The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court has tied up yet another loose marriage string, this one a lawsuit filed by right wing activist C. Joseph Doyle, the head of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts. Doyle was trying to convince the high court that his constitutional right to vote on the question of whether or not same-sex marriage should be legal had been breached by the courtâ€™s ruling. Not surprisingly, the justices unanimously denied Doyleâ€™s request for a stay of their 18-month-old marriage decision. The premise of his suitâ€”that individuals have an inviolate right to decide controversial issues up for court reviewâ€”was so far-fetched that marriage advocates had not even bothered to argue against it in court last month.
Elsewhere in the Bay State, Attorney General and gubernatorial prospect Thomas F. Reilly continued to walk a fine line between support for the GLBT community and the political centrism necessary to win the stateâ€™s top job. After taking a stand against same-sex marriage during last yearâ€™s turmoil, Reilly appeared to support marriage equality in recent comments. Now, however, he has pledged to defend the stateâ€™s controversial 1913 law that is being used to block gay and lesbian couples from crossing state lines in order to marry in Massachusetts. Gay advocates who are challenging the law question its selective enforcement against gay couples, pointing to the fact that it was born of prejudice against interracial marriages and has never been used until this last year.
In a letter to the state Republican party, Reilly reassured GOP leaders that he would not shrink from his duty to defend the laws of Massachusetts. Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus co-chair Arline Isaacson told the Boston Globe that Reillyâ€™s decision to defend the law was â€śreprehensible.â€ť
Up ahead in Massachusetts, the countryâ€™s marriage activists will watch with cautious optimism to see if and how a constitutional convention is called to order this fall. Still pending before Massachusetts lawmakers is a proposal to replace marriage with civil unions under the constitution. In order to advance to the voters, the measure must pass a joint session of the legislature in the exact same form that won the day last year. Those in the know say its chances are not good, but marriage proponents wonâ€™t relax until this amendment is officially dead.
Evangelical Christian Runs From Her Lesbian Part in Utah
The National Center for Lesbian Rights filed written briefs before the Utah Supreme Court this week in a typically hostile dispute between two former lesbian partners. One of them, CPB, used the interval between falling in love with KLJ, and vowing never to see her again, to become a born again Christian. CPB, who is now represented by the extreme right Alliance Defense Fund, is trying to keep KLJ from having any visitation with their daughter.
The two womenÂ broke up fairly quickly, just two years after obtaining a civil union in Vermont, pledging lifelong commitment and giving birth to their daughter. After calling it quits in late 2003,Â CPB keptÂ their daughterÂ from seeing KLJ for most of the next year. KLJ went to court, and in October of 2004, the trial judge declared her a de facto parent, noting that under state law an individual who lives with a child as a parent and forges a parental bond must be treated as such. The ruling was based in part on a state supreme court case that recognized the paternal rights of a de facto stepfather who had not adopted his ex-wifeâ€™s child, but who wanted a continuing relationship once the marriage ended.
The trial court went on to award limited visitation to KLJ, and to assign her some child support obligations. In response,Â CPB appealed four separate times, losing each effort, before finally appealing to the state supreme court. Meanwhile, she has ducked the court ordered visitation schedule, and also threatened to move to San Antonio, Texas.Â KLJ's lawyers convinced the trial court to issue a restraining order to keepÂ CPB andÂ the childÂ in Utah while the battle continues.
One of the interesting things to watch for is whether Utahâ€™s anti-marriage constitutional amendment plays a role in the eventual outcome of the case. In theory, as the National Center for Lesbian Rights argued, the status of a de facto parent defines the relationship between an adult and a child, while the relationship between the adults involved is legally irrelevant. But conservatives will insist no doubt that the amendment passed last November obliges the state to disallow any formal ties between the two women, even if those ties are manifested in a parent/child relationship.
Homeland Security Protecting Us From Transgender Marriages
Two stories in the press this week illustrate the inconsistency of the federal immigration authorities when it comes to recognizing transgender marriages. Thanks to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government defines marriage as a heterosexual institution, and refuses to honor same-sex marriages contracted legally within or outside its borders. Complicating federal policy is the fact that some states acknowledge the corrected gender of post-operative transsexuals, while others rigidly assign a permanent gender at birth.
