California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has asked the state supreme court to take direct control of the series of lawsuits known as the ‚Äúmarriage cases.‚ÄĚ That collection is led by Woo v. Lockyer, the main fight for same-sex marriage rights brought by the National Center for Lesbian Rights and others on behalf of a group of same-sex couples. Three other lawsuits pit the state of California against various gay and lesbian couples, and Lockyer has filed identical petitions in those cases as well.
Two more of the ‚Äúmarriage cases‚ÄĚ were brought by right wing groups against the City and County of San Francisco. Although these two pieces of litigation bring up slightly different issues, they were coordinated with the other four under the jurisdiction of San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer. Kramer ruled in favor of gay rights last April, suspending his opinion and sending the cases on to the state appellate court for the next review.
The two conservative attacks on San Francisco have not been assigned case numbers by the appellate court, and Lockyer could not petition to expedite these cases since the state of California is not a party to either one of them. Nonetheless, a lawyer at the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, Glen Lavy, told the local legal press that he wants all six cases to remain coordinated, although he and his colleagues ‚Äúare still trying to figure out what we are going to think‚ÄĚ about high court intervention.
As for the City and County of San Francisco, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the other same-sex couples, all support the attorney general‚Äôs June 29 petition, and hope to see the case put on the fastest possible track. Shannon Minter, legal director of the NCLR, said his group plans to file court papers of their own to back up the Attorney General on Wednesday.
The California Supreme Court (now lacking the arch-conservative Janice Rogers Brown who has been named to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia) is expected to respond fairly promptly. Given the importance of the subject and the strategic agreement on both sides of the case, there is every reason for the justices to accept direct review, cutting at least a year off the timeline for winning (or losing) the constitutional case for marriage in the Golden State.
Nonetheless, two state courts have declined such requests in identical situations. The high court of New Jersey and the high court of New York both forced same-sex couples to go through the entire legal process step by step. In New Jersey, the state appellate court ruled against Lambda Legal‚Äôs gay and lesbian plaintiffs last month, sending their long-running battle to the New Jersey Supreme Court at long last. New York‚Äôs two marriage cases, in turn, have just been appealed to two state appellate courts.
By contrast, the Washington Supreme Court accepted direct review last year, sped up the process, heard oral arguments in early March and is now about to rule on the constitutionality of state marriage laws at any time. If that case is successful, Washington could very well host same-sex marriages before this year is over.
United Church Of Christ Supports Same-Sex Marriage
The United Church of Christ made history on July 4, voting to support ‚Äúequal marriage rights regardless of gender‚ÄĚ at its general synod in Atlanta‚Äôs Georgia World Congress Center. The resolution passed on a voice vote after 45 minutes of debate, the New York Times reported.
‚ÄúOn this July 4, the United Church of Christ has courageously acted to declare freedom,‚ÄĚ said the church‚Äôs president, Rev. John H. Thomas, at a news conference, ‚Äúaffirming marriage equality, affirming the civil rights of gay‚ÄĒof same-gender couples‚Äďto have their relationships recognized as marriages by the state.‚ÄĚ
With 6,000 congregations and 1.3 million members, the United Church of Christ became the first significant Protestant denomination in the country to support same-sex unions, and by doing so, to unequivocally support the equality of gay men and women. According to its web site, the church has a history of firsts, having led the way in opposing slavery in 1700, ordaining a black man in 1785, and ordaining a woman in 1853. The watchwords of the denomination, ‚ÄúGod is still speaking,‚ÄĚ reflect the idea that God has an active and evolving relationship with the world and is not following a rigid script, the Times reports.
