Tag: marriage

Judge Richard Posner

Posted by – August 27, 2014

Really, you have to hear some of these exchanges between 7th Circuit Court judge Richard Posner and the two lawyers arguing for keeping the ban on same sex marriages in Indiana and Wisconsin. Really, listen. The guy just won’t let up, and keeps asking for evidence for what or whom same sex marriage harms, and he gets a whole lot of nothing as answers.

Amazing stuff. Tradition isn’t a good enough reason, of course, and that argument was defeated both by Loving v. Virginia and in the Goodridge decision.

And honestly, they don’t seem to have any evidence whatsoever that Posner thinks offsets the harm done to the children of same sex couples.

Mindblowing.

This is, by the way, the same court that shot down WI’s attempt to deny transgender inmates medically prescribed treatments by way of hormones, and the appeal for this case was turned down later by SCOTUS.

“Just Like That” (Those Oprah Guests)

Posted by – July 15, 2014

Oh, Oprah. She did one of her “Where Are They Now?” editions and it turns out Christine, a woman who had been in a marriage in which both husband and wife would come out as a gay, later met a woman named Jacki.

Jacki and Christine fell in love. Awesome.

Jacki transitioned to male. Also awesome.

But while being interviewed on the show they said that Jacki transitioned in order to marry Christine, and so they “looked into transgender” and found out that “just like that” their marriage would guarantee that Christine would receive Jacki’s pension and social security.

Just like that.

M guess is that the story is being wildly misrepresented: that in fact Jacki already had some gender stuff going on, a latent or not so latent need to transition, and in these days of defeated DOMAs and lifted bans and stays on ceremonies and the murky, uneven status of same sex marriages, they thought transiton + marriage would guarantee them certain rights they could not be as sure of as a same sex couple.

The first red flag for me: Did anyone notice that Christine says Jacki is “the most authentic person I know”? I mean, is that not in the “things cis people say about trans people” list?

Which maybe it will, for them. I hope it provides them the stability and recognition of their relationship everyone deserves.

What bothers me, of course, is the way it’s been framed as the “shocking steps” one couple took. Not shocking. When people try to gain the legal rights afforded others, it’s not shocking at all. It’s entirely normal and should be totally expected. And if transition itself is still shocking to anyone — holy crap, come out from under your rock.

The problem is that many, many trans people have found their marriages declared legally null over the years – and it is far more likely for a marriage like theirs, in which both people’s sex declared at birth is the same. The status of my own marriage — which is the type that is legally upheld by the courts because we had different sexes listed on our birth certificates and got married long before my wife took the legal or medical or even social steps to transition — still makes me nervous precisely because of all of the legal details of the status of some marriages in this country.

What I suspect – and what I don’t know for sure – is that Jacki is one of very many people whose gender was already masculine of center, before meeting Christine, and whose life as a masculine woman often brought a ton of bullshit – barred entry to the ladies’ room, issues with clothes shopping, misgendering, etc. Dealing with that, plus his love for Christine maybe encouraged him to legally change his gender precisely because living with a non normative gender can be such a pain in the ass legally and otherwise. That is, there are plenty of people for whom a legal transition to male is not a huge undertaking because they are already men in so many ways. My wife’s legal transition was definitely influenced by the fact that it was getting more and more difficult for her to deal with TSA and other boneheads who had the right to judge whether or not her gender on her ID sufficiently matched her gender in person. So despite leaving for years as a woman with a male ID, we went through the legal hullabaloo to get hers changed.

The way they are presenting their story reminds me of the woman who claimed being stung by a bee caused her to transition (and who, in all fairness, said the anaphylactic shock set off a hormonal reaction, etc. etc.).

You don’t need a reason, folks. You’re trans and transition because you are.

You’re in love and want to be married because you are and you do.

Let’s please stop making excuses for gaining recognition for our lives, identities, relationships and families.

Important Italian Court Marriage Ruling

Posted by – June 12, 2014

I’ve been anxiously awaiting this news, and I’m happy to say it’s good news, at long last.

Italy’s highest court has ruled that Alessandra Bernaroli can stay married to her wife after her legal transition to female.

Their marriage had been annulled, and then was un-annulled, and then got passed up to the highest court in the country.

Congratulations, Alessandra & Alessandra! With any luck, this trans marriage will pave the way for Italy to recognize same sex marriages eventually, too.

“I never realized that I was like a second-class citizen . . . until I wasn’t one anymore.”

