Israelâ€™s top court ruled Tuesday that same-sex couples who legally marry outside the country must be allowed to register their unions with the government. The 6-1 decision by the High Court of Israel seems to open the door to equal marriage rights, at least for those couples who can afford the trip to Canada, or who qualify for marriage contracts in other countries like Belgium or the Netherlands.
Hereâ€™s the tricky part. As far as I understand it, the Courtâ€™s decision rested on the distinction between â€śregisteringâ€ť a marriage and â€śrecognizingâ€ť a marriage. The Israeli government doesnâ€™t conduct secular marriages, although couples who get married elsewhere and register at home are considered married for all intents and purposes. In this case, which concerned five couples who got hitched in Toronto, the Court seemed to duck the question of how their marriages would be treated under the law, preferring to focus on whether a registry clerk had the authority to question the legitimacy of a foreign marriage simply because the participants were both men or both women. The Court found that, no, a registry clerk could not question valid marriage documents, and anyone who presented same would go down on the books as married.
Given that heterosexual couples who marry abroad face no restrictions on their wedded bliss, itâ€™s likely that gay couples will also be treated as married based on their registrations. Although same-sex marriages canâ€™t be contracted in Israel, the basic equality provisions under the law would seem to guarantee that same-sex unions, once registered, would be given the same respect as their heterosexual counterparts.
Anyway, it sounds like good news. Hell, Iâ€™ll drink to it. If someone would please fetch me an appropriate beverage? Hello?
Campari and Soda with a Twist, Please
Itâ€™s so hard to get good help these days. I donâ€™t know how many times Iâ€™ve pulled the bell cord this morning and Withers seems to have simply vanished. Iâ€™d serve myself but I donâ€™t want to lose my concentration and the wine cellar scares me.
Thereâ€™s quite a bit of news this week, which is unfortunate since Iâ€™m not in a particularly professional frame of mind. Itâ€™s Tuesday, and no one is around and thereâ€™s a short week and I just came back from a three-day weekend in Kansas City, where my beloved girlfriend took me to the Savoy for stiff drinks and an exceptional dinner. Then we ran around the bars interviewing people for the Advocateâ€™s Out on the Street column and crashed in a luxurious downtown hotel room. She also produced a bottle of Taittinger and hid lovely jewelry under my pillow.
I have returned, in a morose mood, to piles and piles of news printouts, all of which must be read, digested and synthesized under the relentless pressure of time and of a self-centered editor who cares only for her own whimsical â€śprint deadlines.â€ť
I have news from the insane Alaskan legislature, the even-more-insane Mitt Romney, and an update on the interesting case that pits the courts of Vermont against the courts of Virginia. I even have a gay penguin story.
Then thereâ€™s a judge in Tulsa who accidentally divorced two lesbians (who did not put their first names on the uncontested paperwork), and a couple of mothers in New Jersey who will both be listed as parents on their pending babyâ€™s birth certificate.
The ACLU has won a free speech victory on behalf of some student journalists in California who wrote a story about their local GLBT community and saw it spiked for no reason by the school district honchos. And over in Okeechobee, Florida, the civil libertarians are going after a school district that refuses to recognize a gay straight alliance. (Sing with me! Youâ€™re doinâ€™ fine Okeechobee. Okeechooooobee, Okay! E E C H O B E E!)
Spud Stud Flies Under Media Radar
Want more? A judge has thrown out a lawsuit that sought to end domestic partner benefits at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, ruling that the anti-gay gadfly lawmaker who filed the legal challenge lacked standing to sue.Â And apparently Senator Larry Craig of Idaho was outed in mid-October in a blog story that got tons of coverage around the country, but was kept under wraps by his own state press.
Personally, I can no longer keep track of closeted gay Republicans, and I wasnâ€™t aware that the notoriously hostile Senator Craig had allegedly slept with four men in the Washington, D.C. area. Blogger Michael Rogers claimed to have â€ś100 percent solid evidenceâ€ť of the sexy trysts, but I guess whatever he had wasnâ€™t solid enough to make a noise in Boise. I donâ€™t even know what Rogersâ€™ evidence is, but Iâ€™m dishing up the dirt anyway. I love rumors! Plus, â€śLarryâ€ť is one of those gay names, donâ€™t you think?
Speaking of rumors, hereâ€™s one from Mike Johnson, senior legal counsel with the conservative Alliance Defense Fund, who says that inside the beltway scuttlebutt suggests â€śthat one of the nine U.S. Supreme Court justices has taken ill and may be considering announcing his retirement.â€ť I gather that the justice in question is the liberal lion of the Court, John Paul Stevens, now pushing 86 or 87. Losing Stevens is inevitable, but letâ€™s fervently hope that he recovers and hangs on until mid-January 2008. Thank God we control the Senate, but we still donâ€™t control the nominees.
