Another reason to love NPR: an excellent state-by-state map covering same-sex marriage rights, bans, and current legislation or court cases which may change the status in that state.
And the battle will continue in California.
It was just announced that the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, though it also said that the estimated 18,000 same-sex couples married in California last year would continue to have their marriages legally recognized.
Here are the thoughts of Atticus Circle founder Anne Wynne on the decision:
“While we’re disappointed in the California Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the ban on same-sex marriage, we know this isn’t the final word in the debate over equal rights in California.
Recent victories for same-sex marriage rights in Iowa, Vermont, and Maine indicate to us that attitudes are evolving, and more and more people are beginning to understand LGBT couples deserve the same protections and rights that straight couples enjoy.
While the ruling disappoints us, we are glad that the Court decided to legally recognize the marriages of the estimated 18,000 same-sex couples who were allowed to legally marry in California last year. We are hopeful that more LGBT couples in California will someday be able to exercise the right to marry those they love.
As straight supporters of LGBT rights, we in Atticus Circle will continue to speak out in support of LGBT couples and families, who are just as deserving of the basic legal rights that straight couples and families receive through marriage.”
If you’re looking for an immediate action, there are rallies happening across the country — check out this wiki site for the rallies taking place in your state.
In case you didn’t catch this last week, even Webster’s is aware of the change afoot in how society is viewing marriage.
The latest dictionary definition from Webster’s includes same-sex marriage and gay marriage in the overall definition. Pam’s House Blend, one of our favorite blogs, notes that the definition isn’t sitting well with gay marriage opponents.
It’s certainly an interesting indicator of where society’s moving. While California’s taken the spotlight in the last few months with Proposition 8 and its curtailing of gay marriage rights, Vermont is quietly but quickly moving forward to become the third state in the Union to legalize gay marriage. Certainly, gay marriage has earned its way into the dictionary — it’s real, it’s legitimate, and despite the state-by-state debate currently taking place, it’s legally recognized, affording LGBT couples the rights they should have by pledging their lives to one another.
Many of us are waiting for the California Supreme Court to rule on the validity of Proposition 8, but in the meantime, this blog post from columnist Andrew Sullivan reveals some interesting new data on attitudes around gay marriage in California. While there appears to be a slight lean toward support for same-sex marriage in California (48 to 47 percent, with 5 percent undecided), the numbers of LGBT support increase dramatically for those who know or work with gay and lesbian individuals, while those who do not oppose same-sex marriage by more than a 2-1 margin. The percentage who favor no recognition for gay couples whatsoever, according to the poll, remains at only 19 percent.
What this means for supporters of LGBT rights is that momentum and public opinion are on our side, regardless of what the California Supreme Court rules. As straight allies, it means standing up for gay marriage rights and letting our friends and co-workers know that we support the rights of our LGBT friends and neighbors, and standing behind LGBT individuals and couples when they speak out. The more people we can reach, the more likely we are to defeat measures like Proposition 8 before they go to the courts, and the more likely we’ll be to see an eventual victory, should LGBT supporters have to get a new measure onto a future ballot to overturn Prop 8.
As you probably know, the California Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday on Proposition 8. This report from the San Francisco Chronicle is grim; the justices’ comments indicate that they may be ready to uphold the ban on gay marriages in California. The article includes this foreboding passage:
“There have been initiatives that have taken away rights from minorities by majority vote” and have been upheld by the courts, said Chief Justice Ronald George. “Isn’t that the system we have to live with?”
If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the justices are also expected to allow the 18,000 couples who married prior to Prop 8’s passage to remain legally married. Still, though, allowing people to vote on whether other people can marry sets a chilling precedent. It is a setback, to be sure, but we need to make sure it’s a rallying cry to make our voices heard, rather than a rebuke that silences us. We must continue to work to achieve equal rights for everyone regardless of orientation.
