The Prop 8 panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit just accepted a friend of the court brief on same-sex marriage written by a 20-something conservative recent law school graduate named Gage Raley. Mr. Raley insists that he has found an original constitutional argument to support bans on same-sex marriage, and he seems awfully proud of himself.
His idea closely tracks the main objection to same-sex marriage, specifically the notion that the state should favor heterosexual marriages since men and women can have children together. Raley notes that the presumption of paternity accorded a married father under current law would not apply to same-sex couples. (Cue trumpet fanfare.)
Raley spends about 60 pages isolating this minor element of the already flawed anti-marriage argument, seemingly convinced that he alone has discovered the key legal distinction between gay and straight couples. The court accepted his brief after both sides had no objection, which makes you wonder just how easy it is to load up a federal appellate panel with friendly advice. Could you and I have submitted an amicus brief?
Perhaps we could have employed Mr. Raleyâ€™s own argument, by pointing out that although heterosexual paternity is easily determined by DNA tests, same-sex couples need marriage rights in order to make sure that their children have two legally recognized parents. Or why not go out on a limb? Maybe ancient aliens encouraged same sex couples to make monogamous commitments back in pre-history. Maybe theyâ€™ll be back to make sure humankind followed their instructions. Iâ€™m sure there are some runic texts on the subject.
Do you ever watch â€śAncient Aliensâ€ť on the History Channel?
I have to confess a dark secret. I donâ€™t believe in para-normality as a rule, but Iâ€™m half convinced by these TV episodes. How else could the (insert old civilization here) have moved all those 100-ton boulders up to the top of the giant mountain? And why else did the old cave painters draw all those astronauts, complete with space helmets? The only thing that gives me pause is the Greek â€śexpertâ€ť on the subject with the crazy mop of black hair. He doesnâ€™t seem quite sane to me.
Brothers and Sisters
Speaking of marriage, the bad guys in New Hampshire have decided to focus all their energy on repealing the same-sex marriage statute and have abandoned the idea of a passing an antigay constitutional amendment.
I suppose this is good news, but honestly I donâ€™t think an amendment had a snowballâ€™s chance in Texas to pass. Not only do Granite State citizens oppose reversing marriage rights, but you need a two-thirds majority to ratify an amendment in New Hampshire.
However, the repeal bill is almost as bad as an amendment. It ends marriage rights for same-sex couples and institutes a bizarre civil union that could include siblings and, well, whoever. Iâ€™m assuming that the measure will not pass, and that if indeed it manages to slither out of the legislature, it will not survive a promised veto from Governor John Lynch.
Meanwhile, do not forget about Iowa next week! I know Iâ€™ve crunched this story into ort-ville over the last month or two, but it is still underreported in the GLBT press.
On the off chance that some of you have not been faithful readers, Iâ€™ll remind you that marriage equality in the Ethanol State may hang on next weekâ€™s special election for a state senate seat. Democrats now hold a two-vote edge in the upper body, an edge that has allowed us to beat back efforts to put an antigay amendment on the ballot. Iowa has been one of the six states to offer marriage equality ever since the state supreme court ordered the change in 2009.
If Democrats lose next week, if the tie in the state senate leads to power sharing, if the legislature votes for an amendment in two successive sessions, if the Iowa voters roll back marriage in 2014 or whenever--- well, that will be that. I know there are a lot of â€śifsâ€ť in that sentence, but still. How much easier it would be to just win the seat and avoid the cascade of possible setbacks in the first place.
Plus, Election Day is always a thrill. But if you donâ€™t live in San Francisco, or in some other city where a mayoral seat is up for grabs, next weekâ€™s showdown is pretty lame stuff. At least Iowa gives the rest of us something to root for.
Aside from Iowa, Iâ€™ll be watching Mississippiâ€™s vote on whether or not a fertilized egg is a legal human being. Hello! What next? Are we going to recognize the innate value of sperm? Watch out, gentlemen. Remember Onan!
I know that here in Texas we tried to pass a law that would have forced women not simply to have an ultrasound before getting an abortion, but to have that ultrasound narrated by the technician. Actually, the law was passed, but struck by a court, as were similar statutes around the country.
So letâ€™s cut to the chase. You know those computer programs that let you figure out how a six-year-old kidnap victim would look at age 20?
Why not mandate that women who seek abortions be presented with a family photo illustrating what she and the unborn fetus will look like at his or her college graduation? I made this suggestion many years ago in this column, but it deserves repeating.
Bad Mayor, No Donut
Itâ€™s a slow news week for our community, so bear with me while I ramble down roads normally not taken. For example, Iâ€™m delighted to report that reader Mark Liolios sent me two links to the GOP sexcapade story that I couldnâ€™t remember last week.
The star of the show was Chris Myers, the 40-something Republican mayor of Medford, New Jersey. Married with kids, Myers is accused of hiring a guy to hook up with him during a trip to California last year. The mayor allegedly promised to help his paid companion with some gifts or a car or something, but Myers failed to come through, provoking Rent Boy to take the tryst public.
