Filed under: Background
Cross-posted at my home blog, OpenLeft.com
by Adam Bink
NOM is all a-Twitter (pun intended) about two polls (here and here) that they say shows nowhere near a majority of Americans support the freedom to marry. They point to one poll from FOX News showing 37% of Americans support the freedom to marry, and another from the Chicago Tribune of Chicago-area residents showing 42% support the freedom to marry.
A coupla things:
1. It’s FOX News. I wouldn’t even trust FOX to truthfully tell me if it was raining outside or not. Contrast this with the recent poll from CNN/Opinion Research recently showing a majority of Americans believe gays and lesbians should have the constitutional right to marry, or the respected Field Poll showing last month that a majority of Californians supports allowing same-sex couples to marry.
2. The broader point is the wording of the question. Notice that FOX’s question is not “do you support gay marriage or not”, or anything like it. It’s:
Do you believe gays and lesbians should be: SCALE: 1. Allowed to get legally married, 2. Allowed a legal partnership similar to but not called marriage, or 3. Should there be no legal recognition given to gay and lesbian relationships? 4. (Don’t know)
I’m no polling expert, but that is a much different question in terms of giving many people the way out they are looking for to demonstrate that they support equality, but “just don’t call it marriage”. You’ve probably encountered many of those people who, if pushed, support full marriage equality, but if given a way to show they support rights and all of that, just under a different name, they’ll do so. In fact, the Field Poll, in the same survey with the result of a majority of Californians supporting same-sex marriage, words the question a similar way and gets similar results:
In a statewide survey completed earlier this month, The Field Poll updated its trend measurements of how California viewed the issue of same-sex marriage. The results show that by a 51% to 42% margin, the overall California electorate supports allowing same-sex couples to marry and having regular marriage laws apply to them.
However, when voters are offered three alternatives – allowing same-sex couples to marry, allowing civil unions but not same-sex marriage or granting no legal recognition to same-sex relationships – slightly less than half of voters (44%) favor the marriage alternative. In this setting, a significant portion (34%) of California voters opt for allowing civil unions but not marriage for same-sex couples. Just 19% believe that there should be no legal recognition of gay couples.
And that’s also why I question the Tribune poll, which asks individuals if they support civil unions- if that question is asked first in the polling, that may skew the results of how many support full marriage equality- particularly given the latest buzz and how civil unions have, for some people, become forgotten. So it’s not surprising to me that FOX gets this result. I’m not saying FOX is necessarily doing this, but it’s a clever (and probably common) tactic in polling to word questions and responses to avoid certain aggregate responses you may not want. Polling that has the more simple up-or-down question has demonstrated that majorities of people both in California and in the country as a whole support the freedom to marry, and when NOM finds unbiased polling surveys with identical wording without questions on lesser forms of equality that show different results, then we’ll have something to talk about.
Los Angeles County preparing to extend hours, ceremony availability in anticipation of Prop 8 Motion to Stay ruling
by Adam Bink
I learned yesterday that the Office of the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk is extending hours in preparing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples after 5 PM PST on August 18th (should the Motion to Stay go our way- for more on progress with that, see Eden’s post late Friday night regarding the Emergency Motion to Stay and both sides filing papers). The Office will also be performing ceremonies on a first-come, first-serve basis through August 27th. Here’s the press release via e-mail:
SERVICES IN PLACE TO ACCOMMODATE PROPOSITION 8 COURT RULING
Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk Headquarters in Norwalk to Issue Marriage Licenses Beginning August 18th at 5:00 PM
Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk (RR/CC) Dean Logan announced today that his office will extend business hours at its Norwalk Headquarters, to accommodate federal court orders to cease enforcement of Proposition 8, permitting same-sex couples to obtain a marriage license as of August 18 at 5:00 PM; the effective date of the Court’s order lifting the stay of execution on the court decision declaring Proposition 8 unconstitutional.