Posted by – June 8, 2014

So the weddings have been taking place since the news that the ban was struck down here in WI, and there have been beautiful photos – like the one of the Madison cops bringing cakes to couples getting married on the courthouse steps – and some very interesting articles.

But it was this one sentence from this article that really got to me, because that’s how it feels even for us. Despite having been legally married in the state of New York in 2001 – because we were legally gendered heterosexual at the time – we have felt such a deep envy when NY & so many other states started recognizing and performing same sex unions.

Really, it’s a huge sigh of relief, even for us, who have had recognition from the Federal government for forever but who feel insecure no matter what we’re doing in-state. It is impossible not to feel like a second class citizen when you don’t know if an emergency room attendant is going to recognize your relationship or not.

So happy weddings, happy Pride, happy Wisconsin.

NC Clergy Bring It

Posted by – April 28, 2014

Oh, this is all kinds of awesome.

“The core protection of the First Amendment is that government may not regulate religious beliefs or take sides in religious controversies,” says Jonathan Martel, a partner at Arnold & Porter LLP. “Marriage performed by clergy is a spiritual exercise and expression of faith essential to the values and continuity of the religion that government may regulate only where it has a compelling interest.”

Growing numbers of faith traditions, including those represented among the plaintiffs, bless the marriages of same-sex couples. “As senior minister, I am often asked to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples in my congregation. My denomination – the United Church of Christ – authorizes me to perform these ceremonies. But Amendment One denies my religious freedom by prohibiting me from exercising this right,” says Rev. Joe Hoffman, Senior Minister of First Congregational United Church of Christ in Asheville and a plaintiff in the case.

Amendment One is, of course, the law barring same sex marriages in NC.

Wedding!

Posted by – February 27, 2014

An old friend I went to high school with got married in NYC today, and he posted this awesome photo of him & his groom. It made me smile every time it came across my Facebook feed, so I thought I’d share it withall of you.

Congratulations, Dominic & Neil!

 

Littleton Undone

Posted by – February 18, 2014

A Texas court handed down a ruling on the Araguz case the other day that basically undid the travesty of the Littleton case from back in 1999, so it’s exciting that this court decided Nikki Araguz was in fact a woman and that she was legally, heterosexually married to her husband at the time of his death.

The appeals court said more expert testimony on this issue is needed as the only such testimony presented was an affidavit by one of Nikki Araguz’s doctors, who wrote that she was medically and psychologically female as a result of her compliance with the standards of care adopted by the World Professional Association of Transgender Health.

The three-judge panel also wrote that changes made in 2009 to the Texas Family Code that allowed transgendered people to use proof of their sex change to get a marriage license legislatively overruled a previous court decision that had been used as legal precedent in such cases.

Congratulations, Nikki!

ACLU Files Lawsuit Seeking Freedom to Marry for Wisconsin Couples

Posted by – February 3, 2014

The ACLU has set the ball rolling:

MADISON, Wis. – The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Wisconsin and the law firm of Mayer Brown filed a federal lawsuit today on behalf of four same-sex couples who wish to marry in Wisconsin or are seeking recognition for their legal out-of-state marriages.

The plaintiffs include Roy Badger and Garth Wangemann of Milwaukee, who have been together 37 years. Three years ago Wangemann had much of his right lung removed after being diagnosed with lung cancer. Following the operation, a complication occurred and he was put into a medically induced coma for nearly a month. His progress was uncertain, and Wangemann’s father attempted to override Badger’s power of attorney to have his son taken off life support. Before that could happen, Wangemann recovered.

“What upset me the most was that after all of our time together, our relationship was not fully recognized by my family and there was a real danger that my wish to give Roy the ability to make decisions about my care could be stripped away,” Wangemann said. “Thankfully, our wishes held in this case. But without the protections that come with marriage, the consequences can literally be a matter of life or death.”

Other plaintiffs in the case are Carol Schumacher and Virginia Wolf of Eau Claire; Charvonne Kemp and Marie Carlson of Milwaukee; and Judi Trampf and Katy Heyning of Madison.

Wisconsin’s ban on marriage for same-sex couples prevents them from securing the hundreds of protections that state law provides to married couples. Wisconsin law subjects same-sex couples to an additional harm that is unique among states that deny same-sex couples the freedom to marry. The only way for Wisconsin couples to get the federal protections that come with marriage is for them to go out of state to marry. But Wisconsin law says that may be a crime punishable by nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine.

Among the plaintiff couples, Schumacher and Wolf were legally married in another state, raising the possibility of prosecution back at home. The lawsuit challenges the overall ban as well as the application of this criminal law to same-sex couples who are forced to choose between being denied federal protections and the risk of criminal prosecution.