One Latino minister from Southern California, Hector Lopez, told the Times that he had long opposed same-sex marriage before conducting a dozen such services and witnessing the commitment and love of the couples involved. ‚ÄúI experienced a passionate conversion,‚ÄĚ he said. At the other extreme, a staunch opponent Rev. David Runnion-Bareford told the Atlanta Journal Constitution: ‚ÄúGod is still speaking, but they‚Äôre speaking for God. They‚Äôre going to redefine marriage speaking in the name of God. It‚Äôs quite arrogant. Who dropped dead and left them in charge?‚ÄĚ
eacting to the news, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force‚Äôs National Religious Leadership Roundtable said the United Church of Christ ‚Äúhas provided a coherent, powerful and prophetic voice for the millions of Americans from across the spectrum of faith traditions that support the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.‚ÄĚ
The church, the statement continued, ‚Äúhas challenged those who wrap their homophobia in the guise of ‚Äėdeeply held religious belief‚Äô to embrace a more just, honest and compassionate faith‚Ä¶. We see that God is indeed ‚Äėstill speaking‚Äô through the United Church of Christ.‚ÄĚ
Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese said the United Church of Christ has sent ‚Äúa powerful and historic message that all families should be loved and cherished,‚ÄĚ and that its ‚Äúcall for full equality in the all spheres of American life will be remembered and honored by future generations.‚ÄĚ
Bob‚Äôs Your Uncle
Mind if I share a pet peeve? It‚Äôs the ‚ÄúBob‚ÄĚ radio station in Austin that pretends to be owned by a real person named ‚ÄúBob,‚ÄĚ who came into a bunch of money (by implication), and who wanted to own a radio station so he could play all his favorite songs. You may have a Bob, or Jack, radio station in your town as well, because it‚Äôs all part of a Big Lie!
Here‚Äôs Business Week last April, asking what‚Äôs ‚Äúthe latest recipe for success in broadcast radio?‚ÄĚ Answer: ‚ÄúDump a thousand or so random songs into a playlist. Hit shuffle. Then, more often than not, kill the live DJ and replace him with a computer. The stations‚Äô monikers are common male names, like ‚ÄėBob,‚Äô ‚ÄėBen,‚Äô ‚ÄėHank,‚Äô and most commonly, ‚ÄėJack.‚Äô‚ÄĚ
We‚Äôve been had! There‚Äôs no Bob out there who actually cares if we like his taste in music. Jack did not grow up in our town and he doesn‚Äôt go to all our familiar restaurants and bars. Ben‚Äôs a marketing myth. No, I guess I didn‚Äôt really believe in Bob to begin with, but maybe a small part of me did.
Now listen up. The latest book on why we‚Äôre gay was published on Thursday, and contains the usual mix of genes and prenatal hormones. But we also learn that gay men have bigger dicks as a rule than straight men, because they are not absorbing testosterone in the womb and the excess hormone is winding up in the extremities of their developing fetal bodies. Who knew! I guess some people did, because an article in the Independent said that ‚Äúa number of studies have shown that gay men are better endowed than straight men.‚ÄĚ
Congratulations, guys. Now that should put a little damper on those manlier-than-thou, violent, twenty-somethings, who comprise the quintessential gay bashing cohort. Straight arrows, perhaps. But with smaller shafts. In fact, perhaps this explains why the poor little fellows are so insecure.
Bye Bi Guys
That aforementioned book, Born Gay, by two professors at the University of East London, also suggests that bisexuality in men doesn‚Äôt really exist, based on studies that used pornography to measure arousal. Men were either turned on by women, or by men, but no group reacted to both‚ÄĒ-not even the bisexuals. The observation was echoed in a New York Times article on Tuesday, which relied on several other researchers to support the same claim.
Obviously, however, the complexities of sexual orientation and attraction cannot be captured by a simple porn-o-meter, so make of these discussions what you will. Considering the tepid nature of much of the material that has been passed around under the oxymoronic rubric of ‚Äúlesbian porn,‚ÄĚ I would hate to be put to the test personally. God knows what category I‚Äôd end up in based on this kind of assessment.