If you missed it, here was the greatest moment from Sunday’s Oscars:
While Sean Penn’s call for gay rights after winning his Best Actor award for his performance in Milkwas heartening, Dustin Lance Black’s victory for best original screenplay — and his moving speech about LGBT rights, his hopes for marriage, and his hopes for today’s LGBT youth — was a powerful reminder of the personal stories behind our fight for equal rights for all. Take a couple of minutes to watch and to be moved.
There’s exciting news on the Defense of Marriage Act — and the possibility of it being overturned — we wanted to make sure you were aware.
“Brad Levenson and Tony Sears spent Thursday fielding congratulatory calls from gay rights supporters around the nation for their success in getting a federal judge to call into question the legality of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.
Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled earlier this week that Sears — who married Levenson, a deputy federal public defender, last July — is entitled to the same spousal benefits that heterosexual couples employed by the department receive.”
Though the ruling is not final, it potentially paves the way for the 1996 rule to be struck down in federal court for not meeting the Constitutionality test.
We’ve also run across a couple of other interesting updates on anti-gay marriage legislation over the last couple of weeks we wanted to share.
First, in California, Proposition 8 is awaiting a March 5 hearing in the California Supreme Court, to determine whether or not the recently-passed ban on gay marriage is constitutional. This Los Angeles Times story gives a good overview as to what might happen in the hearing, as well as what might happen to the couples who were married during the period in which LGBT couples were legally allowed to marry.
One of our favorite reporters, the Associated Press’s Lisa Leff, wrote this story, noting that if Proposition 8 is upheld, a proposition to overturn it could be voted on in California as early as 2010. While some gay rights advocates are concerned that its defeat could be seen as further reinforcement for LGBT discrimination, others feel that it should be put to the voters again, to allow Californians to stand up for LGBT equality.
And in Ohio, where anti-gay marriage legislation has been in effect since 2004, one church, as detailed in this story, has decided not to sign marriage licenses for straight couples until gay marriage is legal in the state, joining a growing number of churches making the same civil rights stand.
We believe that 2009 is going to be a crucial year in the fight for LGBT equality. Now more than ever, it’s important for straight allies to speak up for LGBT equality. While the continuing court debate on DOMA and the upcoming hearing on Proposition 8 will help us gauge where the courts are on discriminatory legislation, it’s up to us to help the nation gauge the importance of achieving LGBT equality, starting with this fundamental right to marry.
President-Elect Barack Obama
P.O. Box 8102
Chicago, Illinois 60682
Dear President-Elect Obama:
Like many Americans, I was moved by your call for fundamental change in this election, and your victory indicates just how many Americans want change. I have also been encouraged that you have been doing work even before your inauguration to get the nation moved in the right direction, in order to bring the kinds of change we need.
As a member of Atticus Circle, a group of straight Americans who support equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender Americans, I ask you to include gay rights into your administration’s priority list once you take office.
Though the 2008 elections brought your victory, it also brought a series of stunning defeats for LGBT equality. Though California’s Proposition 8 is receiving the most attention right now, you’re no doubt aware of similar measures against equal marriage rights in Arizona and Florida, as well as an Arkansas ballot measure restricting adoption rights.
Your recent selection of Rick Warren to lead an invocation for your inauguration presents an additional concern for me and my fellow LGBT equality supporters. While I understand your aim to be inclusive and reach out to a wide variety of groups, I find Warren’s public support of Proposition 8 to be inherently divisive.
He essentially advocates making LGBT Americans second-class citizens, denied the right to marry whom they love. Those of us who support gay equality consider this to be the civil rights issue of our time, and Warren is a vocal leader in denying this group of Americans their basic civil rights.
I implore you to champion the rights of LGBT Americans upon your inauguration. For the last eight years, we’ve had a president who was unwilling to hear our call for equal rights. I’d like to believe that your presidency will be different, and that we can someday teach future generations about the gains for LGBT rights made during your administration. Please don’t let Warren’s presence at your inauguration set the tone for the continuation of second-class status for our LGBT friends and family members.