Gay marriage in six months (news from Mass.)

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Imported, Nov 18, 2003.

  1. Imported

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    mindseye: Quoted from ABCnews.com:

    Massachusetts' highest court ruled 4-3 Tuesday that the state's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional and gave lawmakers 180 days to fix the problem.

    "Whether and whom to marry, how to express sexual intimacy, and whether and how to establish a family these are among the most basic of every individual's liberty and due process rights," the majority opinion said. "And central to personal freedom and security is the assurance that the laws will apply equally to persons in similar situations."

    The Supreme Judicial Court left the details of the same-sex marriage issue to the Legislature. Advocates said the case took a significant step beyond the 1999 Vermont Supreme Court decision that led to civil unions in that state.

    Attorney Mary Bonauto, who represented the seven gay couples who sued the state, said the only task assigned to the Legislature is to come up with changes in the law that will allow gay couples to marry at the end of the 180-day period.

    [hr]

    Wow. I fully expected this would happen, but not quite so soon after Lawrence vs. Texas. I have a feeling the legislative debate in Massachusetts is about to become really interesting.
     
  2. Imported

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    7x6andchg: It should get VERY interesting.

    Personally from a civil union standpoint...I don't see why it is even an issue. Marriage is a commitment to someone...anyone...doesn't really matter to ME whether it's same sex/different sex.

    From a religious standpoint - well, that's the church's problem, not the government's.

    7x6&C
     
  3. Imported

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    wvalady1968: I completely agree, Paul.
     
  4. Imported

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    aj2181: I think everyone is supposed to have equal rights under the law. No matter what their sexual preference.
     
  5. Imported

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    norseman: Speaking (writing ?) from Massachusetts, there's some really interesting fallout from this ruling.

    I think there's some relief on the part of some legislators because the courts did the "dirty work" so they didn't have to really address the issue. The legislature is also about to go on holiday break about now and won't have time to do anything even if they could figure out what to do.

    Since the courts simply interpreted the State Constitution, the only way around it for the non gay marriage folks is to ammend the State Constitution. That's a lengthy process, literally years, with all sorts of votes along the way that could sabotage the effort.

    The only practical move they seem to be considering is to authorize "Civil Unions" like Vermont. Apparently a game of semantics to "preserve the sanctity of marriage", whatever that means.

    Bush has been chest thumping on this one saying he'll do whatever he can to over ride or reverse this ruling. It's a State's issue, dummy, you're sh*t outta luck.

    Norse
     
  6. Imported

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    pghcyclist:
    No, civil unions are not an option. The court clearly said that as of yesterday, civil marriage in mass. means the voluntary union of any two persons. The legislature has six months to do any book-keeping it may want to, but in six months they will start issuing marriage licenses. Anything less than full marriage is (state) constitutional suspect and not good enough.

    Six months is nothing in legislative time.

    Scott
     
  7. Imported

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    Inwood: Actually civil unions might be the answer if that's what the state issues to citizens. Let marriage be ceremony a church performs after you've been given a civil union license (Don't call it a marriage license). You chose what you want to do with the license. Whether it's jump the broom, howl at the moon, or whatever else there is, as long as the appropriate witnesses sign the license everything should be fine. That still leaves it open to religious figures to perform ceremonies for whomever they want. Straight, gay, bi whatever.

    The state will not care whether it was a religious or secular ceremony since as far as it's concerned you've entered into a civil union.
     
  8. Imported

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    pghcyclist:
    In Mass., the Court there was very clear that it was talking about marriage. The decision is very similar the decision of the Ontario Court on the issue, and very different than the one in the Baker case in Vermont.

    Civil marriage is not religious marriage. Civil unions are not civil marriage. Lots of gay and lesbian couples today, in every state, have religious ceremonies to bless their relationship, yet these are not recognized by any state. Civil marriage is the thing that happens either before or after the ceremony, when the officiator and the parties involved sign a piece of paper that is registered with the state. This paper creating the civil marriage confers somewhere between 300 and 800 state benefits (depending on the state) and 1200+ federal benefits (according to a 1996 study). While civil unions may give access to the state benefits, they do not give access to the federal benefits.

    While you are correct that the state doesn't care what type of party you have to celebrate your relationship, none of religious marriage, civil marriage or civil unions are equivalent or interchangeable.

    Scott
     
  9. Imported

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    norseman: Now, Now, boys, let's not have a pissing contest over semantics or the fine print.

    The majority of GLB's speaking out in this seem to be more interested in having all the legal rights afforded to straight couples (healthcare, inheritance, tax benefits, etc) and why shouldn't they ? Call it what you want, but let them have access to the benefits of the formally recognized institution.

    Norse (for once proud to be from MA)
     
  10. Imported

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    pghcyclist:
    This isn't a pissing contest, and in this context (namely legal and govenmental) the name is important. Marriage is portable -- if you get married in North Carolina and move to Maine, Maine knows you are married. If you have a civil union in Vermont and move to Maine, main says what the fuck is a civil union?

    There is lots of laws built around marriage. Trying to create a seperate-but-equal system, while nice, is never quite equal.

    Scott
     
  11. Imported

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    7x6andchg: Although...isn't the whole problem, Scott, the fact that the Constitution requires that every state give full faith and credit to the acts of another state?

    I'm all for it, as I stated above...the commitment is what is important. What I think will eventually happen is this: A gay couple will be married in Vermont, and will expect, say, Oklahoma, to honor their union. Oklahoma will not, because they choose not to, and won't it then likely go before the Supreme Court because of the Constitutionality of the issue?

