Colombia: Now Better on Gay Rights Than America!


Colombia’s high court has given their congress two years to pass laws that allow same-sex marriage. In case you’re keeping score, the United States Supreme Court hasn’t done anything in that direction.

This is a great thing for the people of Colombia, the people of South America and for anyone interested in equality. It also means that Colombia now ranks higher than the US when it comes to gay rights. So now in addition to large portions of Europe, we’re also being outdone by Colombia, Argentina, Mexico (sort of), and that historical bastion of equality, South Africa. Well done, America, well done.

A Happy Surprise


President Obama has asked the Justice Department to stop defending DOMA, the “Defense of Marriage Act”. That’s an “act” designed to “defend” so-called traditional “marriage” from the creeping threat of t3h geyhs, who we all know really want to destroy marriage somehow. It was a great stain on Clinton’s legacy and a monstrous piece of legislation that should never have been passed.

This is excellent, but it creates an interesting situation. In some states, courts have already ruled that the law is un-Constitutional. That means it cannot be enforced in those states. As a practical matter this, in theory, means the federal government must recognize gay marriages in those various states. That means joint filings with the IRS, protection for international marriages and access to the same benefits that straight couples enjoy. This won’t happen anytime soon in those states, but it will happen at some point.

It becomes more and more clear that Obama is actually in favor of gay marriage at this point, but lacks the political ability to come out, as it were, and admit as much. This is progress, and I hope that by the time the 2012 presidential campaign really kicks into high gear he will have come out fully in support.

Hooray for Argentina!


They’ve really come a long way down in Argentina since the dark days of Peron and his cronies. Now they’ve become the first country in South America to legalize gay marriage. This now means that in Canada, Argentina, Mexico City and five US states, gays can marry, plus a few locations elsewhere. Here’s a handy graph from Nate Silver.

The weird spike is caused by California legalizing and then unlegalizing it.

Anyhow, this is certainly wonderful progress! It’s not everything and it certainly isn’t enough, but for now it’s pretty damn great!

Oh, and for something less great, yet morbidly amusing, check this on the DADT policy.

Gay Marriage News


A federal judge has issued a sensible ruling. The ruling was on the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and it said that the act violates the 10th Amendment, which reserves certain powers for the states.

From the New York Times:

“The federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state, and in doing so, offends the Tenth Amendment. For that reason, the statute is invalid,” Tauro wrote in a ruling in a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Damn fine ruling.

Of course it’s going to be challenged. Look for it in the Supreme Court in the next year or so. When it gets there, I’m pretty sure they’ll do the expected ruling, which is to say that states don’t have to legalize gay marriage, but they do have to recognize any legal marriage from another state/territory. It’s the only real sensible, Constitutionally sound ruling they can make. Plus once that’s done, I can start really working on the someone special in my life. Who is probably cringing on reading that. :D

So, yeah, minor progress, but progress nevertheless.

Why Gay Marriage is Needed – Part 1,578


Back on Christmas Day, a Missouri Highway Patrol Officer, Dennis Engelhard, was killed in a rather horrible accident where another driver lost control of their car in the ice and slammed into his car. It was a sad, tragic accident, and one of those things that just happen.

When he died the trooper was described in the press as being single and having no children. The governor asked people to pray for the Engelhard (we’ll ignore my thoughts on that for the moment), and mentioned that Englehard’s family had lost “a beloved son and brother”.

No where in any of this did anyone bother to mention that, oh, yes, he’d also been in a relationship with another man for about fifteen years.

Yep, Englehard was openly gay. His family knew, his bosses knew, his coworkers knew. To the people of Missouri, however, he might as well have been single.

See, under Missouri state law, as well as the laws of most states, their relationship didn’t “count”. Since they were both men, they aren’t allowed to get married, and since Missouri law doesn’t provide survivor’s benefits to non-married couples, Englehard’s significant other is out, oh, about $300,000.

This is such a stupid situation and a perfect example of how, at the very least, gay couples need civil unions. Of course, once you grant them those, lots of states will force you to stop calling it a civil union and start calling it a marriage.

I do hope this inspires some changes in Missouri law. It won’t, but I can hope. I also hope Missouri understands that they’re about to spend a couple million dollars explaining in court why they shouldn’t have to pay any benefits to someone Englehard was involved with for a decade-and-a-half.

You Go, Ted!


I’ve never been a great fan of Ted Olson. He was Solicitor General during the early Bush years and one of the people most instrumental in the Bush v Gore ruling that put his former boss into the White House. On the plus side, those two things alone put him rather squarely in the conservative camp in a way few other things could.

