Genderless Marriage


In an interesting turn of events, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals which is currently deciding the Federal Constitutionality of Proposition 8, which in fact is now a Constitutional Amendment to the California Consitution, has asked the Califonria Supreme Court to weigh in on the standing issue.  Proposition 8, currently embodied in the Califonria Consitution in Article I, section 7.5 of the declaration of rights, reads: (more…)

I’m not certain what’s going on with John Dehlin and his Mormon Matters Blog—but from all accounts it looks to be a massacre in the classic sense of the word.  There are several good posts up already in the Bloggernacle about this debacle where you can get most of the details.  See Faith Promoting Rumor’s Elder Jensen and the Exploitation of the Sacred Moments, and Times and Seasons post Credible Criticism.  I’m sure there are likely others as well. (more…)

A quirky editorial today from the San Francisco Chronicle on jilting equality:

A three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals took the cautious route Monday by putting same-sex weddings on hold until it can review a ruling that would have allowed them to proceed this week.

Yes, well that’s the whole point of American appellate jurisprudence: To review rulings of lower courts.

Opponents of same-sex marriage had made a last-minute appeal, arguing that the resumption of such weddings would undermine the traditional understanding of marriage and the encouragement of responsible procreation.

They made a timely appeal based on the court’s deadlines for filing appeals. And regardless what one thinks of the merits of the appeal, given the importance of the issue, and the magnitude of what genderless marriage advocates want–the wholesale redefinition of marriage all over the United States–such an appeal was not only inevitable, but prudent.

The arguments for preserving marriage discrimination in the state Constitution, as prescribed by Proposition 8, were thoroughly reviewed and debunked in Judge Vaughn Walker’s Aug. 4 ruling that found no rational basis or state interest to support such a restriction.

So, had Judge Walker’s decision gone the other way, would the Chronicle have been content to let the decision rest with the lone opinion of one federal district court judge? Not likely. Genderless marriage activists want Judge Walker’s single opinion to set the constitutional standard for their social agenda because they realize that as the appellate process unfolds Judge Walker’s analysis is likely to face much more legal scrutiny than it thus far has from an adoring media and pop culture.

Walker’s reasoning was supported by this state’s experience when 18,000 same-sex couples were married before the passage of Prop. 8 in Nov. 2008. Those marriages produced no discernible harm to the state of heterosexual unions or the ability of Californians to bear children and raise them in a supportive home environment. What the passage of Proposition 8 did was create two classes of gays and lesbians: Those whose right to marry the partner of choice was asserted in a small window of time, and those whose fundamental right to marriage was taken away by a margin of 600,000 votes out of the 13.4 million that were cast.

Except none of this meets the constitutional test in this case. Those defending California’s Constitutional Amendment defining marriage only have to show that they have a rational basis for the definition. This is not a difficult standard to meet, and in fact has been met in various courts all across the country prior to this particular decision.

Barring intervention from the U.S. Supreme Court, the three-judge appellate panel’s ruling will allow this two-tiered system to endure until at least December. There will be no rush to the altar, no rush to remedy an entrenched wrong. History is on hold.

A bit long on hyperbole, and short on rational analysis. There is no two tiered system. In California registered domestic partners enjoy all the law offers. This has not changed, and will not change for the foreseeable future. Hyperbole, not history is fortunately on hold, for now . . .

The Episcopal Church again made headlines with its recent ecclesiastical ordinations.  Writes Mitchell Landsberg of the Los Angeles Times: (more…)

Reed Cowan, a Miami film maker has produced a documentary on the Church and it’s involvement in the Proposition 8 campaign, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.  It apparently premiers today at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT. (more…)

The Los Angeles Times reports that proponents of Proposition 8 have filed an emergency appeal to the United States Supreme Court to enjoin the federal district court trying the lawsuit challenging Proposition 8 from showing the trial on You Tube after the day’s proceedings:

Reporting from Washington – The lawyers defending California’s Proposition 8 and its ban on same-sex marriage urged the U.S. Supreme Court today to block video coverage of next week’s trial in San Francisco.

They filed an emergency appeal with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy and argued that their client’s right to a fair trial would be jeopardized if each day’s proceedings were put on YouTube.

The trial “has the potential to become a media circus,” wrote attorney Charles Cooper. “The record is already replete with evidence showing that any publicizing of support for Prop. 8 has inevitably led to harassment, economic reprisal, threats, and even physical violence. In this atmosphere, witnesses are understandably quite distressed at the prospect of their testimony being broadcast worldwide on YouTube.”

I’m not sure I agree with this analysis.  The trial isn’t going to be the typical trial in the sense one might think.  There likely will be many experts and academics testifying as witnesses rather than the run of the mill voters who participated in the election in November 2008.  There’s less likely to be a media circus in a federal court room like the one we saw in the O.J. Simpson trial.  Those who think that will be the case haven’t spent much time inside a federal court room.  Most federal judges run a pretty tight ship, and the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and other local court rules, including the judge’s ability to run his courtroom like his own personal kingdom will keep the media and others in order.

Frankly it just looks bad for the Proposition 8 proponents to want to hide this trial from the public.  I think the federal challenge to Proposition 8 has an uphill battle.  But, regardless, I’m a big believer in open and public access to our judicial system.  I think cameras in the courtroom are not only appropriate, but more and more likely in the future.  Let’s let the world see the finest judicial system at its best, particularly in this case when the arguments are going to be ground breaking, unique, and critically important.

The Mercury News has a good article overview on the upcoming trial.   Should be interesting.

The New York Times reports that the New Jersey Senate defeated the gay marriage bill today.  It is good to see this issue come before legislatures where it is better suited than the courts.  It is even better when the voters themselves get to express their views, since it is such an important issue that essentially redefines civil marriage.  Fortunately for gay couples in New Jersey they do have in place civil unions which grant the same rights to gay couples that straight married couples enjoy.  Therefore, no rights are lost:

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey’s state Senate has defeated a bill to legalize gay marriage, leaving it unlikely the state will have a gay marriage law in the very near future.

The bill needed 21 votes to pass; only 14 senators approved the measure Thursday.

Gay rights advocates had pushed hard to get the bill passed before Jan. 19, when Republican Chris Christie becomes governor. Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine promised to sign the bill if approved by the Legislature but Christie has said he would veto it.

New Jersey offers civil unions that grant the legal rights of marriage to gay couples. Five states — Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Vermont — allow gay marriage.

This is another democratic defeat for the gay marriage movement, which in the recent past has been buoyed by judicial opinions creating gay marriage rights where none have existed and redefining civil marriage laws.

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