Breaking News for Marriage Equality!

24 02 2010

Maryland Attorney General opinion means that MD will recognize out-of-state same sex marriages. Heh, maybe I should’ve gotten married when I was in Iowa before moving to Maryland.

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Iowans are good folks

6 04 2009

I’m surprised and encouraged by the positive response I received when phone banking for One Iowa today.  Along with those supportive of same sex marriage, I also got a number of people opposed or unsure, but who were opposed to changing the constitution and willing to call their representatives to tell them that.  I also talked to several people who actually wanted to discuss the issue and know my opinion.  And as a bonus, I learned that we have an awesome LGBT resource center I knew nothing about.  I’m going to a potluck tomorrow and an art show on Friday there.

In other news, please remember that some of us have to pay for each and every text message we send or receive.  I get so tired of people who text me four or five times in quick succession either in response to my dialing a wrong # or when they have the wrong #.  If someone texts you something that doesn’t require a response, remember that sending “ok” in reply may be costing them money!





Holy Mackerel!

6 04 2009

Visit msnbc.com for Breaking News, World News, and News about the Economy

Yay! Contracts!





Some preliminary thoughts on the Varnum opinion

3 04 2009

At the moment, I’m in a fabulous and fascinating conference on CRT and ignoring it because I’m so excited about this opinion.  More thoughts to come, but I wanted to post a few initial observations.

1) The opinion was unanimous, and they applied intermediate scrutiny (not dismissing strict, but not reaching it because of the result under intermediate).

2) The language is absolutely beautiful.  Let me share my favourite quote: “Our responsibility… is to protect constitutional rights of individuals from legislative enactments that have denied those rights, even when the rights have not yet been broadly accepted, were at one time unimagined, or challenge a deeply ingrained practice or law viewed to be impervious to the passage of time.”  YES!  The whole history/tradition thing was a big deal in oral arguments, and I’m so glad that the Court continues to embrace an evolving notion of equal protection under the Iowa Constitution.  Iowa has an amazing history when it comes to equal protection, and this is just another example.

3) I loved their basically saying that it’s absolutely ridiculous to argue that there’s no classification being made here because gay people can marry someone of the opposite sex just like straight people.  Thank you!

4) They also did a great job on the procreation/child-rearing arguments, which were a big focus of this case.  Dennis Johnson gets big credit for the way he argued this point, and the Court bought it.

Finally, if you’d like a step-by-step breakdown summary of the ruling, you can read my article:

iowa supreme court mandates same-sex marriage





Excuse me a minute while I squeal…

3 04 2009

IOWA HAS GAY MARRIAGE!!!!!!





Quick Hits

28 11 2008

1) Fascinating interview up at Salon today with Richard Rodriguez, a gay Catholic Mexican-American author, on Proposition 8 and the role of religion.  He focuses on the relationship between the feminist movement and women gaining ground and the difficulties for churches founded on a male hierarchy, the reasons why religion has focused so much on Prop 8, and the cultural treatment of gay men in Mexican-American communities.  I highly recommend you give it a read.  I think I’m going to try to get a hand on his books soon.

2) The discussion board for Round Two of the lesbian book club, focusing on Irene Gonzalez-Frei’s Your Name Written on Water, is up now.  If you read the book, please pop in and give us your thoughts!





Democracy, Constitutionalism, and Where Gay Marriage Fits In

7 11 2008

I’ve been writing a seminar paper on the democracy deficit in international law and arguing that the system can be legitimate without democracy because constitutionalism (and some other things) fill the void.  I was thinking about the whole California issue last night and it occurred to me that it raises similar questions.  Of course, we’re all raised to think that democracy is great and wonderful and special, but it does have its problems.  One of those is that internationally, we tend to not accept democracy if it doesn’t get us the “right” leader.  We don’t have that problem so much at home, but democracy doesn’t always work so well nonetheless.  There’s a tension between “tyranny of the majority” and “tyranny of the minority.”  Those of us who are gay or lesbian don’t feel so hot about the majority ruling on our rights, after all.  We want to say that no matter what the majority of Californians think, it’s just not right.  On the other hand, Californians in favor of the Proposition don’t like the idea of a minority of gay people, and the justices in kahootz with them, deciding what marriage is.  As biased as I am, there are points on both sides.

A constitution is supposed to be a document that reflects a society’s fundamental principles.  Of course, at the start, it was a democratic instrument, and it can be altered, but we have to sacrifice a teeny bit of the democratic element to protect vulnerable minorities and ensure that certain basic principles aren’t just vetoed.  That’s why constitutions are so difficult to amend.  There’s an argument coming out now, which I think is a good one, that Prop 8 is invalid because California has two different types of amendment processes and the ballot initiative one isn’t supposed to be used for amendments that fundamentally alter the existing nature of the constitution.  I think this is a good idea, because the whole point of a constitution is to protect against temporary political surges.  The amendment process is supposed to say “hey, are you sure you want to do this?”  A simple majority vote doesn’t quite achieve that.  

I understand the whole “judges legislating” argument, but let’s remember one of the key purposes of judges – to uphold individual freedoms.  The thing about equality is, it benefits everyone.  And this may bug some of us, some of the time.  But on the whole, it’s a good principle.  It protects straight people, too.  Despite what some may think, it wouldn’t be constitutional for schools, for example, to promote gay marriage over straight marriage, or homosexuality over heterosexuality.  

Sometimes I’m uncomfortable with my anti-democratic ideas, because a constitution could of course enshrine principles that are oppressive.  But I don’t think this is an issue when it comes to equal protection. I think equal protection on the whole, works well, and the discrimination Californians are trying to enshrine in their constitution is based on bare animus towards a politically unpopular group – something the Supreme Court has rejected, and I think most Americans would reject (even Californians, if you put it in general terms).  The problem is the cultural moment, and we’ve had many cultural moments in our history like this one, which we’ve eventually gotten past.  As one blogger said recently, in 20 years we’re going to be embarrassed about this.