So, which of these stories shall we examine in greater depth? Which one do you find most intriguing? Oh. Before we make that decision, letâ€™s review the case of the talking Jesus dolls that were donated to the Marine Corpâ€™s â€śToys for Totsâ€ť Christmas drive.
Apparently, the Marines declined the gift of 4,000 Son of God dolls, figuring that it would be too difficult to direct the items to Christian tots. But according to the Religion News Service, publicity over the rejection led the Corps to change their minds. Both the Beverly Hills Teddy Bear Co. and the Marines reportedly got hundred of calls and emails from Jesus doll aficionados, so the toy was restored to its original position in the T for T lineup.
The Jesus doll is capable of reciting six verses from the Gospels of Matthew and John, including the classic exhortation: â€śI tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.â€ť Beverly Hills Teddy Bear also markets a Mary doll, as well as Moses, David and Esther, all of whom spout snippets of Biblical wisdom. A â€śmust-buyâ€ť addition to your childâ€™s toy chest.
Sorry, but Iâ€™m picturing Moses and Jesus taking a joy ride in Barbieâ€™s sports car, leaving Ken face down on top of Esther in the dream house. All the dolls are naked. The dog is chewing on Maryâ€™s severed head and left arm.
â€śJimmy! Dinner time! Jimmy?â€ť (Pause) â€śWhat is this! My word!â€ť
â€śBut Mom, theyâ€™re going to the kingdom of Godâ€¦ Jesus saidâ€¦â€ť
â€śYou get out of your sisterâ€™s room and put those toys back on the shelf young manâ€¦â€ť
â€śBut Jesus saidâ€¦â€ť
â€śNo buts! Now say a prayer!â€ť
â€śOn your knees this minute!â€ť
Ice State Escapades
So, letâ€™s go to Alaska. In an inexplicable exercise of bad judgment, the state legislature just passed a bill that forbids the state from offering domestic partner benefits to public employees. This is their answer to the Alaska Supreme Court, which ordered the state to equalize employment benefits for gay and straight staff by Jan.1. Lawmakers also passed an â€śadvisoryâ€ť referendum that directs voters to determine whether or not the state should consider a constitutional ban on said domestic partner benefits.
Iâ€™m not a lawyer, but I was not aware that a state legislature has the power to enact a law in direct violation of a constitutional interpretation by the highest court. Yes, they have the authority to promote a constitutional amendment that will tie the courtâ€™s hands in the future, but meanwhile, the clockâ€™s ticking on the court order and I canâ€™t imagine that the justices will be particularly pleased with the third finger salute they just received from Juneau.
As for Mitt Romney, the governor of Massachusetts was not happy about the parliamentary tactic used to defeat an anti-gay marriage amendment by the state legislature the other day. But unfortunately for the lame duck executive, thereâ€™s not really a damn thing he can do about it.
That didnâ€™t stop the presidential wannabee from sending angry letters to the majority of the lawmakers who engineered the strategy, nor from grandstanding before anti-gay demonstrators and pledging to ask the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court to force a vote on the amendment.
In fact, itâ€™s highly unlikely that the justices will intervene in the situation, and the evasive methods used last week are not illegal or unconstitutional. Instead of taking a vote on the amendment, lawmakers recessed their constitutional convention until the last day of the session in January, at which point they are expected to adjourn without taking further action.Â As for Romney, he will soon be replaced by liberal Democrat, Devon Patrick.
The amendment required a yes vote from just 25 percent of the stateâ€™s representatives in order to advance. It would then have had to clear the same low bar in the following session, and it could have qualified for a public vote in 2008. Without a vote this year, the measure will die, obliging anti-gay factions to begin their campaign from scratch with another citizensâ€™ petition drive, if they so choose.
The Cult of the Penguin
Well, our time and space are up, and we have yet to examine the gay penguin story. Itâ€™s nothing new, really. Itâ€™s yet another controversy surrounding Roy and Silo, the Britney Spears/Kevin Federline of the penguin world. Personally, Iâ€™m kind of tired of hearing about RoySi. I mean, who cares about the personal lives of these boring celebrity penguins?
Yes, they got together and yes, they hatched a penguin chick. And yes, their book And Tango Makes Three became a best seller in the gay penguin genre. And yes, we heard all about their spectacular breakup when Silo dumped Roy and ran off with a female penguin named Scrappy.
The over-hyped birds are back in the headlines this week because some parents in Shiloh, Illinois are upset that the Tango book is featured on the shelves of the elementary school library. The parents object to the gay friendly theme and want the book replaced by Siloâ€™s new autobiography Finding My Way, a memoir that has been roundly condemned by opponents of so-called â€śreparative therapy.â€ť In addition, the parents say the book glorifies homosexual parenting, noting that since its publication Tango has been arrested for driving under the influence and has been featured in the tabloids as a â€śparty penguin.â€ť
Yawn. So what. All these penguins do is mess around with their nests and sit on eggs. And do we need another penguin movie? Not!