(Madison, Wisconsin, Monday, June 20, 2011) – Today, the Circuit Court, Branch 11 in Dane County Wisconsin upheld as constitutional the state’s Domestic Partner Registry.
Wisconsin Circuit Court Judge Daniel R. Moeser wrote, “Ultimately, it is clear that Chapter 770 does not violate the Marriage Amendment because it does not create a legal status for domestic partners that is identical or substantially similar to that of marriage. The state does not recognize domestic partnership in a way that even remotely resembles how the state recognizes marriage. Moreover, domestic partners’ have far fewer legal rights, duties, and liabilities in comparison to the legal rights, duties, and liabilities of spouses.”
“The law is clear—the domestic partnership law does not violate the Wisconsin constitution,” said Christopher Clark, Senior Staff Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Midwest Regional Office based in Chicago. “The research the court provided in its ruling today is a showcase of material proving that the proponents of the antigay marriage amendment repeatedly told voters in 2006 that the Marriage Amendment would not ban domestic partnership benefits.”
In June 2009, Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle signed domestic partnerships into law, granting limited but important legal protections to same-sex couples, including hospital visitation and the ability to take a family medical leave to care for a sick or injured partner. Wisconsin Family Action, an antigay group, brought a lawsuit in Dane County Circuit Court arguing that the domestic partnership law is a violation of Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment banning marriage equality. Shortly thereafter, Lambda Legal successfully moved to intervene in the lawsuit on behalf of Fair Wisconsin and five same-sex couples.
“We are pleased that the Court upheld the limited protections provided by domestic partnerships because they are essential in allowing committed same-sex couples to care for each other in times of need,” said Katie Belanger, Executive Director of Fair Wisconsin. This is an exciting day for Wisconsin. Domestic partnerships marked our state’s first step toward full equality in nearly 30 years. Judge Moeser’s decision will ensure that we can continue advancing equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Wisconsinites in the years ahead.”
In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo today unveiled his marriage equality bill, with a possible 31 of 32 votes needed for passage. We already know the NOM, the National Organization for Marriage promised to spend $1.5 million to defeat the bill, and another $1 million to defeat any GOP Senator who votes for it. Your Senators need to hear from you?—?and you’ve got about 12 hours, because they are reportedly meeting Wednesday morning to discuss the bill. A vote could come any day, starting Wednesday, though we’ve heard reports of Friday.
Don’t let what happened in 2009 happen again. Not when we’re this close. It won’t happen again until 2013 if this fails?—?if then.
If you live in New York, we need you to make what could be the most important call of your life to these Senators, and tell them you want them to vote for the marriage equality bill.
It’s that simple.
Stephen Saland (845) 463?0840
Roy McDonald (518) 274?4616
Andrew Lanza (718) 984?4073
Greg Ball (845) 279?3773
Kemp Hannon (516) 739?1700
Charles Fuschillo (516) 882?0630
Betty Little (518) 743?0968
Also, please call Senator Dean Skelos to make clear that the people of New York?—?58% at last count?—?want marriage equality in our state. As Senate Majority Leader he should make sure that equality for all New Yorkers is our motto.
Chris Abele, Milwaukee’s County exec, announced his intention today to provide domestic partner health care coverage to Milwaukee county employees.
From Fair Wisconsin:
“County Executive Chris Abele’s announcement is a signal that Milwaukee County is once again moving forward under his bold and visionary leadership,” stated Katie Belanger, Executive Director of Fair Wisconsin. “Providing domestic partner health care coverage to county employees is an important step toward building a fair and inclusive work environment and a strong county government. We look forward to working closely with the County Executive and the Milwaukee County Board to make this proposal a reality.”
Should Milwaukee County begin providing domestic partner health care coverage, they will join a growing number of employers who already grant their employees these critical protections, including the State of Wisconsin, the City of Milwaukee and Marquette University, and top private sector employers like MillerCoors.
At least someone’s got cool leadership in the state of Wisconsin!
HOUSTON — A judge was expected to void the marriage between a transgender widow and her firefighter husband who died battling a blaze and will rule in favor of the man’s mother who argued that the marriage wasn’t valid, an attorney in the case said Tuesday based on a draft of the decision.
The suit was brought by the mother of firefighter Thomas Araguz III and argued that his widow, Nikki Araguz, should not receive any death benefits. The lawsuit claimed their marriage wasn’t legal because Nikki Araguz was born a man and Texas does not recognize same-sex marriage.
