rulings, both of which appear to have been setbacks for same-sex marriage. Ruling are still pending in Washington and New Jersey. Today in California, an appeals court began hearing arguments on the legality of prohibiting same-sex marriage. The San Francisco Chronicle has the full article here.

A state appeals court opened a momentous hearing on same-sex marriage today and focused on whether centuries of tradition are a legal justification for California's definition of marriage as the union of a man and a woman.

The hearing marks the first time that the constitutionality of the marriage law has been debated in an appeals court, which under California law has the power to set statewide legal precedents. A ruling is due by October. The case could reach the state Supreme Court next year.

The state and two conservative organizations are appealing a March 2005 ruling by Judge Richard Kramer of San Francisco Superior Court, who declared that the marriage law violated the state Constitution in two ways: It discriminated on the basis of sex, and it denied gays and lesbians the fundamental right to marry the partner of their choice. He suspended his ruling during the appeal process.

Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights and a lawyer for 12 gay and lesbian couples seeking the right to marry, said their suit was based on the same principle of equality that the state's highest court recognized in the 1948 ruling on interracial marriage.

"Same-sex couples are just as able to love, to honor, to cherish and to support one another'' as opposite-sex couples, Minter said. "Their children benefit equally from the stability and status which marriage provides.''

Daniel DiRito | July 10, 2006 | 3:41 PM | link | Comments (0)
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July 7, 2006

Pope To Travel To Spain: Condemn Gay Marriage genre: Gaylingual & Hip-Gnosis & Uncivil Unions

Pope Benedict is scheduled to travel to Spain on Saturday and is expected to deliver a message condemning Spain's approval of gay marriage. Read the full article here.

Last month a hard-hitting Vatican document branded gay marriage, abortion, lesbians wanting to bear children and a host of other practices it sees threatening the traditional family as signs of "the eclipse of God" in today's society.

Traditional values will take center stage at the Church's Fifth World Meeting of Families when the Pope closes the gathering with an outdoor mass for up to a million people.

Family values are also likely to be a hot topic when the Pope meets Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who oversaw the gay marriage bill and whose Socialist government is pushing to cut Church funding and religious education in schools.

Spain, once ruled by the Catholic Kings, was the fourth country in the world to allow gay marriage -- a union the Pope has called an expression of "anarchic freedom".

"Marriage as an institution and an asset to humanity is not comparable to other forms of unions," Bishop Ricardo Blazquez, the chairman of the Spanish bishops conference, wrote in a blog to welcome pilgrims to the family meeting.

"We denounce the damage it has suffered and the attempts to change its nature ... There is a gaping divide between what family means to people and society and the treatment it gets from society and the State," he added.

Polls show that around two thirds of Spaniards support gay marriage, a sea change from the atmosphere during the dictatorship of 1939-1975, when Francisco Franco banned homosexuality and divorce.

Surveys also show that while 80 percent of Spaniards say they are Catholic, less than a fifth regularly attend church.

While the Church holds to long held positions on marriage, abortion, contraception, stem cell research, in-vitro fertilization, they continue to lose parishioners in many regions around the world. Europe has seen some of the largest declines. In my opinion, they are well on their way to irrelevance since many of their positions are no longer reasonable or practical. It will be interesting to see if the rigid institution will adapt its positions as Church attendance and participation continues to decline.

Daniel DiRito | July 7, 2006 | 10:35 AM | link | Comments (1)
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July 6, 2006

New York Court Rules Against Gay Marriage genre: Gaylingual & Polispeak & Uncivil Unions

Gay marriage


The ruling was a 4-2 decision and the Court limited its decision to the argument that the constitution did not require that same sex marriages be allowed and they did not argue for or against the State Legislature making a decision to allow them. Nonetheless, there is little potential that the current Legislature would vote to approve same sex marriage. Read the full New York Times article here.

The decision called the idea of same-sex marriage "a relatively new one" and said that for most of history, society has conceived of marriage exclusively as a bond between a man and a woman. "A court should not lightly conclude that everyone who held this belief was irrational, ignorant or bigoted," the decision stated.

"There are at least two grounds that rationally support the limitation on marriage that the legislature has enacted," the court said, "both of which are derived from the undisputed assumption that marriage is important to the welfare of children."

First, the court said, marriage could be preserved as an "inducement" to heterosexual couples to remain in stable, long-term, and child-bearing relationships. Second, lawmakers could rationally conclude that "it is better, other things being equal, for children to grow up with both a mother and the father."

"Intuition and experience suggest that a child benefits from having before his or her eyes, every day, living models of what both a man and a woman are like," the court said.


The New York Court of Appeals ruled this morning that the state constitution does not require the recognition of same sex marriages. The decision upheld the original lower court ruling in three separate cases. The ruling also upheld the overturning of one other case in which the judge had ruled that prohibition of same sex marriage was a denial of constitutional guarantees.

The Court of Appeals decision, while a disappointment, did suggest that the issue was one best determined by the New York State Legislature. Polling in New York shows that a majority of New Yorkers favors same sex marriage.

If one were to use the rhetoric of those opposed to same sex marriage, then the Legislature should respond and allow same sex marriage since that appears to be the will of the people of New York. If that were to happen, it will be interesting to see how the opponents of same sex marriage will adjust their argument. They have also used the argument that activist judges should not impose same sex marriage upon the citizens of a state if that ruling would be inconsistent with voter sentiment. As same sex marriage becomes acceptable to a majority of Americans, I expect opponents will craft a new argument.

Daniel DiRito | July 6, 2006 | 7:17 AM | link | Comments (0)
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July 4, 2006

Colbert: Use Military To Promote Hetero Marriages genre: Gaylingual & Tongue-In-Cheek & Uncivil Unions & Video-Philes

Daniel DiRito | July 4, 2006 | 12:18 PM | link | Comments (0)
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