The RR/CC Headquarters in Norwalk, located at 12400 Imperial Highway in the City of Norwalk will remain open from 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM for the purpose of issuing Marriage Licenses and to offer Civil Marriage ceremonies. All other services will close at 5:00 PM and resume at 8:00 AM the following day. RR/CC District offices, located throughout the County, will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Thursday, August 19, 2010 during regular business hours (8:00 AM – 5:00 PM).
To accommodate the anticipated increase in requests for civil marriage ceremonies, the RR/CC will expand the availability of ceremonies it offers at its various locations. Starting August 19th through August 27th couples with a Marriage License may request a civil marriage ceremony without an appointment, on a first-come, first-served basis during regular business hours at all RR/CC locations.
The rest of the release can be found on the Office website.
What we could end up seeing is evening ceremonies, some that even go late into the night as couples line up to wed while they can. It will be quite a sight to see.
by Karen Ocamb
In his decision last week, Walker wrote that “Proposition 8 harms the people of California,” and that “[n]one of the factors the court weighs in considering a motion to stay favors granting a stay. Accordingly, proponents’ motion for a stay is DENIED.”
No wonder Freedom to Marry’s Evan Wolfson and others thought the stay was lifted. For 10 pages of his 11-page ruling, Judge Vaughn Walker talks
about how the proponents of Prop 8 failed to satisfy any of the legal imperatives to warrant a stay.
So why did Walker throw in this temporary, six day, limited stay to give the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals the opportunity to consider all aspects of the issue? These aspects include whether or not the defendant-interveners have standing to bring an appeal, since the 9th Circuit has stricter standards for “standing” than does the lower court. Walker already got called on the carpet by the US Supreme Court when he wanted to broadcast the Perry v Schwarzenegger trial: the high court said he over-stepped his bounds. So now he doesn’t want to anger the 9th Circuit or further annoy the nine Supremes?
Intellectually, I get it. Temporary stay. No big deal. Unless, of course, it does turn out to be a big deal.
Perhaps because I still have not recovered from a decade of constant loss during the AIDS crisis; perhaps because I’m tired of rebutting the heterosexual assumption by having to come out over and over and over again; perhaps because I am apoplectic that “freedom” and “equality” have been reduced to campaign slogans while Democratic politicians promise that second-class citizenship for LGBTs in America is only a temporary political necessity. It’s just a matter of time.
Six days. No problem. It’s just a matter of time. It wasn’t
until I got home when my disappointment and sadness turned into anger.
I flashed back to a briefing on Tuesday night by researcher David Fleischer,who pointed out in his Prop 8 Report that we lost because people who had been “with us,” such as women and Democrats, switched to the Yes on 8 side in the last weeks of the campaign primarily because of the ads posulating that “children” would be forced to learn about the nasty gays. Perry attorneys Ted Olsen and David Boies presented plenty of evidence at trial that these ads were motivated by animus toward LGBTs.
And Walker agreed, writing that “[m]oral disapproval alone is an improper basis on which to deny rights to gay men and lesbians. The evidence shows conclusively that Proposition 8 enacts, without reason, a private moral view that same-sex couples are inferior to opposite-sex couples. He cited the groundbreaking Romer v. Evans decision: “‘[L]aws of the kind now before us raise the inevitable inference that the disadvantage imposed is born of animosity toward the class of persons affected.’”
Wrote Walker: “Because Proposition 8 disadvantages gays and lesbians without any rational justification, Proposition 8 violates the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.”
Beautiful. Prop 8 is unconstitutional. And further, “[b]ecause the evidence shows same-sex marriage has and will have no adverse effects on society or the institution of marriage, California has no interest in waiting and no practical need to wait to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Proposition 8 is thus not rationally related to proponents’ purported interests in proceeding with caution when implementing social change….”
In the “Remedy” section of his Perry ruling, Walker writes that same sex couples “will continue to suffer these constitutional violations until state officials cease enforcement of Proposition 8. California is able to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as it has already issued 18,000 marriage licenses to same- sex couples and has not suffered any demonstrated harm as a result … moreover, California officials have chosen not to defend Proposition 8 in these proceedings.”
