Los Angeles Times – Gay marriage in the balance as Supreme Court takes up Prop. 8

Gay marriage in the balance as Supreme Court takes up Prop. 8
December 7, 2012 | 3:53 pm

Gay rights activists said the stakes were high as the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday agreed to decide the issue of gay marriage.

The high court will decide on the legality of Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex unions approved by California voters in 2008.

“I think any time our gay issues go to the U.S. Supreme Court we are all filled with anxiety because you never know,” said West Hollywood City Councilman John Duran. “We have a lot of anxiety because we realize whatever decision they make, if it’s adverse, we have to live with it for a generation.”

MAP: How gay marriage has progressed in the U.S.

Gay marriage foes were decidedly more ebullient, saying they liked their chances in front of the high court.

“Arguing this case before the Supreme Court finally gives us a chance at a fair hearing, something that hasn’t been afforded to the people since we began this fight,” said Andy Pugno, general counsel for Protect Marriage.com.

Others said they would be on edge until the high court rules.

Q&A: Prop. 8, gay marriage and the Supreme Court

“No one cries at civil unions or a domestic partnership. No one cries at signing a document at the courthouse. They cry at weddings,” said Dave Reynolds, 28, of Santa Monica, who married his husband in August in New York, where same-sex unions are legal.

Reynolds and his husband, JJ Shepherd, 31, first met as kids at summer camp. They would have preferred to get married in California, but they want to start a family with the legal protections a marriage license will grant them. The couple also wanted to tie the knot around the same age as their opposite-sex peers.

“We couldn’t wait for California to do it,” Reynolds said. His husband is an attorney, “so we know how long it was going to take.”
TIMELINE: Gay marriage since 2000

By agreeing to review Hollingsworth vs. Perry, the justices could hand activists a historic victory and legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. But gay rights advocates are also well aware that the court could rule against them and set the movement back at a time when same-sex marriage has seen a series of election victories at the state level.

“I think it’s the critical issue for gay and lesbian Americans today. It’s the issue that signals full equality and respect. Not just acceptance — respect,” said Tom Watson, the board chairman of Love Honor Cherish, a group that has advocated for a ballot initiative to repeal Proposition 8.

“The case goes directly to the scope of civil rights in this country, whether they’re extended to everybody or defined very narrowly,” Watson said.

Watson, a Los Angeles attorney, said he expected the justices to take the case, though it was tough to predict how the conservative-leaning court might rule. He noted that the court asked the parties to address whether supporters of Proposition 8 have standing, or the right to defend the measure. Normally, state officials would defend a state law being scrutinized by the Supreme Court, but California’s leaders have declined to do so.

If the court found that Proposition 8 supporters do not have standing, the justices would not have to rule on the merits of the case. Under those circumstances, the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the measure is unconstitutional would stand and same-sex marriages could resume in California.
“It would be winning on a technicality,” Watson said.

Because of the uncertainty, Watson said his group would continue to consider pushing forward with a 2014 ballot measure to repeal Proposition 8. Either way, he said, California’s gay and lesbian couples are in for a frustrating wait.

“We have kids growing up with parents that don’t have the legal protections that marriage gives,” Watson said. “And, let’s face it, people die.”

Watson said someone had recently emailed his group asking whether his friends could get married. One member of the same-sex couple was in a hospice.

It pained Watson to send the answer: no.

Chi Chi LaRue, a 53-year-old West Hollywood resident, said he was “exhausted” by the ups and downs of the legal process.

On Friday, when reached by The Times for comment just as he was landing in Las Vegas, he said he was caught off guard: “I don’t have anything to say because I can’t process it.”

Reuters – France to pass gay marriage, adoption law

France to pass gay marriage, adoption law

PARIS | Fri Jun 29, 2012 3:21pm EDT
(Reuters) – France’s new Socialist government is to legalize marriage and adoption for same-sex couples, Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault said on Friday, reflecting a shift in public attitudes in the majority Catholic nation.

President Francois Hollande, who took office last month, had pledged to legalize gay marriage and adoption during his election campaign but had given no time frame.

Since Hollande’s Socialists won an absolute majority in parliamentary elections two weeks ago, the conservative UMP party, which had opposed the measure under former president Nicolas Sarkozy, can do little to stop it.

“The government has made it an objective for the next few months to work on implementing its campaign commitments on the fight against discrimination on grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity,” Ayrault’s office said in a statement.

Earlier in the day, the junior minister for families Dominique Bertinotti told French daily Le Parisien that a law on gay marriage and adoption would be passed within a year.

The statement from prime minister’s office did not confirm the time frame, but asserted a law would be implemented.

In addition, the government would hold discussions in the autumn on ways of making life easier for trans gender individuals, whose dealings with French administration are often complicated by their change of name and sex.

A law granting full marriage status to gay couples would bring France, which currently provides only for same-sex civil unions, into line with fellow EU members Denmark, Portugal, Spain, Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden.

It would also mark a profound change in French society, where more than two-thirds of people still describe themselves as Roman Catholic, according to a 2010 survey by pollster Ifop.

However, fewer and fewer of them adhere to strict Roman Catholic teachings on sexual issues or back the Vatican’s condemnation of homosexuality. Church attendance has collapsed.

As recently as 2006, surveys indicated that most French were opposed to changing the definition of marriage, but now more than 60 percent support the idea, the pollster BVA said. A majority also favor allowing gay couples to adopt children.