I soon realized that there I was surrounded by hateful people; propping up a cause I created five years ago, a cause which I had begun to question. This would be timeline point number three. I wanted to extend an olive branch in some way and started to reinstate those who had been banned by previous administrators of my page. I welcomed them to participate on the page and did what I could do erase the worst comments and even ban those who posted them.
He explains as well exactly how, as a conservative, Catholic, and Republican, he has come to see where he was wrong:
Once you understand the great difference between civil marriage and holy marriage, there is not one valid reason to forbid the former from same-sex couples, and all that is left to protect is the latter.
Indeed Christians and Catholics alike are well within their right to demand that holy matrimony, a sacrament and service performed by the Church and recognized by the Church, remains between a man and a woman as their faith would dictate. However, that has nothing to do with civil marriage, performed and recognized by the State in accordance with state law.
My name is Louis J. Marinelli, a conservative-Republican and I now support full civil marriage equality. The constitution calls for nothing less.
For those of us for whom this is obvious, it’s easy to scoff, but I got goosebumps reading his entire letter about this conversion, and interestingly, I would place it very much in a huge tradition of Christian “conversion” literature – it’s not Saul to Paul, but I’ll take it!
We are happy to announce that the city of New York has adopted a new policy designed to ensure that transgender people have equal access to marriage licenses. The policy was adopted as part of an agreement to resolve threatened legal action involving a transgender couple. The couple wishes to remain private and we refer to them as Jane and John.
Jane and John are both transgender. They are an opposite-sex couple who have been in a relationship for over a decade. In Dec. 2009, they attempted to marry in the Bronx. They fulfilled all of the requirements for receiving a marriage license in New York City and presented their government-issued photo identification – the only identification required by the City Clerk’s office. Rather than issuing the marriage license, the City Clerk refused and instead demanded that Jane and John produce their birth certificates before they could be married – something not required of other marriage license applicants.
Under the terms of the new policy, issued on Feb. 7, 2011, once a marriage license applicant produces the required photo ID, the City Clerk may not request additional proof of sex. Moreover, City Clerk employees are forbidden from considering the applicant’s appearance or preconceived notions related to gender expression when deciding whether to issue a marriage license.
“Transgender people are challenged all the time about their status as men and women,” said TLDEF executive director Michael Silverman. “Our clients are legally entitled to marry and were denied that right just because they are transgender. We applaud the City Clerk’s office for adopting this policy and for taking steps to ensure that this does not happen again.”
In addition to the adoption of the new policy, the agreement to resolve the couple’s claims calls for the City Clerk to apologize to Jane and John, to institute training for all City Clerk employees on issues relating to gender identity and gender expression, and to ensure that Jane and John are free to marry at a time and place of their choosing.
BOSTON (AP) — A U.S. judge in Boston has ruled that a federal gay marriage ban is unconstitutional because it interferes with the right of a state to define marriage.
U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro on Thursday ruled in favor of gay couples’ rights in two separate challenges to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA…. Tauro agreed, and said the act forces Massachusetts to discriminate against its own citizens.
“The federal government, by enacting and enforcing DOMA, plainly encroaches upon the firmly entrenched province of the state, and in doing so, offends the Tenth Amendment. For that reason, the statute is invalid,” Tauro wrote in a ruling in a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Martha Coakley.
Kimberly Kael, a regular poster to our forums, wrote this recently & I thought it really stood repeating:
Here’s a question that has been bothering me lately and that I’ve been trying to put into words: does the social emphasis on happily ever after as the canonical goal for relationships do more harm than good?
Sometimes the notion of true love feels like the platonic ideals of male and female – it serves as an interesting point of reference but taken too seriously it becomes a source of frustration because none of us can really live up to the implied expectations. That’s not to say there isn’t merit in aspiring to a durable relationship. I’m sure it’s been reinforced in many ways. There are relationships that look perfect and effortless from the outside. There are times in our lives when we’ve had that kind of connection and we want to hang onto it forever.
Of course there are also good economic and emotional reasons to encourage stability by giving people an incentive not to split at the first sign of trouble. Indeed, I’ve never been in a rewarding relationship that didn’t involve working through rough spots. On the other hand, how many people fall into the trap of expecting love to be free of these kinds of challenges? I guess that’s a notion most of us take with a grain of salt by the time we get a little experience in balancing the needs of a partnership.