But here’s the thing: just as women and Democrats– who knew Prop 8 discriminated against gays– voted for Prop 8 anyway, so, too, did Judge Walker seemingly suspend his reasoning. He knows that the continued enforcement of Prop 8 is unconstitutional and harmful to gays – but that’s OK for another six days.
In last week’s ruling, Walker concludes that “the trial record left no doubt that Proposition 8 inflicts harm on plaintiffs and other gays and lesbians in California. … Any stay would serve only to delay plaintiffs access to the remedy to which they have shown they are entitled. Because a stay would force California to continue to violate plaintiffs’ constitutional rights and would demonstrably harm plaintiffs and other gays and lesbians in California, the third factor weighs heavily against proponents’ motion.”
Prop 8 proponents filed an appeal with the 9th Circuit for an emergency stay, the Mercury News reported, “arguing that it is ‘imperative’ for the court to freeze Walker’s order ‘to avoid confusion and irreparable injury that would flow from the creation of a class of purported same-sex marriages.’” They’re concerned that lifting the stay might cause “harm” to those same sex couples whose marriages might be voided by the US Supreme Court like marriages were in 2004. These new married couples would be different from the approximately 18,000 couples married before the passage of Prop 8 because the California Supreme Court upheld those marriages as valid, even while ruling that Prop 8 was constitutional. Marriages under Walker’s ruling risk being voided if Walker’s ruling is overturned.
Let me hit the pause button here and refer you to a good analysis by Brian Devine with links to further assessments on what’s next from NCLR’s Shannon Minter and MetroWeekly’s Chris Geidner.
What I’m angry about, frankly, is how in both the Prop 8 ruling and in Walker’s “Solomonic” motion lifting the stay he talks about how Prop 8 harmed gay couples. But suddenly, with the temporary stay, the issue of “harm,” indeed of “irreparable harm” shifts to the Prop 8 proponents and “harm” to gays evaporates.
I was struck by this during a radio interview with Warren Olney on KCRW. My job as the LGBT guest was to describe the emotional reaction to the stay. Most mainstream LGBTs applauded Walker’s ruling because of the larger point about denying the Prop 8 proponents their motion to stay his ruling permanently. I concurred that this was a big deal – but then laughed at the irony that it was the Prop 8 backers who were now so worried about the potential “harm” done to same sex couples if they were allowed to marry. But then I described how real harm was just done to the hurt and disappointed couples who wanted to marry immediately but were suddenly told to wait six-days.
Erwin Chemerinsky, dean of the UC-Irvine law school, was also a guest on the show. He pointed out that Walker suggested the defendant-interveners now had the difficult task of proving how they would be “irreparably harmed” if Prop 8 was stayed. The only harm the defendant-interveners would suffer, he said, would be an ideological one.
Olney made a distinction between the legal “irreparable harm” and the mere sadness gays would have to endure for six days. Olney, however, took my point and asked the other guest, Greg Mitchell at the Recorder in San Francisco about the reaction from couples there. Mitchell concurred with me – lots of disappointment and hurt.
This is not abstract. The LA Weekly interviewed 25-year-old Amanda Pentacost, who had hoped to marry her partner Thursday: “It’s a bitter sweet victory,” Pentacost said. “It’s hard to wait six days not knowing what’s going to happen.”
But as I thought about how easily this emotional roller coaster was dismissed I also noted that just days before the US Department of Education, at the behest of openly gay Kevin Jennings, held the first ever national summit on bullying. In his remarks, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said that not only is bullying a national epidemic but:
“A powerful testament to the fact that bullying is not part of the natural order of things is that most people can remember, even decades later, the feeling of being bullied or bullying another individual. Or they may feel haunted by the memory of standing by while a friend or classmate was bullied.”
Like being bullied, these same sex couples who lined up to get married will never forget experiencing absolute joy one minute and near despondency the next. That is “irreparable harm” done knowingly, in the name of expediency, against gays and lesbians who must once again endure what even some LGBTs think is merely benign discrimination. Six days. It’s just a matter of time.
Perhaps I’m angry because I’m keenly aware that time is running out for me to be free and equal.