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May 28, 2009

White House continues to stonewall on DADT

LawDork blogger Chris Geidner critiques the latest line from the White House press room about Don't Ask, Don't Tell

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May 28, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 27, 2009

Historian Linda Kerber on the influence of Massachusetts C.J. Marshall on other marriage decisions

University of Iowa historian Linda Kerber, who has previously written in this space about the Iowa marriage decision, has a new piece in the Boston Globe discussing the influence that the Massachusetts Goodridge decision on same sex-marriage -- and specifically its author, Chief Justice Margaret Marshall -- has had on other state supreme courts.  She writes in part:

Marshall's sensitivity to historical change is apparent in her reasoning in the Goodridge decision. In a context in which defenders of the status quo were likely to claim that heterosexual marriage practices have been permanent over time, a defense of same-sex marriage virtually requires engagement with assertions that "history teaches" that understandings of the meaning of marriage are not subject to change.

Drawing in part on the brief contributed by 25 "professors of the History of Marriage, Families and the Law" based in law schools and liberal arts faculties, the decision instructed its readers in the ways in which the practices of marriage in the state of Massachusetts have changed over time, just as the meanings of equality have necessarily changed over time in order, paradoxically, to safeguard the principle of equality.

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May 27, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Q&A with Lambda's Jon Davidson on the Prop 8 ruling

In a Q&A with the National Law Journal (free registration required), Lambda Legal's Jon Davidson notes the anomalies and unanswered questions left in the wake of the California Supreme Court's decision upholding Proposition 8. 

Davidson notes that the decision seems inconsistent with the court's ruling last year that creating a legal status for gay couples but refusing to call it "marriage" was inherently unequal:

They seemed to say all that's really being taken away is the designation of marriage, but that's inconsistent with how important they said that was in their decision in May. They noted that being relegated to some other institution — which is what they're saying is OK to do here; you can have the same rights but it's not going to be called marriage — sends a message that your relationship is inferior to the majority's, that you are a second class citizen, that we are setting you aside in a way that conveys that you're unequal and, as the court pointed out before, there are real world consequences of that.

The way I think about it is [that] if Prop 8 had instead said [that] only a marriage between white people is valid or recognized in California and all other relationships between other couples are limited to domestic partnerships, would anybody say that's a limited amendment to the Constitution?

Davidson also notes the unanswered questions left by the decision, such as the status of same-sex couples who were legally married outside of California during the time that such marriages were legal inside California.

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May 27, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 26, 2009

As expected, California high court upholds Prop 8 but says existing marriages can stand

The court upheld Prop 8 by a 6-1 vote, but was unanimous in deciding to keep intact the marriages of as many as 18,000 gay couples who had exchanged vows before last November's election, reports the Los Angeles Times. The decision does not alter the court's previous holding that sexual orientation discrimination must be analyzed under strict scrutiny. 

The full text of the decision is available at this link.

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May 26, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 24, 2009

State Department will provide benefits to domestic partners

The State Department will offer equal benefits and protections to same-sex and opposite-sex partners of American diplomats, the New York Times is reporting.  The benefits include diplomatic passports, use of medical facilities at overseas posts, medical and other emergency evacuation, transportation between posts, and training in security and languages.  It's unclear whether the policy conflicts with the "Defense of Marriage Act," which State had invoked in the past in refusing to provide such benefits.

If the State Department can do this based solely on a policy decision by Secretary Clinton, why not the rest of the federal government based on a policy decision by President Obama?

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May 24, 2009 | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack