Friday, March 12, 2010

Recent news and commentary

Constitutional amendments - New Hampshire

Update on yesterday's post: Voters have not rewarded for its campaign to reverse marriage equality in New Hampshire. According to one report, nearly two-thirds of towns and cities in the state either rejected or refused to consider the organization's proposal. (Gay Marriage Watch / updated here)

Shannon Minter on marriage equality and democracy

Shannon Minter
is Legal Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. He was lead counsel for same-sex couples in In re Marriage Cases, 43 Cal.4th 757 (Cal. 2008), and argued against the state constitutionality of Prop. 8 in Strauss v. Horton, 49 Cal. 4th 364 (2009). He was a keynote speaker at a March 3rd symposium of the Southern California Review of Law and Social Justice on “Proposition 8 and Marriage Equality."

"Gay people seek the freedom to marry because that freedom to choose is essential to the principle of equal citizenship that is at the heart of democracy," Minter said. "LGBT people are calling on the court to live up to its democratic ideals by exposing the gap between the ideal of equality and our failure to reach it: that is the essence of democracy ... A majority cannot intentionally create an exception to equal protection without violating the constitution. We will not have democracy as long as the majority treats LGBT people as outsiders rather than as equal citizens with the right to belong or be different as others." (USC Law School News)

Out-of-state recognition - Maryland

Maryland Delegate Don H. Dwyer, Jr., R-Anne Arundel County, announced that he will introduce articles of impeachment against state Attorney General Doug Gansler for his advisory opinion on the validity of out-of-state, same-sex marriages.

Domestic partnerships - Florida

Florida has a super-DOMA amendment (Const. Art. I), and bans adoption by gay and lesbian parents [Fla. Stat. §63.042(3)]. Cases challenging the adoption ban have lately received national media attention. But Florida shows other signs of change over the legal status of same-sex couples. In Kissimmee, a small town north of Orlando, City Commissioner Cheryl Grieb led an effort to join 12 other cities and counties that offer some form of domestic partner benefits to employees. (Item 8.A, Discussion of Domestic Partner Benefits, Kissimmee City Commission Agenda on 03-09-10; for examples, click here.) The Commission has voted to adopt the benefits proposal. "More than 300 business owners in Kissimmee also signed a petition to back the decision." (; see also Equality Florida and Pam's House Blend)

Religious liberty exemption - UK

Lillian Ladele was a registrar of births, marriages, and deaths for the London Borough of Islington. She considers homosexuality "sinful." She claims that her former employer discriminated against her on religious grounds after she expressed her unwillingness to register civil partnerships. Islington has a "Dignity For All" policy, and a senior Islington official found that accommodating her view represented discrimination against same-sex couples, in violation of the policy. She was disciplined and threatened with dismissal. In Ladele v. London Borough of Islington, [2009] EWCA Civ 1357, the Court of Appeals of England and Wales ruled that her former employer's action did not represent illegal discrimination against her. The Supreme Court having just rejected her appeal, she plans to pursue a remedy with the European Court of Human Rights. (Islington Tribune, cross-posted by Gay Marriage Watch)

Other developments abroad

"On Monday, Judge Felix Gustavo de Igarzabal of Buenos Aires reversed a decision which allowed two gay men to marry at the city's civil registry office on March 3. In his ruling the judge said no marriage took place “because of the absence of the institution’s structural elements,” in this case a man and a woman, and thus declared the act to be invalid." (Catholic News Agency, cross-posted by Gay Marriage Watch)

"Four same-sex couples became the first to marry Thursday in Mexico City under the new marriage equality law." (The Advocate, linking to Los Angeles Times)

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