“These families simply want the security and recognition that only marriage provides,” said Larry Dupuis, legal director of the ACLU of Wisconsin. “They have built their lives and raised children here. It is wrong for the state to treat these loving and committed couples as second-class citizens, and it is cruel to place them in a catch-22 where they can’t even travel elsewhere to obtain federal protections without their marriage being labeled a crime.”

The lawsuit will be filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. The plaintiffs allege that the state’s constitutional marriage ban sends a message that lesbians, gay men, and their children are viewed as second-class citizens who are undeserving of the legal sanction, respect, protections, and support that heterosexuals and their families are able to enjoy through marriage.

“More and more Americans over the past few years accept the idea that same-sex couples and their families shouldn’t be treated differently than other families,” said John Knight, staff attorney with the ACLU Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender Project. “It is our hope that Wisconsin will soon join the other 17 states in granting the freedom to marry.”

Trans Marriage Precedent

Posted by – December 26, 2013

I was so excited to read this I got shivers. A couple in Indiana got divorced after the husband transitioned to female, and were working out an amicable agreement when a circuit court judge rejected their divorce petition on the grounds that the marriage became illegal due to her transition.

But Indiana’s Court of Appeals said: not so fast.

The court ruled the marriage must be dissolved through traditional means because at the time of their wedding Davis and Summers fully complied with Indiana’s marriage law, which reads, “Only a female may marry a male. Only a male may marry a female.”

This is GREAT news, and great precedent, for those of us living in states with a ban on same sex marriages whose marriages were entered into before transition.

That is, ME. It’s great news for us and for couples like us.

 

 

Domestic Partner Benefits Considered By WI State Supreme Court

Posted by – October 24, 2013

So this happened in Wisconsin today: arguments were made to & for Wisconsin’s domestic partner benefits & registry.

At issue is whether domestic partnerships create a legal status that is “substantially similar” to marriage and therefore violate the state’s 2006 constitutional ban on gay marriage.

Gov. Jim Doyle signed the state’s domestic partnership registry into law as part of the 2009-2011 biennial budget. Domestic partnerships grant same-sex couples limited benefits, including visitation rights in hospitals and the right to inherit each other’s assets.

Julaine Appling, the executive director of Wisconsin Family Action, a socially conservative organization that opposes homosexuality, unsuccessfully petitioned the Supreme Court to take jurisdiction in an original action in 2009. The domestic partner registry has since been ruled constitutional by Dane County Judge Daniel Moeser, with that decision upheld by a state appeals court.

The appeals court ruled that, when considering eligibility requirements, formation requirements, rights, obligations, and termination requirements, “the ‘legal status’ of a domestic partnership is not ‘substantially similar’ to the ‘legal status’ of marriage.”

The idea is this: domestic partner benefits offer a few basic rights to same sex couples which come nowhere near what marriage bestows, but these wingnuts have taken the case to court in order to prove that even something as simple as hospital visitation “mimics” marriage which is expressly forbidden by the state’s super-DOMA.

Of course the problem is that Wisconsin has a super DOMA in the first place, and it can’t be challenged, even, until 2015.

Honestly, the whole fracas is embarrassing, especially now that it’s obvious which way the wind is blowing, but these conservative wingnuts are digging their heels in deeper now that it’s apparent they are losing the war (even if/when they win the battles).

*sigh*

Honestly, it’s like living in the Dark Ages, but cheers to my friends Kathy & Ann who are willing to stand up for their rights.

Locally

Posted by – June 26, 2013

Occasionally, we do some things around here to increase queer visibility.

SCOTUS: DOMA Sucks and So Does Prop 8

Posted by – June 26, 2013

Which many of us knew already, but which the SCOTUS has now, finally, ruled on.

So DOMA is no longer Constitutional – equal protection and all that – and the previous ruling that Prop 8 was unconstitutional has been upheld, too.

It’s a good day to be same sex married.

Even for those of us who are same sex married with hetero privilege – we got married when she was still a boy one – it’s a huge relief. It’s not just about the law – it’s about the message: our marriage is equal.

(The rest of us who live in suck states with DOMAs or superDOMAs in the state constitutions have to move next. That includes Wisconsin.)

MN’s Birthday Present

Posted by – May 13, 2013

And… Minnesota gives me the best 44th birthday present!

 

#13?: NZ

Posted by – April 17, 2013

New Zealand has made same sex marriage legal. They’re the 13th country in the world to do so. & Guess what? The US isn’t one of them.