What’s more insidious is that society encourages us to make a lot of explicit or implied promises about the distant future that we simply may not be able to keep without making ourselves and everyone around us miserable. That sets unrealistic expectations for everyone involved, which evolve into a sense of entitlement: “Where’s my happily ever after?” It seems fundamentally implausible that so many relationships end in divorce and yet when people wind up there it seems to come as a complete surprise. They have no backup plan and only an incomplete set of life skills beyond those specialized for the role they played in the relationship.
At the root of it all is that unlike the male/female dichotomy there’s no spectrum implied by a single point. Where are the other archetypal relationships? Okay, so there’s the affair. The one-night stand. But is there anything else that doesn’t have a strong negative connotation?
I’ve personally been talking to an old friend about this idea a lot as she’s been unhappy recently & wondering if the source of her frustration was her relationship or the compromises it implies. That is, she wasn’t necessarily unhappy with her partner himself, but unhappy at the kind of compromises she’s made due to being in a relationship at all, with anyone. Her “pattern” – if she has one – is one of serial monogamy: relationships of several years that end when the compromise:satifaction ratio starts to fall short.
As someone who once was poly – although initially somewhat unwillingly & eventually quite happily – I’m not sure why we persist in believing that one person can be all that we need emotionally, sexually, romantically. We often expect someone (1) we have good sex with, (2) get all tingly around, (3) whose conversation & company we enjoy, and (4) with whom we can build a life, a home, a family. It’s kind of a lot, no? I remember many years ago, before meeting Betty, at feeling astonished I could manage even two of those with the same person in a short period of time — but over a lifetime? In speaking with more & more poly people, and perusing Tristan Taormino’s Opening Up, the way that people “use” poly in their lives seems endlessly variable & creative. Still, though, it generally means to people “having sex with whoever you want.” Which I know, poly folks, is not what it means at all – but that’s still the popular perception.
I know, for someone like me, no one really bats an eyebrow if I mention missing having a male husband. Betty & everyone else knows I intended to be in a relationship with a man. So while Betty & I are still happy as two peas in a pod, there are days when what I’ve lost, and what I miss, is pretty acute. I don’t suspect I will ever stop missing having a male husband, even if the missing grows less acute and less chronic over time. As someone who has always had strong emotional relationships with men – the adoptive “older brothers” I talked about in She’s Not the Man – I miss some kind of masculine energy in my life (and not just sexually, you big perverts). This stuff is gendered because I’m the partner of a person who transitioned from within our marriage, but it strikes me that there are about a million things that a person might miss, or need, over time.
In the midst of all the bad news, about Arizona and the BP Gulf spill, Hawaii’s state Congress approved Civil Unions. The Senate approved it back in January, when it got snagged on opposition, but just yesterday Hawaii’s House approved it, so it goes next to the Governor, who has not indicated whether she would sign it or not.
The Washington, D.C., City Council voted Tuesday to legalize gay marriage in the nation’s capital, handing supporters a victory after a string of recent defeats in Maine, New York and New Jersey.
Mayor Adrian Fenty has promised to sign the bill, which passed 11-2, and gay couples could begin marrying as early as March. Congress, which has final say over Washington’s laws, could reject it, but Democratic leaders have suggested they are reluctant to do so.
I am sick to death of people being able to vote on my marriage, my citizenship, my humanity.
I want the right to bring every heterosexual couple to the steps of the courthouse in Maine and have the rest of us vote on whether they should or can be married.
This is bullshit. It’s embarassing as an American that we are so far behind most of Europe on civil rights. We used to take the lead – with suffrage, with child labor, with all sorts of shit. And now… it’s just embarassing.
I want freedom from their religion, their stupidity, & their prejudice.
I have been on both sides of this issues – having been a legally married heterosexual, and in some ways, still being that – and it makes me fucking sick that people who don’t know me get to decide if I get to be married, and whether my legal marriage will be recognized or not.
I’m just fucking fed up.
I’m tired of spending Election Days worrying about my friends, their spouses, their families, their kids.
When do we get to vote on whether heterosexual marriage is acceptable? When do we get to apply some arbitrary and hypocrital set of moral standards to everyone else’s relationships?