Thursday, March 06, 2014

149.5 - Update: Same-sex Marriage

Update: Same-sex Marriage

Next I have an update on some news surrounding an issue I've talked about a lot recently, because there has been so much news around it: same-sex marriage rights.

I mentioned I guess it was two weeks ago a ruling by federal judge John Heyburn that Kentucky's refusal to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in other states or countries was an unconstitutional violation of the equal protection guarantees of the US Constitution. He gave the state until March 20 to implement his order.

On March 4, Kentucky state Attorney General Jack Conway announced he would not appeal the decision, saying doing so would be defending discrimination. He is the seventh state attorney general to decline to appeal rulings favoring the rights of same-sex couples. The others are the attorneys general of California, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Virginia, and Oregon.

In response, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said latrer the same day that the state will hire outside attorneys to pursue an appeal. Attorneys for those who filed the suit said they aren't concerned with who handles the appeal because the legal analysis is the same either way and they are confident they will win.

Meanwhile, Texas became the latest domino to fall: US District Court Judge Orlando Garcia ruled last week that Texas' ban on same-sex marriage and its refusal to recognize such marriage performed elsewhere are both unconstitutional, citing the same Supreme Court precedent and constitutional principles that other judges have.

Garcia wrote in the order that
[w]ithout a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our U.S. Constitution.
He acknowledged that "regulation of marriage has traditionally been the province of the states," but added that "any state law involving marriage or any other protected interest must comply with the United States Constitution." Which would seem to be obvious but doesn't seem to penetrate the minds of the right wing.

As is common in such matters, Garcia stayed the effect of his order pending appeal.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott said oh, yeah, the state will appeal the ruling - but also said there is no rush to do so because of the stay. Which makes me wonder how confident he is of winning on appeal: You'd think if he was confident, he'd want to file the appeal, get the order overturned, and be done with it. He sounds more like he's dragging his feet.

Nationwide, seven states have seen their same-sex marriage bans struck down in whole or in part in the past 65 days. And there may be more coming: Similar legal battles are underway in federal courts in 24 states.

One of those states is Michigan, where the state is fighting a suit to overturn its ban on marriage justice. There, the administration of Gov. Rick SnidelyWhiplash is trying the tack of "It's for the sake of the children!" and claiming that kids thrive best when raised by a married mommy and daddy.

Now, one obvious and should be fatal flaw in this is that the presence or lack of children or of the intent to be parents has never been related to recognition of the right to get married, otherwise the infertile and the elderly, among others, would likewise be banned from marrying. If the answer is, oh, that doesn't count, this is only about cases where children are present, then the state would have to be equally opposed to single-parent families and so taking steps to ban divorce. Which of course it's not.

Michigan's case was not helped by the fact that one of its two key witnesses was sociologist Mark Regnerus of the University of Texas, whose claim to have shown that children are better off with opposite-sex parents than with same-sex parents has been dismissed by the America Sociological Association as fundamentally flawed on conceptual and methodological grounds and even his employer, the Sociology Department of the University of Texas distanced itself from his findings.

In fact, if you dig into his findings and actually compare families where the only real difference is same-sex versus opposite-sex, you discover that what the data says is not that opposite-sex families are better for children than same-sex families, but that stable families are better for them than unstable families. And since recognizing same-sex marriage would help such relationships to be more stable, you could actually argue that his research comes out in favor of marriage equality.

On a more subtle type of advancement, in a new statement Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper has referred to supporting same-sex marriage for the first time. Until now, he has supported civil unions and just recently stressed that civil unions were not about changing the state's constitutional definition of marriage. But now, he's referred to everyone's right to "marriage." Apparently, like the Amazing Mr. O did, he has "evolved" on the issue.

Finishing with something with a Colorado connection, we have the Bob Dylan Subterranean Homesick Blues "don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows" award. I've discussed the fact that federal judges in Utah and Oklahoma have issued ruling striking down those states' bans on same-sex marriage. Those decisions are on appeal to the 10th circuit court in Denver.

Now, a group of twenty Republicans, led by former Sens. Alan Simpson of Wyoming and Nancy Kassebaum of Kansas, has issued a friend of the court brief in support of the plaintiffs - that is, in support of legalizing same-sex marriage in Utah and Oklahoma.

In its conclusion, the brief said:
It is precisely because marriage is so important in producing and protecting strong and stable family structures that (we) do not agree that the government can rationally promote the goal of strengthening families by denying civil marriage to same-sex couples.
The fight's not over, not by a long shot, but when we are now seeing right-wingers rely on right-wing arguments and quoting Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater in support of marriage justice, you know which way the wind is blowing: On this cause, we are - justice is - winning.
Sources: marriage/NwRZByvLI0bwNfJabgxy3J/story.html

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