Myers ducked a question about his sexual orientation from a local newspaper the other day, but he denied the gist of the story and pledged not to resign.
I almost feel sorry for these guys, many of whom must have recognized that they were gay, but made a conscious decision to marry and live their lives in the closet. Now theyâ€™re hitting middle age and realizing that years of living a lie erodes your character like decades of smoking blackens your lungs. Time for the Chantax. Chantex?
Letâ€™s rip to shreds a few TV commercials, shall we? First, the sophomoric ad for the electric car, where the nasty little boy accuses the driver of stopping at the gas station only to use the bathroom. The boyâ€™s obnoxious. What business is it of his why the guy came to the gas station? Maybe he was buying gum. Who cares if he has to use the bathroom? Is that shameful? And, assuming itâ€™s not, why is the driver slightly embarrassed? What ad executive came up with this ludicrous scenario anyway?
Second, Iâ€™ve been meaning to object in print to the smart phone ad that revolves around a taco party in the office. To begin with, Iâ€™ve spent years working in offices, and no oneâ€™s ever thrown a lunch party in the hallway outside someoneâ€™s office door. But the most offensive thing about this commercial is the horrendously rude treatment of â€śEric,â€ť one of the staff members who received a timely invitation to the party (thanks, one assumes, to his choice of cell phone).
â€śYou invited Eric?â€ť asks the dimwit with the ineffective phone. â€śI thought Eric gave you the creeps.â€ť
What a thing to say in front of Eric! Who would do that? Not only is Eric hurt and insulted, but the other workers are now suspected of talking behind his back. Letâ€™s just say that cordial professional relationships between Eric and the rest of the group are deeply undermined, thanks to Mr. Slow Phoneâ€™s big mouth. Personally, I would not be inviting this jerk to any future taco parties.
I have several more opinions, but itâ€™s time to move on. But before we attempt to scrape up other bits of GLBT news from the bottom of the barrel, I must comment on Herman Cain, who is apparently unaware that China has had nuclear capability since the 1960s.
Look. Who cares whether he harassed someone? Well, we do care, of course. But the media is all over that story like rats on cheese, while the manâ€™s total ignorance of world affairs is just an afterthought to the press. If you were forced to choose between a candidate who harassed someone, but who knew what was going on in the world, and a perfect husband who could not define â€śneoconservative,â€ť who never heard of the Palestinian right of return, and who worried about China developing nuclear weapons, who would you pick?
As for Rick Perry, did you see his over-the-top antics at that dinner the other night? I know they say he wasnâ€™t drinking, but he looked looped to me, cackling and smirking like an upperclassman at a frat party.
Iâ€™d say these candidates were living on another planet, but frankly I think aliens would be better presidential prospects. After all, they helped us build all those beautiful temples. They didnâ€™t have to do that. They could have just mined all our gold, but instead they pitched in and made a cultural contribution. Thanks, Ancient Aliens!
Say It Ainâ€™t So, Kim!
So, I just read that former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and his wife Chandler just gave $5 million to Georgetown University. One million of that sum has been set aside to fund the Tagliabue Initiative for LGBT Life; Fostering Formation and Transformation, a program to be run by Georgetownâ€™s LGBTQ Resource Center.
Pretty impressive. Georgetown, by the way, was the first Catholic university to organize a gay center, which was established in 2008. In related information, my stepson Matthew just got his PhD from Georgetown.
What else is new? Michigan lawmakers are hard at work trying to withdraw domestic partner benefits from public employees, including faculty and staff at the Mitten Stateâ€™s public universities. The bill, which saves a few million bucks, has passed the house and is pending in the state senate. Weâ€™ve already seen the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit strike a similar partner benefit rollback out of Arizona, so weâ€™ll see what happens here. Regardless, itâ€™s amazing to see a state with the economic problems of Michigan take steps to make its public sector and state universities even less competitive.
And did you see that Kim Kardashian is getting a divorce just 72 days after hosting a $10 million televised wedding? Of course you saw that. Kardashian, who insists she did indeed â€śmarry for love,â€ť is citing irreconcilable differences. She is now, of course, this yearâ€™s poster girl for the absurdity of marriage laws, which allow Brittney Spears to get married and divorced in 48 hours, while denying the institution to life partners with decades of shared partnership under their belts.
I should mention, before I go, that the U.S. Supreme Court has decided not to review that case out of Utah where the highway patrol has erected gigantic crosses to mark spots on the highway where officers have lost their lives. The Tenth Circuit ordered the crosses removed, so conservatives were hoping that the High Court would pick them up. Sorry, conservatives. Thatâ€™s not happening. The Court didnâ€™t explain itself, but Justice Thomas wrote a stern dissent.
Listen. Thereâ€™s nothing wrong with the state marking the spot and acknowledging the sacrifice of these men and women. But you canâ€™t select a specific religious faith and use its main symbol for that purpose. Câ€™mon, people!
Annâ€™s column appears every week at www.sfbaytimes.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.