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Friday, December 7, 2012

Marriage Equality Updates, 12/7/12

Sometimes it seems like Change is as slow as Christmas; but then other times, it seems like it's bustin' out all over. A few news notes to show you what I mean.

Same-sex couples began getting marriage licenses yesterday in the Evergreen State. A headline in Towleroad says, "These Men Are Officially, Wonderfully, the Face of Marriage Equality in Washington State":

Larry Duncan, 56, and Randy Shepherd, 48, partners for eleven years,
apply for their marriage license in Seattle on Thursday.

Hooray! Finally, some real middle-aged gay guys, not stereotyped twinklets in sequins. Your Head Trucker can totally relate. Especially since my beard is now nearly as white and as long as the older dude's is. Yeah, really.

Of course, lots of other queer couples are flocking to the altar, or at least to the courthouse, in Washington - including Dan Savage and his longtime "husband in Canada, boyfriend in America" Terry Miller. The state requires a three-day waiting period, so weddings won't happen until Sunday.

In Mexico, on Wednesday of this week the Mexican Supreme Court struck down a law against same-sex marriage in the state of Oaxaca, which may lead to marriage equality nationwide soon. Since 2010, Mexican couples have already been able to get married in Mexico City. A more detailed analysis of the meaning of the ruling is here.

At the same link as above, lawmakers in Colombia, Chile, and Uruguay are all set to debate marriage equality next week.

Maryland began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples yesterday, although weddings won't begin until January 1.

And in Virginia, NPR reports that the CIA for the first time is actively looking to recruit gay and lesbian employees.

And in Washington D.C., the Supreme Court may - or may not - announce today which of the same-sex marriage cases it will consider. As I noted last week, if the Court declines to review the Prop 8 case, which has been upheld in our favor by a federal district court and a federal appeals court already, marriages could resume very quickly in California. So stay tuned.

Update, 12/8, 5 a.m.: Okay, so I'm not on the same sleep schedule as the rest of the world. But I've just learned that the Supreme Court has decided to review both the Prop 8 case and the Windsor case. The Washington Blade reports:
Ending months of anticipation, the U.S. Supreme Court signaled on Friday it would take up litigation challenging California’s Proposition 8 and one case challenging the Defense of Marriage Act.

Justices decided to take up the case of Hollingsworth v. Perry, which seeks to overturn the state constitutional amendment California voters passed in 2008 that took away marriage rights for same-sex couples.

They also decided to take up Windsor v. United States, litigation challenging the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act. That lawsuit was filed by Edith Windsor, a New York widow who was forced to pay $363,000 in estate taxes in 2009 upon the death of her spouse, Thea Spyer.

The court made the news in an orders list published Friday following a conference the justices held on the same day. Four justices must vote affirmatively to grant a writ of certiorari in any particular case, but that vote isn’t public information.

Windsor, 83, expressed excitement in a statement that her lawsuit would be the one to challenge DOMA at the Supreme Court. Her lawsuit was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union along with Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP and other groups.

“When Thea and I met nearly 50 years ago, we never could have dreamed that the story of our life together would be before the Supreme Court as an example of why gay married couples should be treated equally, and not like second-class citizens,” Windsor said. “While Thea is no longer alive, I know how proud she would have been to see this day. The truth is, I never expected any less from my country.”

More analysis and commentary, if you want to read it:

"Today at the Supreme Court - Explained" from Lambda Legal

"Supreme Court to Hear Two Challenges to Gay Marriage" from the New York Times

"Prop 8 Attorneys Confident SCOTUS Will Strike Down Marriage Ban" from the Washington Blade

"Same-sex Marriage in the Courts" from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life

"Supreme Court Will Hear DOMA and Prop 8 Challenges:  An Analysis" at Towleroad

What I say: Your Head Trucker has no crystal ball, but it seems most likely that when the Supremes finally rule on these cases, sometime between now and when the court term ends next June, that

1) it will concur in striking down Prop 8, letting marriages resume in California, but not applying that to any other state;

2) it will say that if a state says you're married under its laws, the feds have to recognize that marriage for all federal rights and benefits, just as with any other married couple across the land; but

3) the Court will not say that other states have to recognize your marriage if they don't want to. The polls may show a slight majority of Americans are now in favor of the idea, but the Supremes rarely jump very far ahead of public opinion. It's just too early, I think, for a nationwide ruling to the right to marry in every state:  I don't expect that it another 15 years, at least.

Of course, I hope I'm wrong about that last bit. We'll find out by the time it's beach weather next year.  My God, and I remember when "homosexual" was practically an unmentionable word in public.  Now the Supreme Court is going to deliberate on our right to marry.  How times have changed.


Tim said...

Ha, "Finally, some real middle-aged gay guys, not stereotyped twinklets in sequins", you must have read my post on gay imagery!

Seriously, that all sounds like good news ;)

Russ Manley said...

I think so too.

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