It’s rather notable, therefore, that Olson is now working hard to repeal Proposition 8, the abominable voter initiative that removed equal rights for about 10% of California’s population. He’s leading the charge in the courts to overturn this horrible bit of discrimination and bring equality to all the people of this country, not just the straight ones.

He’s defending his position in the latest issue of Newsweek. Here’s some choice quotes.

Many of my fellow conservatives have an almost knee-jerk hostility toward gay marriage. This does not make sense, because same-sex unions promote the values conservatives prize. Marriage is one of the basic building blocks of our neighborhoods and our nation. At its best, it is a stable bond between two individuals who work to create a loving household and a social and economic partnership. We encourage couples to marry because the commitments they make to one another provide benefits not only to themselves but also to their families and communities. Marriage requires thinking beyond one’s own needs. It transforms two individuals into a union based on shared aspirations, and in doing so establishes a formal investment in the well-being of society. The fact that individuals who happen to be gay want to share in this vital social institution is evidence that conservative ideals enjoy widespread acceptance. Conservatives should celebrate this, rather than lament it.

And…

The explanation [against gay marriage] mentioned most often is tradition. But simply because something has always been done a certain way does not mean that it must always remain that way. Otherwise we would still have segregated schools and debtors’ prisons. Gays and lesbians have always been among us, forming a part of our society, and they have lived as couples in our neighborhoods and communities. For a long time, they have experienced discrimination and even persecution; but we, as a society, are starting to become more tolerant, accepting, and understanding. California and many other states have allowed gays and lesbians to form domestic partnerships (or civil unions) with most of the rights of married heterosexuals. Thus, gay and lesbian individuals are now permitted to live together in state-sanctioned relationships. It therefore seems anomalous to cite “tradition” as a justification for withholding the status of marriage and thus to continue to label those relationships as less worthy, less sanctioned, or less legitimate.

The second argument I often hear is that traditional marriage furthers the state’s interest in procreation—and that opening marriage to same-sex couples would dilute, diminish, and devalue this goal. But that is plainly not the case. Preventing lesbians and gays from marrying does not cause more heterosexuals to marry and conceive more children. Likewise, allowing gays and lesbians to marry someone of the same sex will not discourage heterosexuals from marrying a person of the opposite sex. How, then, would allowing same-sex marriages reduce the number of children that heterosexual couples conceive?

This procreation argument cannot be taken seriously. We do not inquire whether heterosexual couples intend to bear children, or have the capacity to have children, before we allow them to marry. We permit marriage by the elderly, by prison inmates, and by persons who have no intention of having children. What’s more, it is pernicious to think marriage should be limited to heterosexuals because of the state’s desire to promote procreation. We would surely not accept as constitutional a ban on marriage if a state were to decide, as China has done, to discourage procreation.

Another argument, vaguer and even less persuasive, is that gay marriage somehow does harm to heterosexual marriage. I have yet to meet anyone who can explain to me what this means. In what way would allowing same-sex partners to marry diminish the marriages of heterosexual couples? Tellingly, when the judge in our case asked our opponent to identify the ways in which same-sex marriage would harm heterosexual marriage, to his credit he answered honestly: he could not think of any.

And…

California’s Proposition 8 is particularly vulnerable to constitutional challenge, because that state has now enacted a crazy-quilt of marriage regulation that makes no sense to anyone. California recognizes marriage between men and women, including persons on death row, child abusers, and wife beaters. At the same time, California prohibits marriage by loving, caring, stable partners of the same sex, but tries to make up for it by giving them the alternative of “domestic partnerships” with virtually all of the rights of married persons except the official, state-approved status of marriage. Finally, California recognizes 18,000 same-sex marriages that took place in the months between the state Supreme Court’s ruling that upheld gay-marriage rights and the decision of California’s citizens to withdraw those rights by enacting Proposition 8.

So there are now three classes of Californians: heterosexual couples who can get married, divorced, and remarried, if they wish; same-sex couples who cannot get married but can live together in domestic partnerships; and same-sex couples who are now married but who, if they divorce, cannot remarry. This is an irrational system, it is discriminatory, and it cannot stand.

Incredibly well-put. If only more conservatives held such a position life in this country might be quite a bit better for everyone.

I can’t say as though I have any real desire to get married myself, but I should have the option of doing so if that’s what I want to do. Olson is right; the current situation in California cannot stand. It also cannot stand anywhere else where people claim to cherish equality.

Question One Time


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To all my readers in Maine: please get out there and vote against Question One. This odious little bit of attempted legislation would remove the right of same-sex couples to marry in your state. You don’t want to follow in the footsteps of California and remove people’s right to marry, do you? I certainly hope not! Fivethirtyeight.com shows that probably the ballot measure will be defeated, but that doesn’t mean we don’t need all the help we can get! Please vote. Thank you!

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