The marriage whirlwind
Updated: March 15, 2012 at 5:00 pm
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In the first two months of this year, same-sex marriage news has been as plentiful as wedding guests around an open bar.
I need to pause. Catch my breath. Tot up the wins and losses of January and February. Analyze. Theorize. Chortle.
Starting on the left side of the country, a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that California’s Proposition 8 is, to use the legal term, icky.
Supporters of the ban on gay marriage responded by asking that all the judges of the Ninth Circuit rehear the case. There’s no truth to the rumor that all the judges threw their robes over their faces and chanted, “Nyah, nyah, we can’t hear you!”
In Washington state, Gov. Chris Gregoire opened 2012 with a strong endorsement of same-sex marriage, after wrestling her Catholic doubts to the mat. The Democrat’s backing seemed to be the oomph needed, as the legislature passed a marriage-equality bill, and she signed it with emotion.
Mere hours later, opponents of gay marriage filed Referendum 73 to repeal the legislation. Other foes are backing Initiative 1192, which would reaffirm the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman. I’m ready to file Proposal 123, inventive suggestions for what bigots can do with their fear-mongering.
Leap with me across the country to Maine, where three years ago voters repealed a same-sex marriage law, such a devastating blow that I’m surprised gay-rights advocates can speak in complete sentences, let alone return to the fight.
But, return they are. Marriage-equality supporters gathered signatures to put the matter on the ballot and in late February state officials certified their efforts. So, come November, Maine voters can undo their error of 2009. Lucky ducks.
In February Maine’s neighbor, New Hampshire, displayed its intention to abandon Yankee sense. At a statehouse rally in support of a bill that would repeal same-sex marriage, the bill’s sponsor, Republican Rep. David Bates, said, “I think it’s time to move back, back to the true meaning of marriage.”
I think it’s time he moved forward. At least to the Pleistocene era.
Leaving New England for the Mid-Atlantic states, we land in New Jersey, where in February the state Senate passed a same-sex marriage bill, the state Assembly did, too, but Gov. Chris Christie, as promised, vetoed the measure.
“He won’t veto the bill because he’s anti-gay,” said Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality before Republican Christie did the deed. “He’ll veto the bill because the 2016 South Carolina presidential primary electorate is anti-gay.”
Who knew South Carolina was part of New Jersey?
Maryland had a better result. The House of Delegates and the state Senate passed a same-sex marriage bill and Democratic Gov. Martin O’Malley, who sponsored the bill, signed it into law before you can say “Nuts to New Jersey.” Opponents, of course, have plighted their troth to a referendum.
In federal marriage developments, U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White of San Francisco ruled that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. DOMA is discriminatory, the judge decided, enacted by a 1996 Congress hot to show its disapproval of homosexuality.
White’s ruling was quickly appealed to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the court with which I started this column. Between Prop 8 and DOMA, that court has a lot on its plate. Maybe the judges really did throw their robes over their faces.
In January and February of 2012, two states legalized same-sex marriage and two courts ruled against same-sex marriage bans. During this whirlwind period, we came out ahead. I’m not ready to say the tide has turned — but, it surely has budged some. : :
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