How then, does the federal government treat heterosexual, bi-national, transgender couples who are attempting to live in the United States? Do authorities smile on these male-female couples? Or do they pull out the microscope and ask for DNA samples? The answer appears to be, it varies.
In one case, a California couple is fighting officials in LA, who are blocking residency for a man who has lived in the United States for years with his American wife. A recent article in Mother Jones highlights the case of Donita Ganzon, a youthful-looking 58-year-old, who has been married for three years to her 28-year-old husband, Jiffy Javenella. During the course of applying for Javenellaâ€™s green card, Ganzon let slip that she was born a man, a biographical detail that does not effect her legal status as a woman in California. Nonetheless, the bureaucrat and her superiors determined that the couple formed a same-sex marriage, and threw Javenellaâ€™s status into jeopardy. He continues to work in LA on a provisional pass while waiting for a clear ruling on his marriage.
Meanwhile, Gay City News reports the opposite case of an El Salvadoran man who married a MTF woman in North Carolina. Initially, a Department of Homeland Security official in Nebraska used the Defense of Marriage Act as an excuse to deny residency for Jose Mauricio Lovo-Lara, claiming his wife Gia Theresa was technically male. But in fact, following her surgery in 2001, North Carolina has recognized Gia Theresa as a legal woman. As such the Board of Immigration Appeals ruled that her marriage must be considered valid, and her husband must remain on track for citizenship. According to Arthur Leonard, writing for Gay City News, the Board wrote that the Defense of Marriage Act takes no position on how transgender marriages are categorized by the U.S. government. As such, the government is bound to respect the policies of each state.
Under that reasoning, of course, Javenella should also be admitted to the United States. But evidently, the word has yet to reach Southern California. Speaking earlier this year to Bay Times, transactivist and National Center for Lesbian Rights legal director Shannon Minter said the instinct of officials these days is to clamp down on transgender marriages where possible.
â€śThe consequences for these people are horrifying,â€ť said Minter. â€śItâ€™s humiliating. Itâ€™s traumatizing. And the stakes involved are as high as they can getâ€”whether or not you are going to be able to live with your spouse.â€ť
Does anyone out there remember the â€śski team diet?â€ť Think mid-1970s, two weeks of eggs, steak and salad and poofâ€”â€” 20 pounds gone for good, and five seconds off your downhill time, of course. I have nostalgic memories of successful ski team dieting but canâ€™t find the meal plan online.
Instead, I am trying South Beach. What the hell. I can do anything for two weeks, and of course Iâ€™m not doing the â€śphase twoâ€ť or â€śphase three,â€ť let alone the â€śplan for lifeâ€ť or whatever. Phase oneâ€™s quite enough thank you. Fifteen almonds and a glass of diet tonic water on the rocks for cocktail hour. Thatâ€™s not a plan for life, thank you very much.
North by Northwest
Letâ€™s see. Now that the governing Liberal party has survived a political skirmish in the Canadian Parliament, their bill to legalize same-sex marriage has returned to the back burner, where it will simmer until fall, I read. It doesnâ€™t really matter, since same-sex marriage is legal and will remain so through most of the country. The important thing is that the Liberals are still in control, more or less, and the loathsome conservative party has been whacked back into the black hole of minority impotence like a mole. (Cue: Wicked Witch of the East cackling laugh.)
Meanwhile, a court in the Northwest Territories has agreed to decide whether some far right anti-marriage types can worm their way into the freedom-to-marry lawsuit just filed by a same-sex couple. See? I told you that marriage was already legal in most of the country, and the fight continued only in outposts with obscure acronyms like PEI and NWT. Where the hell are the Northwest Territories anyway? Iâ€™m picturing our happy couple in coonskin hats, canoeing down the river to check the traps. Maybe tomorrow theyâ€™ll reach the trading post and ask old Judge Dixon to tie the knot. That is if heâ€™s sober enough!
Iâ€™m going to whittle them a bear carving as a wedding gift. Gittinâ€™ started right after this column.