Nevertheless, gay rights advocates say homosexuality remains taboo in many areas of public life. Media tend to use euphemisms such as “long-term bachelor” to hint that someone is gay.

“Today, it’s still very difficult to put a name on things, as if saying in public that someone was homosexual was to violate a taboo,” a group of gay professionals wrote in an opinion piece in the newspaper Le Monde on Friday, the eve of a Gay Pride march in Paris.

A gay marriage law would boost Hollande’s credentials as an agent of social change in the tradition of late Socialist president Francois Mitterrand, who appointed France’s first female prime minister and scrapped the death penalty.

Hollande fathered four children out of wedlock with his former partner, fellow Socialist Segolene Royal.

A debate on gay rights might also draw some attention away from the economic woes weighing on his popularity.

Still, there is certain to be opposition from conservatives and practicing Catholics.

“We are convinced that young people’s development requires the presence of a mother and a father,” said Thierry Vidor, head of the Familles de France umbrella group, which represents some 70,000 families, and campaigns for traditional family rights.

“We will take action to try to show that this measure is ultimately dangerous for society.”

(Reporting by Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by Michael Roddy)

New York Times

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To the Editor:

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For Op-Ed, follow @nytopinion and to hear from the editorial page editor, Andrew Rosenthal, follow @andyrNYT.
Re “How My View on Gay Marriage Changed,” by David Blankenhorn, the founder of the Institute for American Values (Op-Ed, nytimes.com, June 23):

While I am pleased that Mr. Blankenhorn realizes that his earlier views against gay marriage are growing less mainstream, his logic continues to confound. According to his article, gay couples — because they cannot conceive — undermine the notion that parenthood is fundamental to marriage.

If this is the case, what of couples who cannot conceive or those who choose not to for fear of passing on a hereditary illness? Do these heterosexual couples also undermine marriage?

Furthermore, Mr. Blankenhorn remarks that gay marriage is “a significant contributor to marriage’s continuing deinstitutionalization.” How could gay marriage, which is outlawed in 42 states either by constitutional amendment or law, have such a deleterious effect on an institution as old as society itself?

Mr. Blankenhorn rightly asserts that gay couples should enjoy the same rights as their fellow heterosexual citizens. But his path to this conclusion is marred by its own contradictions.

TRAVIS C. STALCUP
Honolulu, June 23, 2012

To the Editor:

I’ve read most of what David Blankenhorn has published since “Fatherless America (1995),” and have always been impressed. His work has been a mixture of solid scholarship, moral acuity and concern for our children, in an era that devalues all three.

I have just finished his Op-Ed article and believe that he has done the right thing, for the right reasons and in the right way. This explanation of his position and how he came to it makes clear that the welfare of children remains his primary concern, and it demonstrates his continued faithfulness to the public roles of scholar, student and citizen.

His legacy will be found in the lives of those whose childhoods were made more secure because of his research.

JOHN HEARN
Jamestown, N.Y., June 23, 2012

Washington Post -Conservative Jewish movement approves guidelines for same-sex marriage ceremonies, divorce

Conservative Jewish movement approves guidelines for same-sex marriage ceremonies, divorce
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By Associated Press, Published: June 1

NEW YORK — The Conservative branch of American Judaism has formally approved same-sex marriage ceremonies, nearly six years after lifting a ban on ordaining gays and lesbians.

The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards issued the ruling Thursday on a 13-0 vote with one abstention, said Rabbi Elliot Dorff, the committee chairman. The panel of scholars approved two model wedding ceremonies and guidelines for a same-sex divorce. Rabbis can adapt the marriage ceremonies for the couples.

“We acknowledge that these partnerships are distinct from those discussed in the Talmud as ‘according to the law of Moses and Israel,’ but we celebrate them with the same sense of holiness and joy as that expressed in heterosexual marriages,” the legal opinion states.

Conservative Judaism is the second-largest Jewish movement in North America and holds a middle ground between liberal and traditional groups. The Reform and Reconstructionist branches accept gay relationships, while the stricter Orthodox Jewish movement does not. The Conservative law committee lifted the ban on gay ordination in December 2006.

Called the “Covenant of Loving Partners,” the Conservative same-sex marriage document bases the ceremonies on Jewish partnership law. In the covenant, the couple pledges to be faithful. A ring ceremony binds the pair.

And as with heterosexual couples, Conservative rabbis should not preside at the marriage of a Jew to a non-Jew.

However, the ceremonies do not include kiddushin, or sanctification, in which a groom “acquires” a bride by giving her a ring, which is considered the core of a traditional Jewish wedding. In recent decades, many rabbis have already been altering that part of the ceremony for heterosexual couples by having the bride and groom exchange rings, to signal equality in the marriage.

“The result is still a Jewish marriage,” the legal opinion on gay marriage states.

Dorff, an author of the ruling, said the committee’s discussions with gays and lesbians as the ceremonies were developed found a split in opinion that led the two templates for same-sex marriage. One adheres more closely to the traditional Jewish ceremony, while the other doesn’t.

The divorce includes a “writ of dissolution” — similar to what is known in traditional Jewish marriage as a “get” — that either partner in the same-sex marriage can request.

Dorff said he did not know how many members of the movement’s Rabbinical Assembly perform same-sex marriages. However, many rabbis had already been conducting ceremonies for gays and lesbians that they had developed on their own. Keshet, which advocates for gay and lesbian Jews, has started a public database of rabbis who would perform the ceremony called The Equality Guide.