Archives – April, 2010
by Brian Leubitz
Way back in 1993, Hawaii started kicking up the first few bits of dust in the same-sex marriage. While I was still in high school, the Supreme Court of the Aloha state ruled that the state should accept same-sex marriages. Before that ruling ever went into effect, however, the state passed an initiative banning same sex marriage. Sound familiar?
Since that time, the state hasn’t really been much of a leader in the fight for full marriage equality. Much of that has to do with the 1993 vote, but years after several other states now have marriage equality that was basically considered some sort of strange joke back then, Hawaii still has no civil unions at all. But that just might change very soon:
In a move that still needs the governor’s signature to become law, the House of Representatives Thursday night approved a measure that has drawn some of the state’s biggest protest rallies.
Republican Gov. Linda Lingle hasn’t said whether she’ll reject it or sign it into law but her office said later that she will carefully review the bill.
The House voted 31-20 in favor of the legislation, which had been stalled but was unexpectedly revived on the last day of this year’s legislative session. The Senate passed it in January.
The measure would grant gay and lesbian couples the same rights and benefits that the state provides to married couples. (AP)
Now, Linda Lingle is a Republican governor in an overwhelmingly Democratic state. By overwhelmingly, I really mean it. Of the 25 Senators, 23 are Democrats. Of the 51 Representatives, 45 are Democratic. That so many Democrats voted against a civil unions bill is a bit disappointing, but at least it was able to pass.
But being that Lingle is a Republican in such a deep blue state, she has had to campaign as being a “different kind” of Republican. Whether she’s different enough to sign a civil unions bill is an open question. That being said, a very solid majority of Americans supports civil unions, and that is true in Hawaii.
We’ll just have to wait and see on this one.
by Brian Leubitz
Ok, now that I shocked you into reading this post, let me clarify. Justice Scalia, in oral argument yesterday, grilled attorneys for Protect Marriage Washington who were trying to hide the names of people who had signed the petition to put Washington’s domestic partnership up on the ballot.
For the second time this month, the U.S. Supreme Court’s most conservative member, Justice Antonin Scalia, on Wednesday, April 28 took a surprising position — one that is helpful to gay civil rights.
“The First Amendment,” said Scalia during oral arguments in a case involving the 2008 Washington State referendum on a domestic partnership law, “does not protect you from criticism or even nasty phone calls when you exercise your political rights to legislate, or to take part in the legislative process.” The point was essentially the same as that made by five national gay legal and political groups in their friend-of-the-court brief in the case, Doe v. Reed. (Bay Windows)
First, let me just say this before the world gets too topsy-turvy. Justice Scalia is rather dogmatic. It is just that his dogma happens to coincide with what LGBT issues at this point.
Here’s the background on this case. A group of ant-gay opponents of domestic partnership in Washington placed a measure on the ballot, Ref71. 71 would have eliminated Washington’s domestic parternship program. Apparently, for some, it isn’t really about marriage, it’s about never letting gays and lesbians have any rights with respect to the ones they love whatsoever. The issue in this case is whether the Washington law that allows the names of those who signed the petition to be made available is Constitutional.
Justice Scalia pretty much sums up my thoughts on the issue. You have a right to free speech, but not the right to be free of others criticism based upon the speech. That’s really no way to run a democracy. Democracy requires that, in the political arena, we speak freely, yet speak with without a veil of secrecy. The anti-marriage crowd wants to pelt stones at our community from behind a duck blind.
Perhaps they should just put sheets on, throw on a white hood, and be done with it. That always worked for the racists back in the day.
By Paul Hogarth
So now we finally have a date for Closing Arguments for the Prop 8 trial — Wednesday, June 16th, or 156 days after the start of the Trial. By now, we’ve heard the evidence, we know what’s been said, and there’s been a lot of analysis on this site about what it means for the outcome, our movement, and our lives.
But besides setting a date for closing arguments, Judge Walker set a date for the defense counsel to submit their motion to suppress at least part of Dr. Tam’s testimony. As you recall, Dr. Tam was the right-wing San Francisco minister who believed that his kids will turn gay if marriage equality was allowed to remain. We’ll find out on May 7th how much of the testimony they want stricken from the record, and what is their basis. Our side will have until May 10th to then file an objection.
So what happens if Dr. Tam’s testimony is taken out? Dr. Tam was powerful evidence that Prop 8 was driven by animus and a hatred of homosexuals, which would be enough to strike Prop 8 — even under the more lenient “rational basis” grounds set up in Romer v. Evans (1996.) But while Dr. Tam’s testimony is damning and it should be kept in, there was a whole lot of other evidence that our side presented. In fact, when it came time for the defense to produce their “experts,” there wasn’t a whole lot of reason they could provide.
If it’s impossible to dream up a “rational” basis for deny LGBT people the right to marry the person they love, and all the reasons the defense provides is merely a subterfuge for bigotry, Prop 8 must be found unconstitutional. Dr. Tam’s testimony was the most dramatic and forceful, but our side put on a good case tying other “rationales” for Prop 8 to be simply animus. In fact, I would argue the strongest witness we had for our side was San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders — who explained how he came to the realization that his so-called “friendly” reasons for opposing gay marriage had merely been based out of irrational discomfort.