(I can’t quite sort if they are the 13th or 14th. Seeing conflicting #s from good sources, so here’s a list.)

  1. Argentina
  2. Belgium
  3. Canada
  4. Denmark
  5. Iceland
  6. Netherlands
  7. Norway
  8. Portugal
  9. Spain
  10. South Africa
  11. Sweden
  12. Uruguay
  13. New Zealand

Why Trans People Need Marriage Equality, Too

Posted by – March 30, 2013

So it turns out that Thomas Beatie is not being granted his divorce, for the worst possible reason: his marriage has been declared invalid, and a marriage that never existed can’t end in divorce.

This is one of the many reasons trans people need marriage equality: so that we do not have to exist in a this legally unclear environment where a judge can decide whether or not we were ever married, even if we were for 20 years, like Christie Lee Littleton was.

That said, Beatie’s case is a little different – not that it does him much good – in that what Beatie had or had not done to establish his identity as male at the time of the marriage was unclear:

“The decision here is not based on the conclusion that this case involves a same-sex marriage merely because one of the parties is a transsexual male, but instead, the decision is compelled by the fact that the parties failed to prove that (Thomas Beatie) was a transsexual male when they were issued their marriage license,” he wrote in Friday’s ruling.

What’s more interesting to me as a gender studies person is this detail:

Beatie is eager to end his marriage, but the couple’s divorce plans stalled last summer when Gerlach said he was unable to find legal authority defining a man as someone who can give birth.

precisely because it involves the definition of a “man” – which, as any good gender studies student knows, is a cultural construct in the first place. (So is male, but far fewer people seem to understand that sex, or biological gender, is also culturally constructed.) As a feminist, I’m particularly concerned when the ability or inability to bear children starts getting involved in definitions of who is or isn’t a woman or a man.

But same sex marriage would, at least in some way, prevent this kind of bullshit at least in part, as it wouldn’t matter if Beatie was or was not a man at the time of his marriage. The issue of whether he could be a man and also give birth to his own children is, effectively, a different issue altogether.

(Interestingly, Beatie lives in AZ, where he could also, very shortly, be facing the fact that he may be legally required to use the ladies’ room, depending on what it does or doesn’t say on his birth certificate.)

Howard University Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of Same Sex Marriage

Posted by – March 4, 2013

Wow, this is cool news. Howard University’s Law School has filed an amicus brief in support of same sex marriage. (An amicus brief is filed by an amicus curiae, or “someone who is not a party to a case who offers information that bears on the case but that has not been solicited by any of the parties to assist a court. . . a way to introduce concerns ensuring that the possibly broad legal effects of a court decision will not depend solely on the parties directly involved in the case.)

from the Summary of Argument:
Today, public debate over interracial unions ha sgenerally died since this Court’s Loving v. Virginia decision in 1967 such that we are now long past the time when anyone would seriously claim that race-based marriage equality threatens the moral fabric of our civilization, is contrary to nature, or is harmful to children. Yet these arguments, however discredited, have not disappeared altogether.Instead, they have been recycled to oppose same-sex marriage.

This brief demonstrates that there is nothing new about the arguments marshaled to oppose same-sex marriage; the very same arguments – eventually categorically rejected in Loving v.Virginia — were assembled in opposition to interracial marriage. As a society, we have rightfully come to embrace full human dignity for interracial couples and individuals. We should do no less for same-sex couples.

To which I can only reply: YES. This is especially cool, coming as it does, from an historically black university.

Mr. & Mr.

Posted by – February 20, 2013

I so love that this guy wrote to the AP to let them know that he & his husband use the term “husband” with each other. Apparently the AP is supposed to not use the terms for same sex couples unless those people use it themselves.

So he went on record and wrote to the AP to let them know that in his case, and in his husband’s case, they should go ahead and use “husband”.

I understand that the AP will only refer to my lawfully wedded husband, Michael Gallagher, as my “husband” if you are aware that we have regularly used those terms.

As this determination is being made on a case-by-case basis, I wanted to let you know, for your records, that we use these terms.

You can write to them to: Tom Kent, the standards editor, tkent@ap.org, [and] David Minthorn, AP stylebook editor, dminthorn@ap.org.

I really do want to write to them but I think trying to explain that we’ve gone from husband & wife to wives to sometimes just “legal spouse” – because the legally married part often needs to be underlined – might just throw the AP if they’re still pussyfooting around couples who are, and stay, the same legal gender.

And we in the trans community wonder why journalists get it wrong so often.

