Friday, July 19, 2013

Left Side of the Aisle #117 - Part 4

Some news on same-sex marriage

Indiana officials are making a big point of saying that it's a felony in the state to submit false information on a marriage license application.

Because the applications include the designations “male applicant” and “female applicant,” no same-sex couple could truthfully fill out the form, and some folks - including me - suspect that the state is trying to head off suits challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage. You see, such suits are often initiated by filing for a marriage license and being denied - and by raising the possibility of three years in prison for filing a "fraudulent" license application, the state may be hoping to intimidate couples into backing off from a challenge.

The fact that this is happening at the same time that the right-wing-dominated legislature is trying to get a bill through to put a "marriage is one man-one woman" amendment to the state constitution on the November 2014 ballot adds to the suspicion, since the anti-justice forces may be thinking they don't need to stop a suit, just forestall it in the hope that the amendment will pass because striking down an amendment would be far harder than striking down a law.

That may work, it may not: The Prop8 case only directly affects California because the Supreme Court did not decide the case but rather let the Appeals Court ruling stand. But the original trial judge's findings of fact and opinion found that constitutional bans against same-sex marriage violate the US Constitution and Prop8 lawyer David Boies has argued that this ruling now applies nationwide.

Recent polls say a majority of Hoosiers oppose the proposed constitutional amendment prohibiting gay marriage and civil unions, but such majorities have faded before in the face of the fear-mongers, so watch this space.

On a happier note, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit against Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage – and Pennsylvania state Attorney General Kathleen Kane has announced that she won’t be defending the law.

Kane cited the Pennsylvania Constitution’s ban against discrimination and said, “It is now the time here in Pennsylvania to end another wave of discrimination.”

The governor and other right wingers in the state are of course furious with Kane, but she argues in response that if she is convinced that a law is unconstitutional under either the state or the federal constitution, she is bound by ethical standards to not defend it.

The ACLU is filing similar lawsuits in North Carolina and Virginia, and plans to do so in more states soon.

Finally, on the best news here, British lawmakers have passed a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in England and Wales. It only requires the signature of the Queen, which is really a formality and could happen by the end of the week.

The first same-sex weddings are expected to take place by next summer.


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