Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Recent news and commentary

Gill v. OPM

GLAD has filed a reply memo in support of its motion for summary judgment. Click here for the DoJ's opposition to the motion.

Constitutional amendments - New Hampshire

In New Hampshire, the state House has voted against a bill (HB 1590) to repeal the state's marriage-equality law, and against a proposed resolution for a "marriage protection" amendment (CACR 28). The House rejected CACR 28 "by a wide margin, 201-135, short of a simple majority and far below the three-fifths majority -- 238 votes -- it needed to advance to the Senate." (

Rep. David Bates tried to delay the vote on CACR 28 until March 17th. (AP) He has been leading an effort to place a nonbinding resolution on ballots for March 9th town meetings throughout the state. (Union Leader) The resolution expresses a preference of New Hampshire to vote on amendment that "defines" marriage. Against the odds, organizers had hoped that the proposed amendment would reach New Hampshires in this year's November election.

Domestic partnerships - New Mexico and Ohio

On February 15th, New Mexico's Senate Finance Committee voted to table domestic partnership legislation (SB 183). (

In August, the Alliance Defense Fund filed a legal challenge to Cleveland's domestic registry, claiming that it violates Ohio's super-DOMA amendment ( Ohio Const. Art. XV, sec. 11). The judge dismissed the lawsuit in November, and, on December 1st, ADF appealed the dismissal to the Court of Appeals of Ohio, Eighth Appellate District. Lambda Legal announces that it has filed an amicus brief in support of Cleveland. The case is Cleveland Taxpayers v. City of Cleveland, No. 94327.

Civil unions

Stampp Corbin defends Washington's "all-but-marriage" law that estabished civil unions for same-sex couples, and that survived Referendum 71 in last year's November election. ( (Check out Gideon Alpers' insightful comments on the law.) Corbin is a San Diego City Commissioner for the Citizens’ Equal Opportunity Commission. He was Co-Chair of the Obama National LGBT Leadership Council and a former Board Director for the Human Rights Campaign.

His argument has problems. The facts suggest a range and depth of harms from "separate-but-equal" civil unions that he does not fully acknowledge - see, for example, findings of the New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission, and a comparative analysis of civil unions and marriage in this report of the New York State Bar. He faults New Jersey's civil-unions law for defective implementation, but better implementation would not remedy more than the most egregious violations, and could not, of course, reach the inherent harms to same-sex couples and their children. He oddly compares rationales for "separate but equal" arrangements in civil unions and male and female bathrooms.

But I accept the core of his argument. He values the immediate benefits that same-sex couples gain. And he regards civil unions as just an interim measure that will help build public support for marriage equality - a concession to political expediency, not to principle. So supporters of both civil unions and marriage equality are not trying to square the circle.

No comments:

Commentators, Subjects and Cases