Why Trans Partners Should Tell Their Stories

Posted by – January 31, 2013

The other day I published a brief interview with Christine Benvenuto, who wrote a book about her marriage to and divorce from a trans woman.

I blurbed her book, let me admit up front.

I blurbed it because despite some transphobic tendencies (not respecting her ex’s change to feminine pronouns, most notably), I think it’s important that partners get their stories out there – as important as it is for trans people to do so. I’ve been enabling the latter for a long time, and I’m proud to have done so. But I see so often that partners who are having a hard time or who are bitter about a divorce or angry about transition are told – in trans community spaces – to STFU, pretty much. And that really sucks, a lot.

The thing is, nothing about her memoir struck me as patently false. I’ve known a lot of trans women and a lot of wives of trans women over the past 13 years. A LOT. And Benvenuto’s story, just as she told it, is pretty goddamned typical. I have seen behavior by trans women that is sexist, misogynist bullshit. I have seen trans women spend their kids’ college money on transition. I have seen 401Ks emptied. I have seen all of that, and more.

I have also seen the wives of transitioning women take out all their rage on their trans spouse – financially, emotionally, even physically. I have seen rage that I didn’t even know was possible in the wives of trans women. And I have seen them be unwilling to let it go.

That is, I have seen a lot of awful behavior on both sides of this coin. Trans people are not excused because they’re trans just as women are not excused because they’re women. We are all faced with loss and betrayal and heartbreak and all of the emotions that accompany those things. How you choose to express them is entirely up to you.

I can buy the argument that now is not the best time to be airing our dirty laundry in public. Maybe it is. Maybe right now is the “let’s put a good face on it so the public grants us our rights” period for trans issues. But I don’t think there ever is that time, to be honest. I think that’s the kind of thinking that results in shaming some members of a community over other members of that community.

Because, I would argue, the crap behavior of some trans women who come from lives of male privilege – & here I’m specifically talking about certain kinds of later transitioning trans women – is a fact. It’s not made up. I can promise you that. And what we want, as a community, is for trans people to be happy. For them to have people to love and who love them. For them to be accepted and loved by their families.

And transition after 20 years of marriage is very, very rarely going to make that happen. It just isn’t.

So if we as a community want trans people to be happy, people need to know what kind of devastation a late transition can cause on families and wives and communities and of course on the trans people themselves. There is so, so much pain, on everyone’s part. People need to know it. People need to transition younger so that some of this can be prevented.

That said: partners deserve to tell their stories because they’re their stories. There are other reasons, but really, that’s the nut of it. There is no saying who is “right” when it comes to he said/she said. There never is. But as far as I could tell, Sex Changes felt real. It felt hard to write. There were parts that made me cry to finally see things I’d felt in print.

So no, it’s not a perfect story. It could have been kinder, but my gut still says it was honest and that is worth having in the world. Honesty can only shed light in dark corners, and transition-fueled divorce is one of the darkest corners I know of.

Beatie Complication

Posted by – January 4, 2013

The Beaties were just trying to get divorced.

Thomas and Nancy Beatie are eager to end their nine-year marriage, but their divorce plans stalled when Maricopa County Family Court Judge Douglas Gerlach said in late June that he was unable to find any legal authority defining a man as someone who can give birth.

“Are we dealing with a same-sex marriage?” Gerlach asked. He noted Arizona has banned such marriages and refuses to accept those performed in other states. The judge added no court here is allowed to declare same-sex unions valid.

and


“What you have is a man and woman who are married, and their relationship is ending,” said Minter, who isn’t involved in the Beatie case. “And it’s no different, fundamentally, from other people in that circumstance.”

And Beatie, whom I’ve never been a gigantic fan of, redeems himself with this:


David Michael Cantor, one of Thomas Beatie’s attorneys, said it would be more financially favorable for his client if the marriage weren’t recognized by the courts, because Thomas could have to pay Nancy alimony. But Cantor said Thomas wants the divorce as an official recognition that their union was legitimate. “He loses money, but he wants to be told it’s valid,” Cantor said.

As a friend pointed out: it’s sad that he doesn’t want to pay alimony simply because it’s the right thing for a man to do in a sexist system, but at least he wants to see his marriage upheld as legitimate so as not to set a precedent (or rather, more precedent) that puts any other of our marriages at risk. Let’s hope he gets his way.

You can read the whole article here.

WI Court Refuses Domestic Partner Case

Posted by – September 17, 2012

The Wisconsin State Supreme Court today refused the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals’ request to certify the domestic partnership case. I’m working on getting more info, but in the meantime, the short motion is available online .