Sex Police Reporting For Duty
Speaking of porn, perhaps you‚Äôve heard that the Bush administration has developed a host of rules and regulations that‚ÄĒwhen implemented‚ÄĒwill put an end to most small porn operations. According to an excellent article in Newsday, the Justice Department‚Äôs new red tape requires purveyors of X-rated images to keep a public office, open at least 20 hours a week, where records can be inspected if necessary. They are further ordered to keep documentation that proves the age of every person in every image. This applies to gay cyber services and hook up venues, even if the users are posting their own photos. As writer Patrick Moore opines, ‚Äúthe suppression of the porn industry may not stir patriotic outrage in most Americans, but the manipulation of regulatory powers to support a moral agenda should.‚ÄĚ
At least Alberto Gonzales has taken the drapes off the naked statues in the Great Hall of the justice building, a decision that was carried out without fanfare on June 24. He was not responsible for the sex regulations, which Ashcroft and company tacked onto a revision of child porn enforcement policies last year, but I can‚Äôt imagine he‚Äôll put any political capital into making life easier for cyber cruisers and the like. Not if he‚Äôs going to make it to the Supreme Court anytime soon.
Spin Cycle Begins
The conservative Christian right‚Äôs outrage at the prospect of Gonzales being named to the High Court has turned him into my number one candidate. I don‚Äôt care that he said the Geneva Accords were quaint. It‚Äôs as if our lunch menu included raw egg whites, liver, chocolate covered insects, Brussels sprouts, and the green stuff inside a lobster. There‚Äôs no grilled salmon or tenderloin available, period. But at least I can stomach the Brussels sprouts.
There was an article in the New York Times this week that said the GOP leaders are alarmed by the mania of the far right on the subject of the High Court vacancy, and are trying desperately to tone them down in order to create the impression that Democrats are crazed while Republicans are serious and poised.
‚ÄúEvery contact we have with these folks is ‚Äėstay on message‚Äô‚ÄĚ said Majority Leader Bill Frist‚Äôs Chief of Staff, Eric Ueland. ‚ÄúThe extremism of language, if there is to be any, should be demonstrably on the other side. The hysteria and the foaming at the mouth ought to come from the left.‚ÄĚ According to the Times, Republicans have already done their polls and focus groups, and discovered that Americans don‚Äôt want to hear insane tirades on abortion and gay rights. Instead, as the Times put it, they want ‚Äúto hear about the need for a fair and dignified confirmation process.‚ÄĚ No surprise that Bush and company have droned on about exactly that for the last week.
Where‚Äôs The Liberal Media?
And before we leave our friends in the White House, have you been following the news that Karl Rove is likely the man who leaked Valerie Plame‚Äôs status as an undercover CIA agent to the press? MSNBC‚Äôs Lawrence O‚ÄôDonnell reports that Time Magazine‚Äôs records show that Rove was Matthew Cooper‚Äôs source, a sieve of classified information that qualifies him as a felon under federal law. Where‚Äôs the scandale? Everyone, bang your silverware on the table together, and scream with me: ‚ÄúIndictment! Indictment!‚ÄĚ
Anyway, check out O‚ÄôDonnell‚Äôs long article in the Huffington Post, Arianna Huffington‚Äôs online newspaper that I had never seen before. Not only is it great, but Huffington herself confesses to that sly desire to see Gonzales nominated, just to spite the Christian right.
‚ÄúNo matter how knee-jerk appealing that ‚Äėenemy of my enemy‚Äô stuff may be,‚ÄĚ Huffington finally concludes, ‚Äúultimately there is only one correct response to the talk of a Gonzalez nomination, and that is to snap out of the reverie and, for radically different reasons, align oneself with Dobson, Bauer, Schlafly et al and fight like hell to make sure that the Torture Guy never slips on that lifer‚Äôs black robe.‚ÄĚ
But, if not Torture Guy, who?
A Thousand Points Of Light
This has not been a cheery column. But at least I‚Äôve spared you some tedious news stories involving state legislative activity: (Oregon civil unions bill might make it to the state senate this week.) Marriage statistics: (Provincetown has held its 1,000 gay wedding!) and international trivia: (Muslim lawmaker in New Zealand ‚Äúcondones the stoning executions of homosexuals and adulterers.‚ÄĚ)
Say what? Oh, it turns out he‚Äôs a nice guy who voted in favor of the Civil Union Bill. He just has strong religious views.
‚Äď TXT Newsmagazine