I wasnâ€™t going to carry on about Spokane Mayor Jim West this issue, but I canâ€™t resist. According to the Spokesman Review, the embattled pervo-pol has begged the public to withhold judgment until he can explain his side of that old business about, um, child molestation. â€śAnyone can have uncorroborated, unsubstantial accusations made against them,â€ť Westâ€™s lawyer protested highhandedly, â€śwe would ask the publicâ€¦not to rush to judgment.â€ť
Oh, please. The â€śaccusationsâ€ť in this case arenâ€™t baseless and didnâ€™t fall from the sky. They come from depositions in a lawsuit against the county of Spokane involving one of Westâ€™s buddies. The buddy, a former deputy sheriff named David Hahn, killed himself after raping and abusing several young boys. One of his victims, a plaintiff in the negligence suit against the county, also names West as a pedophile, alleging that West and Hahn took turns sodomizing and fondling him on a number of occasions. West was also a deputy sheriff at the time, and the victim is not the only one pointing the finger at the mayor.
In a separate scandale, West has been caught offering perks to young men who might want to â€śinternâ€ť at city hall, and he offered one young aide $300 to swim nude in a pool. Reserve judgment? Je ne penses pas!
By the way, why does Microsoftâ€™s â€śspell checkâ€ť program highlight â€śsodomizingâ€ť as incorrect? Sodomy is OK. Sodomite works. But â€śsodomizeâ€ť and â€śsodomizingâ€ť are turning red on me. Guys, am I misspelling these important terms? While weâ€™re on the subject, Microsoft has taken some steps to shore up its relationship with the GLBT community by donating ten grand to Seattle Pride and kicking former Christian Coalition honcho Ralph Reed out of its consultant stable. OK, Bill. Just maybe Iâ€™ll consider going back to your operating system. But Iâ€™m doing my own spelling.
I though I was going crazy just now reading a line from an Associated Press dispatch that said: â€śMayor West stood up for the constitutional rights or people being treated unfairly and unconstitutionally.â€ť Oh, do tell! I thought archly to myself, before realizing that this quote referred to Mayor Jason West of New Paltz, New York, not to our sleazoid friend from Spokane. Jason West is still facing misdemeanor charges for technically violating state law by solemnizing marriages for a number of same-sex couples, even though he knew that they lacked marriage licenses. Westâ€™s attorneys have argued that he was making a constitutional stand, but that question will have to wait to be answered until after prosecutors get a chance to make the misdemeanor case against him. West will have to stand trial on the 24 charges before the high court of New York will consider any constitutional claims.
Smushed Penis Case May Reach Massachusetts High Court
Now, I wonder whether thereâ€™s any other news about same-sex marriage we can talk about? Oh, just maybe. Just maybe thereâ€™s a fucking eight hundred pages of more news about god damned same-sex marriage which used to be my favorite subject to write aboutâ€”back in the dayâ€”because it was so multi-faceted and because it seemed, in one deceptively simple cause, to embrace all the political and social ambitions of a community and a civil rights movement. Indeed, to represent the ultimate expression of equality.
Oh, of course I still feel that way. Itâ€™s just that sometimes Iâ€™d like to write about something else once in a while, thatâ€™s all. For instance, Iâ€™d like to write about the woman who was sued by a former lover for adjusting her position in the middle of sexual intercourse and injuring his penis. Except I canâ€™t find the article, and I forget the details. I do remember that the case against her was thrown out, based on the premise that she couldnâ€™t have known that her sudden movement would have such calamitous results. Oh here it is! Itâ€™s an AP story.
The man, John Doe in court papers, sued the woman â€śclaiming she was negligent when she suddenly changed positions, landed awkwardly on him and fractured his penisâ€ť during a sexual encounter in the early 1990s. The man had to have an operation, and has never fully recovered. Last week, a Massachusetts state appellate court ruled in the womanâ€™s favor, noting that the defendant â€śdid not think about possible injury to the plaintiff when she changed her position.â€ť
It was an accident! Get over it, John! I do have to wonder about the two words â€ślanded awkwardly.â€ť That sounds like more than a simple change of position, doesnâ€™t it? Well, John is appealing to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, bless his heart.
As for same-sex marriage, I was going to tell you that two British women are asking for a declaratory judgment recognizing their Canadian marriage as legal in the U.K., and in Europe. That case is just beginning, and should be worth watching. An Irish lesbian couple who married in Canada also has a pending case against the Irish Revenue Agency, which did not recognize their marriage for tax purposes.
Oh, thereâ€™s more. Much more. Or there would be more were I not out of time and space, which I am.