    This seems to be what I remember the "problem" being.
     
  12. Imported

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    norseman: Yes, 7x6, I think you've correctly set the issue in context on the national stage. Call it Civil Union or call it Marriage, when it doesn't fit the traditional form of M/F, other states will inevitably have difficulty swallowing it in terms of recognition of rights and status, and that is when the excrement will hit the air handling unit ("shit will hit the fan") and probably land in the lap of the US Supreme court.

    Norse
     
  13. Imported

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    Inwood: A pissing contest?! Jeez, now I've got to go buy a six-pack of beer.

    No, not a pissing contest. And yes semantics are important.

    As I understand it, the MA court said that everyone had equal access to marriage under the current MA state constitution. So you are right in that they were speaking of marriage. But they left it up to the legislative arm to decide how to deal with that.

    One way would be to state that MA only issues Civil Union Licenses. Do away with the word marriage. All the rights and privileges currently in force for the term marriage would then be transferred to the Civil License. It would then be held by MA to be the same as marriage licenses issued in other states. This would work the same way the US recognizes licenses issued by other countries even though the rules are different for getting those licenses.

    As to religious marriage, well, as it was explained to me by a lawyer friend, that if you get married only in a religious ceremony the state does not recognize you as being married. It carries no weight in and of itself. Only the state has the power to allow you to be married. They issue a secular license. You choose a secular or religious ceremony to celebrate it (and probably have it witnessed) but the license is a state license. Until you get it, the state license, the religious ceremony in and of itself, in regards to benefits, etc., does not entitle you to anything, secularly state-wise.

    Oh boy, a topic to get the blood going.
     
  14. Imported

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    7x6andchg: That's why I honestly think the civil license is MORE important...and I don't see why government should be involved in saying what constitutes a committment to another person. I don't believe it says it anywhere in our constitution....which is why it gets left to the states.

    Heck, the divorce rate for heterosexual marriages is 50%....you can't tell me gay couples could do ANY worse.
     
  15. Imported

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    pghcyclist:
    No. FFC jurisprudence is complicated, with each state being sovereign entities with their own laws. The rules of comity come into play when courts are confronted with a choice-of-law problem, and the issue is which state's laws apply when.

    Already happened. Couple left some southern state, Georgia I think, went to Vermont and had a Civil Union (not marriage). Went back to Georgia and in some court setting (I believe it was a custody dispute), cited the civil union. The court rule (in my words) -- what the fuck is a civil union, we don't have that in georgia, and the lesbian couple was ordered to remain apart when the one woman's children were around.

    No FFC. No Supreme Court.

    First, in Vermont, the only state with Civil Unions, the law clearly says that Civil Unions are not marriages. Second, "it would then be held by MA to be the same as marriage licenses" makes no sense to me. Held by MA how? The law says that civil unions are marriages, in which case they are marriages. If the law says they are civil unions, then who is saying that they are marriages and not something else? A state is certainly free to do away with marriage if it wants, but that means heterosexuals can't get married either. All their children will be bastards. There would be no lines of inheritance as currently understood in the law. I think it would cause a horrible mess.

    When the Congressional Accounting Office was asked to determine how many laws were impacted by the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), they did a text search on the words "marriage", "spouse", "husband/wife". They found over 1200 laws. Doing away with the word "marriage" for some other politically expedient term means that the rights, benefits and obligations of these laws don't apply. Language in a legal context is important.

    Scott
     
  16. Imported

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    Inwood: Then have it called a "MA Civil Union" to distinguish it from civil union. Politicians have always been able to word things so they work by some helter skelter way. They would do away with marriage. They would just let marriage be what you call the religious ceremony. But all the state would issue is a license called "MA Civil Union" license that with that license you would in effect be entitled to all that people are entitled to under what is now called a "Marriage License."

    Everyone, gay or straight, would apply for the "MA Civil Union" license. There would be no other license to apply for.

    The lawyers can figure out how to cross the t's and dot the i's. It just takes the political will.

    Now my position is I don't really have a position yet. It's not been my priority to get this issue addressed. Not against it and think it's nice to have the option...

    Plus some friends just got back from Canada with their license. Glad for them.
     
  17. Imported

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    Inwood: Sorry, where is says --

    would do away with marriage

    it should read

    wouldn't do away with marriage

    But it should actually maybe read

    wouldn't do away with the concept of marriage just the use of the word when referring to a license to get hitched.
     
  18. Imported

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    pghcyclist:
    it's called "Civil Marriage" already.

    Scott
     
  19. Imported

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    norseman: And yesterday (11/20) the Massachusetts Attorney General advocated that Massachussetts change their laws to recognize Civil Unions, stating his believe that Civil Unions would address the concerns and the ruling of the State Supreme Court. So, separate but equal huh ?
    Not an entirely surprising turn of events.

    Norse
     
  20. Imported

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    pghcyclist:
    Yep. And he also said he wasn't sure whether it would be enough and would ask the Supreme Judicial Court for an advisory opinion on whether it meets their standards.

    Lawrence Tribe disagrees with the A.G., saying that in his expert opinion, the court said marriage so it must be marriage.

    The best speculation I've heard is that the opinion is intentionally ambiguous because the majority needed a fourth vote. Only the court knows for sure, leaving the opponents of equality grasping for any straw they can.

    Scott
     
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